CHICAGO -  When will our troops return home from Iraq? What is the President’s plan to prevent factory jobs from going abroad? What is his plan for providing healthcare for the estimated 45 million Americans who have no insurance coverage? And how much money will he commit to address the AIDS epidemic spreading rapidly in black communities in the U.S. and around the world?

The President’s 2005 State of the Union address failed to answer the questions that people care about. And for Americans who expected President Bush’s speech to bring a divided America closer together, the speech was a major disappointment, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said.

“The President’s State of the Union address looks at the world and our nation from a top down philosophy,” said Rev. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. “From his plan to privatize social security, curtailing class-action lawsuits that hold corporations accountable, to his proposals granting tax breaks to corporations who take their businesses and jobs offshore, his state of the union offers windfall hand-outs to the haves and possibilities for the have-nots.”

For 53-mintues, said Rev. Jackson, it was business as usual, a speech full of new promises, disguised in political trickery. Remember the wolves in sheep’s clothing, Rev. Jackson said. President Bush boasts about creating 2.3 million jobs last year, but failed to concede that there has still been a net loss of jobs in virtually every state under his administration. He talks about fighting for Democracy abroad, but he avoided the concerns about Democracy being threatened at home.

“Following the second consecutive presidential election where voter suppression and irregularities threatened the integrity and validity of the vote, Bush’s state of the union makes no mention of the fundamental right to vote, except as related to Iraq,” Rev. Jackson said. “Forty years after we marched to win the Voting Rights Act in 1965, we now fight to extend key provisions of the act in 2007.  Yet, when Bush met with the Congressional Black Caucus last week, he confessed that he knew nothing about the issue.”

Rev. Jackson has challenged the President to provide the American people with an exit strategy for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, because too many lives have been lost, too much money has been spent and there is no end in sight.

“The administration continues to look at the immoral and unjustifiable war in Iraq through rose colored glasses,” Rev. Jackson said. “Holding elections and seeking to impose democracy at gunpoint continues to cost lives, $1 billion a week in military spending, and is making the world less, not more, secure.”

On the issue of social security, a program the President said is headed for bankruptcy unless changed, the President wants workers to divert up to two-thirds of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts.  The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition believes this plan is a big gamble.

“The only guarantee in this administration’s attempt to privatize social security is the profit windfall for business, with Wall Street financial service firms slated to receive up to $100 billion in fees,” Rev. Jackson said. “While President Bush cries crisis, his plan will only cut benefits and offer no guarantee of a healthy, solvent Society Security system for younger workers. It threatens one of the most successful programs in our nation’s history.”

During the State of the Union address, President Bush said he plans to launch a more vigilant fight to attack gangs and the deadly AIDS virus, but he did not say how much he would commit to these efforts. Rev. Jackson noted that these promises have been made before, such as in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address when he promised to commit billions to fight AIDS.

While Bush’s empty promises have divided many Americans, Rev. Jackson said he is optimistic that America will come together once Bush’s true agenda is exposed. Signs of this progress, he said, were evident last week when Black Baptist leaders convened in Nashville and departed with an agenda that challenges Bush on his record, not his promises.

“From his plan to privatize social security, curtailing class action lawsuits that hold corporations accountable, to his proposals granting tax breaks to corporations who take their businesses and jobs offshore, Bush’s state of the union offered windfall hand-outs to the “haves” and nothing for the “have-nots,” said Rev. Jackson.  “Our struggle continues.”