President George W. Bushs first term has been among the most consequential and successful in modern times. Under his leadership, the United States is waging and winning the war against global terrorism. The United States and its coalition partners liberated more than 50 million people from two regimes of extraordinary brutality that had provided safe haven to terrorists. And we are promoting democracy in regions of the world that have never known it.
The United States military is receiving the strongest support from a commander-in-chief in two decades. President Bush has taken unprecedented steps to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction and he has signed one of the most sweeping arms reduction pacts in history. America is in the process of deploying a missile defense that will help protect the United States and its allies from catastrophic attacks. President Bush signed into law landmark legislation that better prepares our defense establishment to meet the challenges of the 21st century and he announced the most comprehensive restructuring of US military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War.
During his first term, President Bush has signed into law three major tax cuts, including the largest in two decades and since the summer of 2003, America has had the fastest-growing economy of any major industrialized nation in the world. Under President Bushs leadership, the economy has been growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. The homeownership rate has been at a record high. Interest and mortgage rates have been near historic lows. The core rate of inflation over the past year ranks among its lowest in 40 years. The rate of growth of Federal spending is slowing, jobs are being created at a brisk pace (1.3 million jobs in the first six months of this year), and the unemployment rate today remains below the average unemployment rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s.
President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, the most important Federal education reform in history, one that insists that testing, accountability, and high standards will accompany record new resources. Medicare has been modernized, prescription drug coverage has been added, and Americans now have the opportunity to use Health Savings Accounts, tax-free accounts designed to help individuals save for health expenses. Faith-based groups are receiving unprecedented support and encouragement. And President Bush signed into law the most far-reaching reform of American business practices since the time of Franklin Roosevelt.
To ensure the safety of our citizens, President Bush has implemented the most sweeping changes in the organization of our national security institutions since World War II. With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, America has seen the most extensive reorganization of the Federal government since President Truman. President Bush has proposed the most thoroughgoing reorganization of the intelligence community in more than a half century. And thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, Federal law enforcement agencies can better share information, track terrorists, and protect American lives.
President Bush has strongly advocated open markets for American goods; affordable, reliable, and secure energy supplies; and environmental standards that are making Americas water and air cleaner. In the social realm, he has championed a culture of life and a new culture of responsibility; the strengthening and defense of marriage; judges who strictly and faithfully interpret the law; and stronger work requirements for welfare recipients. He has made civility a touchstone of his rhetoric. He has put together an Administration comprising enormously talented men and women and one with more diversity in senior positions than any in history.
These achievements are anchored in a set of core beliefs: America is a defender and promoter of freedom and the advance of freedom brings peace. We must lead the world with strength and confidence. Religion should not be banned from the public square. Government should encourage ownership and opportunity, compassion and responsibility. The proper role of government is to create the environment in which small business owners and entrepreneurs will take risks and invest, hire workers and spark economic growth.
The last four years have been a time of extraordinary challenges. They include the horrific terrorist attack on the American homeland; global wars; an economy that was sliding toward recession when President Bush took office; and the revelation of corporate scandals long in the making that undermined investor confidence.
Such times demand a leader of clear convictions and determination, hope and vision, integrity and the courage to act. These qualities are the hallmarks of the Bush Presidency. There is much that remains to be done yet as this document illustrates, an enormous amount has already been accomplished. President George W. Bush put forward a historically ambitious agenda and restored dignity to the office he holds. He has provided steady leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges. The United States is safer and stronger, more resilient and better for his efforts.