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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
July 25, 2005

Vice President's Remarks at a Dinner for Congressman Vito Fossella
The Excelsior Grand
Staten Island, New York

6:40 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all very much.

Well, thank you very much, it's great to be back and to visit Staten Island -- the home of one of America's outstanding congressmen -- (applause) -- and friendly territory for our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

I want to thank all of you for coming out today, and, of course, I'm here to join all of you in a tribute to one of our foremost rising stars, if you will, in the U.S. House of Representatives. You know him well, and you know he's a man who comes through time and time again for Staten Island and all of New York.

Some of you may not be aware that I spent 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as a congressman. I was the congressman from Wyoming. Wyoming only has one congressman. (Laughter.) It was a small delegation, but it was quality. (Laughter and applause.) And my 10 years of service there taught me to appreciate the qualities of my colleagues and those who were first rate in terms of having good strong convictions, who never forgot where they came from, and who were, in fact, the leaders of the nation. And Vito Fossella is exactly that kind of member. (Applause.)

He's been a leader in the effort to make America safer -- working to improve our homeland security, helping us pass the Patriot Act, and standing 100 percent with the men and women of our United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)

Vito is also one of the most articulate voices in Congress on behalf of a strong, robust economic program, lower taxes and spending discipline, better health care for families and seniors. And above all, he's the kind of Congressman who can make you proud. He knows his district. He fights for your interests and stands up for the values that all of you hold dear. Each and every day, you've got a man on Capitol Hill who puts his heart in the job, who works with both Republicans and Democrats for the good of your district, your state, and our nation. Vito Fossella is simply one of the best, and President Bush and I want to thank you for sending him to Washington to work with us. (Applause.)

These are challenging times for this great country of ours. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities, and we hold the public trust. When the President and I took office four-and-a-half years ago, we were determined to solve problems, instead of simply pass them on to future generations. Today, the American people can be confident of a better future because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush.

When we took office, the nation's economy was sliding into recession. To get it growing again, we delivered tax relief four times in four years. We doubled the child tax credit, decreased the marriage penalty, cut rates across the board. And we gave small businesses strong incentives to invest, and we phased out the death tax, so families and farmers can leave behind to their families more of what they earned.

These were the right policies for our struggling economy -- and now we are seeing the results. Americans today have more money to spend, to save, and invest, and they are using it to drive this economy forward. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Interest rates are low. Manufacturing activity is on an upward trend. Productivity is high. We've seen steady job gains for 25 straight months. Since May of '03, this economy has generated 3.7 million new jobs. More Americans are working today than ever before in our history. (Applause.)

At the same time, federal revenues are increasing -- proving once again that lower taxes are an incentive to entrepreneurs to start businesses, to invest in new equipment, and to hire new workers. By the current estimate, the deficit will be $94 billion less than previously projected just a few months ago because we're receiving more revenue as a result of our economic stimulus program, and we're staying well ahead of the pace that we need to stay on in order to cut our deficit in half over the next four years.

To keep the economy on track, we're going to continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. For the sake of long-term growth and job creation, we need to make tax relief permanent, and practice fiscal restraint in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

We'll also keep the economy strong by delivering regulatory relief, an energy strategy that makes America less dependent on foreign energy, and legal reforms that spare honest entrepreneurs from junk lawsuits. One of America's most important institutions is also in need of fundamental reform. The time has come to join together, and to save Social Security for our children and grandchildren. (Applause.)

And to build a stronger, better America for the next generation, all of us who serve the country have a duty to uphold the values that sustain our society -- limited government, personal responsibility, free enterprise, reverence for life, and equal justice under the law. And in this second term, President Bush will continue nominating federal judges who faithfully interpret the law, instead of legislating from the bench. (Applause.)

From the beginning, the President has nominated men and women who meet the highest standards of legal training, temperament, and judgment. He has kept his commitment once again in nominating a man of experience, wisdom, and character, Judge John Roberts, for the Supreme Court of the United States. (Applause.)

Judge Roberts is one of the most distinguished and talented lawyers in the country, and a worthy choice to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The product of a small town in Indiana, a man who was a star at Harvard, editor of the Law Review, who clerked for Judge Rehnquist, who served in the Reagan Justice Department and the Reagan White House, and in 41's administration in the Justice Department as the principal deputy solicitor general.

In the weeks ahead, Americans deserve, and Judge Roberts deserves, a process that is honest and nonpartisan. And the Senate has a duty to give this nominee fair treatment, fair hearing, and a fair up or down vote. (Applause.) And I'm sure Chuck Schumer understands the importance of a fair up or down vote. (Laughter and applause.)

In this time of testing for our country, we understand that our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. We know that even though nearly four years have passed since 9/11, we have continuing, urgent duties and responsibilities. That morning in 2001, as all of you here in Staten Island understand so well, changed everything for our country, as we began fighting a new kind of war against determined enemies. The terrorists behind 9/11 have declared their intention to continue to kill great numbers of innocent Americans, and they seek ever more deadly means to do so. This continuing threat demands a comprehensive, effective response to make the nation better able to respond to any future attacks, and to reduce our vulnerability, and, above all, to hunt down the terrorists before they can hit us again.

The war on terror has a home front, and we have taken extraordinary measures to protect the American people and our heartland. Yet for all the increased security, we must realize -- as the 9/11 Commission put it -- that America is safer, but we are not yet safe. The enemy is wounded, off-balance, and on the run, yet still very active, still seeking recruits, still trying to hit us. Since 9/11 they have continued to kill -- in Casablanca, Mombassa, Jakarta, Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Baghdad, Madrid, most recently, of course, in Egypt and in London. Killers who target innocent, unsuspecting men, women, and children during a morning rush hour, or who fly passenger jets into buildings, are not the kind of people you can bring to the bargaining table and sit down for a reasonable exchange of ideas. Our only option against these enemies is to find them, to fight them, and to destroy them. (Applause.)

In these 46 months, we have been unrelenting in the effort to defend the freedom and the security of the American people. We continue to make progress on many fronts -- financial, legal, military, as well as others. We are dealing with a network that has had cells in countries all over the world -- yet bit by bit, through diplomacy and by force, with our allies and partners, we are acting to shrink the area in which they can safely operate. Many countries have joined us in tracking the enemy, disrupting plots against America and our friends, destroying the training camps of terror, and closing off their access to funding. We removed two brutal regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. We persuaded another regime, Libya, to voluntarily abandon its weapons of mass destruction program aimed at developing nuclear weapons. We've uncovered a sophisticated, large-scale network selling nuclear weapons technology on the black market, and shut down that network, as well. The U.S. has acted decisively, and we have sent a clear message: We will not stand by and allow terrorists to find safe haven, or to gain weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

There is still hard work ahead -- and the world is counting on the United States for leadership. We have no illusions about the difficulty of engaging enemies that dwell in the shadows and recognize neither the laws of warfare nor the standards of morality. We cannot predict the length or the course of the war on terror. Yet we know with certainty that with good allies at our side, this nation will persevere, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

Overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. In the broader Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuit of peace. Like other great duties in history, it will require decades of patient effort, and it will be resisted by those whose only hope for power is the spread of fear, and intimidation and violence.

Yet the direction of events is clear. Afghanistan has held the first free elections in the nation's 5,000-year history. In Iraq, voters turned out in incredible numbers and elected leaders who are now preparing the way for a new constitution and representative government. The Palestinian people have chosen a new president and have new hopes for democracy and peace. The citizens of Ukraine have stood strongly for their democratic rights, and chosen a new leader for their country. And in Lebanon, citizens have poured into the streets to demand freedom to determine a peaceful future for their own country as a fully independent member of the world community. We are seeing the power of freedom to change the world, and all who strive for freedom can know that the United States of America is on their side. (Applause.)

We know from history that the technology of warfare is always changing, and in our own time that technology is more deadly than ever. Yet our most basic military asset has not changed in the slightest. No matter how complicated war might be, it always comes down to the ones who man the aircraft and the ships, and carry the rifles. The men and women of our Armed Forces reflect extraordinary credit upon the United States of America. And as a former Secretary of Defense, I can say to all of you: The cause of freedom is in very good hands. (Applause.)

President Bush and I recognize that the American people have entrusted us with great responsibilities at an historic moment for this nation. We've set big goals. They're not always easy to achieve -- if they were, somebody would have done them already. But it's more than worth the effort. And when future generations look back on our time, they will know that we met our moment with courage and clear thinking. And they will know that America became a better, stronger, more prosperous, and more secure nation because George Bush was President of these United States. (Applause.)

We're going to continue making progress for the American people, and in that work we could not ask for a better partner than Congressman Vito Fossella. (Applause.) Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we share, and for electing Vito to Congress. Every time you vote for this man, you're voting for a better America, and for a strong, effective, patriotic Congressman who never forgets who sent him to Washington. The President and I look forward to working with Vito for a good many years to come.

Thank you very much.

END 7:00 P.M. EDT

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