Local lawmakers not impressed by Bush speech

January 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
President Bush gave his final State of the Union address on Monday and he touched on all of the key themes of his administration.

The president didn't propose any bold ideas in his address. That's pretty typical for a wrap-up State of the Union speech in the last year of a presidency. Also to be expected, the speech is being met with criticism from Bay Area members of Congress. There isn't a Republican among them.

The president told Congress to pass the economic stimulus package without any add-ons.

"The temptation will be to load up the bill. That would delay it or derail it, and neither option is acceptable," said Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells ABC7 that the president is too late to take the lead on fixing the economy.

"The president only one week ago -- 10 days ago -- finally admitted that there was a need for a stimulus package," said Pelosi.

President Bush wants to allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. He told Congress he wants their earmarks cut in half.

"If you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I well send it back to you with my veto," said Bush.

Senator Dianne Feinstein says that's not what Californians want.

"You appreciate the fact that your senator -- me on the Appropriations Committee -- tries to see that funding for infrastructure projects gets done in the state of California as best I can," said Feinstein.

The president repeated his call for immigration reform, starting with securing the borders.

"Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy," said Bush.

He urged Congress to reauthorize the terrorist surveillance program and protect companies that cooperated with the administration.

"Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America," said Bush.

Speaker Pelosi isn't going along with that.

"Why would you say you have no responsibility for what you have done when we don't even know what they have done," said Pelosi.

The president defended the surge in Iraq, issued a warning to Iran's leaders and praised the U.S. military. Reaction from Bay Area lawmakers was pretty uniform.

"It is obvious from the speech tonight it is time that we have an election, get a new president," said Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma.

"He spend more than a third of the speech really celebrating Iraq when everybody in America knows there is really nothing to celebrate about that," said Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose.

"One would hope that during his last State of the Union he would say something magnanimous, and he didn't. He flunked again," said Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland.

"I'm not very happy about the difference between what he says and what he actually does," said Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.

In the end this was the president's last best chance to lay out what he hopes will be his legacy. However, in an election year, Democrats in Congress aren't likely to go out of their way to make this president look good in his final year. Many Americans, both Republican and Democrat, have moved on and are now looking forward to the candidates who are all vying to take over the White House.