State of the Union

After listening to President Bush's final State of the Union Address, Senator Bernie Sanders said: "Under George W. Bush, the state of the union for America's struggling middle class leaves much to be desired. Since Bush has been president, 8.6 more million Americans have lost their health insurance, three million have lost their pensions, and tens of millions have seen their inflation-adjusted wages decline. Meanwhile, gas prices at the pump and home heating oil costs have soared. It is dis

After listening to President Bush's final State of the Union Address, Senator Bernie Sanders said: "Under George W. Bush, the state of the union for America's struggling middle class leaves much to be desired. Since Bush has been president, 8.6 more million Americans have lost their health insurance, three million have lost their pensions, and tens of millions have seen their inflation-adjusted wages decline. Meanwhile, gas prices at the pump and home heating oil costs have soared. It is disappointing that the president had absolutely nothing to say about the reality facing the middle class, or any substantive ideas to improve the standard of living of the average American."

Earlier in the day, he said that the state of the union "leaves much to be desired" and that he is relieved that, finally, this will be President Bush's last year in office.

Sanders said that in order to protect the interests of the sinking middle class the federal government needs a change in direction in almost every area of public policy. He also called for a new approach to foreign policy with the goal of restoring America's position in the world community.

"Since George W. Bush has been president, nearly 5 million Americans have slipped into poverty; median household income for working-age people has declined by nearly $2,500; 8.6 million Americans have lost their health insurance and 3 million workers have lost their pensions. Our national debt is now at $9.2 trillion, $3 trillion more than before Bush was president, while our trade deficit has grown by $379 billion. Home foreclosures are now the highest on record and lower income people are seeing a level of desperation not seen in many years. In Vermont, in the last 7 years under Bush, gas prices have increased by 80 percent after adjusting for inflation and heating oil prices have more than doubled.

"Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in our society have not had it so good since the 1920s. According to the latest figures, the top 1 percent received the largest share of national income since 1929, and the top 300,000 Americans earn nearly as much as the bottom 150 million. The gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, with the United States having, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any nation in the industrialized world."

Sanders said that during the coming year he would work to rescind Bush's tax breaks for the very wealthy and cut military spending, while increasing funding for programs that help the middle class and lower income families.

As part of the economic stimulus package now under consideration, in addition to tax rebates for working families, Sanders wants a $500 bonus for low and middle-income seniors, an expansion of unemployment compensation, home heating assistance and food stamps, plus job creating programs that improve our infrastructure and health delivery systems.