AL GORE: Links Bush to ‘Do-Nothing’ Republican Congress
Evoking his most "strident rhetoric" of the campaign, Vice President Al Gore berated Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) and GOP lawmakers for failing to enact "meaningful" legislation on a wide range of issues, including health care, the Washington Post reports. "Let's face it ... [t]his is the do-nothing Congress of the 21st century -- and the reason they do nothing is that the Republican leaders keep asking what they can do for special interests," Gore said. The vice president hammered GOP lawmakers on a number of issues, particularly managed care reform and a Medicare prescription drug benefit, claiming that Republicans offered only "fig-leaf" legislation that falls short of real reform. He also blamed pharmaceutical companies for blocking Democrats' efforts to provide a "generous" prescription drug package for seniors and chided Bush for his connections with the industry. "Gov. Bush ... aids and abets the do-nothing Republican Congress and the same special interests who are contributing so much to his own campaign: the HMOs, the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies," he said. According to Gore, drugmakers have poured $7 million into Republican coffers in the "past few years," while insurers and HMOs "have lavished almost $9 million on the GOP." He added that Bush has received about $250,000 from pharmaceutical firms and $1.4 million from the insurance industry (Connolly, 7/11). "The real problem here isn't gridlock. It's special interest lock that's creating the do-nothing Congress," Gore concluded.
Responding to Gore's accusations, Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett argued that the Texas governor had his own agenda apart from Congress and the administration. "The governor sees himself as running his own campaign, setting forth his ideas and vision for Americans," he said. (Goldman, Los Angeles Times, 7/11). Bartlett also ridiculed Gore for "passing the buck" on legislative leadership, citing the failures of the current administration. "This administration has not been able to work with Congress in a bipartisan way to get legislation passed," he said (Washington Post, 7/11).