The American people are benefiting from the effective leadership by the President and his Administration in 2007.
Overseas, the new strategy in Iraq is working, with improved security allowing the U.S. to begin bringing troops home.
At home, the President held the line on excessive spending proposed by Congressional Democrats, and Congress reached an agreement on a spending bill to fund the day-to-day operations of the Federal government without raising taxes.
Our economy has seen a record 51 months of consecutive job growth, with more than 8.3 million jobs created since August 2003.
In addition, the President has taken administrative actions to alleviate air congestion and reduce airline delays, enhance import safety, improve border security and the immigration system, and help struggling American homeowners keep their houses.
IRAQ:Our strategy in Iraq is guided by the principle of "return on success" and as we are seeing more success in Iraq, we are beginning to bring some of our forces home. Since the surge of operations reached full strength in June, violence in Iraq has significantly decreased in virtually every category, including civilian casualties, coalition casualties, IED events, suicide attacks, and ethno-sectarian violence. Overall, terrorist attacks are at their lowest levels since January 2006, and trending downward. Iraqi forces have assumed responsibility for security in nine of 18 Iraqi provinces, and brave Iraqis are increasingly taking responsibility for their own security throughout the country.
The United States is bringing 5,700 troops home without replacement by the end of the year as a result of progress made by the surge of operations.
Significant "bottom up" progress is occurring at the local level in Iraq, where thousands of concerned local citizens are volunteering to support security in their neighborhoods, and provincial governments continue to spend national revenue on reconstruction. For example, the Mosul Airport recently reopened for commercial flights for the first time in 14 years after the Ninewa Provincial Council, Iraqi Ministries of Transportation and Finance, and the U.S. Department of State partnered to renovate the passenger terminal.
On the diplomatic front, Iraq successfully launched two major initiatives this year. The International Compact, co-sponsored with the United Nations, laid out a comprehensive five year reform plan that is supported by over 60 international partners. Iraq also engaged other countries in the region in the "Neighbors Process" an initiative to work cooperatively to support stability in Iraq and address concrete regional problems such as refugees, border security, and energy.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE: On November 27, President Bush and Secretary of State Rice hosted Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian President Abbas, and representatives of more than 40 countries at an international conference in Annapolis. This conference focused on supporting the efforts of Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas to realize President Bush's vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. President Bush will visit the Middle East in January.
ENCOURAGING FREEDOM, JUSTICE, AND PROSPERITY: The President has stood firmly behind those who are struggling to establish free societies. The Administration has nearly doubled funding for democracy and human rights since 2001, and this year, President Bush has met with around 50 dissidents. The Administration also established a Human Rights Defenders' Fund and has created the Freedom Defenders Award and the Diplomacy for Freedom Award. Mrs. Bush has been a lead supporter of the Burmese people's demands for reconciliation and basic human rights, and on October 19, President Bush announced additional sanctions on the leaders of Burma's brutal military regime. This year, the President also announced expanded and tightened sanctions against the Government of Sudan, which continues to violate its numerous commitments to stop violence and suffering in Darfur, as well as further measures to help the Cuban people prepare for a transition to a democratic future.
NORTH KOREA: On October 3, North Korea committed under a new Six Party agreement to providing a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs, nuclear weapons programs, materials, and any proliferation activity. North Korea has started on its commitment to disable all its existing nuclear facilities by beginning to disable the core nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. The government also committed not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how beyond its borders.
ADVANCING SOCIAL JUSTICE IN LATIN AMERICA: Reaffirming his commitment to the Western Hemisphere, President Bush announced initiatives to support Latin American nations in delivering the benefits of democracy to all. The United States deployed the USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy medical ship, to 12 nations, where it served more than 98,000 individuals with primary care. The President announced the Partnership with Latin American Youth to provide English language and vocational training for disadvantaged youth throughout the hemisphere. To promote prosperity and economic opportunity, the United States also launched separate initiatives to help build a market for affordable housing for working families and increase the access to capital for small businesses to expand.
JOB CREATION: More than 8.3 million jobs have been created since August 2003 in the longest continuous run of job growth on record. The President's pro-growth policies are working our economy has now added jobs for a record 51 consecutive months, and the unemployment rate has remained low at 4.7 percent.
KEEPING TAXES LOW AND RESTRAINING SPENDING: The President held firm on his commitment to fiscal discipline, and his leadership resulted in Congress holding the budget to his reasonable and responsible spending levels. In addition, the President's commitment to low taxes paid dividends. Congress' final spending bills do not contain tax increases on America's small businesses and families.
REVENUE GROWTH: The Federal deficit declined by $250 billion in the last three years. In FY07, tax revenues grew by $161 billion to reach $2.568 trillion, the highest level of Federal revenues ever recorded. That is an increase of 6.7 percent, and it builds on the 14.5 percent and the 11.8 percent increase in revenues during the last two years. With Federal revenues at their highest level in history, the American people are not undertaxed. As families are dealing with rising mortgage rates, higher gas prices, college costs, and health care expenses, the last thing they need is a tax increase like the ones that Congressional Democrats have proposed.
FREE AND FAIR TRADE: On December 14, President Bush signed the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act into law. This marks approval of the first of four free trade agreements that fulfill the May 10 bipartisan trade agreement with Congress, under which enforceable labor and environmental provisions were included in pending free trade agreements. The President now calls on Congress to secure enhanced market access for U.S. companies and strengthen alliances with three key allies through approval of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
ENFORCING OUR TRADE AGREEMENTS: The United States brought three WTO cases against China in 2007 whichhave already brought tangible results. China settled one case by agreeing to eliminate a number of subsidies a result that will make a more level playing field for U.S. manufacturers. The U.S. also won a WTO case against Turkey, gaining market access for U.S. farmers. USTR also brought disputes against India on its unfair duties on wines, spirits, and a wide range of products, as well as against Canada for its refusal to comply with the recent Softwood Lumber Agreement.
IMPORT SAFETY: On July 18, President Bush established the Working Group on Import Safety to conduct a comprehensive review of the U.S. import system and identify ways to further increase the safety of imports entering the United States. On November 6, the Working Group presented to President Bush its Action Plan, with short- and long-term recommendations for continuing to improve the safety of imports.
AVIATION CONGESTION: In September, President Bush directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a strategy to reduce aviation congestion. In November, the President announced a series of short- and longer-term steps to address air traffic congestion and delays, including making military airspace available for use by civilian airliners over Thanksgiving and three new proposed DOT regulations to help ensure air travelers are treated fairly. In December, Secretary Peters announced a second series of short- and long-term steps to meet the President's challenge and to help alleviate delays over the Christmas holidays and before next summer's busy travel season. These steps include operational improvements and voluntary agreements with the airlines to set hourly flight limits while increasing the number of daily flights into and out of the New York area and new market-based leasing of new operational capacity as it comes on-line. In the coming weeks, DOT will continue to explore policies and programs, including even broader market-based measures, to improve airport efficiency and investments.
HOUSING: This month, President Bush announced that representatives of HOPE NOW, a private-sector coalition assembled by Secretaries Paulson and Jackson, have developed a plan under which up to 1.2 million homeowners could be eligible for mortgage assistance. HOPE NOW was assembled in response to the President's call to action in August and is an example of government bringing together members of the private sector to voluntarily address a national challenge to help struggling homeowners without taxpayer subsidies or government mandates.
The President and his Administration have also launched a new initiative at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) called FHASecure. With some additional flexibility, FHA expects to help more than 300,000 families with a safe and affordable home mortgage refinancing option by the end of 2008.
PROTECT AMERICA ACT:In August, the President signed the Protect America Act of 2007, which closed critical intelligence gaps that threatened the safety of our Nation. The Protect America Act (PAA) modernized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to provide our intelligence community essential tools to acquire important intelligence information about foreign terrorists abroad who want to harm America. Unfortunately, critical provisions of the PAA expire on February 1, and Congress must act to keep our Nation safe by making these tools permanent and provide meaningful liability protection for companies who are believed to have assisted the Government after 9/11.
BORDER SECURITY: The Administration has taken steps within existing law to secure our borders more effectively. In 2007, we exceeded our goal of 145 miles of fencing at the border, and are on track to strengthen the border with 18,300 Border Patrol agents, 370 miles of fencing, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, additional cameras and radar towers, and three additional unmanned aerial vehicles by the end of 2008. The Administration has also instituted a policy of "catch and return," ensuring that all removable aliens caught trying to cross the border illegally are held until they can be returned to their home countries.
IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT: In 2007, ICE removed roughly 240,000 illegal aliens, made over 850 criminal arrests, and fined or seized more than $30 million following worksite investigations. The Department of Homeland Security has issued a "No-Match" regulation to help employers ensure their workers are legal and help the Government identify and crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. Unfortunately, this useful regulation is being held up by misguided litigation.
COUNTERTERRORISM: Working with our partners overseas, U.S. efforts to combat terrorism have contributed to the arrest of terrorist suspects and have disrupted plots aimed at both the United States and its allies. For example, in September, U.S. and German authorities disrupted a major terrorist plot resulting in the arrest of three suspects who were planning to attack a U.S. military base in Germany as well as Frankfurt International Airport. In June, the United States worked with authorities in Trinidad to arrest four men suspected of planning to blow up fuel tanks and a fuel pipeline at the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: In October, the President issued an updated National Strategy for Homeland Security, which is serving to guide, organize, and unify our Nation's homeland security efforts. The Strategy articulates our approach to secure the Homeland over the next several years, reflects our increased understanding of the threats confronting the United States, incorporates lessons learned from exercises and real-world catastrophes, and articulates how we should ensure our long-term success by strengthening the homeland security foundation we have built.
9/11 COMMISSION ACT: On August 3, the President signed the "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007." This legislation protects Americans from being unduly prosecuted for reporting activity that could lead to acts of terrorism, and takes steps to modernize the VISA Waiver Program, particularly the additional security measures. The President continues to work with Congress to advance security and foreign policy objectives by allowing greater flexibility to bring some of our closest allies into the program.
Energy Security And Climate Change
REDUCING U.S. GASOLOINE CONSUMPTION: On December 19, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which will improve vehicle fuel economy and help reduce U.S. dependence on oil. The Act responds to the challenge of the President's bold "Twenty in Ten" initiative, which he announced in the State of the Union address, and will:
Increase the supply of alternative fuel sources by setting a mandatory Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requiring fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuel in 2022.
Reduce U.S. demand for oil by setting a national fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 which will increase fuel economy standards by 40 percent and save billions of gallons of fuel.
BALI CONFERENCE: The United States joined the global consensus at the UN Climate Conference in December to launch global climate talks. While the United States has serious concerns that the decision does not make clear enough the important role of major developing economies, it is a critical first step in assuring that the UN negotiation process moves forward toward a comprehensive and effective post-2012 arrangement by 2009. The United States looks forward to participating in the negotiations envisioned in the Bali Roadmap, in the Major Economies Process, in the G-8, and in other appropriate channels to achieve this goal.
MAJOR ECONOMIES MEETING: On September 27-28, the United States hosted representatives of 17 world leaders plus the United Nations in the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change. This meeting was part of the new initiative President Bush announced in May 2007, just before the G-8 Leaders Summit, to further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and promoting strong economic growth. It was the first of a series of meetings that will bring the world's major economies together to develop a detailed contribution to address energy security and climate change when the Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.
WOUNDED WARRIORS: The Administration is implementing the recommendations of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors that can be achieved administratively. In March, President Bush signed an Executive Order creating this bipartisan commission, co-chaired by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, to conduct a comprehensive review of the services America is providing our returning wounded warriors. The Commission released its findings on July 25, 2007, and the Administration has already moved forward with steps to implement the Commission's six recommendations that can be achieved administratively. In addition, the President sent Congress legislation to implement the remaining recommendations that require Congressional action. Congress included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 some recommendations for wounded warrior assistance.
ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE:The President has proposed measures to make private health insurance more affordable and accessible and give patients more choices and control over their health care. Unfortunately, Congress moved forward with SCHIP legislation that would have raised taxes and moved 2 million children covered by private health insurance onto government-run programs. The President believes the path of government-run health care is the wrong path for American families, American medicine, and the American economy, so he vetoed these bills. The Administration is pleased that Congress has now passed legislation to extend SCHIP until March 31, 2009, without raising taxes.
HIV/AIDS: Since 2001, the Administration has delivered more than $129 billion to fight HIV/AIDS both at home and abroad. On May 30, 2007, the President announced his proposal to double America's initial $15 billion commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The American people will have committed $48.2 billion over 10 years to fight HIV/AIDS if Congress continues to support the President's plan, including his proposal to provide $30 billion over the next five years. At the G-8 Leaders Summit, the President rallied other G-8 member states to commit to reaching similar targets and to commit $30 billion.
MALARIA: The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) is combating malaria in 15 of the hardest-hit African countries. A five-year, $1.2 billion program, PMI challenges the private sector to join the U.S. government in combating malaria, with the goal of cutting malaria's mortality rate by 50 percent in these target countries. By September 2007, PMI had distributed 2.3 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets since its launch in 2006. Mrs. Bush highlighted these efforts, along with PEPFAR, during a four-country trip to Africa in June 2007. In addition, at the G-8 Leaders Summit, the President's leadership led other G-8 member states to commit to partnering with additional targeted countries so that together 85 percent of the world's malaria victims would be treated.
U.S.-MIDDLE EAST PARTNERSHIP FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS AND RESEARCH: In October, Mrs.Bush participated in a four-country tour of the Middle East promoting breast cancer awareness, the leading cause of death among women in the Middle East. While in the region, Mrs. Bush met with key officials, medical and educational leaders, and leaders of women's groups. She also visited several cancer treatment and screening centers and launched new cancer awareness activities. Mrs. Bush observed first-hand the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research and discussed ways to expand its role.
STEM CELL RESEARCH: In June, President Bush signed an Executive Order to strengthen our Nation's commitment to research on pluripotent stem cells. The Order was a natural extension of the Presidents policy and commitment to advancing non embryo-destructive research methods, which made it more likely that exciting ethical advances in this field would continue to unfold, such as the important breakthrough in November that researchers can now reprogram human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.
MEDICARE PART D:More than 9 million low-income beneficiaries are getting comprehensive drug coverage for little or no cost through Medicare Part D. In December, a Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive survey of U.S. adults age 65 or older showed 87 percent of those enrolled in a Medicare drug benefit plan are satisfied with their plan.
NATION'S REPORT CARD: This year's release of record high scores on the Nation's Report Card are an indication that No Child Left Behind is working. In math, scores for 4th and 8th graders were the highest they have ever been, and in reading, scores for 4th graders were also the highest on record. The Report Card also showed African-American and Hispanic students are making significant progress, posting all-time highs in a number of categories.
COLLEGE COST REDUCTION: In September, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which will make college more affordable for low-income students by increasing funding for Federal Pell Grants by more than $11 billion.
AMERICA COMPETES: On August 8, President Bush signed the America COMPETES Act, furthering the goals of his American Competitiveness Initiative. The Act supports doubling funding for basic research programs in physical sciences; authorizes the President's Math Now proposal to improve instruction in mathematics; and authorizes the President's proposed expansion of the advanced placement/international baccalaureate program.
HELPING AMERICA'S YOUTH: Mrs. Bush has continued leadership of the Helping America's Youth Initiative, attending regional conferences and highlighting programs which are helping America's young people. The Helping America's Youth initiative is a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the challenges facing our youth, particularly at-risk boys, and to motivate caring adults to connect with youth in three key areas: family, school and community.
NATIONAL PARKS CENTENNIAL INITIATIVE: The President's 2008 Budget provided up to a $3 billion infusion of new funds over the next 10 years on top of the largest National Parks operations budget in history, including the largest ever increase for park operations. In honor of the 90th anniversary of the Park Service, the President organized a 10-year effort to leverage increased government investment with private philanthropy. National Parks will use these funds to hire 3,000 more seasonal rangers, maintain buildings, conserve natural landscapes, encourage volunteers, and enroll more children in the Junior Ranger program. The Budget also included a "Centennial Challenge" to individuals, foundations, and the private sector to contribute at least $100 million per year for another $1 billion over 10 years.
PROTECTING OUR OCEANS AND CONSERVING MARINE RESOURCES: In January, the President signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act. This Act ends overfishing in America, helps us replenish our Nation's fish stocks, and advances international cooperation and ocean stewardship. Additionally, President Bush signed an Executive Order in October to conserve two of America's most popular recreational fish striped bass and red drum fish for the recreational, economic, and environmental benefit of present and future generations of Americans. In November, the Administration released a new Marine Debris Initiative to address the estimated 6.4 million tons of marine debris that litters the world's oceans and coasts.