Washington — In what supporters of the President have dubbed his “legacy year,” Americans United for Change, the progressive issue-advocacy group best known for leading the successful fight to beat back President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security in 2005, has hit the road with its latest effort – the Bush Legacy Bus. The 45-foot long, 28 ton, clean bio-diesel-powered museum on wheels features several interactive exhibits on how two terms of failed conservative policies supported by Bush and his allies – including U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg, Joe Knollenberg, and Sen. John McCain – have weakened America’s security abroad while neglecting and undermining important priorities here at home.
The national Bush Legacy Tour visited Michigan this week, making stops in Battle Creek on Saturday, Jackson and Lansing on Monday, and Royal Oak Tuesday. AUFC was joined by Progress Michigan to hold U.S. Representatives Walberg and Knollenberg accountable for voting in lockstep with President Bush’s worst policy failures 84 percent and 83 percent of the time respectively, according to Congressional Quarterly. In addition, amid the worst financial crises on Wall Street since the Great Depression, Americans United for Change called on Reps. Knollenberg and Walberg to sign the “Golden Promise to Protect Social Security and Oppose Privatization” – a pledge to reject the renewed Bush-McCain privatization proposal that would divert money from the Social Security trust fund to pay for risky private investment accounts and slash guaranteed benefits.
“The people of Michigan were given a chance to reflect on how eight years of failed Bush/conservative polices have left behind an economy in shambles, millions more without health insurance, global warming neglected, and thousands each day losing their jobs, their homes, and their dignity,” said Lauren Weiner of Americans United for Change. “The Bush Legacy leaves behind a disastrous misadventure in Iraq that has cost over 4,100 Americans theirs lives – including 152 from right here in Michigan – wounded more than 30,000 others, and has weakened our national security by stretching the military to the breaking point. This tragic and unnecessary war in Iraq is projected to cost our nation at least $3 trillion dollars while this administration continues to shortchange so many critical priorities here at home like education, infrastructure, and healthcare for our children and veterans.”
“But the President didn’t veer the nation off course alone,” continued Weiner. “He had the help of his enablers in Congress like Reps. Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg who voted in lockstep with this President’s worst policy failures. Both have voted repeatedly to keep our troops stuck in the crosshairs of religious civil strife in Iraq with no end in sight. Both voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for cheaper prescription drugs. Both voted against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for 80,900 Michigan kids in need. Rep. Walberg voted against a 21st Century G.I. Bill that ensures our men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have to worry about how to afford quality, higher education. Rep. Walberg voted against raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade and against fixing a broken system for forming unions and bargaining for better pay and retirement security. Rep. Knollenberg rubberstamped the 2005 Bush energy bill that doled out billions in wasteful and unnecessary subsidies to the big oil companies that are making record profits. And both support the disastrous Bush-McCain privatization scheme that would turn Social Security from a guarantee into a guaranteed gamble. Yes, Reps. Walberg and Knollenberg will leave behind their own legacy of putting loyalty to Bush – not Michigan – first.”
“And now Senator McCain has emerged as the poster child for a third Bush term. Just like Bush, McCain was a fierce proponent of the deregulation that allowed Wall Street to run amok. McCain’s best answer for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is more tax breaks for millionaires like himself and corporations that outsource American jobs. McCain wants to keep U.S. troops stuck in Iraq for ‘100 Years’ or more. And McCain wants to resuscitate the same disastrous Bush proposal to privatize Social Security that was overwhelmingly rejected by the American public in 2005.”
“But the Bush Legacy Project is not just about Bush’s failures or even John McCain’s promises to continue them. It’s about the failed conservative ideology they represent,” added Weiner. “Conservative ideology rails against government, argues that government is the problem, not the solution. So when a government run by conservatives is faced with the most important responsibility any government has – to protect its citizens – is it any wonder you wind up with a tragedy of epic proportions like Hurricane Katrina? It’s time to drive a stake in the heart of conservatism as a governing philosophy once and for all. The Bush Legacy Bus is just one piece in an ongoing effort to redefine American political values and to create an enduring progressive majority in America. The bus serves to educate Americans about how the conservative polices President Bush and his allies in Congress have pursued have failed America and why progressive approaches to healthcare, the economy, foreign policy and other issues provide the solutions Americans are looking for.”
Kicked off across the street from the White House on June 24th, the National Bush Legacy Bus tour has since visited over 30 states — from New Hampshire to New Mexico — making nearly 150 stops in the hometowns of Bush’s enablers in Congress and symbolic locations like New Orleans the President’s home away from home in Crawford, Texas. The goals of the “Bush Legacy Project” are threefold:
Remind American voters why they have lost faith in President Bush and his conservative agenda.
Tie Bush and his agenda directly to the conservative brand and its followers.
Shift the center of the political debate toward progressive solutions to our nation’s most intractable problems by demonstrating the failure of Bush’s policies and conservative ideology.
A number of groups have sponsored or partnered with AUFC on the Bush Legacy Bus, including Center for American Progress Action Fund, AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, VoteVets.org, MoveOn.org Political Action, Healthcare for America Now and American Rights at Work, among others.