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 Home > News & Policies > October 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 6, 2006

Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Vern Buchanan for Congress
Hyatt Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

12:26 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) A welcome like that is almost enough to make me want to run for office again. (Laughter.) Almost, almost. (Laughter and applause.)

But I'm delighted to be here this morning. And, Vern, I thank you for the introduction. And I want to thank all of you for that welcome. I just came in from Washington this morning, and I'm honored to bring personal greetings to all of you from the President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

The President and I spend a good deal of time on the campaign trail these days -- doing all we can to help Republicans across the country, and to make certain that the voters have a clear sense of what is at stake in this election year. Your congresswoman, Katherine Harris, has a long record of public service, and is our party's nominee for the U.S. Senate. And she has our support. (Applause.) And so does Attorney General Charlie Crist, the next Governor of Florida. (Applause.)

It's always a pleasure to be in your state, especially when I can stand next to a superb candidate like Vern Buchanan. (Applause.) Vern is running a great campaign, and President Bush and I are proud to sign on to his team. He's an entrepreneur, a community leader, a former member of the Air National Guard, and a man of conviction and accomplishment. He believes deeply in the principles of limited government, wise stewardship of the taxpayer's dollar, and a strong national defense. He's a friend to the small businessman and woman, the senior, the veteran, and every person who strives to build a better life and to live the American Dream. Vern Buchanan will take those commitments with him to Washington. He'll never forget where he comes from, and he'll remember who sent him there. And in this challenging time for America, he'll be a congressman who stands one hundred percent behind the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)

The 13th District of Florida deserves a congressman who speaks with the common sense and solid values of the district, and there's no doubt that Vern Buchanan is the man for the job. He'll be a fine member of the House and the President and I look forward to seeing him sworn in as the new member of Congress come January.

Now, I have an interest in the House of Representatives since, as Vern mentioned, I was Wyoming's congressman for 10 years. Wyoming only has one congressman. (Laughter.) It's a small delegation. But it was quality. (Laughter.) But over the years I came to appreciate the characters and qualities that make a really good member of Congress because I had to go out and round up allies. It wasn't like being from Florida or Texas or New York or California where you had sort of a built-in block of allies you could count on, on local issues. I had to go out and find members of Congress that I could work with. And you looked for people that had firm convictions and a breadth of experience and knew what they believed and were willing to stand up and be counted for it. And I think Vern is exactly that kind of member. He'll be a superb member of Congress.

These are times of incredible consequence for our country -- with difficult issues, with big debates, and with decisions that require not just toughness but wisdom. One of the most important issues on November 7th is taxes -- and when Americans go to the polls, they're going to have the clearest possible choice. This administration and the Republican Congress are pro-growth and pro-jobs. And we believe the first principle of economic growth is for government to leave money in the hands of those who earned it. (Applause.) The President signed major tax relief in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. We reduced taxes for every American who pays income taxes. We doubled the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, and created new incentives for small businesses to invest. The Bush tax relief has left more than a trillion dollars in the hands of workers, investors, small businesses, and families. And they have used those resources to fuel more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth.

Another key decision we made was to reduce taxes on dividends and capital gains. These cuts were designed to lower the cost of capital, and to encourage businesses to expand and create more jobs and to hire new workers. They were passed in 2003. I should point out that when the matter came up in the Senate, the vote was 50 senators in favor, 50 senators opposed. Fortunately, the Constitution provides a remedy in such cases. And I was there to break the tie. (Applause.) The thing I've noticed is that every time I get to vote, our side wins. (Laughter.)

The tax reductions are doing exactly -- exactly -- what we expected. Since August of '03, the United States has added more than 6.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the 25 nations of Europe combined. The economy continues to grow; last year alone it grew faster than Japan, twice as fast as France, more than three times as fast as Germany. President Bush's tax relief plan was right for America -- and it is working.

Our party has a clear record on taxes, and so do our opponents. When we first cut taxes in 2001, most Senate Democrats and nearly 85 percent of House Democrats voted against it. When we cut taxes in 2003, most Senate Democrats and nearly 95 percent of House Democrats voted against it. And when we extended key tax cuts earlier this year, most Senate Democrats and more than 90 percent of House Democrats voted against it.

I notice that now, with less than five weeks to go before Election Day, the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, claims Democrats love tax cuts. That only invites another look at her party's record on taxes. It's plain to see, and it stretches back a long way. The last time they had control of Congress, back in 1993, they passed a massive tax increase. They'll do it again if they can; they've already figured out a way to do it. Under current law, many of the Bush tax cuts have to be renewed by Congress or they will expire, and the old rates will kick back in. Recently the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel, said that he "cannot think of one" of our first term tax cuts that he would extend. If the Democrats take control of the House, Charlie Rangel will be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He would be in a position to block any legislation coming out of the committee. And if there's no tax legislation extending the cuts, rates will go back to their old levels.

That should raise the stakes of this election in the minds of every voter. If the Democrats take control and let the tax cuts expire, American families would face an immense tax increase, and the economy would sustain a major hit. As the President has said, this nation needs more than a temporary expansion, so we need more than temporary tax relief. For the sake of America's entrepreneurs, families, and communities, we need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- and we'll do that with a new Republican Congress. (Applause.)

When the new Congress convenes in January, we're going to continue working on an agenda for growth and jobs, a safe environment, and better access to health care. We believe our job is to solve big problems, not simply pass them on to the next generation. That's how we'll continue to do business. And when vacancies arise on the federal courts, the President will keep appointing outstanding justices like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Above all, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to stay focused on our number one obligation: to protect and defend the people of the United States in this time of war.

After the cutbacks -- excuse me, after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush told the Congress and the country that we were in for a long struggle against enemies who regard the entire world as a battlefield. He said the fight would be a serious test of our patience and our resolve as a nation. And he was exactly right.

This is a hard fight, against enemies who wear no uniform, who organize in secret and who target the innocent. The terrorists want to seize control of a country in the Middle East, so they have a base for launching attacks against anyone who doesn't meet their demands. They have declared an intention to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries, and to cause mass death in the United States.

To remove this danger to civilization we have to proceed on many fronts at the same time -- from law enforcement, to diplomacy, to military action, to a global effort against weapons proliferation. And for the long term, we're promoting democracy and hope as the alternatives to ideologies of resentment and violence. We're committed to making a better day possible in the Middle East, so that our children and grandchildren won't have to live in a world with terror states that arm themselves with ever more deadly weapons. The United States of America is a good country, a decent, idealistic, and a compassionate country. We're doing honorable work in a messy and a dangerous world. We are defended by heroes. And whether they serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the world, the brave Americans on duty in this war can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives. (Applause.)

The plot that was uncovered this summer in London is a stark reminder that the terrorists are still trying desperately to commit acts of violence against innocent Americans. As long as that remains the case, we are a nation at war. And wars are not won on the defensive. Our country has gone more than five years now without another 9/11. This is no accident. Nobody can guarantee that we won't be hit again, but America is safer today because we've conducted this war on the offensive, and because we've used every legitimate tool at our command to protect the American people.

In this election season, national security is at the top of the agenda, where it belongs. The President and I welcome the discussion, because every voter in the United States needs to know where we stand, as well as how the leaders of the Democratic Party view the global war on terror. The differences could hardly be more clear, and they have implications for the future security of the nation. Let me give you three examples.

After 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act. This measure has helped law enforcement. We've been able to break up terror cells and prosecuted terrorist operatives and supporters in Texas, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia, New York, Oregon, and Florida. The Patriot Act was passed overwhelmingly in October of 2001, because in those early days the danger to America was still in plain view for everyone. But when it came up for renewal last year, Senate Democrats tried to block it by filibuster. Their floor leader, Harry Reid, boasted publicly that he had "killed" the Patriot Act -- those were his words. Fortunately he was wrong. Fortunately for the country he lost that battle -- but he might have won it if we did not have a Republican majority in the United States Senate.

A second example is the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- in which the President directed the National Security Agency to monitor international communications, one end of which we have reason to believe is related to al Qaeda, or to terrorist networks. The purpose is obvious: If people inside the United States are communicating with al Qaeda, they are talking to the enemy, and we need to know about it. Yet many leading Democrats have denounced the President for this program. And last week, when a bill to authorize the program came to the House floor, 177 Democrats -- 88 percent of all the Democratic members in the House of Representatives -- voted no.

A third example is the CIA program to detain and question terrorist operatives and leaders that we've captured, as well as to create military commissions to try captured terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. The best source of information and intelligence in the war on terror is the terrorists themselves -- and we've obtained from captured terrorists information that has helped us stop a number of attacks planned to take place inside this country. Last week Congress voted on the future of this program. In the House, 162 Democrats -- about 80 percent of them, voted no. In the Senate, 32 out of the 44 Democrats voted no. It appears their preference is no detention program and no military commissions.

As the President said recently, the Democrats appear to be trying to have it both ways. They complain that we've been holding terrorists without bringing them to trial, and then they vote against military commissions that were set up to bring them to trial.

Ladies and gentlemen, the key question before the voters on November 7th is whether or not this nation is serious about fighting the war on terror. And there can be no doubt that George W. Bush is serious about fighting it and winning it. (Applause.)

Time and time again, we're seeing examples of Democratic Party leaders apparently having lost their perspective concerning the nature of the enemy we face, and the need to wage this fight aggressively. No sharper example can be found than the Democratic Party chairman himself, Howard Dean, who said the capture of Saddam Hussein didn't make America any safer.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that such a party would turn its back on a man like Senator Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman was my opponent in 2000 -- Al Gore's running mate, a longtime senator, and one of the most loyal and distinguished Democrats of his generation. Joe is also an unapologetic supporter of the fight against terror. He voted to support military action in Iraq when most other senators in both parties did the same -- and he's had the courage to stick by that vote even when things get tough. And now, for that reason alone, the Dean Democrats have purged Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party.

Their choice, instead, is a candidate whose explicit goal is to give up the fight against the terrorists in Iraq -- never mind that Iraq is a fellow democracy; never mind that the Iraqi people and their elected leaders are counting on us. What these Democrats are pushing now is the very kind of retreat that has been tried and has failed in the past. It would be reckless and inconsistent with our values. It would betray our friends, and only heighten the danger to the United States. And it would mean that all the sacrifices of our military have been in vain. So the choice before the American people is becoming more clear every day. For the sake of our security, this nation must reject any strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies.

The case of Joe Lieberman is a perfect illustration of a basic philosophical differences between the two parties in the year 2006. And it's a reminder that the elections on November 7th will have enormous consequences for this nation, one way or the other. In all the decisions that will come in the next two years, it's going to matter a great deal which party has the majority on the floor and the gavel in committee. And I don't need to tell you what kind of legislation would come to us by way of committee chairmen like Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, Barney Frank, or Jay Rockefeller.

The stakes in this campaign are high, not just for the political parties but for the country. And that's what brings us all together today. We're here because of the principles we hold, the values we share, and the direction we believe is best for this nation. We have a great President living in the White House, and he deserves a Congress that works with him not against him. That makes the choice in the 13th District of Florida very clear indeed. Stand with Vern Buchanan, and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. He deserves your vote, and President Bush and I look forward to welcoming this Florida conservative to Washington come January.

Thank you very much

END 12:45 P.M. EDT