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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 2, 2006
President Bush Participates in Swearing-In Ceremony for Rob Portman as OMB Director
The Rose Garden
11:05 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Good morning. Welcome to the White House. Today I'm pleased to witness the swearing-in of Rob Portman as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We welcome Rob's wife, Jane, as well as his brother, Wym, and other family members here with us today. I want to thank you all for supporting Rob.
I appreciate the Vice President being here. I want to thank Carlos Gutierrez for joining us, as well, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce; John Walters, Office of National Drug Control Policy; Congressman Mike Turner, it's awfully kind for you to come back to witness the swearing-in of your friend. I appreciate the former Secretary, Don Evans, for being here as well.
The job of the OMB Director is one of the most important in our federal government. The OMB Director is a critical member of my Cabinet. He plays a vital role in every aspect of my administration's agenda, from securing the homeland, to winning the war on terror, to growing our economy and creating jobs.
For the past three years these responsibilities have been carried out by a talented public servant, Josh Bolten. At my direction, Josh has pursued clear goals at OMB. He's worked to implement pro-growth economic policies and ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely, or not at all. He's improved the management of federal programs so that when we do spend taxpayer money, they deliver real results for the American people. He's put us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Now that Josh is serving as my Chief of Staff, I've turned to another outstanding public servant to take up these important responsibilities, and that's Rob Portman. Rob has served for more than a decade in the United States Congress, where he was vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, and a member of the House leadership. In Congress, Rob earned a reputation as an effective legislator who worked with members of both political parties.
For the past year, Rob has served his country as United States Trade Representative. He worked tirelessly to open new markets for American exports, and to assure that American workers, farmers and small businesses are treated fairly overseas. He's reenergized the Doha round trade talks at the World Trade Organization. He's completed trade agreements with Bahrain, Oman, Peru and Colombia, and launched new trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Korea and Malaysia. His leadership was critical to the passage of the landmark Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement last summer.
Rob assumes his responsibilities as OMB Director at a really important time for our economy. This morning's economic report shows that America's national unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent because we added 75,000 jobs in the month of May. The American economy has now added jobs for 33 months in a row, and has created more than 5.3 million new jobs. In the first quarter of 2006, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 5.3 percent -- that's the fastest growth in two-and-a-half years. Productivity is high, and that is leading to higher wages and a higher standard of living for the American people. The American economy is powerful, it is productive, and it is prosperous, and we intend to keep it that way.
I've given Rob a clear agenda. We'll continue to pursue pro-growth economic policies. The tax relief we delivered has helped set off the economic expansion that we're seeing today. And Rob will build on this success by working with Congress to maintain a pro-growth, low-tax environment.
Tax relief is important to families, workers, and entrepreneurs, and it is also vital to our efforts to reduce the budget deficit. When I came to office taxes were too high, our economy was headed into a recession, and tax revenues were on the decline. By cutting taxes, we've helped produce a strong economic recovery, and that economic growth is producing more tax revenues. In 2005, tax revenues grew by a record $274 billion, an increase of nearly 15 percent over the previous year.
This year, the economy has continued to grow, and tax revenues are growing with it. These increased revenues are helping us to meet our goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.
To meet this goal, we must also control the federal appetite for spending. Every year since I took office, we've slowed the growth of discretionary spending that's not related to the military or homeland security. My last two budgets have actually cut this kind of spending. And with Rob's leadership, we will continue to cut unnecessary spending and show respect for the taxpayers' money.
To cut unnecessary spending, I need the line-item veto. I've sent Congress a line-item veto proposal that has strong bipartisan support. And Rob will work with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill to get a bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.
Rob will also work with Congress to pass reforms that will help us reduce earmarks and wasteful spending in the federal budget. Congress is now considering an emergency supplemental bill that can show the American people we're determined to be responsible with their money. I've set a clear limit on spending that I will accept in this legislation, and if this bill goes over that limit, I'll veto it.
In the long-run, the biggest challenge to our nation's budgetary health is entitlement spending, on programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Entitlement programs are growing much faster than our ability to pay for them. To keep these programs solvent, we need to slow their growth to a level we can afford. It's not a cut. It's the difference between slowing your car down to the speed limit and putting your car in reverse. Every American family and business has to set priorities and live within a budget, and so should the United States Congress.
My administration is committed to fiscal discipline and economic growth, and these policies will have a strong champion in Rob Portman. As OMB Director, Rob now assumes one of the most important posts in Washington. I'm pleased that he's agreed to serve our country once again. I look forward to working with him to keep America's economy the envy of the world, to create jobs and opportunity for all our citizens, and deliver results for the American taxpayer.
(The oath of office is administered.) (Applause.)
DIRECTOR PORTMAN: As usual, the President just gave me some good advice. (Laughter.) Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Vice President, thank you for being here. Members of my family and friends, former colleagues and future colleagues. Mr. President, I appreciate your kind words. I appreciate the opportunity you've given me. I also appreciate the direction you just gave me, so that I can take on this task of Director of the Office of Management and Budget, following that direction.
And I thank you for acknowledging my family. As you well know, in many respects, that they are in public service, too. Although today, they're in school. This is the last long day before the summer break for Jed, Will and Sally, otherwise they'd be here, too. I thank them, and I thank Jane for their love, for their patience, and for their support of my public service.
It's been a true honor, Mr. President, to represent our great country as U.S. Trade Representative. I love the job. Working with Congress and a very impressive team at USTR, we were able to make good progress on your proactive agenda to open up markets for America's workers, for America's farmers. One of my priorities at USTR will continue at OMB, and that's frequent and intensive consultation with Congress. I believe open lines of communication with my former colleagues on both sides of the aisle is key to addressing our fiscal challenges.
As the President has said, OMB has a unique and important role in our system of government: the budget, all spending decisions, all major regulatory changes are within its purview, and so is management oversight of the agencies. Our mission is to make sure hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wisely spent, that government is more results-oriented and accountable.
It's a tough job, but we are blessed with a dedicated and talented group of professionals at OMB. And I am very fortunate because I've been able to watch a superb OMB Director in action. Josh Bolten excelled in this job. His integrity, his intelligence, and his good common sense are now serving him as well, as White House Chief of Staff.
One of Josh's many accomplishments as Director was crafting a workable legislative line-item veto proposal. The President talked about that, and talked about its importance as a way to reduce wasteful government spending. A top priority of mine, particularly after my direction this morning, will be to work with Congress to move this bipartisan legislation forward and to address other tools to improve accountability, including earmark reform.
The President rightly said, we need to control the federal appetite for spending. I agree. We need to keep our budget on a diet and do even more. This includes the day-to-day government spending Congress decides on every year, so-called discretionary spending. And we've made some progress here. Under the President's leadership, we have succeeded in reducing the growth of non-security discretionary spending every year of this administration. And last year, Congress passed bills that actually cut spending in this area below the previous year's level. I intend to work closely with Congress to continue this track record of fiscal restraint.
But the greatest threat to our budget does come from the unsustainable growth in spending for government programs that Congress is not required to vote on every year. This is what's called entitlement spending, based on a formula, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. These are critical programs that must be preserved -- but left unchecked and unreformed, they will crowd out the entire federal budget in 30 years. This means squeezing out all our federal spending: education, defense, homeland security.
We have a responsibility, especially those of us who are baby boomers, to take action so future generations are not left with an unfair, even immoral burden. Together we can influence the legacy we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. President Bush has demonstrated political courage and leadership on this issue. We must develop sound policies now, to reduce the rate of growth and put these programs on a sustainable footing for the future.
As we work to rein in spending, I take seriously the President's charge to me this morning to promote policies that continue our strong economic expansion. Since August of 2003, 5.3 million American jobs have been created. The President talked about the unemployment rate, which improved in May to a low 4.6 percent. This is lower than the average rate of the 1960s, '70s, '80s or '90s. And the recently revised real growth from the first quarter to 5.3 percent affirms our confidence in the economy's future.
Tax relief has worked, and we must make it permanent to avoid a tax increase that will threaten this continued prosperity. The growth that comes with tax relief, of course, also helps us reduce the deficit. The data backs this up. Last year tax receipts grew by a record $274 billion. Revenues for the first seven months of this fiscal year are at an all-time high. This is good news.
Now is not the time to take the pressure off spending restraint or raise taxes. Now is the time to follow a simple, common-sense approach that works: keep the budget on a diet while feeding economic growth. By doing so, we will meet the President's goal of cutting the deficit in half and we will offer more hope and more opportunity for all Americans.
I thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership, for your vision, and for this new opportunity to serve. (Applause.)
END 11:20 A.M. EDT