The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 18, 2002

President Discusses Tax Relief Impact in Springfield, Missouri
Southwest Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri

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President's Remarks
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9:48 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm honored to be here at the campus of this fine university. I'm proud to be here in southwest Missouri. I love the values of the heartland represented in this part of our country, the values of faith, the values of family, the love of our country. I appreciate you coming out to say hello. (Applause.) These are the values which make Missouri a great state and make our nation a great nation. (Applause.)

I want to thank you for your friendship, I want to thank you for your prayers, I want to thank you for your concern about our political process. I appreciate your interest. I appreciate your willingness to take a stand. And I am here in the state of Missouri to take a stand, the best person running for the United States Senate is Jim Talent. (Applause.)

I need him in the Senate to work with him. We've got some big problems facing our country. But there's no doubt in my mind that we can achieve anything we put our mind to. There's no doubt in my mind that no matter how high the hurdle, the United States of America, when we put our mind to something, can cross that hurdle. (Applause.)

Jim Talent shares my optimism about the future of this country, because he knows what I know: This country is blessed with the finest people on the face of the Earth. (Applause.) And that, by trusting the people, and calling upon the best of America, we can achieve anything, I mean anything we set our mind to. (Applause.)

I appreciate Jim Talent's values. He's a family man. He's got his priorities straight. He's a man who doesn't need a focus group or a poll to tell him what to think. (Applause.)

He's more than happy to stand on principle. He's more than happy to say this is what I believe, and I'm not changing. And I appreciate a man who's willing to take those values, the Missouri values and the sense of purpose to Washington, D.C.

He's also got a record. See, he's already been up there once. She's shown us what he can do. And when he was up there, he wasn't afraid to take the lead. He is one of the key authors of one of the most important pieces of social legislation in the last decade, and that is the welfare reform bill that transformed millions of lives in America, because he knows what I know, that dignity is found when you find work, that work is the cornerstone of any life that has got dignity. (Applause.)

I appreciate his I appreciate his understanding of small business. See, he is an advocate for small business in Washington, D.C. We need that kind of attitude up there. See, after all, our economy is kind of bumping along; it's not as strong as it's going to be. (Applause.) So long as we keep working on it, it's going to get better.

But one of the things we've got to understand is that most new jobs in America are created by small businesses. (Applause.) And therefore we've got to have somebody in the United States Senate who understands that and is willing to work on an environment that encourages the growth of small businesses. Jim Talent's got a record, and he's got a good record.

He also will work to change the tone in Washington. Listen, we're proud Republicans, but we've got to serve something bigger than political party in these times of -- these times of stress on our country. It's important to put all this aside and focus on what's right for the American people. And Jim Talent understands that. (Applause.)

I'm proud to stand by his side. And we share something else in common, we both married above ourselves. (Laughter.) He married Brenda, I married Laura. And by the way, the First Lady, she sends her love and her greetings. (Applause.) She's heading down to Texas today, so -- (applause) -- you drew the short straw. (Laughter.) She's doing great, though. I want to remind you that when I married her, she was a public school librarian. (Applause.) Public school librarians united for Laura. (Laughter.)

She didn't care for politics when I married her. She didn't particularly care for politicians when I married her. (Laughter.) Thank goodness she said, yes.

People have got to see why I asked her to marry me. She's calm, she's steady, she cares deeply about our children. She loves education, it's our top priority. A lot of people are still wondering why she said, yes. (Laughter.) But nevertheless, she's doing great. I can't tell you how proud I am of her. And I love her dearly. (Applause.)

I want to thank the senior senator from Missouri for being here. He's done a fabulous job on behalf of the citizens of Missouri. He is a man whose judgment I trust, whose vote I can count on. He's a strong ally. He's got the right instincts. He's got a great voting record. And that is, Senator Kit Bond. (Applause.)

I appreciate so very much the fact that your congressman has joined us today. Roy Blunt is effective, he's smart, he can count votes. (Applause.) I appreciate his support, and I appreciate his friendship.

I appreciate the fact that former Congressman Mel Hancock is here. I want to thank Congressman Hancock for coming. (Applause.)

You've got yourself a hot Senate race -- state senate race. This race matters, it matters a lot. You've got a good man running, a good, down-to-earth fellow who's going to tell you what he thinks, he's going to do in office what he said he's going to do, and that's Dan Clemens. (Applause.)

I've got a great Cabinet. I've asked people from all across our country to serve our government in my Cabinet. You trained one of the best ones in my Cabinet. (Applause.) Yesterday morning, I met with the Attorney General. He said, you make sure you remind my folks at home that I haven't forgot where I came from. (Applause.) John Ashcroft is doing a great job for America. (Applause.)

And finally, and finally, I appreciate you letting some of my fellow Texans cross the state line. (Applause.) They must have not checked these boys' backgrounds before they came. (Laughter.) I've known the Gatlin Brothers for a long time, and I really appreciate the three brothers coming. I'm -- Larry is my good buddy. He is a fine, fine, fine American. And Steve and Rudy are as well. I hope you're enjoying them as much as I've enjoyed knowing them. And I'm real proud their here. I want to thank the Gatlin boys for coming today. (Applause.)

Now, I've got some things on my mind that I want to share with you. I've got some issues I want to discuss with you. I've got some reasons to be here besides just politics. I need somebody to help me deal with our economy. Now, listen, the foundation for growth is strong. Interest rates are low, inflation is low. We've got the best workers in the world. Productivity is high in America. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in this country. The foundations for growth are strong.

But so long as somebody is looking for work can't find work, I think we have a problem. And so therefore, we need to put people in the United States Senate who wants to think about -- when it comes to the economy -- how to create jobs.

The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which small businesses can grow to be big businesses, in which the entrepreneur can flourish, in which anybody who's got a dream can work hard and realize that dream. Most jobs, as I mentioned, are created by small businesses. For the sake of economic vitality, for the sake of job creation, we've got to have people in the Senate who understand that when a person has more money in his or her pocket, it will serve as a stimulus to job growth.

You see, here's the page of the textbook which we've read. It says that when a person has more money, he or she is likely to demand a good or a service. And when you demand a good or service in our economy, somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work. For the sake of job creation, for the sake of making sure our people can find work, the tax relief came at the absolute right time in American history. (Applause.)

But here's why we're still talking about it. Because of a quirk in the rules in the United States Senate, after a 10-year period, the tax relief plan we passed goes away, unless the Congress makes it permanent. And that's the issue.

The tax relief plan over the next decade for the people of Missouri, if permanent, would mean there is $27 billion in income tax relief and death tax relief in your pockets. That's more money for you to have to make decisions about. It's your money to begin with, by the way. (Applause.) There's $4 billion there's $4 billion additional money in your pocket because of the tax relief on the child credit. There's a $1.5 billion money in the Missouri people's pockets because we're doing something about the marriage penalty. See, what we think is that the tax code ought to encourage marriage. (Applause.)

It's like the Senate giveth and then the Senate taketh away. (Laughter.) In this case, the Senate giveth and the Senate taketh away over $32 billion that would help economic expansion and growth. There's no question in my mind that Jim Talent understands what I'm talking about, that in order to make sure our economy is strong so people can plan, so the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong in America, we need to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

One of the worst taxes that we have on the books that we're trying to get rid of, and won't get rid of unless we have a senator and senators who vote to make it permanent, is the death tax. This death tax hurts Missouri farmers. This death tax, it hurts small business owners. It's a bad tax. Don't take my word for it. Let me quote some of citizens in your neighborhoods, a guy named Jim Staley. He's a fourth generation family farmer in Willard, Missouri. He wants to pass his farm on some day to his children. That makes sense. The guy's working the land. He's got some kids. He says, I want my kids to be able to work the land, too. I want the family farm to survive.

He remembers when his daddy died, he had trouble trying to make sure the farm stayed in the family and didn't go to the government. He remembers those times. So he's worried about it. Here's what he says: It's a shame that Americans are taught that if you work hard all your life, you can pass it along to your family and they can work to make it better. But when it comes down to it, the government ends up taking it away. That's what the death tax does. It's a bad tax. It's a bad tax. (Applause.)

It's a bad tax because it taxes assets twice. It's a bad tax because it prevents somebody who owns something from passing the asset on to whoever he or she chooses.

Fellers Fixtures, right here in Springfield, Missouri, Carl Fellers, here's what he thinks. First of all, he says he thinks he pays enough taxes already. (Applause.) See, most small businesses pay tax at the individual income tax level, because you're a sole proprietorship or a limited partnership. When you reduce rates on people, you're also reducing rates on small businesses. But he doesn't believe that he ought to pay more taxes than he also already when he dies. And neither do his children.

No, we need to make sure, for the sake of economic vitality, for the sake of job creation, that you elect you a United States senator who makes sure the tax relief plan is permanent. (Applause.)

Jim talent will be a senator who's committed to making sure we have an education system that we're proud of. I signed a great piece of education reform. It challenges the soft bigotry of low expectations. It holds people to a high standard.

It says in return for receiving federal money and we cranked up the level of federal money, by the way, for education spending but in return for receiving federal money, you've got to show us, just like you say in your state motto, show me whether or not the money is being well spent. Show me whether or not our children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. We ask that question because we want to make sure not one single child gets left behind in America. (Applause.)

Jim Talent knows what I know, that medicine has changed and Medicare hasn't; that medicine is modern and Medicare is stuck in the old ways. We need a senator up there who can work with people in both parties to make sure that we modernize Medicare for the sake of our seniors. Modernizing Medicare means that we've got to have a prescription drug plan for our seniors. (Applause.)

One of my most important responsibilities is to put good people on the federal bench. (Applause.) Our definition of good people obviously are people who are honest, who know the law, who are there to serve something other than themselves, who won't use the bench as a legislator might use the bench from which to write new law, but to strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States. (Applause.) And the Senate has got a lousy record when it comes to my judges.

Look at the percentage that they've approved. It's the worst record in modern history. It's worse than how the Senate treated President Clinton, President Bush 41, President Reagan. They're holding up the nominees. And when they put some of my good nominees forward, they're not telling the truth about their records; they're distorting their records. They're playing shameless politics with the judges I put forward.

You need to have a United States senator like Jim Talent who will not play shameless politics with the judges I've put forward. (Applause.) No, there's a lot of things we can do.

We're going to work together to make sure America is a strong country by having a good economy and making sure we fulfill our promises to our children and to our seniors. I know I can work with this man.

I also will be working with the next Congress to protect America. We learned a sad lesson on September the 11th, 2001, and that is that we're no longer immune from attacks from an enemy which hates us, that oceans no longer protect us like we used to think they could. It's changed the dynamics. The battlefield is here at home.

People must understand that there's still an enemy which lurks and desires to hurt. They do it because of what we love. They hate what we stand for. We love freedom. We love the fact that people can worship an Almighty God anyway he or she chooses. (Applause.)

We love every aspect about our freedoms. We love our free press and we love the discourse and -- a political discourse in a free society, and we hold those freedoms dearly. (Applause.) And we're not changing. No matter how they try to terrorize, how they try to threaten, we're not changing. And so long as we don't change, we have to do everything we can to protect America in the new realities we face.

It's a dangerous world, but nobody's going to cause us to retreat from this world. Obviously, my job is not only to deal with threats that we find in these dark caves, but also to anticipate threats. I want to thank the United States Congress for speaking with one voice about a tyrant and a dictator who has constantly defied the world, who refuses to disarm -- (applause) who, in the new reality serves as a true and real threat, not only to the United States, but a threat to our friends in the Middle East, a threat to other freedom-loving countries.

The world has been put on notice, Mr. Saddam Hussein is now on notice. We expect him to disarm. We expect him to live up to the obligations that he has told the world that he would meet. We expect the United Nations to be the United Nations, not the League of Nations. We expect them to join us in keeping the peace, by holding this dictator to account. That's what we expect. (Applause.)

No, the threats are real. It's a different era. And this country will deal with these threats in an open way and a firm way and a resolved way, because we love our freedoms. We understand the biggest obligation we have, at least the biggest obligation I have, is to do everything I can to protect the homeland. There are a lot of good people working hard to protect the homeland. Any time we find a hint about something that might be done to America, we're moving on it. Any time we find any evidence that somebody might be thinking about harming our country -- there are a lot of folks on the case -- we're disrupting, we're denying, we're doing everything we can in our power, and within the United States Constitution, to protect the homeland.

And that's why I went to the United States Congress, and asked them to create a department of homeland security, so I can tell the American people and future Presidents can tell the American people that we're doing everything we can to protect you, everything we can. You see, there's over 100 agencies involved with the protection of our homeland. It means they're kind of scattered about. If the number one priority of America is to protect the homeland, it seems to make sense to me to put them under one agency, so we can make that the number one priority that everybody involved with homeland security must meet. (Applause.)

And we're having a big debate up there about it. Sometimes in our nation's capital, they talk to much -- (laughter) -- and do too little. (Applause.) Sometimes they do too much when they should be talking. (Laughter.)

The House passed a good homeland security bill. The House heard my call to have a bipartisan approach to protecting the homeland. The House heard the call to put aside politics and not let interests -- be interested in special interests, but to focus on the American people, not only today, but down the road. And the House passed a bill. They're stuck in the Senate. The Senate can't get it done right now, it's stuck.

And here's the issue. The Senate is saying, sure, Mr. President, you can have a homeland security bill, but there's going to be a price. And here's the price. They want to roll back an important authority that every President since John F. Kennedy has had, and that authority is this: For 40 years, a President has had the capacity to suspend labor rules in every department of government when the national security is at stake. The President has had the capacity to be able to change rules in order to protect America.

One example of what I'm talking about, just so you'll know clearly, is that Customs agents, we thought, ought to be wearing radiological detection devices, just in case somebody tried to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into America. We thought that made sense for them to wear these. The head of the union said, uh-uh, that must be voluntary, you can't make anybody do that, and therefore let's have a collective bargaining session over it, which might have taken a year's time.

See, we don't have time for that kind of thing. The Senate wants to roll back my authority. The Senate wants to say, you can have that authority, Mr. President, to suspend workers' rights or workers' rules, in the case of a national emergency, in the Agriculture Department, but not for the homeland security. And that's not right.

Jim Talent understands what I'm talking about. You put him in the Senate, we'll get us a good homeland security bill, which will make it easier for Presidents to protect America. (Applause.)

I need to be able to put the right people at the right place at the right time. And that's what the Senate must hear, loud and clear. And one way they can hear it, is they can hear it from the people. You can express yourselves, right in the ballot box. That's the way you can send a message loud and clear about the importance of having a homeland security department that will work today, that will work tomorrow, and will work for decades to come, because this threat, folks, is real for a while.

And that's why the best way to protect the American homeland is not to hope these fellows change their mind, not to hope that they go get therapy to make them think different, but it's to hunt them down, one by one, and bring them to justice, what America is going to do. (Applause.)

We are in a different kind of war, and we're still at war. We're in a war unlike the past. See, the past you used to say, well, we're making progress because we've blown up a couple of tanks or we sunk a ship or their air force isn't as strong anymore. These people hide in caves and send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. See, they don't appreciate the value of life like we do. In America, we believe every life is precious, everybody has worth. (Applause.) These people don't value life, and they hijack a great religion and murder in the name of that religion.

They just did that recently in Indonesia, and we'll be joining our friends in Australia in a day of mourning for the terrible tragedy that took place. We lost lives, they lost a lot of lives. Listen, these are killers, nothing but cold-blooded killers, and we're going to treat them that way, and we're going to hunt them down, one person at a time. (Applause.)

And we're making progress, thanks to a great United States military, and thanks to friends and allies, we're making progress. (Applause.) One reason we're making progress is because of the doctrine that says, either you're with us or you're with them, still stands. (Applause.) It's still relevant.

Our coalition is still rounding people up. It's a different kind of war. Sometimes you'll see progress, and sometimes you won't. The other day, a guy named Bin al-Shibh, he popped his head up. He's no longer a problem. (Applause.) He was significant, because he was to have been the twentieth hijacker. And he was still plotting and he was still planning.

I bet you we've captured over a couple of thousand of them, maybe up to nearly 3,000 by now. Like number, they weren't as lucky. We're going to deny them sanctuary, we're going to find them, we're going to put them on the run.

It doesn't matter how long it takes, my fellow Americans, when it comes to our freedom, it doesn't matter how many years it takes, the United States of America will stay the course, because we will defend America, no matter the cost. (Applause.)

I'm going to sign a defense bill next week. The Congress has gotten it to my desk, and I appreciate that. That is the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President, for two reasons. I want to -- I asked for that request, one, any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best training, the best possible pay, and the best equipment. We owe that to our troops, and we owe it to their loved ones. (Applause.)

And the other message is, the other message to friend and foe alike is that we take our responsibilities seriously, that we love our freedoms, we love our country. And we're not quitting. There's not a calendar that says, well, gosh, it must be time to haul in, it must be time to shut her down. That's just not the way I think, and that's not the way America thinks.

I can't imagine what was going through the mind of the enemy. They must have thought that America was so selfish, so materialistic, so self-absorbed that after 9/11/2001, we might have filed a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) That's not us.

I want you to know that out of the evil done to America can come some incredible good, that that's what we believe as a nation. And one of the -- what's going to happen, I believe, by being strong and firm, and being clear in our resolve, is that we can achieve peace. It's my dream, is to achieve peace. I want there to be peace for the American people. Since we value every life, and everybody counts, no matter where they live, we want there to be peace in parts of the region that have quit on peace. I believe it can happen, I do.

I believe by being strong and resolved and standing on principle, and understanding freedom belongs to everybody, not just a few, that we can have a peaceful and more hopeful world.

And here at home, the evil done to America can help us deal with a serious problem. There are people in our country who hurt. There is loneliness and despair. Amidst our plenty, there are pockets of addiction, there are people who aren't loved, there are people who wonder whether the American experience is meant for them.

So long as any of us hurt, we all hurt. We must step back from our materialism and ask the question, what can I do to help America? And the best way that you can help America is by loving a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)

No, the enemy hit us. Today the enemy hit us, but today we're a stronger nation because we refuse to back down, but also because we've redefined patriotism as somebody who does more than put their hand over their heart. A patriot is somebody who is willing to put their arm around somebody who hurts, somebody in need, somebody who says, I love you.

I want you to be one of those people. One of us can't do everything in society, but one of us can do something to help somebody who needs a hand, somebody who needs love, somebody -- somebody who knows or somebody who cares about them. Today we've got Erin Bryant, who goes right here to school here. She's an active member of the Student Community Action Team at Southwest Missouri State. She spends time volunteering to make somebody's life better. She's involved with people who want to feed those who are hungry and house those who are homeless.

Be a Boy Scout leader, be a Girl Scout leader. Do something. And it's the gathering momentum of the millions of acts of kindness and decency which will allow this great land to stand squarely in the face of evil. No, the enemy hit us. They didn't know who they were hitting. They hit the greatest nation on the face of the earth. And we will show the world why. (Applause.)

There's no question in my mind that even though there's hurdles ahead of us, we can achieve a lot. We can achieve peace, and we can make sure the light shines brightly, the light of hope, in every corner on this great land. I say that with confidence because this is the greatest nation, full of the finest people, on the face of the earth.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 10:30 A.M. CDT


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