Jeffords Press Club address will critique Bush policies

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(Host) Senator James Jeffords says he’s concerned that President Bush is being unduly influenced by extremely conservative advisors. Jeffords says this situation has resulted in domestic policies that are disastrous for the future of the country. Jeffords will outline his concerns in a special address at the National Press Club in Washington Thursday.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) When Senator James Jeffords announced that he was leaving the Republican Party two years ago, he said he hoped his defection would send a clear signal to President Bush to support more moderate domestic policies.

Now 24 months later, Jeffords says not only has Bush not gotten the message, the situation is much worse:

(Jeffords) “Things have really been a disaster in the sense of our education and our economy. And the only reason I mention the war is it tends to get our attention off of the realities of what’s going on here at home. And here at home things are just in horrible shape with respect to especially the economy and education.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says the new tax cut law, which has just been signed by the president, will not help stimulate the economy and was adopted by the Republicans as a way to cut federal spending on key social programs in the years ahead:

(Jeffords) “But I believe what they will do is set up an economic situation that will drain the resources of this country. I think that’s what the Republicans are trying to do. If you don’t have money to spend, you can’t spend it. And therefore we’ll have less and less federal programs and we can cutback on education and matters like that and put them, all those over in the private sector where they believe they ought to be.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords is very concerned that the president has adopted these ultra conservative positions because Bush is allowing some of his closest advisors to dictate domestic policy priorities:

(Jeffords) “I think he’s a fine man, he’s a very pleasant man and I liked him when I knew him, until I found out what was being done. But I don’t think he’s in control. The people that are in control are just very, very far to the right. They’re trying to just get the federal government off of the areas that at least I think are important: in education and health care and economic security.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he’s also concerned that the administration’s inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq strongly indicates that the president manipulated the situation in Iraq in order to precipitate and justify military action without the approval of the United Nations.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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