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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 9, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a BC'04 Rally in Saginaw, Michigan
Mahar Tool Supply
1:40 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much. Barbara, I'm so happy to be here with you and your family and the employees of Mahar Tool Supply. You're living a great American success story, and it's not just a story -- one woman's story, but it's a story that can inspire all Americans, everybody who might want to own their own business and make it grow.
Barbara's daughter, Carrie and her son Michael have helped their mother with their business, and they're right over here to the side. Also, I want to thank the President of Mahar Tool Company, Michael Kane. Thank you and thank you for the tour of the tool company that I just got before.
And I'm also really glad that Nancy Camp, who is married to Congressman David Camp, is here. (Applause.) Congressman David Camp's mother, Norma Camp, is here as well. (Applause.) And also a very special recognition to Myrah Kirkwood, who is running for Congress herself. (Applause.)
Four years ago, when I traveled for my husband, I was close to Saginaw when I went to Frankenmuth. (Applause.) And I had a wonderful time there, shopping at the Christmas Store. And actually there was a meteor shower. It was very, very cold, a Michigan cold winter, but we all wrapped up in blankets to lie on the ground and look at meteors. And it was a really wonderful memory for me of traveling around the United States and visiting all the remarkable parts of our country and beautiful parts of our country.
As all of you know, I'm in a family business, too. (Laughter.) And I'll be on the campaign trail for the next eight weeks, talking about the President's accomplishments. For me, the very best part about campaigning is meeting remarkable people from across our country, people like Barbara.
Twenty-six years ago, Barbara's husband passed away suddenly from leukemia. She had four small children at home and a family business that her husband had been running. Fortunately, she was also involved in the business. From chats at the kitchen table and lots of meetings, Barbara knew something about the business and its customers. So when her husband died, she formed a group of advisors and went to work as the company's CEO. In the years since, Barbara has led her company to success. She started with 19 employees. Today, she employs 120 men and women in six branches, and the company's sales have increased substantially.
Small business owners like Barbara are some of the hardest working people in America, and they teach all of us the values of hard work and independence. And women like Barbara inspire other women who want to work toward the dream of owning their own business.
When it comes to entrepreneurship and job creation, today's world is increasingly a woman's world. Ten million women own their own business in America, and this sisterhood just keeps growing. (Applause.)
Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men, and they employ more than 19 million Americans. In August, I visited a women-owned quilt shop in Minnesota and a temporary employment agency in Wisconsin. I met a mother from Iowa who owns a towing business, and a woman in Ohio who owns a small construction company, and another in Colorado who manufactures aerospace equipment. And today, I'm so happy to be here with Barbara.
Anyone who wonders what women are capable of achieving need only look at America's women business owners. They are achieving anything they set their mind to. Women are working hard to strengthen their communities and their country.
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 our history. (Applause.)
Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy. (Applause.) 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. (Laughter.) That sounds about right to me. (Applause.)
But we all know that empowered women are vital to a democracy. And we know that as we look around the world and see countries where that's not the case, where women are not empowered. And we all know that women -- empowered women are vital to our economic security.
The President has worked closely with a coalition of 25 women's business organizations to ensure women's voices are heard. His administration has hosted women's entrepreneurship summits across the country and has established a website called women21.gov to provide easy access to business resources.
In the last four years, President Bush has created an economic environment in which 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 recession to terror attacks to corporate scandals. But our economy remains the strongest in the world, thanks to America's small businesses and to 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 this year alone. President Bush also increased the annual expense deduction for equipment to $100,000, so now more small business owners can invest in new machinery and technology. And cuts in the capital gains tax and the taxation of dividends are spurring investment and making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.
Small businesses are the engines of our economy and entrepreneurs are helping our economy grow stronger still. In the last year alone, we've added 1.7 million jobs. That's more than Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France combined. The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent and workers have more money in their pockets and more opportunities to decide how to spend it.
Since 2001, real after-tax incomes have increased by 10 percent. Families are also saving more because the child credit was doubled, the marriage penalty was reduced and President Bush put the estate tax on the road to extinction. (Applause.)
We see the effects of the President's leadership in our growing economy. Our goal is to spread more opportunity to every corner of America, and to give everyone a chance to participate in an ownership society. Last week in New York at the convention, the President outlined his agenda for a new term. It recognizes that our families face new challenges, and the government should respond to these new challenges and changing times.
While once families were mostly supported by a father, who worked at the same job for decades, today more and more families have both parents in the workforce. And single parents have double duty while trying to keep their families afloat. Time is becoming an ever more precious commodity for today's families -- time to eat dinner together or to help their children do homework or to catch a baseball game. The President believes that flex time and comp time should be available to more workers to help them meet the demands of work and family.
Today, people also move from job to job more frequently. Even Barbara's children started out with different companies. Workers who change jobs need health care and retirement accounts that they can take with them. My husband signed into law health savings accounts, which allow individuals to save tax free for their primary health care in accounts that they own, they manage, and they keep.
The President also wants to strengthen Social Security by giving younger workers the opportunity -- if they choose -- to save part of their Social Security taxes in personal accounts. And this money would belong to each worker. And to help young workers and graduates compete for the jobs of the 21st century, President Bush wants new reforms in our high schools, so that every graduate is well prepared for college and the workforce. (Applause.)
We'll strengthen math and science education and broaden Internet training so that young people can compete in a technology-driven world. For workers who want to go back to school to learn new skills, President Bush will work with community colleges to make career training more available.
President Bush has stood solidly on the side of workers, families and entrepreneurs who are working to make life better for themselves and for all Americans. My husband is optimistic about the future because he has great confidence in the American people -- and he believes that together we can overcome any challenge.
As we approach the third anniversary of one of the most defining moments in our generation, we are reminded of just how far we've come. The terrible acts of September 11th showed us the face of evil in the world, but they also called us to the great work of promoting freedom and democracy in the far corners of the world.
President Bush and I want all of our men and women in uniform and all of their families to know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day. (Applause.) Because of the bravery of the men and women of the United States military, our country is safer and more secure -- and today 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom. (Applause.)
The last four years have brought us extraordinary challenges, and no doubt we'll face many more -- challenges that we're overcoming with hard work, with sacrifice and optimism. We have gained a new appreciation of the many blessings of America, and we've been reminded of our responsibilities to the country we love.
I'm so happy to be here today with Barbara. Barbara, you're an inspiration to every single one of us. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.) Thank you all so much for joining us today and may God bless America. (Applause.)