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 Home > News & Policies > April 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 15, 2002

President Calls on Congress to Make Tax Relief Permanent
General Mills
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

     Fact sheet In Focus: Jobs and Economy
     Fact sheet In Focus: Tax Reform
     Fact sheet Fact Sheet: President Bush Calls on Congress to Make Tax Relief Permanent

2:20 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Well, thank you for that warm Iowa welcome. It's nice to be here. Bill, thank you for your hospitality. And I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come and share some things with you about our great country.

President George W. Bush addresses folks at a General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, April 15. Taking to the podium on tax day, the President discussed last year's tax cut that and stated that such cuts for the American people should be permanent.  White House photo by Paul Morse First, I want to thank the folks who work here, who spent some time talking to me about how much they enjoy working here in the company; talking about their families, what tax relief meant for them in real terms. I appreciate the Governor of the State of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, for coming. Thank you, Governor, I'm honored you're here. (Applause.)

I had the privilege of flying down from Washington with two fine -- I mean fine -- United States Congressmen, Jim Leech and Greg Ganske, and I'm honored at your presence. (Applause.) I appreciate Mayor Paul Pate for being here, the Mayor of Cedar Rapids. I want to thank him for his hospitality today. (Applause.)

And I want to thank my fellow Americans. I want to thank you all for your patience and your determination and your love for freedom. This is a fabulous country and I want to thank you all. (Applause.)

President's Remarks

Today, as you know, is April 15th -- (laughter) -- tax day. Today, at least we get to call it tax relief day. (Applause.) It was right here in the state of Iowa when I was running for President, asking people for their votes, that I said if you gave me a chance to be President, I'd work hard to let people keep their own money. I reminded people that the money we're talking about is not the government's money; it's the people's money. (Applause.)

And we kept that promise. I say "we," a lot of -- more than one guy up there in Washington working on behalf of the working people, I think you noticed that today. I'm going to spend some time talking about it and why it's important. But we've also got other priorities in this country. I want to spend a little bit of time talking about those priorities.

We've got a priority to make sure our homeland is secure. My most important job is not politicking, my most important job isn't to give speeches everywhere. My most important job is to make sure people don't hit America again, is to make sure we're secure. (Applause.)

And I want to assure you that your federal government is doing everything humanly possible to secure the homeland. We've got a first responders initiative to work with the police and fire and emergency medical corps, those brave men and women who serve us on a daily basis. We've got a bioterrorism response initiative going on that says if they ever do use a bioterrorist type weapon, that we know how to respond.

We're doing a better job of understanding who's coming into our country and who's going out of our country. We need to know who's coming in and why they're coming in. We're securing our borders in a better way. And, as well, we're taking every bit of information we get, every hint and running down every lead to make sure if somebody is still here in our country, who wants to hurt innocent Americans, we're going to disrupt their plans. (Applause.)

They're out there. You just need to know that the people we're dealing with are cold-blooded killers. It's hard for Americans to understand the mentality of somebody who hates freedom, because we love freedom. We value our freedom to worship the way we want to worship, the value of our freedom to raise our families the way we want to raise our families, the value of the freedom to be able to speak our minds, or to read a free press. There are people who hate freedom, and therefore they hate America because we're the bastion of freedom.

I don't know what got in their mind on that day, when they attacked us. They must have thought this country of ours was so weak, and so materialistic, so self-absorbed, that all we would do would be to file a lawsuit. They found out we think a little differently here in America. (Applause.) They now know that we know the best way to defend our homeland is to hunt them down one by one, and bring them to justice. And that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)

In order to make sure America is secure, we must be relentless and steady and patient. We must find those who want to hurt us, because of the beliefs we hold dear, and bring them to justice. I want you to know, I use the word justice. And for the young here, you need to know our country does not seek revenge. We seek justice. And when we say we're going to do something, we're going to do it, because the credibility of our country is at stake.

I said, you know, that the Taliban regime, because they were feeding these guys, and giving them a nice place to hang out, we were going to get them. We were going to run them out of business. And that's exactly what we did, thanks to the United States military. (Applause.)

But we were not conquerors. We were liberators. We went into Afghanistan and we routed out one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind. And as a result of the United States, plus other nations, young girls were able to go to school for the first time. I cannot tell you how proud I am of a country that on the one hand is willing to defend its freedom and, on the other hand, is willing to fight for the freedoms of others, as well. When those young girls went to school, I was so proud of the United States military and our country. (Applause.)

We've got a lot of work to do. Oh, I know there's a certain impatience sometimes with the commentators and the writers, and all the people that make our political process whole. But you just need to know, there's a lot more to go. And I'm not tired. I don't have a calendar on my desk that says by a certain date, all this business has got to end. That's not how it works. That's what the enemy wants. They want us to quit, because we're impatient. But it's not going to happen. It can't happen. History has called us into action. We must never look back and say, how come we didn't act when there's called into action. We must be steadfast in that which we believe, and steady in our resolve. And I can assure you it doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or whether you're a Democrat, or whether you don't even give a darn about political parties. This country is united when it comes to defending the freedoms we hold dear. (Applause.)

And so we're going to keep them on the run. And I've told world leaders: either you're with us or you're not with us. And I mean every word of it. And they now know our country means every word of it, as well. And so we're in for a long time, but it's worth the price. For those of you who have got relatives in the military, a son or a daughter, an aunt or uncle or a mom or a dad, I want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for not only their sacrifice, but for your understanding, as well. The cause is noble. And the cause is just. (Applause.)

And I wasn't kidding when I said that in order for our children to grow up in a safe world, in order for our children and our children's children to be able to have the same freedoms that we enjoyed coming up; that we can't let the world's worst leaders harbor and develop the world's worst weapons, so that they might try to blackmail us or hold us hostage or launch one of those awful weapons at us. That we must be steadfast not only in routing out al Qaeda and terrorist organizations who would do us harm, but we've got to draw the line when it comes to nations, for example, a nation that was willing to gas its own people; a nation willing to assassinate people who speak out in dissent and, at the same time, develop a weapon that can be used against us.

We're deliberate, we're patient. I'm under no hurry. But you can rest assured that when it comes time to protecting our freedoms and our country, this government is going to take action. (Applause.)

I believe strongly the collective will of people who love freedom can make an enormous difference in this world, and I will continue to work with the coalition of leaders and countries that share the same values we share; leaders and countries that understand that if we let terrorists run rampant they will affect the peace in regions of the world where we long for peace. I know that one of the good things that's going to come out of the evil done to America, with the right leadership and the right focus is a lasting peace all around the world. I believe that as sure as I'm standing here.

As well, we had problems here at home right after September the 11th. You know it, I know it. I'm sure you were concerned about your jobs, and when the enemy hit, they not only killed a lot of innocent people, but they affected our economy. And it's one of the reasons I'm so proud we cut the taxes on the people who work. Because you see, if you let people keep their own money, they tend to want to spend it. (Laughter.) And when they spend it, they're going to buy a good or a service, and somebody will provide the good or a service. And when they provide or produce the good and service, it means somebody is going to find work. The best way to make sure that workers continue to work in the face of a recession is to cut the taxes on the people who do the work in America, and that's what we did. (Applause.)

These tax relief plans were fair. To me, that's really important. It wasn't one of these targeted deals, where some get it, and some don't. We basically said, if you pay taxes, you get relief. It was straightforward, everybody understood it, and it's going to be around for a long time. Tax relief began immediately. And I want to remind the people about what took place before September the 11th. Tax rebate checks started coming in the mail. A single payer received up to $300. Single parent taxpayers received up to $500. Married couples received up to $600. In the state of Iowa, there were 974,000 refund checks mailed out, totalling $426 million. And that was an important part of making sure people could realize their own dreams, and at the same time, making sure this recession eventually didn't take -- didn't strangle our economy.

The good news is, is that tax relief is continuing -- this wasn't a one-time event -- that there is more tax relief coming. And if you file out your forms -- and I kind of suggest you do here, pretty quick -- (laughter) -- that you'll see the child credit was increased to $600, and made available to more lower income Americans. For a single mom with two children, making $18,000 a year, this one change alone provides $800 of tax relief.

This year we're beginning a new 10 percent bracket. It lowered the bracket. We're make it easier for low income workers to stay -- take their first steps up the ladder of opportunity. Starting this year, you'll be able to save more of your own money tax free, through education savings accounts, IRA, or 401(k). And I hope you take advantage of it. Saving is good for your families, and saving are important for your future.

You know, one of the interesting things that we discussed today was how these tax relief actually, I mean, benefits people. Sometimes in Washington, it's all theory. And, yet, behind every tax -- every check that went out, there's a true story. Today, the Madsen family shared with us -- where are you, there he is, right behind me, big John -- (applause) -- shared with us -- two beautiful kids -- talked about how tax relief helped them with their mortgage payments. He spoke about owning a home, and how the tax relief helped him do that. It is a fantastic feeling, I know, when you own your home, John.

It was important for the Galvin family to make improvements on the house -- there he is, Tony -- make improvements on the house they brought last August. By the way, they needed to make an improvement on their house because this good couple has got a huge heart, and they're willing to adopt children, to provide them a loving and safe and promising home. And I want to thank them for the love they show for their kids. (Applause.)

Patty Wignall talked about how tax relief helped her purchase school supplies, and clothes for her children. She was wondering whether or not we could crank up the refund checks again. (Laughter.) No. (Laughter and applause.)

But in the code, the code is going to continually change. I want to share with you what's going to happen. By the year 2010, the child credit will increase up to $1,000 per child. It just started this year, to increase. That's good for moms and dads and families. At the same time, the marriage tax will be reduced, and the unfair death tax will be completely abolished.

Small businesses -- maybe some of you all harbor ambition to run your own business. A small business generally pays tax not at the corporate rate, but at the personal income rate, because they're sole proprietorships, or partnerships, or subchapter S corporations. And by reducing the marginal rate on taxes, we encourage the growth of small businesses, which is incredibly important for the future of America. And it's important to make that dream of owning your own small business vibrant and alive and well. And we have done so through tax reform.

Marginal rates will continue to fall, and that's important. And as they do, and when fully phased-in -- I want you to hear these statistics -- 43 million married couples will see their taxes reduced, on average, by more than $1,700 a year. Eleven million single moms will be able to keep an average of $770 more of their income each year, to care for their children. Thirteen million seniors will see their taxes reduced, on average, by more than $900. And 3.9 million Americans will have their federal income tax liability changed forever -- they won't pay taxes.

Tax relief is absolutely right for America. (Applause.) And I believe one of the reasons why we're seeing encouraging signs in the economy is because of tax relief. But we need to do more. My attitude is, so long as somebody is working for work and can't find it, we need to continue making sure we increase jobs. I worry about people worrying about their work. I know that's not the case here in General Mills, because you're a strong, vibrant company.

But there are people out there who are wondering whether or not they're going to get a paycheck tomorrow. There's still some uncertainty in our economy. And besides tax relief, there are things we need and can do. First, in order for the long-term job security of our country, this country needs to have an energy plan. We need to have a plan, because if there is a disruption in supply, it's going to affect jobs. You've got to understand, we import more than 50 percent of our energy from countries around the world.

And I'll be perfectly blunt with you: some of them don't like America. Some of the people sending our energy our way really don't care for us that much. And for the good of our national security, and economic security, we need an energy plan. Now, an energy plan has got to start with encouraging conservation. We can do a better job of conserving energy.

And we must do a better job of developing alternative uses -- for example, a car. I believe that within a -- the lifetime of -- my lifetime, and others here, we'll be driving hydrogen powered cars and trucks; the technology which will enable us to keep our air cleaner, and technologies that will make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

But we've got to do more than just enhance technology. It's going to take a while to get these cars to be ready for the market, and the infrastructure to be able to deal with them. And it's going to take more than just conservation. We need to focus on renewable sources of energy, starting with ethanol, produced right here from corn in Iowa. (Applause.)

And we need to explore for more energy here at home. And we can do so in an environmentally friendly way. And that is what's important, that technology has changed to the point where I can confidently say that exploration for energy in ANWR in Alaska can be done without leaving a footprint that will affect the environment in a negative, harmful way.

Oh, I've heard the propaganda. But let me tell you this: when Saddam Hussein stood up and said he wanted to cut off energy, and we're importing energy from him, it makes sense to me that we'd better, in order to make sure he doesn't hold us hostage, that we'd better figure out a way to explore for more energy at home. (Applause.)

So there's a bill -- one of them came out of the House, and there's one on the floor of the Senate -- would not only promote ethanol, not only promote conservation and encourage the development of technologies that will change our lives in positive ways, but it will also encourage exploration here at home. We need that bill. It's good for economic security for those who work in America, and it's important for our national security, as well.

A second thing we need to do is we need to promote world trade. You know that Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has got more trade per capita than nearly any other city in the United States. Let me tell you what that means. That means when we open up markets for products in the United States, the good people of this city are working because of that. Trade equals jobs, and this nation ought not to be afraid to work hard to open up markets. Listen, we're the best farmers and ranchers in the world, and we ought to be selling our foodstuffs and our meats all across the globe. (Applause.)

In order to make sure that our job base continues to grow, we've got to help small businesses. I just talked about the affect tax relief will have on small businesses. It's a positive part of stimulating growth. Most new jobs in America are created by small business owners. And that's an important fact for people to understand. And so we need regulatory reform, we need health care reforms, we need government contracting reforms to make sure the small business sector continues to grow in America.

In order to make sure the job base remains strong, we've got to make sure our folks are educated. A good education system will mean that people are going to be able to find good work in America. And one of the things we did -- it was Republicans and Democrats, I might want to remind you -- came together and said, public education ought to be a top domestic priority. We passed historic reforms which sets high standards, and at the same time, trusts the governors and local folks to manage the path for excellence. The people who care more about the Iowa children when it comes to education, are Iowans, not people in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

One thing that's pretty interesting to note is that some of these tax reforms are going to expire at the end of 10 years, or in 2011. It's a quirk in the law. I think that doesn't make much sense. It's going to be hard to plan your future. If you think all of a sudden these things get kicked in full time and then go away, they need to make these tax cuts permanent, for the good of the working people in America, for the good of families, for the good of small businesses, for the good of farmers and ranchers, we need to make the tax relief plan permanent in the tax code. (Applause.)

There is a lot of issues facing us. But one of the issues I want to talk quickly about -- not an issue, just -- I want to remind you about -- is that if you want to fight the war against terror, and you're living right here, you want to stand up against evil, love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)

People ask me all the time, people say, what can I do, how can I help? What can I do to make the country I love as strong as it can be? And that is, just do some good in your neighborhood. It is these acts -- millions of acts of kindness and compassion that really define our country. It's the hearts and generous spirit of Americans from all walks of life that will help us stand squarely in the face of evil. When you tell your child you love them, and give them a hug, that's part of making sure the future of the country is as strong as it can be. If you ever walk across the street, and tell a shut-in, what can I do to help you, that is part of defining the great compassion of our country.

I believe 9/11 was a wake-up for America. It made us realize that we're vulnerable, that two oceans no longer separate us from terror, and we've got to do something about it, and we are. But I also know that 9/11 really made us remember what is important in life, that families are important and children are important and loving a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself is incredibly important.

To me, one of the most -- the most meaningful of moment -- or one of the most meaningful moments came when the people on Flight 93 got on the cell phones, on that airplane, and listened to what was taking place on the ground. And they called their loved ones, and they said, I love you. They said a prayer. And they drove the plane into the ground to save somebody else.

It's the American spirit of sacrificing for something greater than ourselves. And that thing greater than ourselves is freedom. And that thing greater than ourselves is a country based upon fabulous values. And that's why it is my honor, not only to be here today, but to be the President of the greatest country on the face of the earth, because of our great people.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 2:50 P.M. CDT