Freshman Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s State of the Union address. Sen. Webb focused his comments on President Bush’s plans for the Iraq war, including his recent announcement of a troop increase.
In response to President Bush’s claims of a strong and growing economy, Sen. Webb said, “When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.” Quoting President Andrew Jackson, he said that America should measure the health of our economy “not at its apex, but at its base.”
Sen. Webb pledged that the Democratic Congress will do more to help the middle class from “losing its place at the table.” He said, “The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow. We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people. We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines. We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people, and for the right reasons.”
In discussing the hardships facing the families of active duty service members, he shared the story of his father, an Air Force Captain: “I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years…When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country.” He asked America’s political leaders to remember the sacrifices of those serving abroad and to “measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.”