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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 11, 2004
President's Remarks at Ask President Bush Event
Albuquerque, New Mexico
1:40 P.M. MDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) I'm glad you all are here. Thank you all for coming. It's good to be back. Please be seated. Yes, thanks for being here today. It's good to be back -- yeah! (Laughter.) It's good to be back in country where people wear cowboy hats. (Applause.)
Thanks for your hospitality. I'm traveling our country asking for the vote. I think you have to go out and ask people for their help and ask people for their support. I've got a reason for running again -- I'm going to share some of that with you today. We're going to do it in a little different way. We're going to talk about small businesses. We'll talk about homeownership. We're going to talk about jobs and education, all aimed to let the people know that I have a desire to make sure this country is a stronger country, and a better country for everybody. Por todos. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend, Pete Domenici. You got a good one in Pete Domenici. He's a United States Senator -- (applause.) He's a strong leader for New Mexico. When you're with Pete, all he talks about is New Mexico. (Laughter.) Occasionally works in the United States. (Laughter.) He loves this state. Ever since he was a fire-balling right-hander. (Laughter.) He's a wonderful man. I'm proud you're here, Pete. Thanks for taking on a leadership role in my campaign.
I'm also proud to be traveling with John McCain. (Applause.) Nothing better than waking up in the country and getting a cup of coffee and getting in the pickup truck, and driving around and looking at the cows. That's what John and I did this morning. It's a good way to -- good way to clear your mind and keep your perspective.
Yesterday, we were in the Panhandle of Florida. We ended our day in Panama City, Florida. There was 22,000 people that came out to say hello. It's -- listen, I'm going to tell you what I'm seeing. I'm seeing big crowds, the enthusiasm is high. (Applause.) We're on our way to victory. (Applause.)
The two people I wish who were here who aren't, one is Heather Wilson. I know she's out working. She's a fantastic lady. You need to put her back in Congress. (Applause.) People of this district are lucky that Heather is your Congresswoman. (Applause.) She's very competent, very smart, very-able person who has got a lot of respect -- who has earned a lot of respect in Washington.
And the other person who I regret is not here is Laura. (Applause.) Yeah, you do, too. (Applause.) You know, she was born and raised right around the corner. I was raised right around the corner; she was born and raised right around the corner. We're right on the other side of the New Mexico border. We've spent a lot of time in this state. This is a state -- this is a state where we don't have to have a tour guide to figure out how to get around. (Applause.) And we don't need to have somebody explain to us how the people of New Mexico think. (Applause.)
She's a great First Lady, a great mother -- (applause) -- and a wonderful wife. (Applause.) And she sends her best to Pete and all our friends here in New Mexico.
I also want to thank the sheriff, the high sheriff is here, Darren White. It's good to see you, Sheriff. (Applause.) I appreciate you being here. He's sitting next to my friend, John Sanchez. John, thanks for taking a leadership role. (Applause.) I want to thank Pat Lyons and Manny Lujan, friends of mine. I appreciate so very much Allen Weh, the chairman of this -- the chairman of the party. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. Yeah, there you go. (Applause.) You're the people who are going to get people registered to vote. (Applause.) That's what we're really here to talk about, in many ways, is to get people to show up to the polls. I'm confident if we can get a lot of people to vote, we'll carry New Mexico this time. (Applause.) Wasn't but about 300 votes last time. (Laughter.) Too many of our people got the head cold right before the election. This time, we're going to get them out to vote. And I want your help. And remember, there are a lot of Democrats here who like what's going on in Washington, D.C. -- make sure you get those people to the polls. Make sure you get the independents. (Applause.) They understand that this administration is dedicated to keep this country safer and stronger and a better country for everybody. (Applause.)
I met Tom Hesch today -- where are you, Tom? There he is, right there. He's a doc, he's a dentist. Guess what he does? He provides free dental care for people who need help -- that's what he does. (Applause.) One of the reasons -- I call him a soldier in the army of compassion. You know why I mention Tom, is because the strength of this country is the hearts and souls of citizens like Tom, who are willing to reach out to somebody who needs help and says, can I help you, brother or sister. What can I do to help your life? I'm running for four more years because I want to continue to rally and encourage the soldiers in that vast army of compassion, so that America can change one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
I understand the limitations of government. I understand that government is not a loving organization. (Laughter.) But government can stand side-by-side with loving organizations to help improve the lives of people from all walks of life. (Applause.)
Tom, I want to thank you for being here. Thank you for the example you set.
I'm also running because I want this country of ours to be a stronger country, and by that, I mean a country in which people can realize their dreams. And people can better realize their dreams when our economy is strong. Now, we've been through a lot. We've been through a lot in this country. If you really think about what we've been through, it's amazing to say that we're strong and getting stronger. We've been through a recession -- that's when things are going backwards. We've been through an attack. That's when things really shook up the country. It shook our conscience. The attacks of September the 11th affected our economy. Remember, airplanes weren't flying; Wall Street was shut down; banks were closed. I mean, it was a terrible time for our nation. We went through corporate scandals. Make no mistake about it, when you've got a system that relies upon trust, in other words, somebody opening up the books, and you trust in what you read, and that trust has been violated by a -- by a corporate officer, it affected our economy. It shook our confidence in the system. But we acted. We acted to overcome all these obstacles. We passed tough new corporate reforms. The message ought to be clear to everybody now that if you don't tell the truth, we're coming after you, to keep the trust. (Applause.)
We acted after the enemy attacked us -- I'll talk about that a little later. We also acted to help cure the ills of a recession. I believe that when somebody has got more money in their pocket to save or spend or invest, it causes there to be an increase in demand for goods and services, and when there's an increase in demand for goods and services, somebody is going to produce the good or a service. If somebody produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to find a job.
My whole focus on getting out of this recession was to help the economy grow so people can find work, and we're making progress. We've added 1.5 -- nearly 1.5 million new jobs since last August -- (applause.) We're a strong economy. If you look at all the major industrialized nations in the world, we're the strongest. That's where we should be.
There's more to do. There's more to do. We're going to talk about the entrepreneurial spirit. See, I don't think the role of government is to create wealth. I believe the role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit can soar and is strong, where the strong businesses -- (applause.) You know what that means? You see, in order to keep jobs here at home, that means we better have the best environment for job creation in the world. We want jobs to be here in New Mexico and in Texas and all around the country like we all do. That means this has got to be the best place to be an employer, which means good tax policy, it means we've got to do something about all these lawsuits, which are threatening the job creators. (Applause.)
We've got to do something on health care costs. I'll tell you what we can do on health care costs. We can take care of our seniors with good Medicare law, which we've done. We can have more community health centers in urban New Mexico and rural New Mexico and the tribal areas of New Mexico to help poor citizens get primary care and take the pressure off our emergency rooms. (Applause.) We can have associated health care -- I mean, associated health plans, which will allow small businesses to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries, so they can have the same purchasing power as large companies do, and therefore, better afford insurance for their employees.
We can continue to promote health savings accounts, which allow individuals and small businesses to put money aside for workers and/or yourself on a tax-free basis, which will help control costs. We can spread new technologies, electronic records for patients, to help wring out the inefficiencies which now exist in the medical system.
And you know what else we need to do in order to make sure health care is available and affordable? Medical liability reform. These lawsuits are making -- (applause.) I'm telling you, the frivolous lawsuits are running up the cost of health care and they're driving doctors out of business and they're hurting our hospitals. (Applause.) And I don't think you can be -- I don't think you can be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) I think you have to choose. My opponent has made his choice and he put him on the ticket. (Laughter.) I made my choice. We're standing with the patients and the doctors and the small business owners.
In order to make sure jobs stay here and the economy is strong, we need good trade policy. Let me tell you something about trade. Our economy has been open for goods from overseas. You know why? If you're a customer and you have more choices, you're going to get a better product at a better price. That's how the economy works. The more choices you have as a customer, the more likely it is you're going to get a product that you want at higher quality and better price.
And so, Presidents before me, from both parties, have said, let's help the customers of America, the consumers, you. In return, though, other countries have not opened their markets to our products like we have opened our markets to theirs. Good public policy and good trade policy says to places like China and elsewhere, open up your markets. Ours are open. You open up yours. We can compete with anybody, anytime, anyplace, so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)
I'm going to talk -- I'm going to ask Rudy Gonzalez to stand up. Rudy is a small business owner. One of the things that -- one of the things -- one of the things I love to do is talk to small business owners, people who have started their own business. Isn't that a fantastic thing to be able to say? Rudy owns his own business. And he started it himself, which is really good. It means that something is going right in the society where people are willing to risk capital to start their own business.
Part of our tax relief plan was aimed directly at the Rudys, the small businesses of the world, because 90 percent of the small businesses are sub-chapter S or sole proprietorships. That's legalese for they pay tax at the individual income tax rate, not corporate tax rate. And so when you hear us saying we're -- reduce the income tax, the individual income taxes, think about Rudy. Think about his business. (Applause.)
Rudy, when did you start your company?
MR. GONZALEZ: Well, Mr. President, first of all, thank you for inviting me. I started my company back in 1997. And I'm a first-generation Hispanic. My parents were born in Mexico. They came over to this country because, just like you, Mr. President, they have three fundamental values -- a belief in a higher power, a belief in the family as the best institution to secure our future, and a belief that if you work hard and you apply yourself, in the United States you can get anywhere you want to be. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's great. La familia es esperanza. Exactly right. What does your business do? In case somebody might be listening. (Laughter.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate the credit. No, you did it, see. They wouldn't be giving you a contract if you couldn't do the job. You've got to be able to do the job. And if you can't do the job, then you shouldn't be given the contract. But you can do the job. You're good at what you do. Thanks for the credit. I don't deserve it, you do.
Let me ask you this question: How many people have you hired this year?
MR. GONZALEZ: Well, I'd like to go back a little bit. When I started off, you were right, I started by myself in 1997. Today, we have approximately 65 employees. (Applause.) This year -- we've grown every single year since 2001. This year, we added 20 new employees.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. (Applause.) Let me stop you there. Let me stop you. A lot of the job growth is happening because companies like Rudy are expanding their job base. Most new jobs in America are created by small business owners. It's important for the American people to understand that. And so you're seeing Rudy hires 20 here, and somebody else hires 20 there, and it begins to add up. People are working in the small business sector. That's why we've got to make sure small businesses have got affordable health care. And that's why we've got to make sure tax policy does not harm small businesses.
Are you making investments this year?
MR. GONZALEZ: Yes, sir, I sure am.
THE PRESIDENT: What will you be buying? (Laughter.) Just in case there's a seller here. (Laughter.)
MR. GONZALEZ: You can -- you can talk to my friend Ken -- over there because this year, he sold us four vehicles.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. (Laughter.) The only reason I ask is that people have got to understand when you hear the tax relief encouraged investment, investment means you're purchasing something, and somebody has to make that which you purchase and sell that which you purchase. And that's how the economy works. There's a million decision-makers, or more than that, like Rudy, who are out saying the tax code encourages me to buy something, and as that purchasing takes place, it adds economic vitality and growth.
Rudy is an S corp. That means he pays tax at the individual income tax rate. And so when you hear my opponent talking about taxing the rich, that means running up the rate, the high rates, he's really taxing small businesses. See, they put out $2.2 trillion of new spending promises. He hasn't even got to September yet, by the way. (Laughter.) And he says he's going to pay for it -- (applause) -- he says he's going to pay for it by taxing the rich. That means that S corps that are doing okay are going to pay higher taxes. We don't need to be taking money out of the small business coffers as this economy is beginning to grow. If most new jobs are created by small businesses, and most small businesses are sub-chapter S or sole proprietorships, it makes no sense to run up the taxes on these people as this economy is beginning to grow. (Applause.)
You know what else I think? You know what else I think when they say, tax the rich? Most rich people are able to avoid taxes, and if you can't raise enough money from taxing the rich, guess who pays the taxes? Yes, you do. But we're not going to let him. That's what this campaign is about, to make sure we've got good tax policy. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: All right, Rudy. Go ahead.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Fabulous. See, that's what -- that's what he's talking about. The tax relief encouraged him to make this investment.
Good job, Rudy. Thanks for coming. Appreciate it. Thanks. Good job. (Applause.)
We've got another entrepreneur with us, Vern Raburn. He -- he is the -- (applause.) So here's a guy who said, I can build a better airplane. (Applause.) That's what you call a grand vision. (Laughter.)
Why don't you tell the folks about your company.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: McCain and I will fly the first one. (Laughter.) So how's it going? I mean, this is -- this is --
MR. RABURN: Things are going great.
THE PRESIDENT: You've hired since I saw you last, four years ago, how many?
MR. RABURN: Well, four years ago, at this time, we had about 18 employees. We have 342 employees now. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. And like what skill level is required -- skill level of the worker?
MR. RABURN: Skill levels, we have very high skill level. Most of our work force today are engineers, manufacturing folks, white-collar workers. In fact, our average salary of each of our employees is about twice that of the average family income in New Mexico.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, let me stop you there. One of the real challenges we have in our country to make sure jobs stay here is to educate people, is to make sure the education system works. (Applause.) You just heard what -- it's a new business, new business. He says that we pay twice as much as the average income, but we require high-level skills. You know what that says to me? It says to me that we've got to make sure No Child Left Behind works. (Applause.) We've got to make sure we keep raising the bar, make sure the young kids can read and write and add and subtract early before it's too late. We've got to make sure our community colleges are able to train workers for the jobs of the 21st century, so that Eclipse* can find a work force necessary to make this company fly. (Applause.)
So when are we going to see the first unit take off?
MR. RABURN: Well, we'll be flying again late this year, and we expect to have the aircraft certified in early '06, March of '06. Today we've got orders for about 2,200 airplanes, about $2.5 billion in back -- (applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's good.
MR. RABURN: Good problem.
THE PRESIDENT: -- pulling to make sure this economy stays strong. Any of them overseas?
MR. RABURN: A lot of those are overseas.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you something. See, if we get into a mode where we become economic isolationists, he won't be able to sell these airplanes overseas. We don't need trade wars. He wants to be able to sell this product overseas without having to compete with government bureaucracies and unnecessary tariffs and restrictions. That's why we believe in fair trade and open trade.
You got workers here who are going to be working because you've got planes being sold overseas. So when you hear them talk about trade, you need to be thinking about jobs. Jobs exist when you're able to trade overseas. You've got some farmers in this state don't you? (Laughter.) Yes, the farm economy is strong around the country. You know why? Because not only are we feeding our own people, we're feeding other people. Other people are eating our corn and our soybeans and our wheat, because we're opening up markets. Still working to get that New Mexico cattle around the world. (Laughter.) Open up markets for the Mexican cattlemen -- and Texas cattlemen, too, I want you to know. (Laughter.)
So what else? What else on your mind, Vern? You get the chance to tell the President something. (Laughter.) By the way, I guarantee he's a big believer in tort reform. (Laughter.) A lot of airline companies, a lot of manufacturers in the past got shut down because of all kinds of lawsuits. And these lawsuits, we want good justice in America, but when the trial bar converts the law into a legal lottery, it begins to affect jobs. You just got to know that. It's one thing to have justice; it's another thing to go overboard with justice, because people start to lose work. I don't know what your opinion is.
MR. RABURN: I agree. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. See, you'd think I was a lawyer. I'm not.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: See, this is a vibrant company. And I'm excited to be here. I want to thank you for inviting us. He's got a newly-hired employee named Vernon Oliver. Where's Vern? There he is. Hi, Vern. Welcome. (Applause.) So what happens to you? So how do you end up here in the airplane manufacturing world?
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: What Vernon is telling you is, is that since 9/11, things have changed. People are getting their confidence, jobs are coming back, and in his case, he had the skill levels necessary to fill the jobs.
Yesterday, we were in Florida and we talked to some people that needed to go back to community colleges, but we were happy to help them go back to community colleges. There's all kinds of plans, trade adjustment assistance, and NAFTA-related job loss. People who then can get a scholarship or get direct grants to go back and retrain for the jobs which actually exist. This fellow didn't need to be retrained. He just showed up, and they wanted him. And he saved $3,000 in taxes last year. (Applause.) And he's going to save $3,000 this year.
Remember, we not only reduced income taxes on everybody who pays taxes, but we helped people with children by raising the child credit to $1,000, and we reduced the marriage penalty, we created a 10-percent bracket. In other words, we said we're going to help families. And this family right here has got $3,000 in relief -- I think that's right -- you probably can say, "Mind your own business, Mr. President." (Laughter.)
MR. OLIVER: No, sir. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But if the tax relief is not made permanent, his taxes go up by $1,200. See, I believe government can set priorities and fund our priorities and that after the priorities are funded the people can spend that money better than the government can spend it. That's what I believe. (Applause.) And I like the fact that Vernon's got $3,000 additional of his own money in his pocket. It's his money to begin with, of course, and so he has it.
Well, thanks for coming, Vernon.
And Guy is with you as well, Guy Hoisington. (Applause.) All right. He's a newly hired guy. Tell us, Guy.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Here's a guy -- here's a guy who tried out the promised land for a while, that would be Texas -- (laughter) -- changed his mind, came home to the other -- to the enchanted land, and is working because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. He's able to more realize his dream, which is to raise your family here. So the job of government is to help when needed. The tax relief helps his family. I suspect it helped him move. I think it -- I know it helps him raise his family.
MR. OLIVER: Yes, Vern helped me move, too.
THE PRESIDENT: He helped? That's good. (Laughter.) You must be good at what you do.
MR. OLIVER: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. That's real good. (Laughter.) But the point is -- that what I'm trying to tell you is, is that when the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, when people like Vern feel comfortable about taking a risk and expanding and growing, people can find work. That's what we want in America. We want people to find work. We want people to be comfortable with their lives as best as they can.
You know, we can't make you decide to be somebody, but we can help you. We can help educate your children, to make sure they're educated. We can provide tax relief so that you're more comfortable and confident in tough times, and also to help this economy grow. That's what we're talking about. We're talking about the proper role of government. We're talking about how to make sure government stands side-by-side with moms and dads and entrepreneurs and workers. (Applause.)
One of the -- one of my goals is to continue to push an ownership society in America. First-generation American says, I own my own business. I just think those are wonderful words. I like the idea of health accounts where people own them and manage them so that the principal decision-makers for health care are doctors and patients, not bureaucrats. (Applause.)
I see some younger faces here, and Social Security -- the solvency of Social Security is an issue for future generations. McCain, Domenici and I are in good shape. (Laughter.) At least our age group. But when you start looking at younger workers, down there in the 30s and 20s, there's a question of whether or not Social Security is going to be around. And therefore, we need to explore with Congress the idea of personal savings accounts for younger workers. (Applause.) Their option. So Social Security exists.
And finally, one of the great promises of this country is homeownership. There's something -- the homeownership rate in America is at an all-time high. (Applause.) More minorities are owning their homes than ever before. In other words, we got more people opening their door and saying, welcome to my home. Those are magical words, aren't they? I think a healthy society is one in which people own something. If you own something you have a stake in the future of your country.
Today we've got Debra and Arnold Reano. Thank you all for coming. I'm honored you're here. First of all, I want you to know Debra's birthday is today. Happy birthday. (Applause.) Arnold whispered in my ear when we were coming out. Secondly, see the beautiful jewelry she's wearing and he's wearing -- they made it. They're artisans. (Applause.) That's a tradition of New Mexico, where people are really skilled at making beautiful jewelry. Thanks for mine. I told Debra that I'm going to play like I bought it for Laura. (Laughter.) No, I'm not. No, I wouldn't do that. Because she's probably watching on CSPAN. (Laughter.)
You all just bought a home.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: What he's talking about is the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, which is a way to encourage homeownership in tribal areas. And it's working. That's what we want, isn't it? Doesn't it make sense to have public policy aimed at helping people own their own home? I can't think of a better use of resources. (Applause.) It's working.
By the way, this couple saved $3,200 in federal income taxes last year. (Applause.) Tax relief helps all kinds of people.
Good. Listen, I appreciate you coming. I asked them to come -- we asked them to come because homeownership is valid for everybody. We want people owning their own home all across the country, every corner of America we want people to put out that welcome mat, welcome to my home. And it's happening. I think one of the most positive things that's happening in the country is there's more minority small business owners in America, and more people from all walks of life owning their own home. (Applause.)
Thank you all for coming. It's good to see your girls, too. Beautiful girls.
One way to make sure the economy continues to grow is to keep the country safe. (Applause.) That's a charge we've been given. Nobody wants to be a war President, but an enemy which had been planning for a long time struck us. And we must never forget the lessons of that day. I'm going to give you three quick lessons. As fellow citizens, it's important to know -- for you to know that I know the stakes, and that I know the realities of the world in which we live.
Lesson one is, there's an enemy out there which hates us because of what we believe. And you cannot negotiate with them, you cannot talk sense into them. It's hard for the American conscience to understand the nature of these people, but they behead people because they know we've got hearts and we know we weep -- they know we value human life and human dignity. And they're trying to shake our will. And the only way to deal with these folks is to bring them to justice. (Applause.)
Second lesson, which we'll do -- we'll do this year and we'll do over the next four years -- we must bring them to justice in places where they hide and plot, so we do not have to face them here at home. That's the reality of the world -- is that this is a different kind of enemy, a different kind of enemy. These are people that will hide in caves and they will seek safe haven. Their ideal situation is where they can find a weak government that fears them or likes them and lets them hide and lets them burrow in the -- in their countryside or in their cities.
And so, the second lesson is that we need to send clear messages, strong messages to countries around the world that say, if you harbor a terrorist, in other words, if you provide safe haven for these people, if you allow them to arm up and plot and plan and train, you will be held to account just like the terrorists will be. (Applause.)
And that explains our Afghanistan policy. And that explains why we took action we did in Afghanistan. We said to the Taliban, get rid of these people, turn them over, or face consequences. And by the way, if America says something, it must be easy to understand, and you must mean it. (Applause.) In order -- if we're uncertain, or if we doublespeak, the world will drift toward tragedy. That's the reality of the world in which we live. It's a lesson that we must remember.
By the way, on Afghanistan, it is -- there's still hard work there. But think about what's happened in a very quick period of time. Think about this. There is going to be a presidential election -- (applause) -- in a country that was ruled by this barbaric regi