For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 5, 2002
Remarks by the President at Chris Chocola for Congress, and Indiana Victory 2002 Finance Dinner
South Bend, Indiana
5:55 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much for that warm welcome. And thank you for that kind introduction, Congressman. (Applause.) I'm proud to come back to my alma mater -- well, that is, my honorary alma mater. (Laughter.) I'm proud to come back to support Chris Cacho -- Chocola. (Laughter.) He's a fine man. You're lucky he's running for Congress. The people of this district need to send him to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
I want to thank you all for coming. I appreciate your support of Chris. I want to thank those who organized this dinner. I thank John Hiler, who's campaign chairman. I want to thank Father Scully, from one of the greatest universities in America, that is Notre Dame. I appreciate Doc Bowen. I asked him if he wanted to be called Secretary or Governor; he said, Governor. I said, I understand that. (Laughter.)
Former congressman Bud Ellis is here. A current congressman, Steve Buyer is here. And I appreciate Steve coming. He's been a strong ally in the United States Congress. (Applause.) Brose McVey who is running for Congress from the Indianapolis area, is with us today. And, Brose, thank you for running for Congress, and sure hope you win. I appreciate Jim Kittles, the chairman of the party. But most of all, I appreciate all the grassroots activists who are here.
I want to thank you for supporting this good man. I want to thank you for what you have done, but most importantly, I want to thank you for what you're going to do, and that is turn out the vote. We need him in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Chris Chocola is a man of faith and family. He's got good, solid Indiana values. He married above himself. (Laughter.) And so did I. (Laughter.) I love the story that's told about Chris sitting there yelling at TV screen on Sunday morning. Sarah finally said, if you get so agitated at screaming at the TV screen about all the opinions being made, why don't you start talking to voters instead. Why don't you go out and ask for the vote and serve your country. And, thankfully, he said yes. I appreciate a good wife who stands by her husband, who is willing to work to see the best interests of this district are represented in Washington, D.C.
I also love the fact that they place high priority on their children. There's nothing more important than having people in Washington, D.C. who understand that their most important job is to be a good mom and a good dad. And you've got that in the Chocola family. (Applause.)
I had the honor of shaking some hands a little earlier. And more than one person, Chris, said they wished Laura were here. You drew the short straw. (Laughter.) By the way, she's doing great. When I married here, she -- we were both raised in Midland, Texas, for starters. And the truth of the matter is, when we met and married, she wasn't very interested in politics, and wasn't too keen on politicians. Now she's the First Lady of the United States, and she's doing a fabulous job. (Applause.) I'm proud of the way she has set an example. I'm proud of her calm demeanor in the face of crisis. I'm proud to call her wife. I love her dearly, and I wish she were here. (Applause.)
I like Chris because not only is he a good, honest fellow, he doesn't need polls to tell him what to believe, doesn't need to run a focus group to figure out what's in his heart, but he's also run a business. I've spent a little time in Washington now, and I can assure you, we need more people in the Nation's Capital who have met a payroll. (Applause.)
See, the entrepreneurial spirit is so incredibly important in America, and we need to -- people need -- we need people in Washington who understand that spirit. In this case, you've got a person who has helped build a small business to -- I guess you'd call a medium-size business. A lot of people would call it a large business when they understand this business employs over a 1,000 people.
See, what we need in Washington is people who understand the role of government when it comes to enterprise. And the role of government is not to create wealth. The role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish, in which small businesses can grow to be big businesses, in which America's producers can flourish. And that starts with creating a tax environment that is hospitable to growth and jobs. (Applause.)
I suspect in this campaign you're going to find a difference of opinion about taxes. I'll give you our opinion. In the midst of slow times, economic times -- and we're in slow economic times. As a matter of fact, history will show that the first three quarters of my administration -- during the first three quarters of my administration we were in recession. And it's then that it's best to stimulate economic growth and job creation by letting people keep more of their own money. (Applause.) Here's the difference of opinion in Washington, and you're beginning to hear it creep into the dialogue. Some want to get rid of the tax cuts. Some want to raise taxes in the midst of a recession. That's the absolute wrong policy. Some want to raise tax when we've got slow economic times. That's the wrong policy.
The textbook we read from says, if you let a person keep more of their own money, you will enhance the demand for goods and services. And if somebody demands an additional good or service, somebody is going to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work. What we're interested in is stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit of America, stimulating small business growth, so people in America can find work.
And one of the issues we're faced with is this -- because of a quirk in the law, this tax relief plan that we have passed is going to expire in 10 years. I admit that's kind of hard to explain. That's tough to explain in Crawford, for example, when you tell them we'll get you tax cuts, but we're going to take it away from you. The Senate rules have it that after 10 years the tax relief that we passed go away. And that's bad for America. See, it's hard to plan when there's uncertainty in the tax code.
There's also some good social policy in the tax code. We mitigate the harm of the marriage penalty. We believe that the tax code ought to encourage marriage, not discourage marriage. (Applause.) And one of the very important features of this bill, besides rate reduction, which is good for job creation, is that this bill puts the death tax on the road to extinction. The death tax is bad for Indiana farmers, it's bad for Indiana business owners, it's bad for Indiana, period. And we need a congressman who is willing to join me to make sure the tax cuts are permanent. (Applause.)
No, the economy is not like it should be. And we've made pretty good progress in Washington. We need people up there who understand the responsibility that comes with running a business. In this country, we expect people to tell the truth. We don't want people cooking the books. We don't want people fudging the numbers in order to try to get ahead. I had the honor of working with both Republicans and Democrats to sign the most comprehensive corporate reform since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. My attitude is, if you cheat the American people, if you cheat the taxpayer, if you cheat your employees, we're going to hold you accountable. No more easy money in America, just hard time for those who betray the trust. (Applause.)
I appreciate so very much Chris's understanding of the need to make sure that every child -- every child in America -- gets a good education. There is a debate that rages in America about public schools, and there should be. Here's our attitude: every child can learn. We believe it's essential to raise standards and raise the bar, to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.) We believe it's important to trust the local people to chart the path to excellence for every child. See, we're strong backers of local control of schools. We understand the people who care more about the children of South Bend, Indiana, are the people who live in South Bend, Indiana. And therefore, we should empower them -- empower them to make sure that the public education meets the high standards. So local control of schools is a cornerstone of good education policy. We should never federalize education in America.
And thirdly, we believe in holding people accountable. You see, if you believe every child can learn, in other words, if you're willing to set high standards, then you want to know whether or not that's taking place. If you believe every child in America can learn, it's essential that we insist that we measure to determine whether they are learning.
We want to know whether or not our children can read and write and add and subtract, and the only way to do that is to insist that states which receive federal money develop accountability systems so parents and concerned citizens understand exactly that which is taken place. And when we find children trapped in schools which will not teach and will not change, as a society we must demand something better, because there is no second-rate children in America. Every child should be educated, and no child should be left behind. (Applause.)
And I hope the second district sends somebody up to Washington who is strong on national defense, somebody who understands the challenges we face, somebody who is willing to join me in insisting that Congress adequately fund our military. (Applause.) I say that because the most important challenge the next Congress will have is to join me in protecting our homeland. Economic security is vital, but I believe our economy is going to right itself and grow. The ingredients for growth are there: low interest, low inflation, high productivity amongst our workers, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and recovering.
The biggest challenge is the homeland security. Our biggest challenge is to make sure that the enemy doesn't hit us again. And they're out there. That's the reality of the world in which we live. The battlefields of the past have shifted. The battlefield can now be here in America, as we learned tragically. And there is still a group of people out there, nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers, by the way, that hate America. And they hate us because we love freedom. I want you to tell your kids that the reason there is an enemy that wants to strike America is because this great country, this great land loves freedom. We love the fact that people can worship freely in America. We love the fact that people can speak their mind. We love a free press, we love everything that freedom offers, and we're willing to defend it at all costs. The more we love freedom, the more the enemy hates us. And that's why we've got to protect the homeland.
And there's another interesting characteristic of these people. They don't value human life, and we do. Every life is precious in America. Everybody counts. Everybody has worth, no matter what their status. And the enemy doesn't think that way. And so long as we adhere to those values, and so long as they're running around, we've got a problem here at home. And we're going to deal with it. We're going to deal with it in a way that protects our Constitution. It's a sacred document, as far as I'm concerned. And we're going to do it in an intelligent way.
You need to know there's a lot of fine people working hard to protect America right now. Any time we get a hint, any time we get a lead -- our antenna, by the way, are much more sensitive now than they were prior to September the 11th, obviously. We're aware of the new battlefield. And so we're moving on these hints and these leads, and we're disrupting and we're after them here at home.
I went to Congress and asked the Congress to help me protect our homeland by setting up a department of homeland security. When I first laid out the initiative, some of our folks were a little concerned that I was trying to create big government. I readily concede my slogan wasn't, don't vote for me, I'm for big government. But I do want our government to work. I want it to, particularly now that we're threatened, I want it to do what you want it to do, to do everything we can to effectively protect our homeland. So I sent up a comprehensive package to Congress to take all the agencies involved with homeland security, and there's over 100 of them in Washington, and put them under one umbrella, so that we can have the right focus and the right priority in this agency.
To tell you how Washington thinks, however -- the House, by the way, responded well, and I want to thank Steve for his vote. But in the Senate, they're debating the issue and they're trying to micromanage the process. There's a little confusion as to -- over who is the executive branch and who is the legislative branch. The legislative branch wants to try to run how we run our operation. And that's unacceptable, and I'll give you an example.
In order to protect America better, we must do a better job of securing our borders. We've got to know who's coming into America, what they're bringing into America, and whether they're checking out when they say they're going to leave America. We've got three different agencies on our borders. We've got the INS and the Border Patrol and the Customs agency, all of which have got important duties, none of which do a very good job of working together. They wear different uniforms, they've got different strategies sometimes.
For the sake of homeland security, the Senate must give this President and future Presidents the ability to move people to the right place at the right time in order to disrupt the enemy. They should not micromanage the process. They've got to worry more about the American people and less about the special interest that roams the hall of the United States Senate. (Applause.)
There's no doubt in my mind Steve would be with us in that spirit. He understands management and he understands priority. The reason I say we need people in Congress up there to -- who understand the new world we're in and are willing to support our military, is because the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt the killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. And that's exactly what the United States is going to do.
They hide in caves. See, this is a different kind of war. And part of my responsibilities as your President is to remind people about the realities that we face in America. One of the realities is, is that these people hide in caves. They find the darkest cave they can find, and then they sell -- send their youngsters, or young folks to their suicidal deaths. They don't have tanks, they don't have munition factories, they've got determination and hatred in their hearts. They've got suicidal killers. And so we've got to run 'em down, no matter where they are, one by one.
I sent a significant increase in the defense budget to Congress. It's the largest increase since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so because I wanted to send two messages. One, any time we send our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best equipment and the best possible training. (Applause.) You need a Congressman from this district who understands that. I also sent a second message to friend and foe alike, and that is, this country will stay the course no matter how long it takes to defend freedom; that we're in this for the long haul; that we understand the stakes and we value our liberty and we're going too defend our country for the sake of our children and our children's children.
And we're making some pretty good progress. Sometimes you see what happens, sometimes you don't. This is one of these kind of wars where things happen and you just don't know about it. But I bet we have hauled in over a couple of thousand of these people. I say we -- it's not only ourselves, but our friends and allies. And they're still hitched up, they're still anxious to help, because they understand the stakes. Probably a like number weren't as lucky, but we're seeking justice around the world.
It's important for our youngsters to understand this about our country, as well -- when we say something, we've got to do it. When we say something, we do what we say. When we told the world that if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist, and we mean it. And Afghanistan and the Taliban found out exactly what the United States of America was talking about.
We went to that country not to conquer anybody, but to liberate people. This great nation liberated people from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes in history. And now, thanks to America and our friends and allies, young girls go to school for the first time -- many young girls go to school for the first time in their lives. (Applause.)
We've got a lot of work to do. Once we get them on the run, we intend to keep them on the run by denying them sanctuary or training or finances or camps. Once we get them moving we're going to keep them moving until we bring them to justice. And it's going to take a while, just is. But the price is worth it. I know the nature of the enemy -- no matter what it takes, no matter what the cost, we owe it to history, we owe it to our children's freedom to be tough and strong and to pursue the killers.
I started a debate in Washington yesterday that is a very important national debate. It's a debate that we must have. It's a debate about our future and about peace, and it's a debate about Saddam Hussein. I want Congress involved in this debate. Tomorrow morning I'm going to call the leaders of China and Russia and France to talk about how to make the world more peaceful and more secure. I'm going to meet with Prime Minister Blair Saturday night, Prime Minister Chretien on Monday, all aimed at building a consensus and talking about a true threat that faces our country.
There is nothing more threatening than to have weapons of mass destruction in the hands of somebody who hates America and hates freedom. There's doubt in people's mind, I understand that. But there should be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has invaded two countries in recent history. There should be no doubt that he's totally defied the international community. You see, he agreed to disarm and he's totally defied that -- what he agreed to. Where I come from, if you say you're going to do something, people expect you to do it. I expect him to do it.
There's no doubt that he has killed his own people. He's poisoned his own citizens at times. He has used chemical weapons on others. There's no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons. I'm a patient man. We've got a lot of tools at our disposal. But I'm going to act on this premise, that freedom is precious, and we owe a free society to our children and our children's children. (Applause.)
The enemy struck a great country. You know, they must have ignored reality when they hit us, or they were operating on false premises, such as, this country is so materialistic and selfish, so feeble in our strength, so shallow in our beliefs that after September 11th we might have filed a lawsuit or two, but that's all we were going to do. But they learned -- they learned something about this country. They learned about our character and our fiber and our beliefs. Out of the evil done to America is going to come some good. They couldn't have possibly realized that, because they didn't understand who they were hitting. Out of the evil they have done to us -- a tragic, tragic day in our history, September the 11th -- will come peace.
If we stay steadfast and strong, if we're willing to delineate between good and evil, if we're willing to continue to work with others to protect freedom, we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace not only for our own citizens, but since we value all human life and everybody matters, we can achieve peace in parts of the world that have quit on peace.
No, they hit us, but they roused a mighty spirit in this country, and they've given us a chance to seize the moment, to define history, to define our history as a peaceful history. It's going to be some steep climbing for a while. We've got some high hurdles. But I want you to tell the young ones that the aims of this country, the aims of this great country is to achieve peace.
And here at home, we've got to recognize that in the midst of our wealth and prosperity, there are pockets of despair and hopelessness, people wondering whether or not the American Dream is meant for them. My attitude is, when one of us suffers, all of us suffers. But I believe we now have a chance to rectify that, to make our country hopeful for every citizen, because I know what the spirit of America is all about, and I know what's taking place in community after community after community. After September the 11th, many of our citizens took a step back to assess that which is important in life. Many of our citizens understand to fight evil, you do so by loving your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself; that it's the collective acts of kindness and goodness that take place in our society on a daily basis that stands strong against the evil done to America and paints the true face of a compassionate country.
I recognize, and I hope you do, that there is a role for government. And government can hand out money -- and sometimes we do a pretty good job of it. But what government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That is done when a loving citizen puts his or her arm around a despairing American, and says, I love you, what can I do to help you, how can I teach you to read, what is it I can do to make your life more hopeful?
See, one person can't do everything in America. But one person could do something. And each of us must be that one person doing something to stand tall in the face of evil. And that's what's happening here in America. All across our country there are churches and synagogues and mosques working miracles of change in people's lives. There are people who on a daily basis in America feed those who hunger, provide shelter for those who need shelter, teach values to our children.
No, the enemy hit us, but they didn't realize what was going to happen. They didn't realize that we're going to do whatever it takes to defend our freedom. Nor did they realize that this country is going to emerge a stronger and more compassionate land.
The culture of our country -- I first ran for governor and one of the main reasons why was because I wanted to be a small part of a cultural change in America. I felt it was incredibly important for the future of this country to be a part of a change of a culture from one which had said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else. My hopes and dreams still exist for a culture which says, each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life.
If you're fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad, you're responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all your soul. If you're living in South Bend, Indiana, you're responsible for the quality of education in your neighborhood. You're responsible for helping a neighbor in need. You're responsible for the quality of life around you. If you're running a corporation, you're responsible for telling the truth.
This responsibility era is beginning to take place. There's -- an amazing event happened on September the 11th that helps define what I'm talking about. It defines that concept of serving something greater than yourself in life. It was on Flight 93 when some of our fellow citizens were flying across the country. They had heard from cell phones, generally from their loved ones, that the plane that they were on was going to be used as a weapon. And a lot of them on that airplane told their loved ones good-bye, they spoke about love, they said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll." And they served something greater than themself in life by taking that plane into the ground.
This country is a fabulous country because of that spirit. You see, there's a new patriotism in America, a new sense of responsibility to something greater than ourselves. There's no doubt in my mind that out of the evil done to America will come incredible good, will come peace and a compassionate tomorrow, because this is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, full of the greatest people.
May God bless you all. Thank you for coming. And may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 6:25 P.M. EST