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Democratic response

The following is a transcript of the Democratic response by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to President Bush's radio address:

Good morning. I'm Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Majority leader of the United States Senate. Last November, Americans elected a new Democratic Congress to end business as usual in Washington and change America. This week marked the end of our first year in the majority, and in that time, Democrats have put working families first, given our troops the care and support they deserve, and made our country safer.

For working families: We cut middle class taxes; raised the minimum wage for the first time in ten years; helped families avoid foreclosure on their homes; made college more affordable for millions of students; and passed historic new energy legislation to lower gas prices, raise fuel economy standards on cars and trucks for the first time in 32 years, and begin to stem the tide of global warming.

To make America safer: We passed the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission — to secure high-risk cities like Las Vegas — and provide first responders additional resources; and we improved security at our borders and ports so that we know who and what is coming into our country from overseas.

For our men and women in uniform: We passed an across-the-board pay raise; provided better protective combat gear; and funded the largest increase in veterans' health care in 70 years.

We have made progress in all of these areas this year — but that doesn't mean I am satisfied. Like you, I am frustrated by the direction of our country. We helped middle-class families make ends meet — but a possible recession still looms and millions may still lose their homes to foreclosure — including tens of thousands of Nevadans. We gave back to our men and women in uniform who are sacrificing so much — but because of President Bush, they remain in Iraq without a clear mission or endgame, and our Armed Forces are stretched to a breaking point. And we took steps to secure our country from terrorism, but Bin Laden remains free, Al Qaeda is growing stronger, and the President's focus on Iraq has allowed conditions in Afghanistan to deteriorate.

We need to do more to solve all these problems, but time after time, when Democrats have fought for change, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have stood in the way. We tried to give health care to 10 million poor children, but Republicans sided with tobacco companies. We tried to promote cleaner energy sources — by turning to the sun, the wind, and geothermal — but Republicans sided with the big oil companies. We chose to invest in priorities here at home, but Republicans chose to send billions more of your taxpayer dollars to Iraq.

This year has shown that Washington is divided between Democrats who want change and Republicans who are satisfied with the status quo. Republicans broke the all-time, two-year obstruction record in just one year with 62 filibusters.

Much of what we read in the papers or see on the news focuses on who's winning — Democrats or Bush Republicans. But this isn't a game to be measured by which party wins and loses. Democrats believe winning means solving our nation's problems. When we work together, we can. But Democrats can't do it alone. In January, we will return to Congress with much more to do for you and all Americans.

I hope the new year will find Republicans willing to join us to get that work done. I am glad to be back home in Searchlight, Nevada this weekend to spend the holiday season with my family and friends. On behalf of the United States Senate, which I have the honor of leading, I wish you and your family a season of health, happiness and joy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our courageous men and women serving in the military, and with those families who have an empty place at the table this year, awaiting their safe return from war. This is Senator Harry Reid. Thank you for listening.

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