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For Immediate Release
July 13, 2004
Mrs. Cheneys Remarks at the National Hispanic Leadership Summit
It's an honor to be here today and I thank you for that kind introduction, Kay. I've noticed over the past few years that people don't find it easy to introduce the wife of the vice president. Sometimes they call me "Mrs. Vice President," which doesn't seem right. Tipper Gore has reported that she was once introduced as "the First Lady of Vice." And that doesn't seem like such a good idea, either.
So it causes some difficulty that I don't have a title, but not long ago my middle granddaughter did offer a good suggestion. She was four at the time, and she was in California visiting her other grandparents. One of the disconcerting things you discover as a grandmother is that your grandchildren do have other grandparents they need to pay attention to.
So Elizabeth - that's the four-year-old's name - was in California, being shared with her other grandparents, and my daughter had occasion to drive her across the Oakland Bay Bridge. Now, those of you who know the Bay area know this is a formidable bridge, and my daughter remembered that when she and her sister were small, I drove them across that great bridge - and ran out of gas. She thought the four-year-old might enjoy hearing this story since if there's anything little kids take delight in, it's tales about the incompetence of adults. And my granddaughter was very interested in this story. But since she was in California visiting the other grandmother she couldn't figure out exactly who the incompetent adult was. "You mean Grandma Julie?" she asked my daughter.
"No," my daughter answered, "it was Grandma Lynne." Then, as my daughter described it, if you were watching the four-year-old's face, it was as though a light bulb went on. "Oh," said the four-year-old, "you mean the grandma of the United States." Now that's a title to be proud of, isn't it?
Being a grandmother has given me a special interest in being sure that children know about this great country, and while my husband has been Vice President, I have published two children's books aimed at teaching America's story. My most recent book, A is for Abigail, records the achievements of American women from Abigail Adams to Babe Didrickson Zaharias, who was one of the twentieth century's finest athletes, and in that book, I was pleased to honor the contributions of outstanding Hispanic women: Nancy Lopez, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, Mara Cadilla de Martnez, who was a leader in teaching and preserving Puerto Rican culture, Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera, stars of stage and screen, Jovita Idar, whose organization of Mexican women started schools for poor children and provided food and clothing for the needy in their community, and Gloria Anzalda, who wrote the book Borderlands.
My previous children's book, America: A Patriotic Primer, was also an alphabet book, and when I came to the V page, I was particularly struck by the heroic deeds performed on behalf of this country by Hispanics who have worn the uniform of the United States military: Congressional Medal of Honor awardees Jose Lopez, Benito Martinez, and Roy Benavidez, to name just a few. The story of Hispanic contributions to our country is an uplifting one, and I have been proud these past few years to have a small part in helping children learn about it.
History is my interest and my passion, and it's been an amazing privilege for me to have a front row seat on history over these past three and a half years, to watch our great nation rise up and comfort those whose lives were changed forever by the attacks of September 11, to see the President go on the offense against those bent on destroying us and at the same time work to strengthen our great nation here at home.
What has been accomplished is pretty amazing. When George Bush and Dick Cheney were sworn into office on January 20, 2001, the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. Girls couldn't go to school, women who had been doctors and teachers and scientists couldn't practice their professions. It was a regime of unimaginable cruelty, whipping women in public if their ankles showed, and amputating their fingers if they were caught wearing nail polish. It is probably not surprising that such a regime was a haven for terrorists. Camps in Afghanistan were providing training in murder and destruction to thousands upon thousands of radical Islamists.
Now, three and a half years later, the Taliban have been driven from power, the terrorist camps are gone, girls and boys are going to school, women are healing and teaching and taking part in government. Just a few weeks ago, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, stood before the Congress and thanked the people of the United States for liberating his country. Three and a half years ago, that would have seemed unimaginable.
And so would the recent visit by Ghazi al Yawar, the president of Iraq. Three and a half years ago, Iraq was governed by a man who had murdered thousands upon thousands of his own people, including women and children. Saddam Hussein was one of the twentienth century's most brutal dictators. He started two wars, cultivated and used weapons of mass destruction, and was a major patron of terrorism. Now three and a half years later, his regime is history and he is in jail.
And let me just mention one other event of great significance to the security of our nation and our families, and that is the closing down of a network that was helping spread nuclear weapons. Three and a half years ago, A. Q. Kahn, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, was selling nuclear weapons technology to rogue states -- Iran, North Korea, Libya. Moammar Ghadafi, A. Q. Kahn's biggest customer, was spending millions to acquire nuclear weapons design, basic uranium feedstock, and centrifuges to enrich uranium. But when Ghadafi witnessed America's determination in Afghanistan and Iraq, he gave up his nuclear ambitions. Five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, he announced he would turn over all of his weapons of mass destruction materials. The designs, the uranium, and the centrifuges now reside at a U.S. facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A. Q. Kahn, the proliferator, is now under house arrest in Pakistan, and his network is being dismantled. The world's worst source of proliferatio
In the fight for our freedom and security, our nation owes a mighty debt to the men and women of our armed forces. They are brave, they are determined, and they are focused. They are fighting the terrorists where they live so that firefighters, police, and civilians do not have to fight them in the streets of our own cities.
At the ousekeeping same time that the president and this administration has moved forward on issues of national security, they have also worked aggressively on another issue important to all of us and our families, and that is the economy. Three and a half years ago, when George Bush and Dick Cheney were sworn into office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then came the attacks of September 11 and the uncertainties that exist in a time of war. But with the president's leadership, we have come through these challenges. He worked with the Congress to pass three measures of tax relief, in 2001, 2002, and 2003. He has worked to keep the government from overstepping its limits by simplifying and eliminating regulations. And now we see an economy growing bigger and better.
In June, our country experienced its tenth consecutive month of job growth. American businesses have added over 1.5 million jobs since last August.
There are more numbers, and I think it's especially important to acknowledge them today because small businesses, like the ones many Hispanics run, are central to this economic recovery. They create 70 percent of the new jobs in this country and are the engine behind the economic growth of this past year -- growth of nearly five percent -- which represents the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Income and wages have been rising. Productivity is high. Business investment and factory orders have been rising. America's economy is moving in the right direction.
Undergirding the policies of this administration is the president's understanding that government doesn't create jobs. What government can do is establish the atmosphere in which business women and men all across this country can create jobs. And that starts by leaving more money in the pockets of business women and men, money that you can use to invest and grow. Because the president has cut marginal tax rates, millions of business owners who are sole proprietors have directly benefited. They pay taxes on business profits at the individual income rate, and as those rates have dropped -- as a result of the president's policies -- so have the tax bills.
President Bush has also provided incentives to small businesses to invest in new equipment. A few weeks ago in Nevada, I listened to Gustavo Gutierrez explain how this new approach has allowed him to expand. A few days before, I listened to the owners of a small business in Ohio explain how these incentives have allowed them to acquire the machinery they need.
In the years ahead, the president intends to maintain his pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur strategy. One important goal will be to create certainty in the tax code. Families and entrepreneurs need to be able to plan for the future. But unless the Congress acts, the tax relief that has proven so successful is going to expire. An important goal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
One last point I want to emphasize today has to do with the president's education agenda. I first got to know President Bush when he was Governor of Texas and determined to improve that state's school. He worked in a totally bipartisan way to enact reforms that set high standards and demanded results. All Texas students were the beneficiaries. Between 1992, the year of the last National Assessment of Educational Progress before George W. Bush became governor of Texas, and 2003, the year of the most recent results, the portion of all Texas 4th graders scoring at or above the "basic" level in mathematics went up by 26 percentage points. The portion of Hispanic fourth graders in Texas scoring at or above "basic" rose 35 percentage points. In terms of their percentage point improvement since 1992, Hispanic students in Texas are tied for first in the nation.
When he was elected President in 2000, George W. Bush brought his commitment to schools to Washington. He submitted his framework for education reform just three days after taking office, and less than a year later, he won overwhelming bipartisan passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. That legislation set the lofty goal of providing a quality education for every child. It mandated testing and accountability to encourage all schools to better educate all children.
It's been only two and a half years since this landmark legislation was enacted, but it's possible to see promising signs. In the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which I earlier talked about with regard to Texas, there was significant progress across the nation among all groups of students and some narrowing of achievement gaps since the year 2000. A survey by the Council of Great City Schools, analyzing student achievement in inner cities through the spring of 2003, found significant improvement in math and reading as well as evidence of a narrowing achievement gap between Hispanic and Anglo students.
Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has increased funding for elementary and secondary education by 49%, support for teachers by 39%, and Title I funding by 52%. Under this administration, the federal government is fulfilling its responsibilities to our schools, and not just by dramatically increasing education spending, but by investing in a plan, and that plan is No Child Left Behind.
I have been proud to campaign for this president. He has a clear vision for the future of the nation. Abroad, he will use America's great power to serve great purposes -- to protect our homeland by turning back the forces of terror, and spread hope and freedom throughout the world. Here at home, this administration will continued building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child who grows up in the United States will have a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.
Thank you very much for being here today, and for inviting me.