STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Bush's proposals are too vague and too costly, isle Democrats say
Hawaii's Democratic congressional delegation gave President Bush's fifth State of the Union address poor marks, saying it lacked specifics and was too costly.
In contrast, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle hailed last night's speech as "comprehensive and optimistic."
"I support the president's call to make the tax cuts permanent so that families are able to keep the money they work so hard to earn. And I am glad he mentioned the need to maintain fiscal discipline," Lingle said in a news release.
Hawaii's Democrats criticized Bush's financial plan.
"I have heard this man give five State of the Union addresses and he is still talking about cutting the budget to reduce the deficit," Sen. Dan Inouye said. "Someone should remind him that when he became president we had a surplus."
Rep. Neil Abercrombie called the speech "empty generalities."
"He was just going through he motions. He continues to make these speeches and this is by far the worst. There was nothing you could get a hold of. Show me the game plan for how he will fund those 30,000 teachers," Abercrombie said, referring to the president's call for recruiting more math and science teachers to work in classrooms.
Sen. Dan Akaka and Rep. Ed Case, who are running against each other for Akaka's Senate seat, had something on which they could agree: They didn't like Bush's tax-cut policies.
"Our country is suffering a terrible federal deficit and the president's annual push for tax cuts dramatically leaves the nation ill-prepared to maintain operations," Akaka said. "We need as much funds as we can get and some of those tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy."
Case said that while he had voted for some of the Bush tax cuts, he was concerned that the president didn't include any serious discussion on how to reduce the deficit.
"You cannot make all those tax cuts permanent and then turn around and say we can afford all these initiatives," Case said. "I voted for permanency on some of the cuts, but you have to fit them into the big picture of revenues and expenses."
He added: "There was no real discussion of this nation's rapidly deteriorating fiscal condition. There was a heck of a lot of money in his speech, but you can't afford it all."
On energy policies, Inouye doubted Bush's sincerity on increasing the country's fuel efficiency because he said the president has made it difficult for Congress to pass laws forcing higher gas mileage.
Akaka asked for the government to give more money to hydrogen research and development programs.
"I also urge the president to fully fund the cellulosic ethanol and alternative feedstocks programs, such as sugar, to ensure that they can be produced locally -- programs aimed to finally bring our gasoline prices down," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Anti-Bush protesters marched yesterday at the state Capitol en route through downtown to the Prince Kuhio Federal Building.
About 100 islanders protest president's speech
Eighty-three-year-old Marion Greene of Kailua held up a "Not Our President" sign in front of the federal building for passing motorists to see.
"And that's mild to the way I feel," Greene said yesterday. "We want to see him impeached."
Greene added, "I've been marching against wars since Vietnam."
While President Bush delivered the State of the Union address, Greene and Hawaii protesters joined a nationwide demonstration against the Bush administration and the Iraq war.
More than 100 protesters with the "World Can't Wait -- Drive Out the Bush Regime" movement began with a 3 p.m. rally at the state Capitol and marched through downtown Honolulu, converging on the federal building.
Protesters wanted to "bring in the noise and drown out the lies" of the State of the Union address, said Liz Rees, spokeswoman for the World Can't Wait organization.
Word at the Honolulu rally spread that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested before the start of the president's address.
"It just inspired and motivated everyone at the rally all the more," Rees said.
The Associated Press reported that Sheehan had been invited by a Democratic congresswoman, and that she was ejected before the speech for wearing an anti-war T-shirt.