For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 4, 2006
Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Congressional Candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs
1:55 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. At ease, please. (Laughter.) That welcome is almost enough to make me want to run for office again. Almost. (Laughter.)
Well, I'm delighted to be here today. I want to thank Shelley for her kind introduction. It's good to see my old friend Tom DeLay here, as well as other colleagues -- Representatives Culberson, and Poe -- and many statewide and local officials that are here today, as well, too
And it's a pleasure always to be in Texas. Of course, Lynne and I lived in Dallas for five years, and I used to spend a couple days a week here in Houston because the company I was affiliated with, Halliburton -- a proud affiliation that I had back then. (Applause.) I did a lot of business in Houston, and it's fun to be back.
It's always a pleasure to come, too, because I consider some of your prominent citizens great friends, and former President George Bush and Barbara. And I bring greetings to all of you from George and Barbara's son, the President of the United States. (Applause.)
The President and I spend a good bit of time on the campaign trail these days, doing all we can to help Republicans across the country, and to make sure the voters have a clear sense of what's at stake in this election year. We've got 33 senate races, including one right here in Texas with your senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. And she's on her way to a great victory on November 7th. (Applause.)
And, of course, locally here, we've got a superb candidate for the House of Representatives. And I've been looking forward to coming back to Houston to help make Shelley Sekula-Gibbs the next member of Congress from the 22nd district. (Applause.)
Many of you know, the first elective office I ever held was as a congressman. Of course, here in Texas you've got 32 congressional districts. My home state of Wyoming -- we had a small delegation; we only had one congressional seat, but it was quality. (Laughter.) And I always found it easy to get the delegation together for a meeting. (Laughter.)
But I was privileged to serve in the House for better than a decade, and I still consider it my political home. And the colleagues I respected most during my years there were the ones who took their jobs seriously, who did their homework, who made a positive contribution to the debate, and who kept in touch with the folks back home.
That's the kind of person we're supporting in the 22nd district. All of you know Shelley as a member of the city council, as an active citizen, a physician, a parent, a person of conviction and achievement. Whether the issue is taxes, homeland defense, or border security, Shelley speaks with the common sense and the solid values of this district. She'll be the voice you deserve in the nation's capital. (Applause.) She'll be a congresswoman who remembers where she comes from and who sent her to Washington, and that's exactly the kind of person we need more of in the United States Congress.
These are times of incredible consequence for our country, with difficult issues, big debates, and 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. We believe the first principle of economic growth is for government to leave more money in the hands of the people 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've 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, 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 that tax bill came up in the Senate, the vote was 50 Senators in favor, 50 Senators opposed. Fortunately, the Constitution provides a remedy in such cases. (Laughter and applause.) I was there to break the tie. (Laughter.) I don't deserve a lot of credit; it's not like I had choices that day -- (laughter) -- went to the Hill, the President wanted to make sure I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. (Laughter.) The great thing is, every time I vote, our side wins. (Laughter and applause.)
Those tax reductions are doing exactly what we expected. Since August of '03, the U.S. has added more than 5.7 million new jobs, more than Japan and the 25 nations of the Europe combined. The economy continues to grow, and last year alone grew faster than Japan, more than 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 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.
The record of the other party is plain to see, and it stretches back a long way. The last time they had control of Congress in 1993, they passed a massive tax increase. They'll do it again if they can, and 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 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 should be extended.
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 from coming out of the committee. If there's no legislation enacted extending the tax cuts, rates will go back to their old levels. That should raise the stakes of this election in the mind of every voter. If the Democrats took control and let the tax cuts expire, American families will 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 that's what we'll do 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 healthcare. We believe our job is to solve big problems, not pass them along 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 judges, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. (Applause.)
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 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 resolve as a nation, and he was exactly right.
This is a hard fight against enemies who wear no uniform, organize in secret, and target the innocent. The terrorists want to seize control of a nation 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 here 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 are promoting democracy and hope as the alternatives to ideologies of resentment and violence. We're committed to making a better day possible in the broader Middle East so that our children and grandchildren will not have to live in a world with terror states that arm themselves with 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're defended by heroes. And whether they serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, or stateside, 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 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 and has been safe for the last five years 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. (Applause.)
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 war on terror. The differences could hardly be more clear, and they have implications for the future security of the country. Let me give you three examples.
After 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act. This measure has helped law enforcement. It's allowed us to break up terror cells and prosecute 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 to everyone. But when it came up for renewal, Senate Democrats tried to block it by filibuster. Their floor leader, Harry Reid, actually boasted publicly that he had "killed" the Patriot Act; those were his words. Fortunately for the country he lost that battle, but he might have won it if we had not had a Republican majority in the Senate.
A second example is the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- 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 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 it came to the House floor, 177 Democrats 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 allow us 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 yesterday, the Democrats are 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 designed 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 did not make America 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 also is 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 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 now; 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 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 had been in vain.
So the choice before the American people is becoming more clear every day: For the sake of our security, the 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 the 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 the nation. We have a great President living in the White House, and he deserves a Congress that works with him, not against him.
In this part of Texas, you've got a leadership tradition going all the way back to the days when George Bush was chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. Come next January, it'll be a better Congress if we have more members like our fine candidate, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. (Applause.)
So vote for Shelley twice. (Laughter and applause.) I never thought I'd say that in Texas. (Laughter.) But vote for Shelley twice on the 7th of November, and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. She deserves your vote, and the President and I look forward to welcoming another great Texas conservative to Washington, D.C.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 2:13 P.M. CDT