Published January 17, 2004
The following is a transcript of the Democratic Radio Address:
Good morning. I'm Congressman Mike Michaud from Maine.
In the last week, we have heard a lot about what Republicans plan to do in the name of the American people.
But sometimes I wonder if anyone in this Administration has actually met any of the people they claim to be working for — people like the hard-working, struggling families I represent in northern Maine.
I wonder if they personally know anyone who punches a clock every morning, and runs a machine all day — people who love their families, live up to their responsibilities, follow all the rules, and still wake up one day without a job, without a pension, unable to pay for their health care or their children's college education.
People like the 1,100 workers at the Great Northern Paper Company in Millinocket and East Millinocket, Maine, who woke up one year ago to learn that they were laid off. I know these people because I was a mill worker at Great Northern for 30 years before coming to Congress. They are my friends, they are my family.
If the people in this Administration actually knew these Americans, surely they would do better by them.
It is simply a question of priorities. I believe that as a nation, our most important priorities must be ensuring the safety of our country, and expanding opportunity for all Americans.
What makes America great is not just the possibility of individual wealth, but our commitment to our commonwealth — a commitment to jobs that provide dignity and decent wages.
Since President Bush took office, almost 3 million American jobs have been lost. 2.6 million of those jobs were manufacturing jobs — the kind of jobs that helped build this country. And despite grandiose claims of economic recovery by the Administration, only 1,000 new jobs were created in our entire nation last month. During the Clinton Administration, the economy added about 1,000 jobs every three hours.
Democrats in Congress have made job creation a priority, offering a fair, fiscally responsible and fast-acting plan that would create one million new jobs.
The President and the Republican Congress, on the other hand, have made it a priority to reward a few corporate special interests, at the expense of ordinary Americans. Take, for example, the massive tax breaks they have fought for above all else — tax breaks that disproportionately help those who need help the least.
A lot of folks in Northern Maine did not see much from the Bush Administration tax cuts. In fact, 94 percent of taxpayers in Maine's Second Congressional District — that is, everyone with an income below $100,000 — would receive an average of only $52 in tax cuts from the capital gains and dividend parts of the tax plan.
Some of the people in greatest need in Northern Maine were wholly excluded from the Child Tax Credit — the one piece of the bill that was supposed to help working families — because they don't make enough money! Twenty-one thousand working families in Maine — people who pay taxes but struggle to pay the bills — were left out in the cold.
Meanwhile, these same Mainers are sending their children to schools that have been shortchanged millions of dollars that went to pay for the tax cuts. They are scrimping and saving to send their children to college and receiving little or no help. They are balancing their own budgets and watching every penny, while back in Washington, the Republicans are indebting their children by turning record budget surpluses into record deficits.
Take something as simple as the price of prescription drugs.
In Maine, we have created a program that helps lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Mainers by using the state's negotiating power in the free market to get a better deal out of the drug companies. But in Washington, Republicans forced legislation through Congress that actually forbids the government from ever negotiating for better prices for Medicare prescription drugs.
That's what happens when the priorities of pharmaceutical company lobbyists and insurance companies are put ahead of the needs of America's seniors.
Over the years I have worked in a bipartisan manner to help Mainers and all Americans. But unfortunately, the House Republican leadership and the Bush Administration have forced an extreme agenda on the Congress and the American people. That is not how we do things back in Maine. And that is not what the American people want.
On Tuesday, the President will give the State of the Union address. He will tell us that the state of our union is strong, and he is right. It is strong because of you, the American people, and we need to focus on your priorities and not just do things in your name.
This is Congressman Mike Michaud. Thank you for listening.