The following is a transcript of the Democratic response by Rep. Andre Carson to President Bush's radio address:
Good morning. Im Congressman Andre Carson, from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Five years ago this week, President Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and proclaimed Mission Accomplished in Iraq. In the five years since the President's infamous speech, more than 3,900 American troops have lost their lives and nearly 30,000 have been wounded. The war has continued to cost American taxpayers billions of dollars and the Iraqi government has failed time and time again to meet benchmarks for success.
The President was wrong. The mission was not accomplished then and has still not been accomplished five years later.
For the last five years, the Iraqi government has failed to stand up and take responsibility for its own country. Political progress remains virtually non-existent. All the while, hundreds of thousands of American troops are risking their lives refereeing a civil war thousands of miles from home.
We all have stories of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters who are serving in Iraq. Like so many parents at war, my friend since childhood Reggie Williams is away from his twin daughters while he serves our great nation. Recently, I met Elizabeth Lamping in Beech Grove, Indiana. Elizabeth's son was recently sent to Iraq. She gave me a small pendant in honor of her son that I look at every day. It reminds me of our troops service and sacrifice and inspires me to serve.
Make no mistake: our brave troops have served with honor and distinction. Their performance has been exemplary and they have done everything that has been asked of them. But an open-ended commitment of American troops will not change conditions in Iraq. After more than five years of war, it is time to begin the process of bringing our troops home.
Sadly, President Bush continues to embrace a failed strategy in Iraq. While many active and retired generals, including the top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, have rightly said that there is no military solution in Iraq, the President insists on leaving 140,000 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and he refuses to hold the Iraqis accountable for their failure to make political progress.
This strategy has already cost our nation dearly, in lives and in dollars, and the price tag is only going up. The Iraq war costs the American people $340 million each and every day. Americans have already nearly spent $50 billion to rebuild Iraq.
And all the while President Bush has invested in the battlefront, he has consistently ignored the home front. American tax dollars are supporting the construction of new roads in Iraq while the potholes in my hometown of Indianapolis are only getting bigger. Our tax dollars are being used to train teachers to teach in Iraqi schools, while too many American children go without the education they need and deserve. While new hospitals and health clinics are being built in Iraq, the President proposed cutting Medicare for seniors and refuses to extend health insurance coverage to millions of children.
If we took even a fraction of the billions of dollars we spend in Iraq and used them here at home, we could make real progress and help get our nation out of our economic slump.
But even as our economy struggles, the President continues to send billions to Iraq and oppose Democratic efforts to strengthen the economy and provide real relief to families who are struggling.
Unemployment is up, but President Bush refuses to support our plan to give relief to workers who have lost their jobs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, but the President only offers empty rhetoric and refuses to take action to bring down the cost of gasoline and ease the pain at the pump.
Democrats will not be deterred and we will work to reverse the Presidents policies and bring about real change. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work to revive the economy. Earlier this year, the New Direction Congress took swift and bipartisan action, passing an economic stimulus plan that provides Recovery Rebates for 130 million American families. This week, Americans began receiving their checks; a middle-class family of four will receive $1,800 which they can use immediately and will also strengthen our economy.
While these recovery rebate checks are a significant first step, we know we must do more to help workers who have lost their jobs and families who are at risk of losing their homes. Democrats are also fighting for a second economic stimulus package and are working hard to enact comprehensive housing legislation that will help more Americans avoid foreclosure and hold on to the American Dream. And even as President Bush continues to insist on the status quo in Iraq, we will continue to conduct vigorous oversight of the war and work for a New Direction.
Democrats have a mission: strengthen the economy, invest in America, bring our troops home. And we will not quit until that mission is truly accomplished.
This is Andre Carson of Indianapolis, Indiana. Thank you for listening.