Statement issued April 18, 2006 by the Democratic National Committee
Today, President Bush will tout his American Competitiveness Initiative during an event in Rockville, Maryland. But, over the past five years, President Bush's failed policies on health care, trade and education have all made America less competitive and have undermined the economic security of our country.
"While President Bush happily touted his latest hollow initiative today, his policies over the past five years have in fact undermined our country's competitiveness," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.
"From underfunding his own No Child Left Behind Initiative to trying to eliminate Perkins Loans, President Bush's education policies have failed America's students. At the same time, under his watch, health care costs and oil prices have also skyrocketed, squeezing American businesses and families. And, as our trade deficit hits record levels, the White House has proposed eliminating key loan and assistance programs that are crucial to the growth of American businesses.
"Democrats remain committed to national priorities that will help guarantee our national security and prosperity, expand markets for American products, and assert economic leadership throughout the world. Democrats are committed to making sure that America remains competitive and at the forefront of scientific, technological and economic advancement."
In Congress, House Democrats launched the Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America Number One. With this Innovation Agenda, House Democrats laid down a challenge to the President and to Congress to renew our commitment to the public-private partnerships that will secure America's continued leadership in innovation and unleash the next generation of discovery, invention, and growth. To see House Democrats' Innovation Agenda, click here: http://www.housedemocrats.gov/news/librarydetail.cfm?library_content_id=557
PRESIDENT BUSH'S FAILED COMPETITIVENESS AGENDA
President Bush Has Presided Over Record Trade Deficits. "The U.S. Commerce Department reported that the 2005 current-account trade deficit was $804.9 billion, up from $668.1 billion in 2004. The current account is the broadest measure of the U.S. trade balance. In addition to trade in goods and services, it includes income received from U.S. investments abroad, less payments to foreigners on their investments in the United States. ...The current-account deficit could easily top $1 trillion a year by the second half of 2006. ... Thanks to the record trade deficits under President Bush, the U.S. economy is about $1 trillion smaller. This comes to nearly $7,000 per worker. Had the administration and Congress acted to reduce the deficit, American workers would be much better off, tax revenues would be much larger, and the federal deficit would be about half its current size. ... The damage grows larger each month, as the Bush administration and Congress ignore the corrosiveness of the trade deficit." (Providence Journal, Op-Ed by Peter Morici, 4/3/06)
Bush Budget Shortchanges No Child Left Behind By $12 Billion. The 2007 Bush budget provides $12 billion less for education than was promised in the No Child Left Behind Act - meaning that 3 million children will not get the help with reading and math that they were promised under Title I. Overall, since the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law, President Bush has underfunded the law by $39 billion. (House Democrats)
Health Care and Education Costs Have Skyrocketed. For the past five years, health care costs have increased by nearly more than 70 percent. Under President Bush, college tuition has gone up about 40 percent, even taking inflation into account. (Census, 8/05; KFF, 2005; College Board, 2005)
Bush Budget Eliminates Perkins Loans, Forces Millions Of Low And Middle-Income Students To Pay Thousands More For The College Loans They Have. The Bush budget completely eliminates the Perkins Loan program. If this proposal is enacted, in 2006 alone more than 670,000 student borrowers would lose out on loan forgiveness if they became teachers, law enforcement officers or if they serve in the military. The Bush budget also eliminates the current low fixed consolidation rate benefit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), this change will force the typical student borrower to pay $5,500 more for their college loans. (House Democrats)
Oil Prices Rising; A "Drag" On U.S. Businesses. "U.S. stocks slid on Monday as surging oil and gold prices stoked investor fears about inflation risks and overshadowed optimism about corporate profits. ... High oil prices tend to be a drag on the economy, slowing consumer spending and raising costs for businesses, while increasing the risk of inflation. ... U.S. crude oil for May delivery settled at $70.40 a barrel, up $1.08 - - a gain of 1.6 percent, from Thursday's NYMEX closing price before the Easter break. Oil's all-time high of $70.85 was reached on Aug. 30 after Hurricane Katrina temporarily crippled the oil-producing Gulf Coast." (Reuters, 4/17/06)
Bush Wants To Eliminate Microloan Program And Has Raised Fees For Key SBA Loan Program. "Colorado entrepreneur Susan Brown has the kind of success story that President Bush likes to tout when he talks about the importance of small businesses to the U.S. economy. Ms. Brown "turned over every rock on the planet" looking for money to finance the business she started in 1990 outside Denver to manufacture baby pillows. After several banks turned her down, she got $40,000 and business counseling through the Small Business Administration's Microloan program. Her Boppy Co. now has $20 million in annual sales and 24 employees. 'Without the Microloan, there is absolutely no way I would be here,' said Ms. Brown, 51. Now Mr. Bush wants to eliminate the program, and cut similar ones, to help narrow a federal budget deficit projected at $423 billion this year. ... In addition, the government is raising loan fees for the SBA's main financing program, which made 89,912 loans totaling about $14 billion last year, up from 37,528 worth $8.6 billion in 2001." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/12/06)
Family Incomes are Down Four Years in a Row, With Wages Stagnant and Increase Debt. Real household income has fallen each year of the Bush Administration, for a drop of $1,669 since 2001. The median wage has been flat or fallen for three years in a row. A new report by the Federal Reserve Board shows that median household debt climbed 34 percent to $55,300, so that families were spending nearly 15 percent of their incomes on paying interest on their debt. Workers' buying power continues to erode as average weekly earnings have dropped in the last year in real terms. (Office of the House Democratic Leader, 4/17/06)