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Democrats Critical of Bush's First 100 Days

Aired April 26, 2001 - 10:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush had his turn yesterday, now it is time for the democratic response, if you will. There are -- Democrats' leadership here, as you can see, there's the House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt. They're taking their turn to give their view of President Bush's first 100 days.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: ... uniter, not the divider, that he wanted to collaborate, he wanted to negotiate with Democrats and Republicans and reach bipartisan consensus solutions to the nation's problems.

Well, I'm sad to report to you that in these 100 days, there's been no collaboration, there's been no negotiation, there's been no consensus- building. There have been no bipartisan conclusions. It is my way or the highway every day. We hope that changes, but the uniter has not yet appeared.

During his campaign, he said that he wanted to be the compassionate conservative, and a reformer with results. Well, let's look at the record. He appointed the most far-right, anti-woman, anti-environment, wealthiest and best-connected Cabinet in a generation. He wiped out in his first act 10 years of work on important worker safety regulations that were first proposed in the last Bush administration that had two independent objective tests as to whether or not they were right for American workers and American business. And with one swipe of the pen, he wiped out that regulation to protect American workers. He decided to reject a Medicare prescription drug program. He decided to stop a bipartisan Patients' Bill of Rights that would have really helped patients and taken power away from HMOs and insurance companies.

He blocked rules that were designed to protect our national forests as a favor to the timber industry. He decided to block the CO2 standards and reject our signing of the Kyoto treaty. He wants to drill in the Alaska wildlife refuge. He wants to drill for oil off the coast of California, even though his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, doesn't want to do that. And finally, he rolled back regulations to reduce the amount of arsenic in our water to keep our children and our families safe.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not compassionate conservatism, this is not reforming with results. This is leaving no special interest behind, and it must not stand.

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: Finally, President Bush said that he would bring prosperity with a purpose, and he would leave no child behind. He has proposed a budget and fights every day for a budget that does exactly the opposite. And let me just pull out one fact: He continues to doggedly favor a tax cut about one-third to a half of which goes to the wealthiest folks in our country, people who are in the top 1 percent of earners. In the first year, again, it's a $70 billion tax cut and about $30 billion of that goes to the top 1 percent, people earning over $200,000 a year.

And in the same budget, he can only find $2 billion -- not $4, not $8, not $10, not $12 -- $2 billion for elementary and secondary education and he cannot find any money to repair and refurbish the school buildings of this country that these young children have to count on to be productive citizens.

Folks, this is not leaving no child behind. This is leaving no special interest behind. It's wrong and it should not stand.

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: I have a very wealthy friend who came to my office the other day. He told me that he had made $2 billion over the last 10 years. He said, "I'd love the big Bush tax cut. It would mean a lot to me personally." But he said, "Let me tell you what I'd rather have. I'd rather you keep my tax cut and give it to the middle-class and people trying to get in the middle-class." He said, "Let me tell you what I'd rather you do; pass the minimum wage increase so that workers at the bottom can start earning a decent living."

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: He said, "Let me tell you what I'd rather have you do." He said, "Educate the children of this country so I have productive workers who can work in my companies and productive workers who will earn a decent living so they can buy the products that my company makes." He said, "In the end, if you practice democratic economics and invest in the people in this country, I'll really make money over the next 10 years. Don't give me the money in tax cuts. Give it to the people of this country in education and health care and minimum wage and protecting the environment."

That, folks, is democratic economics and that's the economics that we're going to fight for in the days ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: We've been listening to House minority leader, Democrat Dick Gephardt of Missouri. You see there, he is giving his assessment of President George W. Bush's first 100 days. He's making it sounds like it is end of days.

Let's go now to our Jonathan Karl, who's been standing by and listening just as well -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, President Bush has only been in the White House for 97 days, but already the Democrats offering a harsh assessment of the first 100 days. Gephardt speaking, along with Tom Daschle, who was also at that press conference -- the Democratic leader from the Senate.

They are both releasing a report, jointly, on the president's first 100 days. It says the first 100 days, leaving no special interests behind, something you heard Gephardt say about five times there. They are releasing a report card along with this, assessing how Bush has done in the various major areas. And to give you an idea, Leon, on education he gets an incomplete -- past due; on taxes, an F; military, an F; Social Security, an F; Medicare, prescription drugs, an F; environmental protection, an F-minus.

So Democrats clearly offering a very harsh assessment of the president's first 100 days. Also, this report includes a short segment on how the president has performed in foreign policy, that section does not offer a grade, but I'll read you a couple of words that they used to describe the president's foreign policy They say it is confused, contradictory, isolationist and nostalgic for the Cold War.

What's interesting, though, is in this write-up on the president's foreign policy, there is scant mention of the major foreign policy achievement that the White House talks about, which is getting become our crew from that spy plane from China -- that only mentioned in passing -- in the context of criticism of what the president has said about our relationship with Taiwan -- Leon.

HARRIS: Interesting. OK, we'll be monitoring that speech by Mr. Gephardt and Senator Daschle, and we'll be getting those words out to you folks later on.

Thanks much, Jon Karl, on Capitol Hill.

KARL: Sure.

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