For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 9, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Congressman Chris Chocola
Joyce Athletic Center
Notre Dame, Indiana
12:20 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all, very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Chris. And I want to thank all of you for being here today. It's good to be back in the state of Indiana, and on the campus of the great University of Notre Dame. And I appreciate the warm welcome. I bring you greetings from the man in the White House, President George W. Bush, who you all helped elect in 2000. (Applause.)
I'm delighted to see my old friend Jack Hiler is prospering so well, now that he's back home with his folks. We served together in Congress for many years, and it's always fun to see Jack and Catherine (ph), again, as well, too.
This is my second visit with your fine congressman. I'm proud to be here today. Chris and I, of course, campaigned together in the last election in May, during his first campaign for the Congress. The President and I were proud to support him because we knew about his record as an entrepreneur and as a leader in his community. And we're grateful to the people of the Second District for sending him to Washington to work with us.
I served in the House of Representatives for a decade. I was the congressman from Wyoming. Wyoming only had one seat in the House of Representatives. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.) And the President, of course, when he asked me to be his running mate told me it wasn't because he worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) He got 70 percent of the vote there. But I remind him from time to time, those three electoral votes came in pretty darn handy. (Laughter.)
There's a message in all of that, and the message is that in these elections, if anybody ever had any doubt that your individual effort counts, that presidential election in 2000 ought to put that to rest. When you think about how close the election was, how it took some 37 days afterwards to finally resolve it, victory turned on a few hundred votes in Florida, the lesson to take away from that is never let anybody tell you what you do in a campaign doesn't matter. Every dollar matters, every contribution, every hour of volunteer work is absolutely crucial to success. And I appreciate the fact that all of you are here today willing to commit to making sure Chris gets reelected.
I think I've got some experience, having served in the House for 10 years, about what makes a good congressman. You need to work hard, stay in close touch with the people of your district, and speak out on the things that matter most back home. Chris Chocola meets that standard every single day. Right now in Washington there are 55 members of the House serving their first time, and your congressman is one of the absolute standouts of that freshman class. (Applause.)
Colleagues on both sides of the aisle respect him for the spirit of good will and basic common sense and decency, as well as the real-world experience he brings to the job. He does Indiana proud in the Nation's Capital, and he has earned another term in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
With the responsibilities that President Bush and I have, it matters a great deal that we can count on capable partners on Capitol Hill. The President and I came to Washington determined to try to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to the next generation. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform, to get beyond the old debates that stood in the way of progress. And today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we have a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of our new era because of the character and the leadership of President George W. Bush.
In the weeks following the terrorist attack on America, people in every part of the country -- regardless of party -- took great comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. From that day to this, President Bush has led a steady, focused and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our citizens.
The al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters spent years plotting the attacks of September 11th. In the time since, they have begun to realize what a grave miscalculation it was to make an enemy of this country and of this President. Many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear, and their fears are well founded, because we're on their trail.
In Afghanistan the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda, and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a dictator armed to threaten the peace and gave support to terrorists, and his regime is no more. Baghdad fell six months ago today, and important work still goes on in Iraq. Yet despite difficulties that we knew would occur, the Iraqi people prefer liberty and hope to tyranny and fear. Your congressman has been to Iraq, and he's seen firsthand the progress we've made in helping Iraqis build a secure and self-governing nation. There are terrorists in the country, but there's no dictator to protect them any more. And we're dealing with them one-by-one. We are fighting this evil in Iraq so that we do not have to fight it on the streets of our own cities.
On every front in the war on terror, the United States has depended on the skill and the courage of our men and women in uniform. They've faced enemies who have no regard for the rules of warfare or morality. They've carried out urgent and difficult missions in some of the most remote and hostile enemy territory. These young Americans have done all of this with the bravery and the honor we expect of them. As a former Secretary of Defense, I've never been more proud of the United States military. (Applause.)
There was a time just a few years ago when the military was taken for granted. Readiness was faltering, morale was beginning to suffer. In the campaign of 2000, George Bush and I gave our word that the Armed Forces would be given every resource they need and the respect they deserve. And working with Chris Chocola and others like him in the U.S. Congress, we've kept our word to the United States military.
Three years ago, we also promised to reduce the federal tax burden, to let workers keep more of their own money and to give a needed boost to our economy. By the time we took office, the economy was in recession. Then it was further shaken by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. To get this economy growing again, we delivered tax relief, because when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. After all, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money, it's the people's money. When the American people have more to spend, more to save and more to invest, our economy moves forward. And those who need work are more likely to find a job.
We expanded the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000. We reduced the marriage penalty, cut taxes on dividends and capital gains, helping seniors and others who rely on investments in their retirement. Because of our actions, a married couple with two children and a household income of $40,000 will see their federal income tax bill this year fall from $1,978 to only $45.
For the sake of America's farmers, entrepreneurs and ranchers, we're also bringing the death tax to an end. Altogether, we've softened the effects of recession, set a platform for sustained growth by giving the American people the largest tax relief since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
As governor of Texas, George W. Bush made education reform a matter of the highest priority. He followed through by uniting members of both political parties behind sweeping reforms, and he promised to do the same as President. Many doubted it could ever be achieved. Yet in a short time, President Bush transformed the education debate in Washington. He set forth clear principles and worked with Congress in a spirit of goodwill until the No Child Left Behind Act became law.
Because of that milestone reform, the days of excuse-making are over. It's time for high standards and accountability for results. Education reform is one of those issues that lingered for years in Washington.
On so many problems, the country was getting used to endless debate and not much in the way of results. Yet things have changed fundamentally. Instead of constant gridlock, the government is actually confronting old problems and acting decisively against sudden dangers and challenges. The critical factor in every case has been presidential leadership.
On the President's initiative we're carrying out the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, with the Department of Homeland Security, to protect the American people. After many failed attempts in the 1990s, we now have trade promotion authority to open new markets for America's farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. And under the President's leadership, with crucial support from your fine congressman, we are going to maintain spending discipline in Washington, D.C.
On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. And one of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the kind of people he's brought into government. As someone who has spent many years in public service, I can tell you that I believe this is one of the finest teams any President has ever assembled. One member of that team was President Bush's first budget director -- a fine gentleman who some of you know, named Mitch Daniels. And many of his old friends are looking forward to Mitch's campaign to be the next governor of Indiana. (Applause.)
All of us in this administration, and the Republicans in the House and Senate recognize that our job is not to rest on our record, but rather to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interest of this nation requires that we oppose interests -- we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they gather. Our war on terror will continue until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated.
Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. There's great work in this world that only America can do. In the Middle East, we're encouraging free markets, democracy and tolerance, because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuits of peace.
Under President Bush, this nation acts in the world according both to our fundamental interests and our founding ideals. We believe in the right of all people to live in freedom, and all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.
Here at home, we have a full agenda and some pressing business to complete. After so many years of inaction, we're nearing major reform in Medicare, reform that strengthens the system and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. We must also improve our health care system through liability reform. Doctors here in Indiana and across America should be able to spend their time healing patients instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits.
We are also nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. The President has proposed a strategy based on greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and the production of more natural gas and energy here at home. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we need to make our nation less dependent on foreign oil.
We've achieved a great deal during our time in office, but there's still a great deal left to do. In Washington and around the world, this nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course. And when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. We understand the key to victory is to do the work we've been given and to do it well. We intend to make good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.
As we go forward, we also remember that we are called to serve great and enduring principles -- principles that apply everywhere and can be stated in the plainest of terms. A book has just been published collecting the letters written by Ronald Reagan over a lifetime. In one letter addressed to the leader of the Soviet Union President Reagan wrote, and I quote:
"The peoples of the world, despite differences in racial and ethnic origin, have very much in common. They want the dignity of having some control over their individual destiny. They want to work at the craft or trade of their own choosing, and to be fairly rewarded. They want to raise their families in peace without harming anyone or suffering harm themselves. Government exists for their convenience, not the other way around."
Ronald Reagan's words are still a superb guide for those of us who serve in public office. It is now our job to advance those principles as he did, and I'm proud to serve beside a President who follows in that tradition, a President who has the commitment, the integrity, the judgment, the compassion, and the courage to lead this nation in a time of testing. A President of the United States who has brought honor and dignity to the White House. (Applause.)
President Bush and I are deeply honored by your confidence in us and your support, and by your commitment to the cause that we share. And we've very grateful to the Second District for sending us Chris to work with in Washington. He's made a fine name for himself. He reflects tremendous credit on the good people of Northern Indiana. And we look forward to working with him for a long time to come. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:35 P.M. CDT