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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 21, 2005
President Congratulates CEA Chairman Ben Bernanke
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
10:26 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you all for coming. I'm pleased to congratulate a distinguished economist and public servant, Ben Bernanke, on becoming the new Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Congratulations. I'm also honored to have Ben's wife, Anna, and his two children, Alyssa and Joel, with us; thank you all for coming. Ben has taught advanced economics at some of our nation's top universities for over two decades. And for nearly three years, he has done an outstanding work as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. He's a talented and visionary thinker -- I'll look forward to his advice, I'll look forward to his counsel, and there's no doubt in my mind he will be an outstanding chairman of the CEA.
Ben follows three others who have done a superb job as chairmen of my Council of Economic Advisers: Harvey Rosen -- there he is -- (laughter), Greg Mankiw, and Glenn Hubbard. I'm grateful to have had such able and dedicated counselors. I thank them for their service.
I appreciate the Director of the OMB and member of my Cabinet has joined us today, Josh Bolten. I want to thank my friend, Al Hubbard, the Director of the National Economic Council, with whom Ben will be working closely. I'm most grateful, and I know Ben is, as well, is that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Alan Greenspan has joined us today. Welcome. As well as Roger Ferguson, the Vice Chairman of the Fed. I appreciate you all coming.
I want to thank Ned Gramlich, a governor of the Federal Reserve; Susan Bies, a governor of the Federal Reserve. I want to thank the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers who have joined us today. You're fixing to work for a good man.
Ben will lead the CEA at an important time for our economy. Today, Americans have many reasons to be optimistic about our economic future. After all, our economy is growing faster than that of any other major industrialized nation. Over the last two years, we've added more than 3.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down to 5.1 percent -- that is lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. More Americans are working today than ever before; small businesses are flourishing; families are taking home more of what they earn; and more people own their homes than ever before.
We've got to build on those achievements to make sure we have lasting prosperity in America. I look forward to Ben's advice as we continue to advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. By making our economy more flexible, more innovative, and more competitive, we'll keep America the economic leader of the world.
Our agenda for a stronger economy begins with allowing families to keep more of the money they earn. To get the economy growing again after the September the 11th attacks we enacted the largest tax relief in a generation. In order to make sure that that tax relief continues to work on behalf of entrepreneurs and small businesses and families, Congress needs to make that tax relief permanent. We also need a reform tax code that is simple and fair and easy to understand. I'm looking forward to Ben's advice on the definition of a good, reformed tax code.
To keep America the economic leader of the world we must recognize that the money we spend belongs to the taxpayers, not to the government. We'll insist on a budget that tames the spending appetite of the federal government and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
To keep America the economic leader of the world, we must free our small businesses from needless regulations and protect honest job creators from junk lawsuits. Congress needs to pass the asbestos liability bill now. And this year we also need to pass medical liability. To keep health care more affordable and accessible we've got to work to pass association health plans and continue to expand health savings accounts. To ensure America's future prosperity, we'll continue to insist upon high results and measuring achievements so that every child can learn to read and write and add and subtract.
To keep America the economic leader of the world, we will strengthen the institutions that underpin our society. Americans need to know that if they work hard their whole lives, they'll be able to retire with confidence and peace of mind -- so we're working to save Social Security for a younger generation of workers. We want to make sure the next generation of retirees will be as secure in their retirement as today's retirees.
Americans will require a reliable and affordable energy supply if we want to be the leader of the world, and so that's why I proposed a comprehensive energy policy four years ago to reduce our dependence upon foreign oil. Now is the time for the United States Congress to get an energy bill on my desk that will allow us to diversify away from the hydrocarbon society in which we live.
In this new century, American prosperity will increasingly depend on our ability to sell our goods and services overseas. We need to pass CAFTA, the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement to show the world our commitment to free and fair trade, and to stand squarely with those young democracies in our own hemisphere.
A vibrant economy requires a strong and confident economic leadership, and I am happy to have Ben's experience. I want to thank Ben for agreeing to serve at an important time for our economy, and I look forward to his wise counsel. Congratulations. (Applause.)
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Thank you. I'd like to thank the President for the confidence he's shown in me in allowing me to lead his Council of Economic Advisers. America faces a host of economic challenges, some of which the President has just outlined. This administration is addressing those challenges with vision and courage.
As Chairman of the Council, I'll do everything I can to help develop policies that will strengthen the American economy. Several of my Federal Reserve colleagues are in attendance, including Chairman Greenspan. I'd like to thank them for nearly three years of collegiality and friendship. My time at the Fed was a wonderful experience that I'll never forget. Many staff members of the Council of Economic Advisers are also here. I'd like to thank you all for the service you've already provided your country. And I look forward to working with each one of you.
And, finally, I would like to thank my family in attendance, especially my wife, Anna; my son, Joel; and my daughter, Alyssa, whose birthday is today, 19. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Hold off on a happy birthday for a minute. (Laughter.)
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: They've supported me through the ups and downs of public service, and I'm very grateful for that support. And I hope they'll bear with me for just a few more years.
Thank you all very, very much for coming. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job, Ben. (Applause.) Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
END 10:33 A.M. EDT