Senator Butch Gautreaux:
I wanted to take a few minutes as we wrap up this short and successful session to thank you for the way you worked together.
We got a lot done in two and half weeks. We got a lot done for Louisiana and for our future because we worked together. We may have differed on how best to get the job done but every one of us was focused on what's best for Louisiana.
And today we still all have one goal: a successful recovery for Louisiana.
I wish I could offer this kind of praise for the leadership in Washington. I can’t … and that worries me. The future of this state depends on funding from the Congress and President Bush. Like it or not, its true.
I worry that Louisiana’s needs will be lost in the debate over the botched war in Iraq.
I worry that our needs will be lost as the Bush Administration makes sure that the
very richest Americans get a tax cut. They just rammed a bill through the US House of Representatives to cut programs for the poor and middle class to fund those tax cuts. They cut into vital services like Medicaid, food stamps and student loans … all to give millions more to millionaires.
They’re playing Robin Hood …but in reverse.
I wonder HOW they will meet Louisiana’s needs … IF they will meet our needs.
The Bush administration took the budget surpluses it inherited and transformed them into massive deficits … deficits with no end in sight … deficits that our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will be paying off long after we are gone.
I worry for Louisiana.
Bush administration policies continue to benefit big business at the expense of working Americans. This administration values profits above all else: above the
health and safety of workers, damage to our environment, the exporting of American jobs, and the future of our economy.
I worry for Louisiana.
This administration and their radical allies have succeeded in using faith and religion to divide and polarize this nation. They’ve done a skillful job of melding God and partisan politics. As a Christian, an American and as a veteran, I abhor this perversion both of Christ’s ministry on Earth … and … of our Founding Fathers work creating this nation.
I did not step to this podium on a whim.
I stepped up here today because I care for this state … I love this nation … and I’m concerned about the future for every family in Louisiana and America.
Well, not every family. I know the Bush family won’t be missing any meals. They aren’t still waiting for FEMA to assess their storm-damaged home or business. They don’t worry about paying the mortgage or covering medical bills. They won’t face layoffs. They’ll be fine … and so will their friends in the highest income brackets.
It’s the rest of us that have my attention: our children and our grandchildren…..and the victims of Rita and Katrina.
Most of you know me well.
You know that I aim to be diplomatic – even reserved -- in my relationships with you … and in my comments in this chamber. You know my record: a solid Southern
Democrat … conservative with state finances and dedicated to the rights of ALL
You know that I respect this institution..… just as I respect the Office of the President of the United States.
You will remember that when Mr. Bush first ran for that office that he pledged to bring dignity and integrity to the office.
He has clearly failed.
We’ve watched the CIA leak scandal unfold over the last months and weeks.
Yes, no one has been convicted of any crime -- yet. But, from the facts and from the public record, it’s clear that White House leaders revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent. They violated national security and jeopardized the life and career of an agent merely for revenge.
The husband of that agent questioned the Bush administration’s reasons for invading Iraq. The White House responded they way they always respond: with a vicious attack. That’s the pattern. Anyone who crosses them faces similar treatment.
Look what happened last week to the decorated veteran, a US Congressman, who dared question Bush’s war in Iraq. They called him a coward and a traitor.
Look what happened after Katrina when the White House realized how poorly FEMA performed. They heard the criticism and they attacked. They came after this state and they came after our governor.
They attacked Louisiana. They attacked our National Guard. They attacked our
governor. They attacked with lies. They said we never evacuated New Orleans. They said Gov. Blanco never declared a state of emergency. They said we never mobilized the National Guard. They said we couldn’t rescue our own people.
They attacked with a web of lies that still entangles Louisiana – ALL of Louisiana – a web of lies that hampers our recovery to this day.
Now … I wonder what they are going to do with me.
We’ve seen those attacks waged against anyone who questioned the claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
We’ve seen this administration lead us into a bloody war … a war with no foreseeable end … on the basis of intelligence that is questionable – at best. The more we learn, the more we know that the Bush administration manufactured the pretext for war. They manufactured a link between Sadam and 9/11 and they manufactured the threat from WMDs.
They manufactured this war based on the dream of a quick and easy victory … a dream that has turned into a nightmare for the families of the 2,000 American dead … a nightmare for the countless maimed and wounded … a nightmare for the untold thousands of dead Iraqi civilians.
I would like to ask the President if he still believes in “Mission Accomplished.”
I know I risk being called un-American and having people say I don’t support our troops. But, I will risk those attacks because I stand here to speak the truth.
The truth is, President Bush has let this nation down. I worry that he will let this state down.
We’ve been working hard down here in Louisiana every since that first hurricane hit. We worked hard in so many ways: to rescue victims, clean up our neighborhoods, reopen our businesses … and this Legislature worked hard the last two and half weeks to keep the recovery going.
We succeeded this session because we worked together.
I came to praise this body and our Legislature … to hold us up as an example of cooperation for others to see.
I will be praying that others will see how the people of Louisiana are helping themselves and working together for a brighter future.
It is quite clear that only weeks after President Bush gave his theatrical speach in Jackson Square New Orleans that we would see the largest reconstruction project the our country as ever seen, that little or nothing is happening. We are suffering here, our people are scattered all over the country, unable to return home as they still don't have power, clean water or shelter. Businesses are suffering - many predict a dim future if action is not taken now.
We owe Senator Gautreaux our thanks for sure, but MORE than that we owe him our voice and our actions! We must stand up and demand the help he promised us, we must demand that our representatives are held accountable.
Just this past week Congress voted to give another $70 Billion in Tax Cuts to the UBER Rich all the while cutting funding for College Educational Loans/Grants, Medicaid, Food Stamps and many other important programs that Louisiana needs to survive.
We must stand up, we must act.