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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 7, 2002
President Discusses Homeland Security and Commemorates One-Year Anniversary of Tax Relief
Iowa State Fairgrounds
Des Moines, Iowa
12:20 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that warm welcome. David, thanks for your kind remarks. It's a great honor to be here. It's a great pleasure to get out of Washington. (Laughter.) It feels like I'm kind of getting closer to home, to be with people who make their living on the land. I'm honored to be with the good folks who supply our country with food and the good folks who live the values of the farm. (Applause.)
I am honored to be traveling today with Tom Ridge. I gave a speech last night to the nation that talked about the need to make sure we do everything we can to secure the homeland. And Tom -- I convinced him to leave the governor's -- the state house of Pennsylvania to join me in Washington, and he's done a really good job, really good job. (Applause.)
I want to thank some of my friends who flew down from Washington with me. I don't know if they wanted a free ride or not, but they came. (Laughter.) You know how Senator Grassley is. (Laughter and applause.)
Congressman Ganske, Leach and Latham also came down with me, and I was honored to travel with them. I appreciate their friendship. (Applause.) We spent a lot of time talking about the farm. Any time you're around people from Iowa, at least the congressional delegation, they're always talking about the farm. And that's good. (Applause.)
I'm told Senator Harkin is here. Thank you for coming, Senator. I appreciate you being here. (Applause.) Congressman Leornard Boswell is here. Thank you for coming, Congressman. I'm honored you're here. The Lieutenant Governor Sally Peterson, is here. Governor, thank you for being here. I'm honored you came. (Applause.)
I've got one regret, the traveling team wasn't complete, unfortunately. My wife didn't come with me.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I agree with you. (Laughter.) You know, I'm really proud of her. The country is -- has gotten to know Laura, like I have gotten to know her. People now understand why I asked her to marry me. A lot of people are still confused as to why she said yes. (Laughter.) But she has been a great comfort to our nation, and a great love of my life. (Applause.)
I remember -- I remember campaigning in Chicago, and one of the reporters said, would you ever deficit spend? I said only -- only in times of war, in times of economic insecurity as a result of a recession, or in times of national emergency. Never did I dream we'd have a trifecta. (Laughter.)
But I want you to know we are dealing with these issues in a way that I hope makes you proud, that we're dealing with the issues. (Applause.) I'm doing everything I can to put the interests of the American people ahead of politics. (Applause.) I'm doing everything I can -- everything I can to address these issues in a way that solves problems. So, for example, on the issue of economic security, I went at it in a way -- the only way I knew how, which is in a straightforward, plain-spoken way.
I said, the best way to make sure we've got a strong farm economy and to make sure our economy recovers from the recession is to let people keep their own money. (Applause.) I believe that when you let a person keep his own -- his or her own money, they're going to spend it. And when they spend it, it increases demands for goods and services. And with an increase of demand for goods and services, somebody has got to produce that good and service. And when they produce it, it means somebody's going to find work. (Applause.)
It was one year ago today I had the honor of signing the tax relief bill that Chairman Chuck Grassley -- then Chairman Grassley -- shepherded, helped shepherd through the United States Senate. It was the right public policy at the right time for the United States of America. (Applause.) And today I'm told that there are some statistics coming out that shows that the unemployment rate in America is dropping. People are getting back to work. My attitude is, I don't pay attention to the numbers, however. If a person's looking for work and can't find work, I'm worried about it. And so long as there are people looking for work who can't find work, we're going to continue doing the right thing in Washington to stimulate job creation.
Now, part of that tax relief package was something really important for the future of the country, for the future of your families. Finally, the United States Congress realized how unfair the death tax is to the people who make a living on the farm. And, finally, we repealed the death tax. (Applause.) Now -- but because of a quirk in the law, that repeal isn't permanent. It's hard for me to explain why. They repeal it, but didn't repeal it. And so what I want you to do is work with members of the United States Senate, so that they do what they did in the House, which is to make the repeal of the death tax permanent. (Applause.) It makes no sense to tax a person's assets twice, and it makes no sense to have a tax that drives people off the farm. For the good of American agriculture, let's make sure that death tax is forever buried, and forever done away with. (Applause.)
For the good of the economy, and for economic security, they need to get me an energy bill -- an energy bill that encourages conservation, an energy bill that encourages reasonable, environmentally sound exploration, and an energy bill -- and an energy bill that promotes renewable sources of energy such as ethanol and bio-diesel. (Applause.)
When I first came to Iowa, to ask for the support of the people here, and I talked about ethanol, people's eyes tended to glaze over at times, because they said, well, this guy's from Texas. He can't possibly mean what he says about ethanol. First, I hope I proved them wrong. And secondly, you've got to understand, it's in our nation's national interest, it is in our national interest to have more forms of energy produced at home, so we're less reliant upon foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
In order to make sure this economy is strong, we've got to make sure that the agricultural sector of our economy is strong. See, I understand that. I was from a -- the governor of the second largest agricultural state in the Union. I understand farm economics. I understand the need to have a hopeful economy. And I understand the need to be able to grow more -- to grow more food than we need, for the national security of the country as well.
But I also understand, when there's oversupply, it's a problem. And one of the ways to deal with oversupply is to sell Iowa pork in foreign markets. I need the trade promotion authority. (Applause.)
It is time to quit playing politics with trade promotion. It's time for the House and the Senate to get together and get that bill on my desk. And my promise to you all is this. We're not going to treat agriculture as some second class citizen when it comes to international trade agreements.
I understand the importance of agriculture for our economy. I understand the importance of agriculture for job creation. And I understand the need to fight for foreign markets so that when we're good at something, we benefit. And we're good at growing hogs, and we ought to be selling our hogs all across the world. (Applause.)
And the farm bill I signed recognizes the importance of trade. To put it in fancy Washington talk, it's what we call WTO compliant. It means we've honored our trade agreements when it comes to agriculture. But it also recognizes there needs to be a safety net for the American farmer. And it also recognizes the need to promote conservation in America through the EQUIP program, for example. I signed a good farm bill. It's good for the American farmer and it's good for the United States of America. (Applause.)
And finally, to work on the economic security of this country, we need terrorism insurance. There's a lot of construction programs or projects that aren't going forward, because people can't get the right kind of insurance for fear of a terrorist attack. And Congress has got to act, for the good of the working people, for the good of people who are building skyscrapers and construction projects all across America. The United States Congress needs to get to my desk a bill to make sure we've got terrorism insurance all across the United States of America. If we're interested in economic security, this is a good step in that right direction. This is a step in a direction that will help people find work, when it comes to building plants and equipment. (Applause.) The economy's getting better. But I'm not going to rest until everybody can find work.
The other big challenge we have is to make sure our homeland is secure. As I mentioned last night, when I get into the Oval Office every morning, I read what they call a threat assessment. By the way, I do have a ritual every morning. I'm still getting Laura the coffee. I hate to put the pressure on you guys, but -- (laughter) -- there I was this morning. (Applause.)
I'm kind of on a farmer's schedule. We're up early. In comes the coffee. I don't spend a lot of time on the editorial pages, I want you to know. (Laughter.) And then I'd walk the dogs. And it's a moment of high drama for the dogs. They're looking forward to getting out of the confines of the White House. Spot the dog, is pretty comfortable there. After all, she was born when my dad was the President, born right there at the White House. And so she's -- second time around, feels -- understands where the hedges are. (Laughter.) And Barney, one-and-a-half-year-old Scottish terrier, he's a feisty little guy. He doesn't spend a lot of time in the White House -- I mean, in the Oval Office. After all, we've got a new rug in there. (Laughter.)
So off goes Barney in one direction, and Spot and I go in the Oval Office. And I settle in to read this threat assessment. And it reminds me, on a daily basis, my most important job is to protect America from attack. (Applause.) We're constantly asking inside the White House, what can we do -- what do we need to do -- to protect innocent Americans. And the reason we're having to do that is because we face a formidable enemy, an enemy which hates America, because we stand for freedom. The problem is, they're going to be on the losing side, because we're more formidable, because we love freedom. (Applause.)
I don't know what went through their mind when they attacked us. They must have thought we were so materialistic, and so weak, and so self-absorbed, that all we would do is file a couple of lawsuits. They found out we're a little different than that.
And the first thing we've got to do is to make sure we do everything at home to protect the people. And that's why last night, on national TV, I proposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a new Cabinet-level position that will consolidate the essential functions of securing our homeland into one agency.
See, there's now over 100 different entities -- agencies that deal with the homeland, which makes it kind of hard to hold anybody accountable. I believe in accountability in government. After all, you will hold me accountable. (Applause.) And therefore, it's important to align authority and responsibility, to create accountability.
Last night, I used a couple of examples. You know, I said that the Coast Guard's -- obviously -- job is to patrol the coast, but they report to the Transportation Department. And the Transportation Department's primary function is not the security of the country.
The Customs reports to the head of the Treasury. The main job of the Treasury is not the security of the country. It's time for us to consolidate, not to increase the size of government, but to increase the efficiency of your government, so we can do the job you expect us to do. (Applause.)
This is going to be a tough battle, because we're going to be stepping on some people's toes. I understand that. You see, when you take power away from one person in Washington, it tends to make them nervous. So we're just going to have to keep the pressure on the people in the United States Congress to do the right thing. I believe it is going to happen.
This morning, we had a group of senators and House members from both parties -- Joe Lieberman was there, Arlen Specter was there -- talking about how to get this bill started in Congress and through Congress as quickly as possible. And so I'm confident it's going to happen, particularly when the American people understand it is in our national interests that we bring these agencies under one -- under one head, so that we can do everything in our power -- and I mean everything in our power -- to keep you all safe.
But the best way to keep you safe, the best way to protect the homeland, is to chase the killers down one by one and bring them to justice. And that's what we're going to do. (Applause.)
I see some youngsters out there. I want you to understand that the goal of this country is to have peace. The goal of the United States is to remain strong and tough, so that you can grow up in a peaceful world. That's my hope. And it's not just you growing up in a peaceful world; it is children all around the world growing up in a peaceful world.
But so long as there are people out there that want to harm us because of that vision, because we love freedom, because we worship freely, because we're free to speak our mind, the United States of America has an obligation to lead. The United States of America has an obligation to lead a coalition to bring people to justice. And so long as I'm the President of the United States, that is precisely what this great nation is going to do. (Applause.)
This is a new kind of war. We're not used to this kind of war in America. First of all, we weren't used to the fact that anybody could come into our country and kill thousands of innocent people. We've got to get used to the fact that they want to come again. That's what we have to get used to.
But we've also got to get used to the fact that we're fighting an enemy that's willing to send youngsters to their suicide, to the death by suicide, and they themselves hide in a cave. And so it's going to require this country to be determined, strong, patient. And that's exactly how the country feels. And for that, I'm grateful. And for that, the enemy is nervous.
You see, the world looks at us right now. They say, well, this great bastion of freedom, how are we going to react? As time goes between September the 11th and now, what's going to happen to the United States? How strong are they? How much are they willing to defend their country? What are they really like?
And that's why it's important for us to remain tough and strong. If we blink, the world's going to go to sleep, and I understand that. In order to defend freedom, we've got to have the world by our side. And that's what's going to happen, folks, that's just exactly what's going to happen. There is no cave dark enough and deep enough, to prevent us from chasing down these killers. (Applause.)
And so one by one, this great and steady and strong United States of America is going to liberate the world from people who would destroy civilization as we know it. It's the right course of action. History has called our nation into action. History has given us a chance, and it's a chance I intend to seize.
I believe -- I firmly believe, out of the evil done to the country will come some great good, I do. I believe that over time, we can achieve peace in places where there's never been a hope for peace. I believe by being strong, diligent, by speaking out against right from wrong, by calling evil what it is, we can lead the world to a more peaceful tomorrow.
And I also know this about America: Out of the evil done to our country can come some incredible good right here in Iowa, and all across the country. People ask me all the time, what can I do to help America, how can I participate in this war against terror? Well, if you're interested, really interested, you can call up -- dial up USA Freedom Corps on the Internet to find out. But you don't need to do that. If you're interested in fighting evil, do some good. If you're interested in fighting evil, love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)
Sometimes the acts of kindness are noticeable, and sometimes they're not. Walking across the street to a shut-in, saying, I love you, what can I do to help you, is part of loving your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. Mentoring a child is an incredibly important part of defining America for what we are, which is a country of goodness and decency.
Today at the airport I met a young lady named Annie Wignall. She's the founder of Care Bags Foundation. Young lady -- where are you, Annie? Stand up. (Applause.) Annie started this foundation on her own. She just decided she's going to do something to make a difference in somebody's life. It collects and distributes clothes, toys and personal care items to children who are victims of abuse or neglect. Annie is a soldier in the army of compassion. (Applause.)
Annie sets a good example for all of us. One person can't do everything, but one person can do something to make somebody's life better. So my call to my fellow Americans is that on the one hand we're tough, to keep the peace. But on the other hand, I know we can rise to the challenge of showing the world that in the face of the incredible evil done to America can come some great good. And it starts right with you. Every act of individual kindness and compassion, the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and compassion, will show the enemy and the world the true face of the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
Thank you for letting me come by. God bless you.
END 12:47 P.M. CDT