Butterfield statement on State of the Union

It’s encouraging to see President Bush’s admission that there is a problem with the economy, rather than continuing to pretend everything is wonderful.

The House, Senate and President Bush have already reached a bipartisan agreement on an economic stimulus package that would quickly provide working Americans struggling in these difficult economic times with timely, targeted and temporary relief. As the legislation works its way through Congress, we must be sure to include rebates for seniors, a temporary increase in Food Stamps and an extension of unemployment benefits.

In Iraq, President Bush seems determined to stay the course. After five years, nearly 4,000 deaths and half a trillion dollars, it should be clear that continued open-ended military action is not in the best interest of the United States, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

While America’s troops have made some tactical progress on the ground, President Bush’s surge strategy has failed to produce the promised political progress and reconciliation. Overall, the situation in Iraq has yet to dramatically improve.

I visited Iraq this past weekend and was provided the opportunity to meet with General Petraeus. As General Petraeus has said, Iraq’s problems can only be solved politically, not militarily. The time has come to strategically withdraw American troops and shift responsibility of winning the peace to the Iraqi government.

I was disappointed that President Bush didn’t articulate a realist plan for reducing the deficit or restoring fiscal responsibility. And, the 47 million uninsured American adults and children also deserved to learn President Bush’s plans for ensuring that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.