The Bush administration's education, health care and national security reforms are failing the American people and favoring corporations over small businesses, Democratic women said Thursday at Arlington's Courthouse Plaza.
Representatives of Virginia Women for Kerry-Edwards, a newly formed cadre of democratic campaigners, including Del. Kristin Amundson (D-44), rallied along with a crowd of nearly 100 on-lookers to promote the Kerry campaign for the coming November presidential election.
Amundson, a former school teacher, blasted President Bush on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a policy he championed as a way to improve the performance of federally funded public schools. Amundson said Bush has failed to provide adequate funding for his own education initiatives.
"The fact is that every child can learn. We should expect nothing less from our schools," she said. "But it takes extra time, highly qualified teachers, and smaller class sizes. And all of those cost money. Instead, the Bush budgets have spent 50 times more on tax cuts, most of them to the wealthiest Americans, than on education funding. This No Millionaire Left Behind policy is just wrong."
Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur said the Bush administration's scheme for funding first responders on the local level is flawed and presents no real solutions. Arthur said Bush is out of touch with the needs of police, firefighters and emergency crews who would be first on the scene during a terrorist attack.
"We need to have a president who is engaged on the local level with first responders," Arthur said after her speech.
Arthur pointed to a federal measure known as the Cops Program, an initiative created in the 1990s to put more police officers on America's streets. That program has since been cut.
"Meanwhile, we're seeing a rise in violent crime, a rise in the number of violent offenders and a rising rate of gang violence in Northern Virginia," she said.
America's unemployment crisis, Arthur said, is directly linked to the rising crime rates nationwide.
"We've got to educate our children and ensure we can find jobs for the people who need them," she said. "Otherwise, we're leaving teenagers with no options other than just hanging out on corners, getting involved in drugs and gangs."
Amundson also criticized Bush's spending on after-school programs.
According to a Zogby poll released this week, the presidential race in Virginia, traditionally a Republican stronghold, could be closer than either side had first imagined. The results fell within the margin of error.
"It is a good thing for Virginia to be such a close race in this election," Amundson said after the event. "It lets us know that our votes really do count."
Marina Kim, president of Asian Marketing Services, said small businesses like hers are feeling the effects of Republican healthcare policies, policies that are making it harder for her to provide insurance to her employees.
"As a Korean-American, what I came to this country for was to pursue a future, the American dream," she said.