In his fifth State of the Union Address, President Bush’s comments on his domestic agenda and Iraq are of particular importance to young New Yorkers. Whether it was the call for the privatization of Social Security, increasing standards for high school students, the strengthening of our community colleges, or the United States’ commitment to Iraq, young New Yorkers should be particularly concerned with the Bush agenda for 2005.
In an attempt to sell his plan for privatizing the Social Security system, President Bush continued last night to try and reach out to young Americans by claiming the system will be bankrupt by the time they are slated to receive benefits. Using projections that have been disputed by various research institutes and the Congressional Budget Office, the president has resorted to misrepresenting the solvency of the Social Security system.
“We agree with the president that the collapse of Social Security is not a small problem,” said Evan Lederman, President of the New York State Young Democrats. “In fact, it has become a large problem, primarily because the President and his Congressional allies are intent on turning the system over to Wall Street. Enron and Worldcom have shown us the kind of results we can expect from such a move.”
Pushing further for expanded federal control over the education system, after referencing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the president called for federal standards for our nation’s high schools. NCLBmandated strict standards and tough testing requirements on our public schools, yet the president failed to adequately fund those mandates. Schools throughout the country have been required to implement new programs and administer rigorous testing, yet the president and the Congress have failed to provide the funding necessary to meet the goals of the Act.
At the same time, the president called for strengthening our community colleges. During the 2004 presidential campaign, President Bush often campaigned on community college campuses, in large part, because he realized the vital role they play in workforce development. The rhetoric has not matched his actions, however. In his commitment to increasing the size of Pell Grants (from $4,050 to $4,550 over the next five years) the president failed to mention the new federal formulas for eligibility that were put in place by the Department of Education that will make tens of thousands of students ineligible for the grants.
Absent from the president’s address was a plan for bringing our young men and women home from Iraq. Almost two years since the invasion of Iraq, President Bush and his foreign policy team have yet to put in place a plan for the eventual withdrawal of American soldiers.
“Our young men and women have served honorably and valiantly,” said Lederman. “It’s time we started discussing when we’ll be bringing them home.”