Skip to content
Social Security Online
History Home This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures

Presidential Statements

George W. Bush - 2002




George W. Bush

President Calls on Congress to Pass Economic Security Package-- January 22, 2002



President Speaks at Hispanic Chamber of Commerce -- March 6, 2002


President Promotes Compassionate Conservatism -- April 30, 2002

President Outlines Priorities -- November 7, 2002





1st Quarter
Remainder of 2005



President Calls on Congress to Pass Economic Security Package-- January 22, 2002
Remarks by the President to the Employees of Cecil I. Walker Machinery Company
Cecil I. Walker Machinery Company
Charleston, West Virginia

1:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you for that warm welcome. Steve, I appreciate the fact that everybody who works here has got a uniform on with my middle name. (Laughter.) I don't know if he'll claim me as a relative, being a Walker. (Laughter.) But hearing how you like to sing at parties in West Virginia, I'm not so sure I want to claim you. (Laughter.)

Creating Jobs
Helping American Families
Focused on Consumers and Investors

But I'm honored you all would have me. I appreciate small business owners, entrepreneurs, people who work hard, people who build a team. I want to thank the workers here for such a warm greeting. I also appreciate you for your high-quality work. You know, American workers are the best in the world, and Walker employees are some of the best workers in the world, too. (Applause.)

I can't think of a better place to talk about economic security than at a place that works hard to create jobs and helps people keep a job, and makes sure that people who work here are treated well, treated with respect.

At its core, an economic security plan for every American has got to be the goal of our government. And it begins with a good education, and ends with secure retirement. And in between, much of one's life depends on being able to find work -- good, steady work. And that's how I approach decisions about our economy. I ask, are we creating an environment in which people can find work.

My economic plan is summed up in one word: jobs. And that's what all of us in Washington ought to be asking: how do we create jobs for people who want to work in America. (Applause.)

I want to thank members of the West Virginia delegation who are with me. Shelley traveled with me from Washington. We flew down together, we had a good visit. Every time I talk to her she constantly talks about West Virginia. Every time I talk to her, she doesn't necessarily do everything I tell her to. She's got kind of a West Virginia independent streak to her. (Laughter and applause.) But I'm proud to call her friend, and I'm also proud to call Jay Rockefeller friend. He and I are different political parties, but that's okay. We both love America.

The other day I had the honor of signing a piece of legislation at the White House, called the Safe and Stable Families Act. It's a really good piece of legislation. It's legislation that promotes adoption; legislation that helps foster care children. It's a legislation sponsored by Republicans and Democrats. Senator Rockefeller was one of the sponsors, and I sung his praises there, and I'm happy to come on his home turf and sing his praises here for this piece of legislation.

So, thank you, Senator Rockefeller, for doing it. (Applause.)

Every job begins with one decision, and that is the decision by somebody to say, I want to hire you. It comes as a surprise to some in Washington, though, when you think about that, that most of the hiring does not take place at the government level. Of course, we create jobs by hiring people at the government level. Most hiring takes place at small businesses. Most hiring takes place when an employer in the private sector says, I need you to work for me. And so the job of the government, if you think about it, is not to try to create wealth. That's not the job of the government. The job of the government is to create an environment in which more people are willing to hire more workers.

If jobs are the most important part of one of my jobs, then I'm going to insist that people ask the question, how do we encourage people to hire more people. That's what we ought to be asking. And that's the role of Washington, D.C.

It starts with making sure everybody is well-educated. Every new product, every new service starts with a good idea. And then that needs to be carried out by talented, skilled, educated people. With a better educated work force, our businesses, small and large, all across America are going to be able to innovate and make improvements. A better educated work force will mean America is more productive, and higher productivity means more jobs and higher paychecks.

So we've got to get it right when it comes to education. And I'm proud to report this is one issue where a handful of us in Washington decided to put aside our political parties and focus on what was right for America. I had the honor of signing a very good piece of education legislation, sponsored by, of all people, in the Senate, Ted Kennedy. Now, look, I traveled the country saying the guy is not a bad guy. (Laughter.) I think I put him in shock. (Laughter.) I know I put the people in Crawford, Texas coffee shop in shock. (Laughter.) But on this issue we worked well together. Republicans and Democrats. We showed the country that, party is all right -- I'm a proud Republican -- it's not nearly as important as the education of our children. (Applause.)

One of the roles of government is not only to create an environment that is good for jobs, but to remove obstacles, if they exist, for people having jobs. One of the obstacles that exists in our society is a public school system that simply shuffles children through the schools. It's so much easier to quit on a child, one that's supposedly hard to educate. And in some schools, in some school districts, and in some states, we've had the practice of just moving children through.

And that's not right in America. It is not right to quit on kids. And so now, as a result of this piece of legislation that both of the members here voted for, we asked -- we say, look, if you get federal money -- and we're going to spend money, by the way, on certain areas in education out of the federal government -- but if you get it, you've got to show us whether or not the children can read and write and add and subtract.

I'm asking the simple question, are we getting results with your money? (Applause.) And if not, do something different. If we're spending money, we expect children to learn to read. And if they can't, you'd better change; or otherwise we're going to give parents different options, so that there is no child trapped in a school that will not teach, and will not change.

I want to assure you, I remembered where I came from. I trust the people of West Virginia to run the schools of West Virginia, so we passed power out of Washington to the states. But we expect high standards, and high accountability and results. If what we're worried about is jobs, we've got to remove the obstacles for people finding good work by educating every child who lives in America.

But education doesn't just stop at the elementary school level or high school or college. This nation has got to understand, as technology changes, we've got to make sure the work force changes with it. And that's why I strongly support local job training programs.

We're increasing -- significantly increasing the amount of job training in our -- in the budget I submit to Congress. It recognizes there are a lot of good, hardworking people in America who received an education, that were skilled in one area, but the job base has shifted and, therefore, we better educate people to make sure that they can shift with the technologies. And, as well, my 2003 budget increases funding for Job Corps, which is an effective program that will help disadvantaged young people learn how to work.

So one thing we can do to make sure that people find a job is to make sure our education system works well throughout its entirety. Another thing to make sure there's an opportunity to create more jobs is to have good tax policy that allows people to keep more money, more of their own money, that you can put more of your own money in your own pocket and you can spend it. (Applause.)

When workers have more money -- and, by the way, it's your money to begin with; it's not the government's money. Somebody said the other day, well, the government is giving back the money. Well, it's not the government's money, it's the people who work for a living's money. (Applause.) If you have more of your own money, it means you're going to spend more. And if you spend more, somebody is going to have to make more of what you're spending it on, which means it's more likely somebody is going to find work. That's how the economy works.

The same with Walker. I want the Walkers to have more money to reinvest in their business. I want the Walkers to be able to have more cash flow so they can upgrade the equipment which the workers here use. It means it's more likely that somebody is going the find a job for the long-term.

Now, there is kind of a wacky economic theory going around Washington. It says, the more they take in your taxes, the better off you'll be. (Laughter.) It doesn't make any economic sense. It doesn't make any dollars and cents. And here in West Virginia, like they do elsewhere, they've got to know this is nonsense. (Applause.)

This economy started slowing down last March. And so the tax cut we put in place for everybody who pays taxes came right at the right time. If you want to encourage an economy to recover, you let people keep more of their own money. If you want to slow down an economy, you stop tax cuts. You, in essence, take money away from people. And that's not right, folks. I'm worried about job security. The more money people have, the more likely it is you're going to be able to find work.

Now, I'm also worried about people who have lost work because of the evil ones who attacked us. And I look forward to working with members of both political parties to extend unemployment benefits to those who lost their job, and to help them with health care. Surely, we can come together to do that.

But any good economic stimulus plan must ask the question, how do we create more jobs. And one way to do that is to accelerate tax relief for workers. And the other way to do that is to make sure the tax code doesn't punish companies like Walker. We ought to allow them to accelerate the depreciation schedule so that it is more likely they will buy more equipment. And we've got to reform a tax code that makes them pay more taxes even though their profits are going down. (Applause.)

And it is time for a vote. It's time for people to set aside who's going to benefit on the nightly news, you know, whose picture is going to look the best. Let's get a vote up. Let's pass this bill. Let's quit talking about it, and let's get the bill going. Congress is coming back tomorrow, and I'm confident, if they listen to the people out there, they'll know it's time to get a piece of legislation moving that will help create jobs, and help workers who got affected as a result of 9/11.

The next opportunity is to make sure that this nation has an energy policy. This nation needs an energy policy. (Applause.) Jobs depend on affordable energy. If there's a price spike or a disruption in supply, people may not have work. And it's also in our nation's national security interests that we become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

And we're dependent. We're dependent on energy from some parts of the world where sometimes they like us, and sometimes they don't. And we need to do something about it. We need an energy bill. We passed one out of the House of Representatives, and it's now time for the United States Senate to pass a good bill.

It's one that says, of course, we'll conserve more. All of us want to have new technologies that will make conservation a part of our life. And we can do a better job in America. One of these days, we're going to be driving automobiles that are fueled differently. And that's going to be exciting times for America. In other words, there's new technologies coming down, and we can encourage those technologies. So conservation and technological development have got to be an integral part of energy.

But folks, we need more supply. You know, I'm walking back here in the back, and they said, I'm now repairing a machine that digs for coal. We need to use coal. We've got a lot of it, and we need to make sure that we've got coal. (Applause.)

A lot of people don't realize that good energy policy means jobs. Bad energy policy means we might lose jobs. Good energy policy means we can create jobs.

I was with Jimmy Hoffa the other day, of the Teamsters, in his headquarters. I know, I mean, people just don't expect a Republican to be hanging out with the Teamsters. (Laughter.) But he and I share something in common. We worry about people who want to work. He worries about it, as the head of a mighty union. I worry about it as the President.

See, I'm the President of everybody, not just a few. I'm the President of people whether they voted for me or not. I'm the President of union and non-union. I'm the President of Republicans and Democrats and independents. And I share something in common with Jimmy, and that is how best to get jobs. That's why he and I both know that the energy bill ought to make sure we can explore for natural gas and crude oil in Alaska. It's good for jobs. (Applause.) He knows what I know, that means work for people.

There's going to be a lot of work. And he knows what I know as well, that we can do so in an environmentally friendly way; that we can have a footprint in this vast tundra that will not affect the environment and, at the same time, make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

Listen, finding oil and gas and coal in our own hemisphere, and nuclear power, for that matter, in our own hemisphere is in our national security interest. And I ask the Senate to put aside all the politics and get me a good energy bill. It's in the best interests for people trying to find work and it's in the best interests of the United States of America. (Applause.)

We can create more opportunities by selling more products overseas. I spent a lot of time as the governor of Texas with the farmers. The agricultural sector is an incredibly important part of our economy. And one of the benefits we have as a nation is we can feed ourselves. That's good for the national security interest, by the way. But we produce more food than we need. We ought to be selling it overseas. The more markets available for U.S. products, the more likely it is somebody is going to find work.

It is so important for America to understand that we're good at what we do. We can compete with anybody in the world. We've got the most productive work force on the face of the Earth; therefore, let's open up markets to sell our products. (Applause.) The Senate has got to give me the ability to do that. It came out of the House; it's bottled up in the Senate. I ask them to pass that bill, called the Trade Promotion Authority.

In order to create good jobs, we've got to have a legal system that's fair and balanced. I want people who have got a good case to be able to make their case in court. But I'm going to tell you, the Walker boys fear frivolous and junk lawsuits. I don't know them that well, but I can guess they do. (Laughter.) And we don't need a lot of regulation either. The federal government ought to be wise about how we enforce standards, but not overregulate those who are trying to create work. (Applause.)

We can do some smart things in Washington to create jobs. One of the things the government needs to do is to spend money on research and development. The more research and development there are, the more likely it is we'll find interesting answers to energy problems or health problems or national security issues. And that translates into jobs.

And so my budget for 2003 spends $110 billion on federal research -- on grants for research and development. It makes sense. The more we know today about the future, the more likely it is we're going to be able to have a work force that's steadily employed.

And finally, we've got to make sure that we have retirement security; that if part of a secure economic environment begins with education, it's got to end with making sure that our Medicare system works well, that people are given options, that it's a modern system that reflects the modern ways of medicine; and that we have a Social Security system that fulfills the promise to the elderly, but recognizes we better reform it for the younger workers so that they will have a Social Security system -- one that says if you're relying upon Social Security today, nothing changes. The promise we have made you will be a promise this government will keep.

But if you're a younger worker, we've got to trust you to manage your own money, if that's what you choose to do. You see, ownership is a part of what it means to have a society that is vibrant, that is a society based upon economic security. I want people to own their home, and so we've got plans to encourage ownership from renters. I want people to be able to manage their own money. I want people to be able to own and start their own business. I want them to be able to pass their farm or ranch or business from one generation to the next. That's why I was so insistent we get rid of the death tax in the tax code.

Ownership is what makes America unique and different. And if we're asking about how to make sure we have a secure environment for workers and families, let's encourage people to own their own home and business and their own retirement accounts. And we can do that.

As a matter of fact, I'm confident in our economy, confident in -- because I'm confident in the American way of life. You know, they hit us on 9/11, but Walker was running before 9/11 and it's running after 9/11. I mean, some certainly have gotten affected as a result of the attacks. But they didn't diminish the entrepreneurial spirit of America. They didn't diminish the drive by small business owners to expand and grow and to create jobs.

We've got -- the underpinnings of growth are with us. And our job in Washington, D.C., is to encourage that growth, and to always remember that jobs are the cornerstone of good economic policy.

But these are unique times in America, which means we've got to really deal with the problem that came upon our shores. The truth of the matter is, the best thing I can do for the economy is to make sure the enemy doesn't hit us again. And I'm proud of the -- (applause). Every morning I wake up, walk into the great Oval Office. Well, first I take Barney and Spot outside. (Laughter.) But I go into this fabulous office -- by the way, it is just a -- it's a shrine to our great democracy -- and I read a threat assessment. You know the intentions of the enemy are to hit us again. And I make a vow every morning that I will do everything in my power and encourage those of us in positions of responsibility not to let that happen.

You need to know our government is on full alert, and I hope you are, as well. People say, what does that mean. Well, if you see something odd happening, let somebody know. Something out of the ordinary. It's just like that stewardess on the airplane that time when the shoe man showed up. She saw something was odd. (Laughter.) She thought something was different and she brought him in. That's what Americans must do now as a result of the evil ones hitting us. We've got to be on our toes.

The FBI has changed its culture. The FBI is now focused on preventing another attack. We've got agents all across the country working day in and day out to sniff out any lead, any idea. Because our biggest job is to prevent them from coming at us. They may come at us, but they're not going to get us. (Applause.)

I want to thank the local law enforcement officers here in West Virginia who are working hand in hand with state officers and working with our federal people, too. But the truth of the matter is, the best way to make sure that we secure our homeland is to find the enemy where they hide and bring them to justice. And that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)

Many of you have got relatives in the military, and I want to thank you. And you thank them on behalf of their Commander-in-Chief. Put the military to a task, and the military is preforming brilliantly. (Applause.)

We told the world -- I told the world -- our government has told the world, our country has told the world, that this compassionate, generous nation will not let terror stand; that wherever we find terror, we will deal with it. We put a great coalition together, people who understand that this is an historic opportunity and a moment in which those who love freedom must not blink and must not tire. That -- I made it clear that if you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, we're going to treat you like a terrorist.

And the Taliban learned that lesson because of our United States military. (Applause.) They're not in power. And by routing them out of power, this great nation not only defended freedom, not only sent a clear message about our intention, but this great nation liberated a people. We liberated women and children. We freed people from incredible oppression. What a proud moment for America, that we stood for what we believe, and in so doing, gave people a better chance for life.

I want to thank you all, and thank the American people for your patience. If we tire, the world will tire. If we get impatient, the terrorists win. Yet our great nation is bound by such a love for freedom, and the desire not for revenge, but for justice, that we're not going to tire; that we will stay the course. (Applause.)

Families in America have suffered the greatest sacrifice of all, the loss of a loved one. But in this case, the cause is noble, and it is just. We fight for freedom and the ability for our children and grandchildren to grow up in a peaceful world, one that does not fear murderers coming to our shore and killing through acts of terror.

This country must not yield. We must seize this moment of history. It is this generation's calling, and we are not going to let the world down. We're ready, we're steady, we're resolved. And we will rout out the terrorists, no matter what cave they think they can hide in, and bring them to justice. (Applause.)

You know, I was floored to think about the attitudes of the enemy when they thought we were soft. I couldn't figure out which TV show they had been watching. (Laughter.) I mean, can you imagine somebody saying the great United States won't respond, or the great United States really doesn't care, won't commit the resources necessary to rid the world of evil? But, my, oh, my, did they make a huge mistake.

They also didn't understand the character of the country. They don't understand how good we are. They don't understand America's values -- the values of freedom of worship, no matter what religion you choose; freedom to speak; freedom to run for office; freedom to vote; freedom to be -- to work for your family so your family can live in a peaceful world. They don't understand that. They must not understand it.

I'm asked all the time, what can I do to help. Well, what you could do to help for a while was to travel, and it looks like we're getting better. Airlines are filling up and people are going to different destination places. But the truth of the matter is, if you want to fight evil -- and make no mistake about it, this is good versus evil -- if you want to fight evil, do some good.

If you're interested in fighting evil, tell your children you love them every day this year. If you want to fight off evil, get involved in the school system and make it as good as it can be. Teach a child to read. If you want to fight evil, go to your church or synagogue or mosque and start a program that will love a neighbor. If you want to fight evil, go see a shut-in and say, what can I do to help.

You see, the great character of America is not defined necessarily by our military actions, although that counts. The great character of America is defined by millions of acts of decency and kindness that take place every day all across our country. (Applause.)

The evil ones struck, but out of this will come incredible good. The world will be more peaceful when we accomplish our mission. And this country will be more compassionate and more decent and more loving.

It's such an honor to be the President of a land that has achieved so much, but with much more to do. Thank you for giving me the chance to come, and thank you for giving me the chance to be your President. May God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 1:33 P.M. EST



The United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:15 P.M. EST

President Bush with staff reading speech
The President reviews draft of his SOTU speech with White House staff, 1/24/02.
White House photo by Eric Draper.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, fellow citizens: As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger. (Applause.)

President Bush delivering 2002 speech We last met in an hour of shock and suffering. In four short months, our nation has comforted the victims, begun to rebuild New York and the Pentagon, rallied a great coalition, captured, arrested, and rid the world of thousands of terrorists, destroyed Afghanistan's terrorist training camps, saved a people from starvation, and freed a country from brutal oppression. (Applause.)

The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay. (Applause.) And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own. (Applause.)
The President delivers his SOTU address.
White House photo by Eric Draper.

America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. We'll be partners in rebuilding that country. And this evening we welcome the distinguished interim leader of a liberated Afghanistan: Chairman Hamid Karzai. (Applause.)

The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free, and are part of Afghanistan's new government. And we welcome the new Minister of Women's Affairs, Doctor Sima Samar. (Applause.)

Our progress is a tribute to the spirit of the Afghan people, to the resolve of our coalition, and to the might of the United States military. (Applause.) When I called our troops into action, I did so with complete confidence in their courage and skill. And tonight, thanks to them, we are winning the war on terror. (Applause.) The man and women of our Armed Forces have delivered a message now clear to every enemy of the United States: Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in caves -- you will not escape the justice of this nation. (Applause.)

For many Americans, these four months have brought sorrow, and pain that will never completely go away. Every day a retired firefighter returns to Ground Zero, to feel closer to his two sons who died there. At a memorial in New York, a little boy left his football with a note for his lost father: Dear Daddy, please take this to heaven. I don't want to play football until I can play with you again some day.

Last month, at the grave of her husband, Michael, a CIA officer and Marine who died in Mazur-e-Sharif, Shannon Spann said these words of farewell: "Semper Fi, my love." Shannon is with us tonight. (Applause.)

Shannon, I assure you and all who have lost a loved one that our cause is just, and our country will never forget the debt we owe Michael and all who gave their lives for freedom.

Our cause is just, and it continues. Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. We have seen the depth of our enemies' hatred in videos, where they laugh about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equaled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world.

What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning. Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September the 11th were trained in Afghanistan's camps, and so were tens of thousands of others. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning.

Thanks to the work of our law enforcement officials and coalition partners, hundreds of terrorists have been arrested. Yet, tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. (Applause.) So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it. (Applause.)

Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world. (Applause.)

Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.

While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will. (Applause.)

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight. (Applause.)

Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. My budget supports three great goals for America: We will win this war; we'll protect our homeland; and we will revive our economy.

September the 11th brought out the best in America, and the best in this Congress. And I join the American people in applauding your unity and resolve. (Applause.) Now Americans deserve to have this same spirit directed toward addressing problems here at home. I'm a proud member of my party -- yet as we act to win the war, protect our people, and create jobs in America, we must act, first and foremost, not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans. (Applause.)

It costs a lot to fight this war. We have spent more than a billion dollars a month -- over $30 million a day -- and we must be prepared for future operations. Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them. We need to replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile, to put our troops anywhere in the world quickly and safely. Our men and women in uniform deserve the best weapons, the best equipment, the best training -- and they also deserve another pay raise. (Applause.)

My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades -- because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay. (Applause.)

The next priority of my budget is to do everything possible to protect our citizens and strengthen our nation against the ongoing threat of another attack. Time and distance from the events of September the 11th will not make us safer unless we act on its lessons. America is no longer protected by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home.

My budget nearly doubles funding for a sustained strategy of homeland security, focused on four key areas: bioterrorism, emergency response, airport and border security, and improved intelligence. We will develop vaccines to fight anthrax and other deadly diseases. We'll increase funding to help states and communities train and equip our heroic police and firefighters. (Applause.) We will improve intelligence collection and sharing, expand patrols at our borders, strengthen the security of air travel, and use technology to track the arrivals and departures of visitors to the United States. (Applause.)

Homeland security will make America not only stronger, but, in many ways, better. Knowledge gained from bioterrorism research will improve public health. Stronger police and fire departments will mean safer neighborhoods. Stricter border enforcement will help combat illegal drugs. (Applause.) And as government works to better secure our homeland, America will continue to depend on the eyes and ears of alert citizens.

A few days before Christmas, an airline flight attendant spotted a passenger lighting a match. The crew and passengers quickly subdued the man, who had been trained by al Qaeda and was armed with explosives. The people on that plane were alert and, as a result, likely saved nearly 200 lives. And tonight we welcome and thank flight attendants Hermis Moutardier and Christina Jones. (Applause.)

Once we have funded our national security and our homeland security, the final great priority of my budget is economic security for the American people. (Applause.) To achieve these great national objectives -- to win the war, protect the homeland, and revitalize our economy -- our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term, so long as Congress restrains spending and acts in a fiscally responsible manner. (Applause.) We have clear priorities and we must act at home with the same purpose and resolve we have shown overseas: We'll prevail in the war, and we will defeat this recession. (Applause.)

Americans who have lost their jobs need our help and I support extending unemployment benefits and direct assistance for health care coverage. (Applause.) Yet, American workers want more than unemployment checks -- they want a steady paycheck. (Applause.) When America works, America prospers, so my economic security plan can be summed up in one word: jobs. (Applause.)

Good jobs begin with good schools, and here we've made a fine start. (Applause.) Republicans and Democrats worked together to achieve historic education reform so that no child is left behind. I was proud to work with members of both parties: Chairman John Boehner and Congressman George Miller. (Applause.) Senator Judd Gregg. (Applause.) And I was so proud of our work, I even had nice things to say about my friend, Ted Kennedy. (Laughter and applause.) I know the folks at the Crawford coffee shop couldn't believe I'd say such a thing -- (laughter) -- but our work on this bill shows what is possible if we set aside posturing and focus on results. (Applause.)

There is more to do. We need to prepare our children to read and succeed in school with improved Head Start and early childhood development programs. (Applause.) We must upgrade our teacher colleges and teacher training and launch a major recruiting drive with a great goal for America: a quality teacher in every classroom. (Applause.)

Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil. (Applause.)

Good jobs depend on expanded trade. Selling into new markets creates new jobs, so I ask Congress to finally approve trade promotion authority. (Applause.) On these two key issues, trade and energy, the House of Representatives has acted to create jobs, and I urge the Senate to pass this legislation. (Applause.)

Good jobs depend on sound tax policy. (Applause.) Last year, some in this hall thought my tax relief plan was too small; some thought it was too big. (Applause.) But when the checks arrived in the mail, most Americans thought tax relief was just about right. (Applause.) Congress listened to the people and responded by reducing tax rates, doubling the child credit, and ending the death tax. For the sake of long-term growth and to help Americans plan for the future, let's make these tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend. For the sake of American workers, let's pass a stimulus package. (Applause.)

Good jobs must be the aim of welfare reform. As we reauthorize these important reforms, we must always remember the goal is to reduce dependency on government and offer every American the dignity of a job. (Applause.)

Americans know economic security can vanish in an instant without health security. I ask Congress to join me this year to enact a patients' bill of rights -- (applause) -- to give uninsured workers credits to help buy health coverage -- (applause) -- to approve an historic increase in the spending for veterans' health -- (applause) -- and to give seniors a sound and modern Medicare system that includes coverage for prescription drugs. (Applause.)

A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact new safeguards for 401K and pension plans. (Applause.) Employees who have worked hard and saved all their lives should not have to risk losing everything if their company fails. (Applause.) Through stricter accounting standards and tougher disclosure requirements, corporate America must be made more accountable to employees and shareholders and held to the highest standards of conduct. (Applause.)

Retirement security also depends upon keeping the commitments of Social Security, and we will. We must make Social Security financially stable and allow personal retirement accounts for younger workers who choose them. (Applause.)

Members, you and I will work together in the months ahead on other issues: productive farm policy -- (applause) -- a cleaner environment -- (applause) -- broader home ownership, especially among minorities -- (applause) -- and ways to encourage the good work of charities and faith-based groups. (Applause.) I ask you to join me on these important domestic issues in the same spirit of cooperation we've applied to our war against terrorism. (Applause.)

During these last few months, I've been humbled and privileged to see the true character of this country in a time of testing. Our enemies believed America was weak and materialistic, that we would splinter in fear and selfishness. They were as wrong as they are evil. (Applause.)

The American people have responded magnificently, with courage and compassion, strength and resolve. As I have met the heroes, hugged the families, and looked into the tired faces of rescuers, I have stood in awe of the American people.

And I hope you will join me -- I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to one American for the strength and calm and comfort she brings to our nation in crisis, our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.)

None of us would ever wish the evil that was done on September the 11th. Yet after America was attacked, it was as if our entire country looked into a mirror and saw our better selves. We were reminded that we are citizens, with obligations to each other, to our country, and to history. We began to think less of the goods we can accumulate, and more about the good we can do.

For too long our culture has said, "If it feels good, do it." Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: "Let's roll." (Applause.) In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass. (Applause.)

My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years -- 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime -- to the service of your neighbors and your nation. (Applause.) Many are already serving, and I thank you. If you aren't sure how to help, I've got a good place to start. To sustain and extend the best that has emerged in America, I invite you to join the new USA Freedom Corps. The Freedom Corps will focus on three areas of need: responding in case of crisis at home; rebuilding our communities; and extending American compassion throughout the world.

One purpose of the USA Freedom Corps will be homeland security. America needs retired doctors and nurses who can be mobilized in major emergencies; volunteers to help police and fire departments; transportation and utility workers well-trained in spotting danger.

Our country also needs citizens working to rebuild our communities. We need mentors to love children, especially children whose parents are in prison. And we need more talented teachers in troubled schools. USA Freedom Corps will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to recruit more than 200,000 new volunteers.

And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. So we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double its volunteers over the next five years -- (applause) -- and ask it to join a new effort to encourage development and education and opportunity in the Islamic world. (Applause.)

This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity -- a moment we must seize to change our culture. Through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know we can overcome evil with greater good. (Applause.) And we have a great opportunity during this time of war to lead the world toward the values that will bring lasting peace.

All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want their children to be educated, and live free from poverty and violence. No people on Earth yearn to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude, or eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police.

If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic "street" greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning, and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. (Applause.)

No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance. (Applause.)

America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.

In this moment of opportunity, a common danger is erasing old rivalries. America is working with Russia and China and India, in ways we have never before, to achieve peace and prosperity. In every region, free markets and free trade and free societies are proving their power to lift lives. Together with friends and allies from Europe to Asia, and Africa to Latin America, we will demonstrate that the forces of terror cannot stop the momentum of freedom. (Applause.)

The last time I spoke here, I expressed the hope that life would return to normal. In some ways, it has. In others, it never will. Those of us who have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them. We've come to know truths that we will never question: evil is real, and it must be opposed. (Applause.) Beyond all differences of race or creed, we are one country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American character, there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism. And many have discovered again that even in tragedy -- especially in tragedy -- God is near. (Applause.)

In a single instant, we realized that this will be a decisive decade in the history of liberty, that we've been called to a unique role in human events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential.

Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life. (Applause.)

Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom's price. We have shown freedom's power. And in this great conflict, my fellow Americans, we will see freedom's victory.

Thank you all. May God bless. (Applause.)

END 10:03 P.M. EST

Remarks by the President at the 2002 National Summit on Retirement Savings--Feb. 28, 2002
Capital Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.

Bush speaking at podium in front of graphic display of photos
White House photo

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I appreciate that warm welcome. It's a pleasure to be here with friends and those who are promoting an important cause, and that is promoting the security and dignity of Americans who are in retirement.

Americans can help secure their own future by saving. Government must support policies that promote and protect saving. And saving is the path to independence for Americans in all phases of life, and we must encourage more Americans to take that path.

I want to thank the Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, for helping put on this conference, and I appreciate her service. (Applause.) I appreciate the Director of the Small Business Administration for being here -- Hector, thank you for coming. (Applause.) It is good to see at least one fellow Texan, Sam Johnson. I appreciate you being here, Sammy, thank you for coming. (Applause.) And I appreciate Bill Roth, the former Senator from Delaware, for being here as well. Thank you, Senator, for coming today. (Applause.)

Just over a hundred years ago, at the turn of the last century, the average life expectancy in America was only 47 years. Today, that number has increased by three full decades. This amazing advance in the health of Americans is also profoundly changing our society. Americans who retire today may have decades -- decades -- of healthy life before them.

This is time to volunteer, making seniors one of the greatest resources of compassion in America. This is time for family to pass on values to grandchildren and to strengthen the bonds between grandparents and family members. And, increasingly, retirement is a time of new beginnings: a time to travel and explore; a time to take up new hobbies; and a time to take up new careers.
Some 80 percent of baby boomers -- I happen to be one -- (laughter) -- say they plan to work at least part-time in retirement. And smart employers will be wise to use their experience, and their competence.

The choices seniors make in retirement should not be limited by arbitrary dates, or obsolete stereotypes. Increasingly, the choices of seniors will only be limited by two things: the state of their health, and the state of their savings.
Because the nature of retirement is changing, the needs of retirement are changing as well. Older Americans now require a retirement nest egg large enough for decades of enjoyment and ambition. As medicine increases the length of life, adequate savings must increase the options we have on longer lives.

Saving is never easy; it's hard for some to do. But it's always worthwhile. Particularly when you think about the power of compounding interest. The power of compound interest is one of the great advantages of American citizens. And they must learn to use it. If a worker starts saving just $20 a week at age 22, and earns a 5.5 percent real interest rate on the investment, that adds up to a nest egg of nearly $180,000 by age 65.

This summit was created by Congress to educate workers and citizens about the power and rewards of saving, and I want to thank you for participating. You've accomplished a great deal, but there's much more to do.

Americans are saving too little -- often, dangerously too little. The average 50-year-old in America has less than $40,000 in personal financial wealth. The average American retires with only enough savings to provide 60 percent of his former annual income. This problem is especially acute for women and minorities.

We must encourage for all our people the security and independence provided by savings. I want America to be an ownership society, a society where a life of work becomes a retirement of independence.

Savings start as an individual responsibility, but government can help by expanding the rewards of saving and by strengthening protections for saving. Last year, the Congress passed, and I proudly signed, powerful new incentives for retirement savings. Many of you in this room were involved in that effort and I want to thank you.

We relaxed the restrictions on how much workers can invest in their individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. Last year's tax relief plan allowed workers over the age of 50 to make overpayments to their retirement plans. This is especially important for women, who take time out of the labor force to stay at home with their children.

We passed some important reforms to give workers more choices and more rights. We created a new kind of 401(k), that allows workers to pay their taxes now and make tax-free withdrawals when they retire, just like the way the Roth IRA works. And we required companies to vest their employees' retirement rights more quickly. Your retirement money becomes yours faster now more than ever.
And, finally, we made it easier to roll over retirement savings from one account to another. We know that American workers change jobs more frequently today than they used to. This means that people are seeing opportunity, and they're seizing it. But if workers are going to move, their retirement savings need to move with them without unnecessary bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork.
Thanks to the 2001 tax relief program, our tax code is now friendlier to saving than it has been in a long time. Not only am I proud of cutting taxes, I'm proud of reforming the savings, and I'm proud of the good work that Congress did on this matter.

But there's still more to do. Even when people are saving enough, they need to feel more secure about the laws protecting their savings. In recent months, we've seen how workers can lose a lifetime's worth of savings if their company were to fail. So my administration has proposed reforms to make sure that the money Americans put away in their working years grows safely, so it is available in their retirement years.

More than 40 million workers own 401(k) accounts totaling over $1.8 trillion in assets. Many of these assets have been contributed by employers who match their workers' own savings. We know that employers contribute more when they have the option to give company stock as well as cash, and that option ought to remain as positive for American workers. But a worker should also have more freedom to choose how to invest their retirement savings.

Companies that contribute stock to employee 401(k)s should not be permitted to lock their employees into owning that stock for years and years. My proposal will allow workers to sell company stock and diversify into other investment options after three years in their own company's plan. We need action to give workers the right to put their savings -- to put their eggs in more than one basket.

Another important reform addresses the issue of blackouts, times when employees are not free to change or access their retirement accounts. When companies black-out a pension plan, they temporarily take away a worker's freedom to choose for themselves. Workers should be given a 30-day notice before any blackout period begins and company officers should not be allowed to sell their own company stock when workers cannot. (Applause.) What's fair on the top floor should be fair on the shop floor. (Applause.)

To make good investment decisions, workers need sound advice and timely information. Employers should be required to provide updates on workers' retirement account values every three months. And we should change current law to remove the threat of lawsuits from employers who provide sound third-party investment advice.

All these measures will help build faith in America's pension system, and I urge Congress to act.
I want to thank Senators Tim Hutchison and Chuck Grassley, and Representatives Boehner, Portman, and Cardin, for their bipartisan efforts to put forward good, common-sense legislation that seeks to achieve many of these pension reform principles. Every American deserves to be an owner in the American Dream.

That dream includes a sound pension plan, and adequate private savings. And it is ultimately completed by Social Security reform. Some people like their Social Security exactly the way it is, and they'll be able to keep it exactly the way it is. But for younger workers who want to take advantage of the power of compounding interest, we should allow for personal retirement accounts. (Applause.)

Today, Social Security is not a personal savings program. Retirees' benefits are paid directly from the taxes paid each year by current workers. The average return on Social Security is less than 2 percent. And in the long run, Social Security can pay retirees less than 30 percent of what they earned before retiring. And that's not good enough as we head into the 21st century.
We can do better, and a lot of people know this. Someone retiring today after 45 years of work would be entitled to a monthly benefit of $1,128 a month from Social Security. If that same retiree, if those Social Security taxes had been invested in the stock market over the last 45 years, during the same period of time, that person would now have a nest egg of $590,000, or income of more than $3,700 a month.

Because there will be an expanding number of retirees for Social Security to support in the future, we must apply the power of savings, investing, and compound interest to the challenges of Social Security by introducing personal retirement accounts into the system. Americans would own these assets. After all, it is their money. (Applause.) They would see more retirement income, and that's necessary as people live longer lives. And, as importantly, they would be able to pass these accounts on to their children. (Applause.)

Franklin Roosevelt told the U.S. Congress in 1935 that his goals for Social Security included providing a secure retirement to American workers and making sure all Americans could build their personal wealth. We must dedicate ourselves to both those goals.
At a time when older Americans have longer lives and more options than ever before, we need to ensure they have access not just to a monthly check, but to personal wealth. (Applause.) And I mean all Americans -- not just a few, but all Americans, especially women and minorities who are often short-changed by the current Social Security system.

Robert Johnson, the CEO of Black Entertainment Television, explains it this way. "African Americans die earlier, therefore receiving less in the form of Social Security pay-outs. One of the ways to address this is through the use of wealth-generating private accounts that form part of an estate opportunity for African Americans."

And Lea Abdnor, a member of the President's Commission to strengthen Social Security -- as was Mr. Johnson -- said, "I believe very strongly that we have to give women the opportunity to create ownership and wealth for the first time." (Applause.) And I couldn't agree more. (Applause.)
My administration is working to expand growth and opportunity in our economy. That's why we cut the taxes. (Applause.) And we've got to make sure the opportunity is available as a result of people being able to own something, own their own money so they can manage it themselves, own their own portfolio, have the capacity to generate wealth. The generation of wealth should not be limited to a few in our society; it ought to be an opportunity for everybody. There's nothing better than providing the incentive to say this is my asset base, I own it, I will live on it in retirement, and I will then pass it on to somebody in my own family.

If you own something in America, you own a stake in America's future, and a good retirement vision, a good retirement future says that we must reform Social Security, not only for the good of the system but, as importantly, for the good of American workers who work all their life so that they can have an asset base to call their own. (Applause.)

So as you continue to meet, I hope that you will think not only about the short term issues we face, but how best to make sure that the retirement promises are kept. And how to make sure that as we come up with new systems and new structures that we fundamentally change America for the better, that we make the system open and that opportunity extends its reach throughout every neighborhood. It is such a wonderful opportunity for the country, and I hope you join me in seizing it.

I want to thank you for giving me the chance to come by. Elaine is right, I do worry about the security of the American people; I worry about the security of those who retire. And I want you to know every day I'm worried about the homeland security, too. Every day we wake up -- I wake up and go into the beautiful Oval Office and read about threats to the United States. And it reminds me that the security of this country is my most important job.

And I want to assure you all that our administration is doing everything that we possibly can to make sure innocent Americans do not lose their lives here at home. We're running down every lead, we're following every hint, every suggestion, every opportunity to chase down some possible clue of an attack -- we are doing it. And I'm proud of our law enforcement officers at the federal, state and local level for their diligence.

But I also want to remind you that in order to make sure the homeland is as secure as it can possibly be for our children and grandchildren, that we must hunt down the killers and would-be killers, terrorists, al Qaeda terrorists and bring them to justice. This is going to require more time than people may want. It's going to require a patient and determined nation.

But having traveled around the country some, having had a chance to listen to the American people, I'm proud of the fact that our nation is patient and is determined. Because our nation understands that we fight for freedom, and any time our freedom is challenged, we stand strong in the face of those who would take away our freedom.

Our military is making great strides, I'm proud of the U.S. military. And as fellow Americans, I will assure you that so long as I'm the President, I will do whatever it takes to protect the American people.

I want to thank you for letting me come by. May God bless you all. (Applause.)

President Speaks at Hispanic Chamber of Commerce -- March 6, 2002
Presidential Hall Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

2:30 P.M. EST


THE PRESIDENT: Hector, thank you. One of the best decisions I made was I asked you to come and be the SBA Director. And he's doing a fine job. (Applause.) One of the reasons I asked Hector is because he understands that the role of government is not to create wealth, but to create an environment in which entrepreneurs from all walks of life have a chance to succeed.

I'll never forget going to the Hispanic Chamber banquet in California, and I was given the information about the number of Latino-owned small businesses in the state of California. It was a staggering number. And I can remember telling friends of mine in Texas and other states what a magnificent statistic it is, to be able to read about the thousands of businesses started by Latinos, which means the American Dream is spreading her wings in every single neighborhood, which is precisely the vision I have for America. I want everybody who wants to start their own business to feel comfortable in doing so, and have an opportunity to succeed in America. And Hector understands that.

I want to thank you all to the Casa Blanca tambien. I want to thank Fidel Vargas for being here. He's on the Social Security Commission -- I put two Latinos on the Social Security Commission. The Social Security Commission spent a lot of time analyzing the Social Security system, and came back with a solid recommendation of allowing younger workers, if they so choose, to have their own money invested in a personal savings account.

Again, I can't think of anything better for the future of our country than for people to own a piece of the future of America. After all, it is not the government's money we're talking about; it is the workers' money. And I want to thank the hard work of Fidel, y nosotros and the Commission of the Social Security.

I want to thank George Herrera, the President of the Chamber -- el Presidente. (Laughter and applause). I want to thank Liz, as well, for being here. E tambien me abogado. (Applause.) Al has been my lawyer since when I was the governor. He's been mi abogado quando estoy el presidente, and his advice has always been sound. He's really a smart guy and a very close friend.

And finally, I want to recognize Miguel Estrada. Miguel. (Applause.) Miguel is a really bright attorney who I've named to the U.S. -- nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. They're playing too much politics in the United States Senate on our judge nominees. This man deserves a hearing and he deserves a vote. This is a good, solid jurist who ought to be on that bench. And I'm calling on the United States Senate to move quickly on Miguel's nomination, so that we can have a good, young Latino; smart, brilliant man represent our nation. Thank you for being here, Miguel. (Applause.)

I first want to tell you that -- this is an incredible time for our country, and I want to assure you all, as leaders in your communities and moms and dads and as concerned citizens, that our nation is doing everything we can to protect America; that we've got a homeland security strategy that is working with first responders and bioterrorism; that we want to modernize our borders. We want to make sure we do everything to protect the American people, and we are.

But you've also got to understand my view, and it's this: that the best way to protect the American people is to find a terrorist wherever they hide and bring them to justice. You know, when this first got started I told the American people that we would be in for a long and difficult struggle. And after nearly six months, the American people still understand that -- that in order to fight for freedom, in order to win for freedom, we've got to be determined and strong and not relent. History has called this great nation into action, and so long as I'm the President, I will pursue the opportunity to protect freedom -- any time, anywhere.

And as you know, I've laid out a doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist. And that's what the Taliban found out. And I like to remind my fellow Americans, not only am I proud of how our United States military has performed, that our military were not conquerors, they were liberators. We freed women and children from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind. I cannot tell you how proud I am of our troops. (Applause.)

And obviously, there is still work to be done in the first theater in the war against terror. This is a -- I told people and I've been saying this for a long time, and I will continue to say so -- Afghanistan is still a dangerous place. There are still people in Afghanistan who either want to disrupt the Karzai interim government, want to make sure -- or try to cause Afghanistan to revert back to being a sanctuary for murderers and terrorists, so they can do one thing, and that is attack us again. And so, as you know, our military, combined with the military of our friends and allies, including the Afghans, are still on the hunt.

And we encountered a large group of al Qaeda-type terrorists. And we're bringing them to justice. There's a fierce battle waging, and it's -- but we're winning that battle. I'm so sad we lose life. My heart breaks when I think about the moms and dads or wives or children of those who have lost their life. But we defend freedom, and we're fighting for freedom, and we must continue to fight for freedom. And so where we find these killers, we'll bring them to justice.

This nation is determined, we're united, we are patient, and we're resolved to defend the values we hold dear to our hearts. And that's the way it's going to be, so long as I'm the President of the United States.

I also want you to know we've got a lot of work to do at home. I was really proud earlier this year to travel the country touting the fact that I signed a significant piece of education legislation. It was a landmark piece of legislation. I don't remember the exact words I said when I spoke to the Hispanic Chamber in California in one of my first speeches, but I can assure you I talked about education. Because it is a passion of mine, and it was a passion of not only mine, but of both Republicans and Democrats.

I got a good bill on my desk because both people, leaders in both parties decided that there's something more important than political party in America, and that's the education of our children. (Applause.)

This is a really good piece of legislation because, first and foremost, it sets high standards and high expectations for every child -- por todos. It refuses to accept a system that quits on children early. As you know, in some neighborhoods in America, it's so much easier just to move the kids through; so much easier to say, you know, a Latino child can't read very well because his or her parents may not speak English, so let's just move them through the system. Those days have got to end if we want the American Dream to extend to all neighborhoods.

And so I signed a bill that says we're going to measure for every child. We want to know if every child can read or write and add and subtract. And if not, we'll correct the problems early, before it's too late. Every child matters in America, and no child will be left behind.

We put significant resources into Title I programs. But for money, we want results. We want to -- because, you see, I believe every child can learn. I don't accept excuses that say certain children can't learn. Every child in America can learn.

Now, we also have passed power out of Washington, D.C. I don't believe all the wisdom in the world exists in Washington. As a matter of fact, I think by empowering teachers and principals and parents and school districts, we're more likely to achieve a common objective, which is high standards for every single child.

I also have unleashed a reading initiative that I truly believe is going to change America for the better. I like to say reading is the new civil right. If you can't read, it's hard to understand other subjects, it's hard to excel, it's hard to be part of this fantastic future we have. And so we've spent a billion dollars on reading.

And I want to assure you the reading programs are going to be aimed toward teaching that which works, not that which sounds good. There is a science to reading. We've got some of the best scientists in the world now analyzing what works for all kids. And so rather than just spending money, we're going to make sure we spend money on what works. And, you mark my words, as we stay focused and energized on this important subject, more and more children will read. And as more and more children will read, more and more children will realize the fantastic future in America. And so I'm proud of this piece of work we've done.

I also want to thank you all for supporting tax relief. We cut taxes at exactly the right time. In order to encourage the economy to grow, it was very wise to give -- let people keep their own money. Some up here don't understand that. They're reading the wrong textbook. You hear talk about making sure the tax relief doesn't continue. It's like raising taxes. You don't do that when times are slow; you encourage the vitality of the private sector by letting people keep their own money.

And not only that; I heard from many of you all about the unfairness of the death tax. And we've now put the death tax on its way to extinction. It's so important for people to be able to build up their own assets and their own businesses and have the capacity to pass that on to whoever they choose, a son or a daughter, without the government getting in between the entrepreneur and the family member.

So we're making good progress. I think the economy is still -- has still got problems. But we put the right fiscal policy in place. I still think we ought to do more. We ought to not only take care of those who have been unemployed because of 9/11, we ought to help them with their unemployment benefits as well as their health benefits. But I like to tell people Americans don't want an unemployment check, they want a permanent paycheck.

And there needs to be a stimulus bill. The House passed a good bill. Part of it was a small business incentive bill, recognizing that the small businesses create more new jobs in America than any other sector of our economy.

I want to continue to push for trade. I believe trade makes sense. Yesterday, I made a tough decision on steel. But I will tell you, in order to be a free trade advocate, in order to be consistent on free trade, we better make sure we enforce the laws on our books. The two go hand in hand, free trade and fair trade.

And so I obviously put a temporary plan in place to allow the steel industry to restructure. But I also want to remind you all I honored the agreement of NAFTA, so that Mexico and Canada are exempt.

And let me talk about Mexico right quick. My attitude toward Mexico is that I want Mexico to succeed. I want our neighbors to be successful. The best kind of neighborhood to live in is one where everybody is successful. And so our public policy ought to recognize Mexico as an incredibly important part of the American future. And, therefore, I look forward to working with el Presidente Fox on how best to make sure our relationship is strong.

One thing we can do is doing what we're doing, which is encourage our economy to grow and to recover. That will help Mexico. But the other thing is to honor NAFTA, which I have done as the President. I did so in the steel decision yesterday; I will continue to do so. Because I believe NAFTA is not only good for Mexico; as importantly, it is good for American workers, as well.

I believe -- and I know we've made great progress. We've got a spirit of amistad. We've got a relationship that is open and strong. I told the Congress that I want to make sure that the Mexican citizen here is well-respected. And we will, we respect people in our country. And one way to do that is to pass 245I, which will allow for families to be reunited. If you believe in family values, if you understand the worth of family and the importance of family, let's get 245I out of the United States Congress and give me a chance to sign it.

I also want to talk about energy. Energy is incredibly vital for our economic vitality. And you've got to understand, as the President, somebody who's concerned about our national security, as well, the fact that we import over 50 percent of our energy from around the world is an indication that we're not as strong from a national security perspective as we could be, or should be.

And so we need to have an energy plan -- one that, on the one hand, encourages conservation, and the modernization of our infrastructure, electricity infrastructure; but we've also got to explore for more energy. And we can do so in an environmentally friendly way, starting in Alaska, where there's a lot of oil and gas.

Those of you in California know full well that we had a little scare out there, about a year -- less than a year ago. And the state has responded by building more power plants to increase the supply of energy. And that's good.

Except what's interesting is those plants are powered by natural gas. And the fundamental question is where is that gas going to come from in the long term? We ought to be exploring for more natural gas, and a good place to start is Alaska.

I want you to know that Mexico imports gas from the United States. In other words -- and it's a hemispheric issue, and we've got to think long-term on behalf of the American citizens. And so I put out a comprehensive energy plan; it passed the House of Representatives. It needs to get out of the Senate, and get to my desk, for the good of the national security of the country, as well as for the good for jobs.

As you may know, I'm headed down to Mexico, for my second visit since I've been the President, to Mexico. There's going to be a conference on development. I look forward to participating in that. I will proudly remind people that we are the most generous nation in the world when it comes to developing nations.

I don't know if you know this -- just for example, I was recently, as you know, in the Far East. And I reminded the people out there that we provide 300,000 tons of food to North Korean citizens. I'm not so sure the President, or the head of North Korea gives us any credit for having provided the food, but we're a compassionate nation, and we should be proud of our record on helping people.

I then go to Peru, and I look forward to working with the Andean nations not only on issues of trade, but on the cultivation of coca leaves for drugs. But I'll also remind them that so long as there's a demand for drugs, somebody's going to supply them, and it's a two-way street -- that, one, we'll help reduce supply, but we in our nation have an obligation to work with our young to reduce the demand. We must tell them clearly that drugs can ruin their life. We must educate the youth about the dangers of drug use. We must reduce demand if we expect our neighborhood to help clean up drugs.

And then I'm going to El Salvador to meet with the Central American nations. We've got the beginnings of a free trade pact with them. President Flores is going to be the host, a remarkable young leader. Like Peru and Mexico, these are strong democracies, they're continuing to reform their process. It's important for me to herald the fact that they are embracing democratic institutions which make their country so much stronger and so much more vibrant. So I'm really looking forward to spending time in the neighborhood.

I believe the best foreign policy begins in making sure your own neighborhood is free and democratic and peaceful. So I'm looking forward to spending time there, as well.

You know, I like to remind people that I truly believe that out of this evil that was done on us on September the 11th will come some great good. I believe that. I believe if we stay the course and are strong and determined, and if the Congress passes the Defense budget I sent up there, which prioritizes national defense to make sure our military gets all the best equipment and best training possible, that we'll have the staying power to make the world more peaceful. And I believe it will be if we're strong, and we will be strong.

I also know that at home that people are taking an assessment of what's important in life. And I believe as a result of that, some positive things will happen. I think the culture can begin to change from one that has said in the past, if it feels good, go ahead and do it, to a culture that says each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life -- the responsibility era, where moms and dads are responsible for loving their children.

The most important job any American will ever have, if you're fortunate to have a child, is to love your child. But it goes beyond that, where neighbors will love neighbors. I tell my fellow citizens that if you're interested in fighting -- joining the war against terror, do some good. I mean, if you really want to stand squarely in the face of evil, help a neighbor in need. Mentor a child. Help a shut-in. You know, support your schools. Give to charity. Help to start a faith-based group that will help change people's hearts.

It's this -- it's the collection of the kindness of America. It's the collection of all the acts of kindness that take place which not only define our nation, but will stand squarely in the face of evil. And it's happening, and I'm so proud of the way the American people have responded. Many in this room have, as well, and I want to thank you for that.

I do believe that America understands there's a new responsibility, that this is a new era. That, on the one hand, we've got to be diligent and alert. And on the other hand, we can make a difference in people's lives. After all, it was Flight 93 that set a new tone for America. People on an airline thought they were going on a business trip or thought they were going home. They heard the Nation's Capital was under attack. They got on their telephones, they told their wives they loved them. They said a prayer, and they sacrificed their life to save somebody else's.

To me, that's one of the most defining events of September 11th and on. It shows me what a great nation we have. It reminds me of the character of the American people. And that's why we're so unique -- not because of our government, but because of our people.

Thank you for coming to Washington, and God bless. (Applause.)

END 2:55 P.M. EST

. Message Regarding Totalization Agreement with Australia-- March 12, 2002

Message to the Congress of the United States

Pursuant to section 233(e)(1) of the Social Security Act, as amended by the Social Security Amendments of 1977 (Public Law 95-216, 42 U.S.C. 433(e)(1)), I transmit herewith the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia on Social Security, which consists of two separate instruments: a principal agreement and an administrative arrangement along with a paragraph-by-paragraph explanation of each provision. The Agreement was signed at Canberra on September 27, 2001.

The United States-Australia Agreement is similar in objective to the social security agreements already in force with Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Such bilateral agreements provide for limited coordination between the United States and foreign social security systems to eliminate dual social security coverage and taxation, and to help prevent the lost benefit protection that can occur when workers divide their careers between two countries. The United States-Australia Agreement contains all provisions mandated by section 233 and other provisions that I deem appropriate to carry out the purposes of section 233, pursuant to section 233(c)(4).

I also transmit for the information of the Congress a report prepared by the Social Security Administration explaining the key points of the Agreement. Annexed to this report is the report required by section 233(e)(1) of the Social Security Act, a report on the effect of the Agreement on income and expenditures of the U.S. Social Security program and the number of individuals affected by the Agreement. The Department of State and the Social Security Administration have recommended the Agreement and related documents to me.

I commend the United States-Australia Social Security Agreement and related documents.

March 12, 2002.

President Promotes Compassionate Conservatism -- April 30, 2002
Parkside Hall
San Jose, California

10:35 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome. I am so grateful for the Commonwealth Club and the Churchill Club for inviting me here. I appreciate you all coming, and I appreciate your hospitality.

I want to thank Dr. Gloria Duffy for her generous introduction and for her invitation. I want to thank Silvia Fernandez, who's the President of the Churchill Club, for joining the Commonwealth Club to host this event. I want to thank all the elected officials who are here. I want to thank my fellow citizens for coming.

Whenever I visit California, I'm impressed by the beauty of this state and by the spirit of the people. Because of its size, the health of the California economy influences every American. And California has got a culture of optimism and energy that touches all of us, as well. This is a vital and a vibrant place. And I'm glad to be back. (Applause.)

The last time I visited San Jose, Silicon Valley was still in an economic boom, and America was at peace. For many in this valley, and across our country, those times are a world away. After a recession made worse by a national emergency, we have seen some good news. Our economy is beginning to grow. Just last week, we had the good news about strong growth in the first quarter. Yet this vital region reminds us that a lot of work remains to be done.

Business investment and job creation are not what they should be. We cannot be content with one quarter's news. We cannot be complacent. My attitude is that we'll let the statisticians talk about the numbers. But so long as somebody who wants to work can't find work, that's a problem for America. (Applause.)

We have a great task ahead of us. We must turn our short-term recovery into long-lasting expansion that reaches every part of our country. Our economy grows when trade barriers fall. I ask the Senate to join the United States House of Representatives in giving me what's called trade promotion authority. (Applause.)

It's important to be a confident country. And I'm confident in the ability of American entrepreneurs and producers to compete in the world. I'm confident that our farmers and ranchers can compete in the world. And I know American technology companies are the best in the world. And we must open new markets so they can sell to the world. (Applause.)

Our economy grows when the tax burden goes down, and stays down. (Applause.) Much of the growth we have seen this quarter is the result of consumer spending, fueled by well-timed tax deductions. (Laughter.) To encourage growth in job creation, we must protect the lower tax rates we've enacted, and we must make them permanent. (Applause.) And to make sure there is economic vitality around our country, our government must control its appetite for excessive spending. (Applause.)

Our economy grows entrepreneurs are rewarded for their success, not hounded by regulations and needless litigation. (Applause.) We must enact reforms that free entrepreneurs from pointless regulation and endless litigation, and to restore trust in our economy. Corporate leaders must be held to the highest ethical standards. (Applause.) And, as your state knows, our economy grows when we have steady, stable and affordable sources of energy. (Applause.)

In Washington, we must adopt -- finally adopt -- a comprehensive strategy to conserve more, to produce more, and to deliver the energy that keeps our economy running. (Applause.) Both Houses have passed an energy -- passed energy legislation. I expect them to get a bill to my desk soon for the good of American economy and American jobs. (Applause.) By acting in the above way, we confirm that the role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create the conditions for economic growth.

Since I was last here, America has also accepted a great challenge in the world: to wage a relentless and systematic campaign against global terror. (Applause.) The security of the American people is the central commitment of the American government. We are in for a long and difficult war. It will be conducted on many fronts. But as long as it takes, we will prevail. (Applause.)

In the first phase of our military operation, American and coalition forces have liberated -- have liberated -- the people of Afghanistan from a barbaric regime. (Applause.) Our Armed Forces performed with skill and success and honor. A regime has fallen. Terrorists in that country are now scattered, and the children of Afghanistan have returned to school, boys and girls. (Applause.) Our work in that country is not over. We are helping the Afghan people to rebuild their nation. And in every cave, in every dark corner of that country, we will hunt down the killers and bring them to justice. (Applause.)

We have entered the next phase of the war, with a sustained international effort, to rout out terrorists in other countries, and deny al Qaeda the chance to regroup in other places. Across the world, governments have heard this message: You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists. (Applause.)

And for the long-term security of America and civilization itself, we must confront the great threat of biological and chemical and nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists or hostile regimes. We will not allow the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten America or our friends and allies with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

History has called us to these responsibilities, and we accept them. America has always had a special mission to defend justice and advance freedom around the world. Whatever the difficulties ahead, we are confident about the outcome of this struggle. Tyranny and terror and lawless violence will not decide the world's future. As Ronald Reagan said. and as every generation of Americans has believed, the future belongs to the free. (Applause.)

In a time of war, we reassert the essential values and beliefs of our country. In the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln pointed toward a new birth of freedom. Leading America into global war, Franklin D. Roosevelt defined the four freedoms: freedom of speech and religion, freedom from fear and want. Whenever America fights for the security of our country, we also fight for the values of our country. In our time, we will defend the land we love and we will act on the ideals that gave it birth.

In America, we've not always lived up to our ideals, yet we always reached for them. We believe that everyone deserves a chance, that everyone has value, that no insignificant person was ever born. We believe that all are diminished when any are hopeless. We are one people, committed to building a single nation of justice and opportunity. (Applause.)

America rejects bigotry. (Applause.) We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith. (Applause.) We reject the ancient evil of anti-Semitism, whether it is practiced by the killers of Daniel Pearl, or by those who burn synagogues in France. (Applause.)

America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country. (Applause.)

These American ideals of opportunity and equality come to us across the generations. And they have attracted millions from across the world. Yet there are young Americans growing up here, under this flag, who doubt the promise and justice of our country. They live in neighborhoods occupied by gangs and ruled by fear. They are entitled by law to an education, yet do not receive an education. They hear talk of opportunity and see little evidence of opportunity around them.

Every American must believe in the promise of America. And to reach this noble, necessary goal, there is a role for government. America doesn't need more big government, and we've learned that more money is not always the answer. If a program is failing to serve people, it makes little difference if we spend twice as much or half as much. The measure of true compassion is results.

Yet we cannot have an indifferent government either. We are a generous and caring people. We don't believe in a sink-or-swim society. The policies of our government must heed the universal call of all faiths to love a neighbor as we would want to be loved ourselves. We need a different approach than either big government or indifferent government. We need a government that is focused, effective, and close to the people; a government that does a few things, and does them well. (Applause.)

Government cannot solve every problem, but it can encourage people and communities to help themselves and to help one another. Often the truest kind of compassion is to help citizens build lives of their own. I call my philosophy and approach "compassionate conservatism." It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and on results. And with this hopeful approach, we can make a real difference in people's lives. (Applause.)

Compassionate conservatism places great hope and confidence in public education. Our economy depends on higher and higher skills, requiring every American to have the basic tools of learning. Every public school should be the path of upward mobility.

Yet, sadly enough, many are the dead-end of dreams. Public schools are some of the most important institutions of democracy. (Applause.) They take children of every background, from every part of the world, and prepare them for the obligations and opportunities of a free society. Public schools are Americans great hope, and making them work for every child is America's great duty.

The new education reforms we have passed in Washington give the federal government a new role in public education. Schools must meet new and high standards of performance in reading and math that will be proven on tests and posted on the Internet for parents and everyone to see. And we're giving local schools and teachers unprecedented freedom and resources and training to meet these goals.

It is conservative to let local communities chart their own path to excellence. It is compassionate to insist that every child learns, so that no child is left behind. (Applause.) By insisting on results, and challenging failure where we find it, we'll make an incredible difference in the lives of every child in America.

Compassionate conservatism offers a new vision for fighting poverty in America. For decades, our nation has devoted enormous resources to helping the poor, with some great successes to show for it: basic medical care for those in need, a better life for elderly Americans. However, for millions of younger Americans, welfare became a static and destructive way of life.

In 1996, we began transforming welfare with time limits and job training and work requirements. And the nation's welfare rolls have been cut by more than half. But even more importantly, many lives have been dramatically improved.

One former welfare recipient here in California, happened to be a mother of a chronically-ill child and the victim of domestic violence, describes her experience upon leaving welfare. She said, "I feel like an adult again. I have my dignity back."

We need to continue to fully transform welfare in America. As Congress takes up welfare reform again in the coming weeks, we must strengthen the work requirements that prevent dependency and despair. Millions of Americans once on welfare are finding that a job is more than a source of income. It is a source of dignity. And by helping people find work, by helping them prepare for work, we practice compassion.

Welfare reform must also, wherever possible, encourage the commitments of family. Not every child has two devoted parents at home -- I understand that. And not every marriage can, or should be saved. But the evidence shows that strong marriages are good for children. (Applause.)

When a couple on welfare wants to break bad patterns and start or strengthen a marriage, we should help local groups give them counseling that teaches commitment and respect. By encouraging family, we practice compassion.

In overcoming poverty and dependence, we must also promote the work of charities and community groups and faith-based institutions. These organizations, such as shelters for battered women or mentoring programs for fatherless children or drug treatment centers, inspire hope in a way that government never can. Often, they inspire life-changing faith in a way that government never should.

Our government should view the good Americans that work in faith-based charities as partners, not rivals. (Applause.) We must provide new incentives for charitable giving and, when it comes to providing federal resources to effective programs, we should not discriminate against private and religious groups. (Applause.)

I urge the Senate to pass the faith-based initiative for the good of America. It is compassionate to aggressively fight poverty in America. It is conservative to encourage work and community spirit and responsibility and the values that often come from faith. And with this approach, we can change lives one soul at a time, and make a real difference in the lives of our citizens.

The same principles of compassion and responsibility apply when America offers assistance to other nations. Nearly half of the world's people still live on less than $2 a day. When we help them, we show our values, our belief in universal human dignity. We serve our interests and gain economic partners. And by helping the developing nations of the world, we offer an alternative to resentment and conflict and terror.

Yet the old way of pouring vast amounts of money into development aid without any concern for results has failed, often leaving behind misery and poverty and corruption. America's offering a new compact for global development. Greater aid contributions from America must be and will be linked to greater responsibility from developing nations. (Applause.)

I have proposed a 50-percent increase in our core development assistance over the next three budget years. Money that will be placed in a new Millennium Challenge Account. At the end of this three-year period, the level of our annual development assistance will be $5 billion higher than current levels.

This is a record amount of spending. And in return for these funds, we expect nations to rout out corruption, to open their markets, to respect human rights, and to adhere to the rule of law. And these are the keys to progress in any nation, and they will be the conditions for any new American aid. (Applause.)

It is compassionate to increase our international aid. It is conservative to require the hard reforms that lead to prosperity and independence. And with this approach, we'll make a real difference in the lives of people around the world.

Compassionate conservatism guides my administration in many other areas. Our health care policies must help low-income Americans to buy health insurance they choose, they own and they control. (Applause.) Our environmental policy set high standards for stewardship, while allowing local cooperation and innovation to meet those standards. Our housing programs moved beyond rental assistance to the pride and stability of home ownership. Our reforms in Social Security must allow and encourage and help working Americans to build up their own asset base and achieve independence for their retirement years. (Applause.)

All of these policies and all of these areas serve the same vision. We are using an active government to promote self-government. We're encouraging individuals and communities and families to take more and more responsibility for themselves, for their neighbors, for our nation. The aim of these policies is not to spend more money or spend less money; it is to spend on what works.

The measure of compassion is more than good intentions, it is good results. Sympathy is not enough. We need solutions in America, and we know where solutions are found. When schools are teaching, when families are strong, when neighbors look after their neighbors, when our people have the tools and the skills and the resources they need to improve their lives, there is no problem that cannot be solved in America. (Applause.)

By being involved and by taking responsibility upon ourselves, we gain something else, as well: We contribute to the life of our country. We become more than taxpayers and occasional voters, we become citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens who hear the call of duty, who stand up for their beliefs, who care for their families, who control their lives, and who treat their neighbors with respect and compassion. We discover a satisfaction that is only found in service, and we show our gratitude to America and to those who came before us.

In the last seven months, we've been tested, and the struggle of our time has revealed the spirit of our people. Since September the 11th, we have been the kind of nation our founders had in mind, a nation of strong and confident and self-governing people. And we've been the kind of nation our fathers and mothers defended in World War II; a great and diverse country, united by common dangers and by common resolve.

We in our time will defend our nation, and we will deliver our nation's promise to all who seek it. In our war on terror, we are showing the world the strength of our country, and by our unity and tolerance and compassion, we will show the world the soul of our country. May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 11:12 A.M. PDT

President Outlines Priorities -- November 7, 2002
Presidential Hall
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

2:00 P.M. EST

Bush at Press Conference
White House Photo

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. This is an important week for our country and for the world. The United Nations will vote tomorrow on a resolution bringing the civilized world together to disarm Saddam Hussein. Here at home, our citizens have voted in an election that I believe will strengthen our ability to make progress for all the American people.

I congratulate the men and women, Republicans and Democrats, who were elected this week to public office all across America. I appreciate their willingness to leave their private lives and to serve their communities and to serve our nation.

I also commend the millions of voters across America, and across the political spectrum, who went to the polls. At a time when our freedoms are under attack, it is more important than ever that our citizens exercise the rights and responsibilities of our democracy.

Now that the voters have spoken, I urge the members of both political parties to come together to get things done for the American people. I've talked to leaders of both parties and assured them I want to work with them. I talked to Senator Daschle yesterday and said that, although the Republican Party now leads the Senate, I still want to work with him to get things done for the American people. I talked to Leader Gephardt, as well.

I look forward to working with members of the Congress and the newly-elected governors to make America's families safer in their homes and their communities, to make our economy stronger so people can find work, to make our country a better and more compassionate place. Members of the new Congress will take office in January and they'll have a full agenda. The current Congress, however, will return in just a few days to take up some unfinished business. We have a responsibility to protect the American people against threats from any source.

I'm grateful to the members of the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that came together to support the war against terror, and authorize, if need be, the use of force to disarm Iraq. We must bring the same spirit of bipartisan cooperation to the urgent task of protecting our country from the ongoing threat of terrorist attack.

The single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill is to create a unified department of homeland security that will vastly improve our ability to protect our coasts and our borders and our communities.

The election may be over, but a terrorist threat is still real. The Senate must pass a bill that will strengthen our ability to protect the American people. And they must pass a bill that preserves the authority every President since John Kennedy has had to act in the interest of national security. It's imperative that the Congress send me a bill that I can sign before the 107th Congress ends.

We have a responsibility to strengthen the economy so people can find work. We're working to keep this economy moving. And one immediate thing Congress should do to help people put -- back to work is to pass legislation so that construction projects can get insurance against terrorism. This will spur construction and create thousands of good hard-hat jobs that are currently on hold because projects without insurance cannot be built.

Although it's late in the process, Congress must show fiscal discipline. At a time when we're at war and a time we need to strengthen our economy, Congress must be wise with the people's money, fund the nation's priorities and control wasteful spending. The workers of America deserve our action on these important issues, which have been stalled, yet, when approved will strengthen our economy.

Many of the fundamental economic indicators are good. Interest rates are low, so Americans can buy more homes. Inflation is low, so paychecks go further in buying groceries and gas. The productivity of our workers is high. The economy has come out of a recession and is growing, but I'm not satisfied because I know we can do better. We must have an economy to grow at a faster and stronger pace so Americans can find a job. And so I'll work with new Congress to pass new growth and jobs packages early next year.

I look forward to welcoming a new Congress. And I look forward to working with the current Congress to finish some very important work. And now it's my privilege to take some of your questions, starting with Sandra.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do you believe that Tuesday's election gave you personally a mandate? And now that you have the Republican Congress, what will you do specifically, beyond terrorism insurance and government spending restraints, to address the real anxieties -- of everyday Americans --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. First, I think candidates win elections because they're good candidates, not because they may happen to have the President as a friend -- or a foe, for that matter. Races that were won were won because people were able to convince the voters they could trust their judgment, convince the voters they care deeply about their circumstances. I believe if there is a mandate in any election, at least in this one, it's that people want something to get done. They want people to work together in Washington, D.C. to pass meaningful legislation which will improve their lives.

The best way to win an election is to -- is to earn the trust of the voters, and that's what happened in state after state after state. We had some really good candidates who overcame some pretty tough odds. They were running against incumbents, in a lot of cases, and they ran great races. And they were reassuring people. And I really attribute the successes to the nature of their candidacies, and the hardworking people that turned out the vote. There were some really effective voter turnout organizations around the country.

And I think the way to look at this election is to say the people want something done. They see the risks are high, the risk of being able to find a job or the risk of keeping the homeland secure. And they want people to come together to work on it, and that's what I intend to do.


Q The specifics of your --

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, sorry, yes. Well, I'll let you know at the right time. For right now, we got to get through a lame duck session. A lame duck session, for people who don't know what that means, it means the Senate is coming and the House is coming back between now and Christmas and they've got a few days to get some big things done. And the most important thing to get done, I want to emphasize, is get a department of homeland security finished.

Some rumors moving around that we may not be too keen on getting that done. I want it done. It is a priority. We got a good bill out of the House, and they need to get a bill out of the Senate and to conference, and to my desk. I don't know how much time that's going to take, but having watched the debate prior to the election, it may take some time. But it doesn't matter how long it takes, they need to get it done.

Secondly, they need to get a budget done. We need to get the bills, the appropriation bills done. And I mentioned, they've got to get the terrorism insurance bill done.

Now, given the amount of time they're likely to be here, that's a pretty big agenda. And in terms of afterwards, I'll let you know. But there are some issues, of course, that I intend to work with the Congress on, and one of them is to get prescription drug benefits to our seniors. That's an important issue. It's an issue that I talked about at every speech. The candidates, I'm sure both political parties, talked about it. And that's something that we need to get done.

But let's get this -- get out of this lame duck session first.


Q Mr. President, how confident are you that the Security Council will approve the tough new resolution on Iraq? And if that happens, what happens next; what's the next step? Is war inevitable?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the resolution we put down is a tough new resolution. It talks about material breach and inspections and serious consequences if Saddam Hussein continues to defy the world and not disarm. So, one, I'm pleased with the resolution we put down. Otherwise, we wouldn't have put it down.

I just talked to Jacques Chirac, and earlier today I talked to Vladimir Putin. I characterize our conversation -- I'm loathe to put words in somebody else's mouth. That's, evidently, not the case with a lot of people in Washington, but nevertheless, I am. And I'm optimistic we'll get the resolution vote tomorrow -- let me put it to you that way.

And, Steve, the resolution is a disarmament resolution; that's what it is. It's a statement of intent to, once and for all, disarm Saddam Hussein. He's a threat. He's a threat to the country, he's a threat to people in his neighborhood. He's a real threat. And it's now time for the world to come together and disarm him. And when this resolution passes, I will -- we'll be able to say that the United Nations has recognized the threat, and now we're going to work together to disarm him.

And he must be cooperative in the disarmament. So the job of inspectors is to determine his level of cooperation, see. He has got to be the agent of disarming; he's got to agree that what we're doing is what he said he we do. And just like the United Nations has agreed that it is important to disarm him, for the sake of peace, and so the next step will be to put an inspection regime in there to -- after all the declarations and after all the preamble to inspections, that he's got to show the world he's disarming. And that's where we'll be next.

Let's see here. Helen.

Q I have a follow-up --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have a list. (Laughter.) I don't want to be so discriminatory that people will say that I haven't thought this through. After all, the new arrangement -- and by the way, we're here in honor of Ari Fleischer; otherwise we'd be in his house. But since he's getting married this weekend, I thought it appropriate to leave the podium that he occupies empty, in honor of the fact that he's getting married. I hope you all have sent your gifts to him. (Laughter.)

Ari, I did what you asked me to do. (Laughter. I'm sure he's on C-SPAN right now.


Q Mr. President, what is the logic of your insistence on invading Iraq at some point, which may someday have nuclear weapons, and not laying a glove on North Korea, which may have them or may produce them? Both of which, of course, would be against international law. And I have a follow-up. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I may decide to let you have that follow-up or not depending upon -- (laughter) -- depending on whether I like my answer. (Laughter.)

I am insistent upon one thing about Iraq, and that is that Saddam Hussein disarm. That's what I'm insistent on. He agreed to do that, by the way. Saddam Hussein said he would disarm. And he hasn't. And for the --

Q And you don't --

THE PRESIDENT: Is that the follow-up? (Laughter.) Okay, that is the follow-up. I do care about North Korea. And as I said from the beginning of this new war in the 21st century, we'll deal with each threat differently. Each threat requires a different type of response. You've heard my strategy on dealing with Iraq. I've been very clear on dealing with the strategy all along, and tomorrow it looks like part of that strategy is coming to fruition.

With North Korea, we're taking a different strategy, initially, and it's this -- that we're going to work with countries in the neighborhood to convince North Korea that it is not in the world's interest that they develop a nuclear weapon through highly enriched uranium.

We know they've got the capacity through plutonium; we have IAEA inspectors there watching carefully their plutonium stockpile. And then we discovered that, contrary to an agreement they had with the United States, they're enriching uranium, with the desire of developing a weapon. They admitted to this. And so, therefore, we have worked with our Japanese friends and South Korean friends, with the leadership in China -- I will talk with Vladimir Putin about this after my trip to the NATO summit -- to remind North Korea that if they expect to be a -- welcomed into this family of peaceful nations, that they should not enrich uranium.

I thought it was a very interesting statement that Jiang Zemin made in Crawford, where he declared very clearly that he wants a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula. That was, in my judgment, an important clarification of Chinese policy that I hope the North Koreans listen to. Believe we can achieve this objective, Helen, by working closely with this consortium of nations, which have got a valid interest in seeing to it that North Korea does not have nuclear weapons.


Q Mr. President, can I have a follow-up --

THE PRESIDENT: Of course, you can. Yes, it's fine. (Laughter.) If the elections had gone a different way, I might not be so generous. (Laughter.)

Q You are leaving the impression that Iraqi lives, the human cost doesn't mean anything --

THE PRESIDENT: Say that again?

Q You are leaving the impression that you wouldn't mind if you go to war against Iraq, but you deal with another nation which may have weapons in a different way. But there are two other impressions around. One, that you have an obsession with going after Saddam Hussein at any cost. And also that you covet the oil fields.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, I'm -- some people have the right impressions and some people have the wrong impressions.

Q Can you --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, those are the wrong impressions.

Q Okay.

THE PRESIDENT: I have a deep desire for peace. That's what I have a desire for. And freedom for the Iraqi people. See, I don't like a system where people are repressed through torture and murder in order to keep a dictator in place. It troubles me deeply. And so the Iraqi people must hear this loud and clear, that this country never has any intention to conquer anybody. That's not the intention of the American people or our government. We believe in freedom and we believe in peace. And we believe the Iraqi dictator is a threat to peace. And so that's why I made the decisions I made, in terms of Iraq.

Now, Terry Moran.

Q Thank you, sir. On Iraq, you've said many times that if Saddam Hussein does not disarm, he will be disarmed militarily, if necessary, by the U.N. or the U.S. and others. There's a school of thought that says that going to war against Iraq would be a dangerous and misguided idea because it would generate a tremendous amount of anger and hatred at the United States, and out of that you'd essentially be creating many new terrorists who would want to kill Americans. What's wrong with that analysis?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's like saying we should not go after al Qaeda because we might irritate somebody and that would create a danger to Americans. My attitude is you got to deal with terrorism in a firm way. And if they see threats you deal with them in all different kinds of ways. The only way, in my judgment, to deal with Saddam Hussein is to bring the international community together to convince him to disarm.

But if he's not going to disarm, we'll disarm him, in order to make the world a more peaceful place. And some people aren't going to like that -- I understand. But some people won't like it if he ends with a nuclear weapon and uses it. We have an obligation to lead. And I intend to assume that obligation to make the world more peaceful.

Terry, listen, there's risk in all action we take. But the risk of inaction is not a choice, as far as I'm concerned. The inaction creates more risk than doing our duty to make the world more peaceful. And obviously, I weighed all the consequences about all the differences. Hopefully, we can do this peacefully -- don't get me wrong. And if the world were to collectively come together to do so, and to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and convince him to disarm, there's a chance he may decide to do that.

And war is not my first choice, don't -- it's my last choice. But nevertheless, it is a -- it is an option in order to make the world a more peaceful place.

Let's see here. King. John King, that is.

Q Sir, in referring to the elections, you're being quite humble about the results and your role. But many conservative lawmakers and many more conservative groups are saying, seize the moment. They say early in the new Congress, you should push your plan to partially privatize Social Security; you should push for new restrictions on abortion; you should push and re-nominate the judges that were rejected by the Senate; and that you should push a total overhaul of the tax code. What are your views on that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate all the advice I'm getting. (Laughter.) One of the things about this job, if you listen carefully, you get a lot of advice. And I -- it's important for a President to set priorities, and the two biggest priorities are the protection of the American people -- that's why I wanted to get this homeland security department done -- and the other one is people being able to find jobs. And we'll work on those. And tax relief or tax reform, however you want to describe it, is part of, in my judgment, of creating economic vitality.

But there are other things we can work on. Obviously, I'd like to see some of my judges get a good -- a fair hearing and get approved; and Medicare, prescription drugs is a very important issue, needs to get done. Terrorism insurance is an important issue; energy bill is an important issue. I mean, there's a lot of things we can do and should do when they come back. And I can't remember the litany of things -- listen, there's going to be a huge laundry list of things people want to get done, and my job is to set priorities and get them done. And job creation and economic security -- job creation and economic security, as well as homeland security, are the two most important priorities we face.

Q Social Security and any new restrictions --

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think the Social Security debate is an incredibly important debate. And we call them personal savings accounts, John, so that people have the option, at their choice, to manage their own money. That would be younger workers. Obviously, we've got to assure older workers that the promises we have made will be kept.

And the danger, really, is for young workers. That's the threat, as to whether Social Security will be around for young workers without some massive tax increase. And I still strongly believe that the best way to achieve security in Social Security for younger workers is to give them the option of managing their own money through a personal savings account. Yes, it's an important issue, as well.

Listen, there's a lot of important issues. The budget is an important issue. The budget is an important issue coming out of the lame duck session. And the budget, as you know -- you're an old hand around here -- is always an important issue in the next session. So that's always an issue, too. There are some practical matters, as well, that will occupy time here in Washington, D.C.

Roberts. John Roberts, that is.

Q I'm wondering, sir, is Harvey Pitt, the Chairman of the SEC, just the first member of your economic team to go? And a separate question: Will you ask William Webster to resign?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me start with Pitt. Harvey Pitt did some very good things at the SEC, and it's important for the American people to know that. Right after 9/11, he did a lot to get the markets opened. He really was -- played a major role in that, and received good credit for that. And I want to thank Harvey Pitt for that, and the American people should, as well.

He has done a lot to make it clear to corporate Americans that think they can -- don't have to be responsible in their positions -- a lot of enforcement, more so than ever in the history; he's enforced the corporate responsibility ethos. He has disbarred more people, more money has been disgorged as a result of illegal activity. And that's positive, what Harvey has done, as well.

And under his watch, CEOs now must verify their returns, and that's good. All that's positive. He made the decision himself that he thought that he couldn't be as effective as he needed to be. I received his letter. I appreciate his service.

William Webster, the -- there's a IG investigation going on there at the SEC; we'll see what that says. But I will tell you, William Webster is a fine man. He is a decent, honorable public servant who has served our country well.

Q -- with respect to --

THE PRESIDENT: Is this a three-part question?

Q No. I'm just kind of reiterating the first. He is just the first member of your economic team to go? The implication is -- do you have --

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, my economic team came in during very difficult times. There was a recession; there was a terrorist attack; there were corporate scandals. We have done a lot to return confidence and to provide a -- provide stimulus through tax cuts. My economic team developed a tax cut package, sold the tax cut package, is implementing the tax cut package. And for that, they deserve a lot of credit. They made good -- we're making good progress on the economy. There's still work to do. And I appreciate the hard work of the economic team.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You were very gracious earlier, giving credit in this last election to the individual candidates. But a lot of those candidates say they have you to thank. Given the fact that your own election for President was so close it had to be decided by the Supreme Court, do you now feel personally reassured that these midterm elections validated your presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that loaded question. (Laughter.) Look, sometimes you win them, and sometimes you lose elections. That's just the way it is. And I was pleased with the results. I was more particularly pleased for the candidates who worked so hard, and their families and their workers. That's how I feel about it. I really don't put this in personal terms.

I know people in Washington like to do that. You know, George Bush won, George Bush lost. That's the way they do it here. Zero sum, in Washington. And I know that. But if you're really interested in what I think, I think the fact that Norm Coleman ran a very difficult race in difficult circumstances and won speaks volumes about Norm Coleman. The fact that John Thune ran a difficult race against difficult circumstances and at this point is still short, nevertheless, speaks volumes about his desire and his intention to serve the country.

There's case after case of people who have put their reputations on the line, who spent a lot of time away from their homes and their families, shaking a lot of hands and putting their hearts and souls -- in both parties. They deserve the credit. Thank you for trying to give it to me, but they deserve the credit.

I know what it's like to run for office. I know the strains it puts on families. I know the tired -- the endless hours you spend campaigning, and all the wonderful questions you have to answer as part of a campaign. I know all that. And these candidates deserve all the credit.

And I was proud to help some of them the best I could. But the way you win a race is you convince the people of your state or your district that they can trust your judgment and they can trust your character and they can trust your values. And it takes a lot of work to do that, and these candidates get the credit. And I -- I appreciate you pointing out that some people have given me credit. The credit belongs to people in the field.

Yes, sir, Wendell.

Q Mr. President, thank you very much. You have put a lot of effort toward getting the United Nations to rally the world to disarm Saddam Hussein. And yet you and your aides have expressed a great deal of skepticism about whether Saddam Hussein will actually comply. Can you give us an idea, sir, how long you think it might take for the world to know whether Saddam Hussein actually intends to go along with the call of the world to disarm? Will it be a matter of days or weeks, months, or perhaps a year, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Wendell, this much we know -- it's so far taken him 11 years and 16 resolutions to do nothing. And so we've got some kind of history as to the man's behavior. We know he likes to try to deceive and deny, and that's why this inspection regime has got to be new and tough and different. The status quo is unacceptable, you know, kind of send a few people in there and hope maybe he's nice to them and open up the baby milk factory -- it's unacceptable.

And so that's why you'll see us with a different inspection regime, one that works to see to it that Saddam Hussein disarms. It's his responsibility to disarm. I don't put timetables on anything. But for the sake of peace -- sooner, better.

And we'll see. But you must know that I am serious -- so are a lot of other countries -- serious about holding the man to account. I was serious about holding the U.N. to account. And when they pass this resolution, which I hope they do tomorrow, it shows that the U.N. is beginning to assume its responsibilities to make sure that 11 years of defiance does not go unanswered. It's very important that the U.N. be a successful international body because the threats that we face now require more cooperation than ever. And we're still cooperating with a lot of nations. We're still sharing intelligence and cutting off money the best we can. And there's still law enforcement efforts taking place all around the world.

And that's why the international -- this international body called the U.N. is an important body for keeping the peace. And it's very important that they're effective. And we'll see tomorrow -- starting tomorrow.

And then the key on the resolution, I want to remind you, is that there are serious consequences. And that's one of the key elements to make sure that everybody gets the picture that we are serious about a process of disarming him in the name of peace. Hopefully, he'll choose to do so himself.

Sammons, Super Stretch.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You and I are eye-to-eye, right? (Laughter.)

Q Now that the 2004 presidential campaign has unofficially begun, can you tell us whether Vice President Cheney will be your running mate again? Or will you, instead, choose someone who might harbor greater presidential ambitions to, perhaps, succeed you one day?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I'm still recovering from the '02 elections. And we got plenty of time to deal with this issue. But should I decide to run, Vice President Cheney will be my running mate. He's done an excellent job. I appreciate his advice. I appreciate his counsel. I appreciate his friendship. He is a superb Vice President, and there's no reason for me to change.

I also want to thank him for all his hard work during the campaign. He was out there toiling along, working hard and turning out the vote, and I want to thank him for the hours he put out there, as well.

Please, yes.

Q If I may follow? Last time you had --

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for not standing up, you block the cameras. (Laughter.)

Q Last time you had to kind of convince him to take the job. Have you talked to him this time, whether he is interested in serving another term?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm confident that he will serve another term.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You said this afternoon that the U.N. Security Council vote tomorrow would bring the civilized world together against Iraq. But broad opposition remains all over the world to your policy. Will you continue to try to build support and, if so, how will you do that? Or do you think that a Security Council vote would be all the mandate you need?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, broad opposition around the world not in support of my policy on Iraq?

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think most people around the world realize that Saddam Hussein is a threat. And they -- no one likes war, but they also don't like the idea of Saddam Hussein having a nuclear weapon. Imagine what would happen. And by the way, we don't know how close he is to a nuclear weapon right now. We know he wants one. But we don't know. We know he was close to one at one point in time; we have no idea today. Imagine Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon. Imagine how the Israeli citizens would feel. Imagine how the citizens in Saudi Arabia would feel. Imagine how the world would change, how he could alter diplomacy by the very presence of a nuclear weapon.

And so a lot of people -- serious people around the world are beginning to think about that consideration. I think about it a lot. I think about it particularly in the regard of making the world a more peaceful place.

And so it's very important for people to realize the consequences of us not taking the case to the U.N. Security Council. People need to think about what would happen if the United States had remained silent on this issue and just hoped for a change of his attitude, or maybe hoped that he would not invade somebody again, or just hoped that he wouldn't use gas on his own people when pressure at home began to mount.

I'm not willing to take those kind of risks. People understand that. I think a lot of people are saying, you know, gosh, we hope we don't have war. I feel the same way, I hope we don't have war. I hope this can be done peacefully. It's up to Saddam Hussein, however, to make that choice.

I also want to remind you that, should we have to use troops, should it become a necessity in order to disarm him, the United States, with friends, will move swiftly with force to do the job. You don't have to worry about that. We will do -- we will do -- we will do what it takes militarily to succeed.

I also want to say something else to people of Iraq, that the generals in Iraq must understand clearly there will be consequences for their behavior. Should they choose, if force is necessary, to behave in a way that endangers the lives of their own citizens, as well as citizens in the neighborhood, there will be a consequence. They will be held to account.

And as to the Iraq people, what I said before -- the Iraqi people can have a better life than the one they have now. They can have a -- there are other alternatives to somebody who is willing to rape and

mutilate and murder in order to stay in power. There's just a better life than the one they have to live now.

I think the people of the world understand that too, Judy. I don't take -- I don't take -- I don't spend a lot of time taking polls around the world to tell me what I think is the right way to act; I've just got to know how I feel. I feel strongly about freedom. I feel strongly about liberty. And I feel strongly about the obligation to make the world a more peaceful place. And I take those responsibilities really seriously.


Q Thank you, sir. You just said you've reached out to Democrats. Does this mean that you will be governing more from the center and taking fewer cues from the conservative arm of your party?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't take cues from anybody, I just do what I think is right. That's just the way I lead. And what's right is to work to stimulate the economy. I strongly believe the tax relief was the right thing to do. If people are really interested in job creation, they ought to join me in my call to make the tax cuts permanent. It's an important part of sending a signal that there is certainty in the tax code; that all the benefits from tax relief don't go away after 10 years.

As I like to say -- you might have heard me once or 10 times or a hundred times -- the Senate giveth and the Senate taketh away. That means there's uncertainty when that happens. And you've got to have certainty in a system that requires risk. And making the tax cuts permanent is an essential part. I mean -- and so that is a common-sense drive, to create jobs.

I will just tell people what I think about how to solve the problems we face. And I ran on a political philosophy; I'm not changing my political philosophy. I am who I am prior -- the say guy after the election that I was prior to the election. That's just who I am and how I intend to lead this country.

Jean Cummings. I'm having such a good time. (Laughter.) Jean Cummings -- there she is, yes.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the question of Harvey Pitt.


Q What kind of person are you looking for to fill that position now? And how quickly do you want to move on that? And then also, as much as you said that Mr. Webster is a well-respected and quality person, do you think that the chairman -- whoever that new chairman is -- should have a chance to select their own person and have a fresh start?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- that's kind of the double-whammy hypothetical there, Jean. I think that the -- on Webster, first, let's find out what the facts are so that everybody knows. That's why they're doing this investigation. And it's -- one fact is irrefutable, he's a decent man. He's served the country well. And I know he can do that job.

Secondly, as soon as possible, for the SEC nominee, and somebody who is going to continue to fulfill the obligation that -- of holding people to account. In other words, holding wrongdoers to account and making sure the numbers are fair and open and transparent, and everybody understands the facts when it comes to -- to accounting, so we continue to regain confidence in our system. That people, when they invest based upon the numbers of a particular stock, are confident in that which they read. And that's an essential part of the SEC job, and I'm confident we can find somebody soon to be able to do that.


Q Thank you. I wanted to go back to your earlier point about the risk of an action versus the risk of inaction.

THE PRESIDENT: Where would that be, in the Congress or at the U.N.?

Q With Iraq.


Q Your CIA Director told Congress just last month that it appears that Saddam Hussein "now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks against the United States." But if we attacked him he would "probably become much less constrained." Is he wrong about that?

THE PRESIDENT: No. I think that -- I think that if you would read the full -- I'm sure he said other sentences. Let me just put it to you, I know George Tenet well. I meet with him every single day. He sees Saddam Hussein as a threat. I don't know what the context of that quote is. I'm telling you, the guy knows what I know, that he is a problem and we must deal with him.

And, you know, it's like people say, oh, we must leave Saddam alone; otherwise, if we did something against him, he might attack us. Well, if we don't do something, he might attack us, and he might attack us with a more serious weapon. The man is a threat, Hutch, I'm telling you. He's a threat not only with what he has, he's a threat with what he's done. He's a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda. In my Cincinnati speech, I reminded the American people, a true threat facing our country is that an al Qaeda-type network trained and armed by Saddam could attack America and leave not one fingerprint. That is a threat. And we're going to deal with it.

The debate about whether we're going to deal with Saddam Hussein is over. And now the question is how do we deal with him. I made the decision to go to the United Nations because I want to try to do this peacefully. I want Saddam to disarm. The best way to convince him to disarm is to get the nations to come together through the U.N. and try to convince him to disarm.

We're going to work on that. We've been spending a lot of time -- I wouldn't exactly call it gnashing of teeth, but working hard on the U.N. resolution. It took a while, but we've been grinding it out, trying to bring a consensus, trying to get people together, so that we can say to the world the international community has spoken through the Security Council of the United Nations and now, once again, we expect Saddam to disarm.

This would be the 17th time that we expect Saddam to disarm. This time we mean it. See, that's the difference -- I guess. This time it's for real. And I say it must not have been for real the last 16 times because nothing happened when he didn't. This time something happens. He knows -- he's got to understand that. The members of the U.N. Security Council understand that. Saddam has got to understand it so he, so, in the name of peace, for a peaceful resolution of this, we hope he disarms.

Jackson, from Texas. You got anything -- a Texas question?

Q As a matter of fact, I do. (Laughter.)


Q Do you intend to resuscitate the nomination of Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering? And, also, how bloody do you think the next Supreme Court nomination will be?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I want the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to understand that I am very serious about the reforms that I suggested in the East Room, about how to get this process of nominating judges and approving judges on the right course, not only for this administration, but future administrations; not only for this Senate, but future Senates. And so step one on the judiciary process, I believe there needs to be reform. I would be glad to reprise the reforms if you can't remember them.

Q Owen and Pickering, are they going to --

THE PRESIDENT: I'll be there in a minute. (Laughter.) I'm using this as an opportunity to make a point on judicial reform. And that is that if a judge thinks he's going to retire, give us a year's notice, if possible. And then we will act -- "we," the administrative branch, will nominate somebody and clear them within 180 days. And then the Senate judiciary has got 90 days to go through the process and then get the person's name to the floor, and 180 days for an up or down vote. To me that would be a needed and necessary reform.

So step one on the nomination process is to work with Senator Hatch -- and Senator Leahy -- to put these reforms in place; is to convince members of the Senate we're serious about a process that will get rid of the old bitterness of the judicial process.

This is probably not to your liking, by the way. You love those court fights. I'm confident it makes great covering and great stories.

I also said at the time of Priscilla Owen's being -- not being put to the floor of the Senate that I would hope that the judiciary committee would let her name out to the Senate floor at some point in time. We don't have to recommit them, they never -- they're there. Pickering and Owen are still there at the committee level. They just weren't ever -- their names were never let to the floor for a vote.

By the way, if they had been let to the floor for a vote, we believe they would have won the vote -- perhaps the reason why they were never let to the floor for a vote. But -- so, I hope that judiciary committee will let their names out and they get a fair hearing.

I thought you were going to talk about the Texas elections. But that's okay. (Laughter.)

April, last question.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: How's your child, April?

Q She's wonderful.

THE PRESIDENT: Georgia W? (Laughter.)

Q My husband is watching, and the name is Ryan Tyler James. (Laughter.).

THE PRESIDENT: You might as well turn to the camera when you say that. (Laughter.)

Q Well, Mr. President, some critics contend there is a racial disparity in how immigrants are handled here, and speaking of the Haitians versus immigrants, the other immigrants. Do you support the current law on the books about Haiti, and why, either way?

THE PRESIDENT: April, first of all, the immigration laws ought to be the same for Haitians and everybody else -- except for Cubans. And the difference, of course, is that we don't send people back to Cuba because they're going to be persecuted. And that's why we've got the special law on the books as regards to Cubans. But Haitians and everybody else ought to be treated the same way. And we're in the process of making sure that happens.

It's been an enjoyable experience.

END 2:47 P.M. EST



 Link to U.S. Government portal Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map
Need Larger Text?