For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 22, 2002
President Calls on Congress to Pass Economic Security Package
Cecil I. Walker Machinery Company
Charleston, West Virginia
View the President's Remarks
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.)
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