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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 10, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on the Economy in Grafton, Wisconsin
Seek, Inc.
Grafton, Wisconsin

10:21 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thanks so much. I feel like Carol, it's really great to be among friends. Thank you very, very much.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years! (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: Thank you. Thanks everybody for your very warm welcome to Wisconsin. I'm so glad to be here with Carol to talk about what she's done here at SEEK and how she's built her company, and also to talk to all of you about my husband and the great work that he has done. (Applause.)

I'll be on the campaign trail for the next three months talking about the President's accomplishments and his vision to move America forward. And the best part for me is to meet remarkable people from all across our country just like today, when I have the chance to meet Carol Schneider. (Applause.)

Over 30 years ago, Carol started a business with $500. She started it in her neighbor's bedroom, complete with a barking dog. (Laughter.) Today, she manages 100 employees in 14 offices and leads a company worth $36 million. (Applause.) Her rise to the top hasn't been easy -- especially not when she was going to community college during the day, working full time at night and raising three young boys.

And then there were the years she couldn't get a sizeable loan from the bank, or when she had to take the minutes at the Rotary club, rather than participate, because her male counterparts balked at her membership.

But Carol refused to give up. She funded her business herself, she seized opportunities to expand, and she even started her own organization of women executives. And in the next year, she plans to open four more offices outside of Wisconsin now. Congratulations, Carol. (Applause.)

She is a role model to every one of us, because at age 68, she continues to work 70 hours a week, she's encouraged other women to start their own businesses, and she's been an inspiration for her own three children who each own their own businesses. Carol Ann, congratulations on your success, and thank you for being a role model for us all. (Applause.)

Women entrepreneurs and small business owners are some of the hardest working people in America. Carol has taught her children the values of hard work, integrity and independence. And this is what America's business owners teach all of us -- especially women entrepreneurs.

When it comes to entrepreneurship and job creation, this is increasingly a woman's world. Ten million women own their own business in America -- and this sisterhood just keeps on growing.

Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and women-owned businesses and equally owned firms employ more than 18 million Americans. They also generate more than $3 trillion in sales. This demonstrates the increasing economic impact of women-owned firms.

Women are working hard to strengthen their communities and their country -- and President Bush is working hard for women. My husband believes that we should all have an equal opportunity to achieve our dreams, and he has three strong women at home who won't let him forget it. (Applause.)

I'm proud that in my husband's administration, there are more women in senior positions than in any other presidential administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy -- (applause) -- and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic issues. This means that in the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home -- which sounds just about right to me. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that empowered women are vital to our democracy -? and essential to our economic security. The President has worked closely with a coalition of 25 women's business organizations to ensure that women's voices are heard. His administration has hosted entrepreneurship summits across the country and established a website called to provide easy access to business resources.

In the last four years, President Bush has created an economic environment where women entrepreneurs can succeed and small businesses can flourish and grow. And it hasn't been easy. We've been through a lot ?- from recession to terror attacks to corporate scandals. But our economy remains the strongest in the world, thanks to America's small businesses and the President's commitment to tax relief. (Applause.)

Because of tax cuts, 25 million small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 a year alone. Cuts in the capital gains tax and the taxation of dividends are spurring investments and making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.

The tax relief plan also created new incentives by quadrupling the annual expense deduction for equipment, up to $100,000. Carol has been able to invest half a million dollars in computer upgrades for her office. She said, "The economy is doing great and it's because President Bush has implemented policies that allow people to keep their own money and spend it how they choose." (Applause.)

Since 2001, real after-tax incomes have increased by 11 percent. That means people have more money in their pockets -- and more opportunities to decide how to spend it. Families are saving more because the President doubled the child credit, he reduced the marriage penalty, and he put the death tax on the road to extinction.

In some families, tax relief means more money to pay the monthly bills. In other families, it means money to start a college fund for their children or a retirement fund for themselves. These millions of individual decisions are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people around the country.

More Americans than ever before are realizing the dream of home ownership. Minority home ownership is particularly strong. We set a new record this year. Now, more than half of all minority families own their own homes. (Applause.)

Consumer confidence is at its highest level in two years, and 1.5 million jobs have been created in the last 11 months.

The record is clear: because of the President's sound economic policies, and because of the hard work of America's small businesses, the economy is strong and getting stronger.

And President Bush has the right plan to make sure the economy continues to grow and to move America forward. The President will not be satisfied until every person that wants a job can find one, and until regulations on businesses are fair and reasonable. The President will not be satisfied until more Americans have affordable health care -- until every child learns to read -- and until all workers have the opportunity to compete and succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.

President Bush is moving America forward with an economic agenda that meets the needs of Americans. And that starts with making tax relief permanent. He knows that raising taxes now would put the brakes on our growing economy, and he'll urge Congress -- (applause) -- and he'll urge Congress to keep taxes low.

The President will also ensure that Federal regulations do not handicap America's entrepreneurs by streamlining regulations and reducing paperwork. And he'll foster more job opportunities by expanding markets for America's products around the world.

President Bush knows that reliable health care is absolutely vital to our economic security, and to your bottom line. Uninsured Americans are overwhelmingly concentrated in smaller companies.

You want to take care of your employees and make sure that their families receive the best medical care. And yet the costs of health care continues to rise. That's why the President is taking action to make health care more affordable and more accessible to millions of Americans.

He's urging Congress to approve association health plans, so that small businesses can pool to buy insurance coverage for their workers. These plans give small businesses the same kind of purchasing power and coverage options of large firms. (Applause.)

And because frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of health care and drive good doctors out of practice, the President will reform the medical liability system and reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.) His plan will ensure that patients and doctors are always in charge of medical decisions, not bureaucrats in Washington or trial lawyers in courtrooms. (Applause.)

President Bush also knows -- and all of us know this -- that an educated work force is vital to our economic security today and well into the future. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing more money, higher standards, and stronger accountability to schools throughout America. (Applause.) Now we have clear goals for education.

Every child should learn to read by the third grade, because reading is the foundation for all other learning. (Applause.) We're assessing students' progress every year in elementary school to make sure that children don't fall behind. And with a new emphasis on high standards and accountability, every student will graduate high school well-prepared for college or the workforce.

The President has the right plan to ensure that new graduates and experienced workers have the skills to succeed in the jobs of the 21st century. He wants to expand math and science education in high schools, and broaden Internet training so that America's workers can compete in a technology-driven world. He's providing more resources to help workers get high-tech training at local community colleges.

And President Bush wants America's families keep more of something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids, time to take care of their parents, or to volunteer in their communities. President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time more available for Americans, so they can better manage the demands of family and work. (Applause.)

I have a feeling that the employees of SEEK might spend that extra time making a difference in their communities. Because for you, volunteer service is more than an ideal, it's part of the job. President Bush and I appreciate your great work that you're doing to help your neighbors. And, Carol, I appreciate that you've made it part of the job. Thank you for that. (Applause.)

As I travel around the country, what I see in every single community is that compassion and ingenuity are being put to work to lift up lives from the mentoring of children of prisoners to the bringing of meals and friendly conversation to elderly neighbors.

And some volunteers, like nine-year-old Emma Sadler, teach others the joy of reading and books. I'm so happy that Emma and her mom, Denise, are here today. Emma, do you want to stand up so everybody can see you? (Applause.)

Some of you may recognize Emma because, as she proudly wrote me in a letter earlier this year, she was the 2003 Miss Wisconsin Junior Pre-Teen and the 2002 Miss Wisconsin National Pre-Teen Petite. She may be petite, but she sets an incredible example. (Applause.)

Shortly after she won her first title, Emma's mom encouraged her to help others. And Emma was unsure at first, telling her mother, "Mom, I'm only seven." (Laughter.) But her mom told her that no matter how old you are, you can help other people. So Emma started a reading program named after her favorite book called I'll Read To You If You'll Read to Me. She visits kindergarten classrooms and reads to children. She brings one book to read and another book for the child to read with her. In the last two years, she's read to more than 300 students. Emma said, "I want them to see that I love reading and I'm a kid, too. My hope is that I can help at least one child read a little better."

And, Emma, I bet you've helped a lot more than one child. (Applause.)

But Emma is not just teaching children to love reading, she's also teaching them the importance of helping other people. And this is one of the most valuable lessons you can share.

President Bush and I both thank you for being such a great role model. (Applause.)

These are hopeful times in our nation. We're moving forward with great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. We've faced a lot of challenges, and we're working through them. And these are times that require particularly strong and determined leaders, and I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

Thank you. Thank you, Carol, for being a leader and a role model for all of us. And thanks to every one of you for the work that you do here in Wisconsin, the work that you do helping people and helping our economy. Thank you all very much. I really am so glad to be here. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

10:40 A.M. CDT

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