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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:08 a.m., Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Hawai'i delegation critical of Bush on economy, war

By Frank Oliveri
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON ó Hawai'iís Democratic lawmakers expressed frustration with President Bushís economic policies, and concern that he misrepresented the threat posed by Iraq.

"Over the last three years, reality has failed to match rhetoric," said Sen. Daniel Akaka.

In his speech, Bush placed a premium on training workers for new careers and finding a way to ensure more Americans have access to affordable health insurance. Those promises rang hollow for Hawai'iís lawmakers.

"The spinners in Washington are trying to give cover to the president on the question of jobs and anxiety over the economy," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie. "The fundamentals of the economy are not being addressed. The deficit is careening away. Itís overwhelming us."

Rep. Ed Case said he felt a frustrating mix of agreement and disagreement with the president. Case agreed with Bushís emphasis on economic vitality. "But left unsaid is that whatever growth is occurring has not generated jobs, and that the tax cuts the administration credits have in fact driven our federal budget into a vast and deepening deficit."

"November is going to be an interesting time after Iowa and this speech," said Sen. Daniel Inouye.

"He had some beautiful soundbites," Inouye said. "Our economy is growing stronger and everybody stood up and started yelling. Just a few weeks ago, we got a report from the Labor Department saying 1,000 new jobs were created in the month of December and it was supposed to be the best month. That comes out to 20 jobs per state. I donít know what statistics heís using, but that is not an indicator."

"Another good sound bite was America will never seek a permission slip to defend ourselves. That is a real good one." Inouye said.

"Until a few days ago, we sent (Paul) Bremer to the U.N. asking them for help. That is not the talk we need right now. We need to get our international friends back in the fold."