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

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on the Economy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Crowne Plaza Hotel Five Seasons
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

3:37 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Thanks so much. And thank you, Congressman Leach. I always love to be introduced by Congressman Leach. I love to hear his introductions of my husband. And thank you very much for such a nice introduction. I really appreciate it. And your wife Elizabeth is here, too, somewhere. I don't know if I can see her in the crowd, but I'm so glad she's joined us.

Thank you all very, very much for your very warm welcome. This is my third stop today. It's been a really fabulous day. I've gone from Milwaukee to St. Cloud to Cedar Rapids to talk about women-owned businesses. And I've met the most fantastic women at all of these events. Thank you all very much for being here with me today.

Karen Nussle is here. I don't know where Karen is. There she is, right there. Karen, thank you so much for joining me here. George and I both appreciate Karen and Congressman Nussle's friendship in Washington and here in Iowa. So thanks very much.

And thanks to Kathy Pearson who was our emcee today, and to Pastor Daughterty for his invocation.

I also appreciate Joni Thornton for sharing her story with us. (Applause.)

I'm really happy to be here today to recognize the work and the strength of some American women entrepreneurs and to talk about the great work my husband is doing for women as he serves as President.

I'll be on the campaign trail until November 2nd, talking about the President's accomplishments. And, for me, the very best part about campaigns is meeting remarkable people from across our country, people who are living the American Dream because of their creativity and their optimism, people like Nancy Garberson. Nancy is right over here. (Applause.)

Several years ago, Nancy left a fast-paced marketing agency in Chicago to be a full-time mom. Raising her children was her most important job. But still, she longed to go back to work, but she wanted to be her own boss. She still wanted to tuck her daughters into bed and to attend her son's parent-teacher conferences. So with her husband's support, she started an advertising business in her spare bedroom. Today, she manages an agency with a full-service public relations department and 15 employees. (Applause.)

Nancy admits that running her own business hasn't always been easy. She remembers she didn't sleep the night before she hired her first employee. Her first employee had four children and Nancy suddenly realized that others were dependent upon her success.

And trying to convince some of her first male clients that a mother of three could market their products was tough, especially, as Nancy says, for someone who is all of five feet when she stretches. (Applause.) But Nancy refused to give up and today she has plans to open a new office in Miami and she continues to be there for her children even though they've outgrown her. (Laughter.)

She's also helping other women achieve their dreams. She hires women in her agency and she provides internships for students considering a career in advertising. Nancy, congratulations on your success and thank you for being a role model for all of us. (Applause.)

Small business owners and women entrepreneurs like Nancy are some of the hardest working people in America. They teach us the values of hard work, of integrity and independence. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, 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. Women-owned and equally owned firms employ more than 18 million Americans and generate more than $2 trillion in sales.

Women are working hard to strengthen their communities and their countries. 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 administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic issues. That means that in the White House women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home -- which sounds about right to me. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that empowered women are vital to democracy, and we all know that as we look around the world at other countries. Certainly, when we look at Afghanistan, to try to imagine a country where girls are actually forbidden to go to school. I'm so proud that millions of girls are back in school in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

Empowered women are also 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 women's 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 always been easy. We've been through a lot, from a recession to terrorist attacks to corporate scandals. But our economy remains the strongest in the world, thanks to America's small businesses. (Applause.)

And the President's commitment to tax relief has made a huge difference in our economy as well. Because of tax cuts, 25 million small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. And cuts in the capital gains tax and the taxation of dividends are spurring investments and making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.

In fact, capital gains tax relief Carmela Chaifos to take over the family business she started with her dad. Carmela is right here. (Applause.)

Carmela and her father have spent nearly two decades building a towing company. And I think Carmela is the only woman owner of a towing company in Iowa -- and maybe in the United States. We don't really know. But she spent nearly two decades with her dad building the towing company from a part-time hobby with one truck to a full-time business with two-dozen trucks.

With the capital gains tax relief passed last year, Carmela was able to buy the business from her father and pay him over a period of time. Now he has money to live on and to save for retirement.

Some day, Carmela hopes to pass the business on to her two children. She said, and I love this quote, "If you're determined and you want to work hard, you can do anything you want to. That's the beautiful thing about America." (Applause.) Congratulations, Carmela. Thanks for sharing your story.

Carmela's company has also benefited from the President's increase of the annual expense deduction for equipment up to $100,000. More business owners can update their computers or software and stay ahead. Carmela added GPS systems to her trucks, and they can take the extra cash and expand operations. After spending 21 years working at a picnic table, Carmela was finally able to expand her shop and get an office of her own.

Millions of families across the country are also benefiting from the President's tax cuts and saving more of their own money. Since 2001, real after-tax incomes have increased by 11 percent. 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 that families are making with their own money 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 and I'm proud that we've 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. (Applause.)

The record is clear. Because of the President's sound economic policies and because of the hard work of Americans, the economy is strong and it's growing stronger. And President Bush has the right plan to make sure that the economy continues to grow and we will move America forward.

The President won't be satisfied until every person that wants to work can find a job, 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. (Applause.)

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

The President also wants to ensure that federal regulations do not handicap America's entrepreneurs, by streamlining regulations and paperwork.

President Bush knows that reliable health care is absolutely vital to economic security and to the bottom line of businesses. Uninsured Americans are overwhelmingly concentrated in smaller companies. I know that every company owner wants to take care of his employees or her employees and make sure that their families receive the best medical care. And yet the cost of health care continues to rise. Carmela can only afford to provide health care for two managers, not for her other employees.

And 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 their health insurance. These plans give small businesses the same kind of purchasing power and coverage as large firms, and they certainly deserve it. (Applause.)

President Bush also signed a law creating health savings accounts so that workers can save tax free for routine medical expenses. 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.) This plan will ensure that patients and doctors are in charge of medical decisions, not bureaucrats in Washington. (Applause.)

All of us, every one of us know that an educated work force is vital to our economic security today and in the future. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing more money, higher standards and stronger accountability to schools throughout America. Now we have clear goals for education. Every child needs to learn to read by the third grade, because reading is the foundation for all of the rest of their school work, and really the foundation for learning for the rest of their life.

We're assessing student 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 can graduate high school well prepared for college or for the work force. (Applause.)

New graduates and experienced workers need the skills to succeed in the new jobs of the 21st century. That's why we need to expand math and science education in high school and broaden Internet training, so that American workers can compete in a technology-driven world. We think we should provide more resources to help workers get high-tech training right at their own local community colleges.

And President Bush wants to help workers keep something -- more of something that they never seem to have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids, time to take care of their parents, or time to volunteer in their communities. Nancy would like to offer comp time to her employees, because she knows that for many people, especially working parents, paid time off from work is more than a luxury, it's a necessity.

Carmela agrees. One of her employees is a single mother, and Carmela doesn't think it's right that she has to use her vacation time to take care of her child when he's sick. Carmela said, "I should have the opportunity to do what's best for my employees and they should be able to do what works best for them."

President Bush will work with the Congress to make flex time and comp time available for more Americans, so they can manage the demands of work and family better. (Applause.)

I have a feeling that Nancy might spend some of that extra time making a difference in her community. Because for Nancy and her team, volunteer service is more than an ideal, it's part of the job. President Bush and I appreciate the great work that you're doing to help your neighbors.

This is what I get to see as I travel around the United States. And that's in every single community, Americans are not waiting for government, but when they identify a need they go to work and take care of that need. And I see that compassion and ingenuity are being put to work all over this country to lift up lives, from the mentoring of children of prisoners to bringing meals and friendly conversation to our elderly neighbors.

Americans rise to meet every challenge, and we have a boundless capacity to improve the lives of people around us. On promoting compassion and service, on strengthening our economy and advancing health care and education, President Bush has stood right by the side of people who are working to make life better for themselves and for their neighbors.

These are hopeful times in our country. We have enormous confidence as we move forward, and we know that we can overcome challenges that are ahead of us. And these are times that require particularly strong and determined leaders. I am proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

Thank you all. Thanks so much. Thank you to Carmela and Nancy, thank you for letting me share your story. Thank you very much, Congressman Leach, for being here with me. And thanks to every one of you for your friendship. Thanks a lot.

END 3:58 P.M. CDT

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