For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 26, 2001
Remarks by the President
To Business, Trade and Agriculture Leaders
the East Room
2:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that warm welcome, and welcome to the White House. I appreciate you giving us a chance to share with you our strategy on how we're going to win the war against terror.
It starts with assembling a good team, and I put together a fabulous administration. I picked a great Vice President in Dick Cheney. (Applause.) Some of you may know him. (Laughter.) But I know him a man who gives solid advice, and he's got great judgment. And the nation's lucky that he left the -- left his previous occupation to serve our country.
I'm also pleased to be joined by three members of my Cabinet, who are all involved in shepherding through an economic stimulus plan through the United States Congress. Secretary Paul O'Neill is doing a fabulous job. I've got great confidence in Paul and his ability to sell to the American people and to the United States Congress that which we're trying to do to make sure our economy grows. And I want to thank you, Paul, for your service, as well. (Applause.)
Bob Zoellick is traveling the world promoting free trade. I'll talk a little bit about trade later on. But I want to thank his tireless efforts. One thing that we're all hopeful for is that we start a new round of WTO talks at Doha, Qatar. And Bob's working hard to make that happen. I just have come from China, as you know, and he proceeded me there, and they were still talking about the Zoellick touch. (Laughter.)
And I want to thank Spence Abraham, as well, who's helping us shepherd a realistic energy plan through the United States Congress. So thank you all for being here. (Applause.)
We are at the beginning of what I view as a very long struggle against evil. We're not fighting a nation; we're not fighting a religion; we're fighting evil. And we have no choice but to prevail. We're fighting people that hates our values, they can't stand what America stands for. And they really don't like the fact that we exist. And I want to assure you all that we will fight this fight on every front. We will use every resource we have. And there is no doubt in my time -- in my mind -- that in our time, we will prevail. There's no doubt. (Applause.)
And we're fighting this war on a variety of fronts. We've put together a vast coalition of nations to slowly, but surely, encircle those who would terrorize, and to send the message that their actions will not stand.
I really appreciate the hard work of the Secretary of State Powell. He is working endlessly to not only keep a coalition together, but to broaden it. And it's working -- and it's working.
We're fighting them on a financial front. We're choking off their money. We're seizing their assets. We will be relentless as we pursue their sources of financing. And I want to thank the Secretary of Treasury for leading that effort.
We're sharing intelligence, because in order to fight a war -- the new war of the 21st century -- we've got to know more about the enemy; where they try to hide, where they may try to strike next. And so we've got great cooperation with intelligence services from around the world, as well as great cooperation internally between the CIA and the FBI.
The culture in our agencies have changed. We are now interested in preventing attack. We're now interested in finding those who may attack America, and arrest them before they do. We've had over -- nearly 1,000 people have been detained in America, and questioned about their motives and their intentions. The FBI is on full alert, and they take information garnered from around the world and share that information in a way that will make Americans proud.
And we've also put our military into action. I've got great confidence in the American military. I've also got great confidence in our strategy, as we uphold this doctrine: It says, if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. If you harbor anybody who has harmed America, you're just as guilty as those who have harmed our country.
And, therefore, the Taliban government, which we gave ample time to respond to reasonable demands, are now paying the price for harboring the al Qaeda organization, as they should. We're, slowly, but surely, dismantling Taliban defenses, Taliban military installations, the Taliban command and control structure, all aimed at bringing the al Qaeda criminals to justice.
It is the first battle in the war of terrorism. The American people are going to have to be patient, just like we are. They're going to have to be determined, just like our military is. And with that patience, and with that determination, we will eventually smoke them out of their holes, and get them, and bring them to justice. And that's exactly what the world demands. And that's what the United States will deliver. (Applause.)
It's hard for some Americans to realize that this is a two-front war. After all, history has basically said there would never be two fronts, one abroad and one in America. But we now have a second front on this war against terror here at home. We've been struck, obviously, on September the 11th, and we're being struck again. Anytime anybody puts anthrax in a letter, it's an act of terror.
The press often act me, well, is this the -- is the evil one hiding from us in Afghanistan, the ones who have done this to America? I said, I don't know. We don't know yet. But we do know the evil one who hides thinks in ways that we can't possibly think in America -- so destructive, such a low regard for human life. And anybody who puts anthrax, trying to kill American citizens, shares the same set of values. Whoever has done it shares that same value of evil that we saw on September the 11th. And we'll find them and bring them to justice, as well.
But we've got a strategy to fight the war on the home front. As I mentioned, we're disrupting, as much as we possibly can, any possible attack on America. Every day I meet with the FBI Director and the Attorney General and Tom Ridge, who heads the Office of Homeland Security, to get a report on the activities that were taking place. We take every threat seriously. We respond to every piece of information we receive.
As I mentioned, we have arrested or detained over 1,000 people here in America, to determine -- to find out what they know. And if they know something that is helpful, we will act on it.
And we've got a great response mechanism in place. Today I mourned the lives of two who -- two postal officers, who lost their life in the line of duty. But I can tell the American people that because of the hard work of many in our public health offices, I believe we've saved a lot of lives, too, by responding as quickly as we have.
Today, right here in this room, I had the honor of signing a piece of anti-terrorist legislation, widely supported by members of both parties in both Houses. It's needed legislation, to help us do the job the American people expect, which is to protect the homeland.
This is a two-front war. It's a two-front war. And it's a war we're going to win on both fronts. But make no mistake; the best way to make sure we protect our homeland is to succeed by bringing the terrorists abroad who try to strike us to justice.
Now, there's another front on the war, as well, and that's our economy. And there's no question the terrorists want to cast a shadow of fear on the businesses of America. They understand how important our businesses are to our way of life. After all, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in America. It's part of our culture. It's part of a hopeful society. And the more that can be disrupted, that spirit of commerce and enterprise, the more successful they think they will be.
But they're not going to succeed their, either. In all our wars, the productive power of the economy has been one of our nation's great advantages. And that's true today. But it's clear that our economy has been shocked. There's been shockwaves sent throughout all parts of the nation's economic fabric. Obviously, we took a huge hit at the financial center of our country, in New York City. Our transportation system has been severely disrupted, which has, in turn, affected hotels and people who work in hotels.
This administration is deeply concerned about those who have lost jobs, and we know there are a lot of Americans who hurt. And we hurt for them. And we're going to work with Congress to take the appropriate actions.
I also know that some in this room have made a tough economic decision by delaying any layoffs, or have chosen not to lay off workers. And I applaud you for that. And I thank you for making that decision, on behalf of the workers in America. I believe it's the right thing to do, during this national emergency.
But our government must act wisely, as well. We must understand that our job is to help restore confidence in the future of the country, in a way that is wise and sound. Buildings can be rebuilt, and they will be. Transportation systems will be invigorated, and they will be, as well. But the vitality of our economy depends upon the willingness of Americans to spend, and for Americans to start new businesses, to purchase new equipment, and to invest in the future of this country. And I understand that. And we're taking practical steps. And let me share some of those with you.
We're supporting American aviation with money and loans, to make sure the planes fly. We're also beefing up security at our airports, to make sure people feel safe in flying. And we're working with Congress to get a long-term law passed that will say to the American consumer and the American flyer, this government is doing everything in our power to secure the airways on your behalf.
As I mentioned, we're -- we've spent money on a supplemental to rebuild New York City and the Pentagon. It's the right thing to do. We've got SBA, the Small Business Administration, helping small businesses in the areas impacted by the attacks from the evil ones. We're paying for improved security at our post offices. We're just beginning to secure the post offices in a way -- you see, the post office, obviously, was set up as a way to efficiently deliver mail, not understanding that someone would dare use the mail as a weapon against America. And we're adjusting quickly to the new realities that we face.
All this costs money, and we're spending it here in Washington. And when the money we've committed is spent, we believe it will have a positive effect on the economy. But we must be careful not to overspend. There's a lot of good ideas in Washington, and a lot of them cost a lot of money. And we must be careful to assess our needs, and make sure we're cautious about how we spend taxpayers' money. We believe the best way to stimulate and restore confidence to the economy is not through additional spending, but through tax relief.
Tax relief arrives quickly. If we can get a bill out of both the House and the Senate, it will happen in quick fashion. Unlike spending programs, we won't have to wait for plans to be drafted, and contracts to be let. The tax relief for new investment in the House stimulus package will go into effect as soon as the bill is signed, if we can get it out of the Senate. New lower tax rates for consumers and entrepreneurs will show up in paychecks on the first day of the next year -- of the new year, if we can get that passed out of the Senate. The tax rebates for low and moderate income folks would begin to arrive soon, if we can get it out of the Senate.
Tax relief will put money rapidly into the hands of consumers. Tax relief will improve incentives to save and invest, and will give a powerful boost to our national economy. And tax relief is efficient. When we've tried in the past to spend our way out of an economic slowdown, we have found that the money has often been spent unwisely.
Tax relief, on the other hand, lets individuals decide for themselves what they need most. Tax relief lets economic resources flow to places where they can do the most good for the country. The House's tax relief plan accelerates some income tax reductions already planned for individuals and entrepreneurs and small businesses. This will give people opportunity to make decisions for themselves. And we've learned from experience that free decisions are usually the best decisions for our economy as a whole.
And third, and most important, tax relief will expand productive investment. The House plan allows businesses to speed up the expensing of new equipment. And it reforms the corporate tax code, so that companies do not face higher effective rates, as their profits decline. Together, these two changes will persuade many companies that time has come to reinvest in America. And when we invest in America, we create jobs for American workers.
Tax relief is an essential step. But it's not the only step we should take. We need an energy plan for America. Under the leadership of the Vice President, we drafted a comprehensive, common-sense plan for the future of this country. It passed the House of Representatives. It needs a vote in the United States Senate.
Oh, I understand energy prices are low right now, thank goodness. But that shouldn't lead our nation to complacency. We need to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient. It is in our nation's national interest that we develop more energy supplies at home. It is in our national interest that we look at safe nuclear power. It is in our national interest that we conserve more. It is in our national interest that we modernize the energy infrastructure of America. It's in our national interest to get a bill to my desk, and I urge the Senate to do so. (Applause.)
And we can restore economic confidence by expanding trade. More open trade is essential to the growth of our nation's economy. A part of our economic recovery program is to give me the ability to negotiate trade agreements. I need trade promotion authority to expand opportunity, for businesses large and small, for entrepreneurs in America. I need trade promotion authority to expand the job base of this great nation.
I'm the first President who hadn't had trade promotion authority. I need it now. It's in our nation's best interest that we have it. And it's in the best interests of our world that we trade in freedom.
We have a chance to draw all the people into the world -- in the world into an open market economy, and that will offer better living standards, and more political freedom, and will enhance human dignity all across our globe. And it's our nation's interest that that happen.
Nobody is disqualified from an open world that trades freely. No one will be disqualified by religion. No one by nationality. No one will be disqualified by geography. Our enemies fear this world precisely because they know how attractive modernization is to the oppressed people around the globe. Our enemies fear open societies in which men and women can think for themselves, can decide their own destinies, can decently support their own families, can educate their sons and their daughters in a modern world. Our enemies fear a society which is pluralistic and open to worship an almighty God.
Our enemies are right to fear open societies, because those societies leave no room for bigotry and tyranny. The promise of our time has no room for the vision of the Taliban, or al Qaeda.
This is a time of promise for America. I'm incredibly optimistic about this nation's future, because I understand America and I understand the people of America. Franklin Roosevelt warned us 70 years ago that fear feeds on itself and contributes to the very problems that first gave it rise. America has prevailed over fear in a Great Depression and in a global war, and we will do so again.
The character of our country has not changed. Oh, the TV sets have changed, the telephones have changed, the cars have changed, but not the heart and soul of America. When they struck America, they did not understand our nation. They did not understand our resolve. They did not understand our patience. They did not understand our will to win.
I want to thank the Business Council for coming and for joining this war. All of us need to understand, it is now time to plant the flag of freedom firmly in our nation and around the world, because what we do today will determine whether or not our children and our grandchildren can grow up in a life that we knew. What we do today will determine how free America is for the future. And we will not fail.
Thank you all for coming, and God bless.
END 3:06 P.M. EDT