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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 10, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on the Economy in Waite Park, Minnesota
Gruber's Quilt Shop
Waite Park, Minnesota

12:52 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much. Debbie, thank you so much for your kind introduction, and thank you for being here with me today. President Bush and I are fortunate to have Congressman Mark Kennedy and Debbie as our friends, and the President is really happy to have Mark stand by his side in Washington. So I want to urge you to be sure you reelect Mark Kennedy to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

Thanks also to your governor, Governor Tim Pawlenty. Thank you so much, Governor, for being here with me. (Applause.) Thank you for your leadership in Minnesota.

We get to see your governor at the National Governors Association when the governors meet in Washington in the early part of each year. And we know what it's like to get to serve as a governor. It's a really great job and I know he is doing a tremendous job for Minnesota, so thank you very much. (Applause.)

And now I'm looking for Dan Williams, who gave the invocation. Dan, thank you very, very much. Thanks a lot. Thank you also for helping our country. (Applause.)

I'm so happy to be here today to talk about the great work that's going on here in Gruber's Quilt Shop -- and to also talk about the great work my husband is doing as President of the United States. (Applause.)

I'll be on the campaign trail until November 2nd, talking about the President's accomplishments and his vision to move America forward. And, for me, the very best part of the campaign is meeting remarkable people across our country, people who are the heart and soul of America, people like Sue Poser. Sue, thank you so much. (Applause.)

Sue started Gruber's Quilt Shop six years ago, but she actually had shopkeeping in her family for years. Her family had run a general store about 30 miles from here, I think, for several generations. And so Sue followed them as role models and opened this shop six years ago.

I just had the chance to tour it with her, and it's a wonderful place to tour, especially for me, for a woman, to have the chance to tour and see these great fabrics that will make such beautiful quilts and will keep somebody warm. I think that's terrific.

With revenues in the millions, her business is thriving. And because Sue had a chance to pursue her dream of business ownership, 23 people have good jobs that will help support them and their own families. (Applause.) This is a wonderful success story right here in the heartland of America. Sue also shows tremendous personal courage, running a successful business while she battles MS.

Sue and everyone who works here is committed to helping their neighbors. As I toured the shop, I just saw a magnificent quilt that was made by people that worked here and that's being raffled off, with the proceeds going to help retired military women -- women veterans that are retired mainly from World War II. (Applause.) And I'll put in a little plug and I hope you'll buy a raffle ticket -- because when you see it in here, you'll hope you win that raffle. It's really beautiful.

But this is a great example of patriotism and of community spirit. And it's further proof that the strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of compassionate citizens like Sue and her employees.

Like Sue, women entrepreneurs and small business owners are some of the hardest working people in America. With their examples, their example of hard work, integrity and independence, they teach all of us. When it comes to entrepreneurship and job creation, it is increasingly a woman's world. (Applause.)

Ten million women own their own businesses in America, and this sisterhood just keeps on growing. Women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men. And women-owned and equally owned firms employ more than 18 million Americans. They also generate more than $2 trillion in sales. This demonstrates the increasing importance of women-owned firms.

Women are working hard to strengthen their communities and their country. And President Bush is working hard on behalf of women. My husband believes that we should all have an equal opportunity to achieve our dreams, and he has three strong women at home who don't let him forget it. (Applause.)

I'm proud that in my husband's administration, there are more women in senior positions than in any other administration in history. (Applause.) Dr. Condoleezza Rice advises the President on foreign policy and Margaret Spellings is in charge of domestic policy. This means that, in the White House, women are in charge of everything abroad and everything at home -- (laughter) -- which sounds just about right to me. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that empowered women are vital to democracy, and we know that and we've watched it as we look at Afghanistan and other countries where women are denied their rights. And, in fact, in Afghanistan, even denied to go to school -- forbidden to go to school. Can you imagine? That's one of the things I'm really proud of the United States about, and that is little girls are now in school in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

But empowered women are also essential to our economic security. The President has worked closely with a coalition of 25 women's business organizations to ensure that women's voices are heard. His administration has hosted women entrepreneurship summits across the country and has established a website called to provide easy access to business resources.

In the last four years, President Bush has created an economic environment where women entrepreneurs can succeed and small businesses can flourish and grow, and it hasn't been easy. Like Debbie said, we've been through a lot, from recession to terror attacks to corporate scandals. But our economy remains the strongest in the world, thanks to America's small businesses and the President's commitment to tax relief. (Applause.)

Because of tax cuts, 25 million small business owners have each saved an average of $3,000 this year alone. And I don't know if all of you realize that a single-proprietor business is taxed the same as -- with income tax the same way an individual is. So the tax relief plan has really helped single-proprietor businesses and, of course, many of those are women-owned businesses.

The tax relief plan also created new incentives for business owners to invest in machinery or technology by quadrupling the annual expense deduction for equipment. While cuts in the capital gains tax and the taxation of dividends are spurring investments and making it easier for small businesses to raise capital.

Workers are also keeping more of the money they earn. Since 2001, real after-tax incomes have increased by 11 percent. People have more money in their pockets and more opportunities to decide how to spend it. Families are also saving more because the President doubled the child credit. He reduced the marriage penalty and he put the death tax on the road to extinction. (Applause.)

In some families, tax relief means more money to pay the monthly bills. In other families, it means more money to start a college fund for their children or a retirement fund for themselves. These millions of individual decisions are lifting our economy and improving the lives of people around the country.

More Americans than ever before are realizing the dream of home ownership. Minority home ownership is particularly strong. And I'm proud that we've set a new record this year. Now, more than half of all minority families own their own homes. (Applause.) Consumer confidence is at an all-time high, and 1.5 million jobs have been created in the last 11 months.

The record is clear. Because of the President's sound economic policies and the hard work of America's strong businesses, the economy is strong and it's getting stronger. And President Bush has the right plan to make sure the economy continues to grow and to move America forward. The President will not be satisfied until every American who's looking for work can find a job, and until regulations on business are fair and reasonable. The President will not be satisfied until more Americans have affordable health care, until every child learns to read, and until all the workers have the opportunity to compete and succeed in the work force of tomorrow.

President Bush is moving America forward with an economic agenda that meets the needs of Americans. And that starts with making tax relief permanent. (Applause.) He knows that raising taxes now would just put the brakes on our growing economy and he'll urge Congress to keep taxes low. The President will also streamline regulations and paperwork to ensure that federal regulations do not handicap America's entrepreneurs.

President Bush also knows that reliable health care is absolutely vital to our economic security, and to the bottom line. Uninsured Americans are overwhelmingly concentrated in small companies. Small business owners want to take care of their employees and make sure their families receive the best medical care. And yet the cost of health care continues to rise.

That's why the President is taking action to make health care more affordable and more accessible to millions of Americans. He's urging Congress to approve association health plans so that small businesses can pool to buy their insurance coverage for their employees. These plans give small business the same kind of purchasing power and coverage options as large firms.

President Bush also signed a law creating health savings accounts, so that workers can save tax free for routine medical expenses. These accounts provide for a lower-cost health care option that's ideal for small businesses.

And because frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of health care and drive good doctors out of practice, the President will reform the medical liability system and reduce junk lawsuits. (Applause.) His plan will ensure that patients and doctors are in charge of medical decisions, not bureaucrats in Washington or trial lawyers in the courtroom.

President Bush also knows that an educated work force -- and every one of us know this -- is vital to our economic security today and well into the future. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing more money, higher standards and stronger accountability to schools throughout America. Now, we have clear goals for education. Every child should read by the third grade, because reading is the foundation of all other learning in school. We're assessing students' progress every year in elementary school to make sure children don't fall behind. And with a new emphasis on high standards and accountability, every student will graduate high school well prepared for college or the work force.

The President has the right plan to ensure that new graduates and experienced workers have the skills to succeed in the new jobs of the 21st century. He wants to expand math and science education in high schools, and broaden Internet training so that America's workers can compete in a technology-driven world. He's providing more resources to help workers get high-tech training at their own local community colleges.

And President Bush wants to help America's families keep more of something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids, to take care of their parents or to volunteer in their communities. Sue is committed to the goal of giving her employees more time to spend with their families.

Here, the employees have the option of working flexible schedules, and I'm sure that comes in handy when one of their kids needs to go to the doctor or one of them has a game that they don't want to miss. Flexible schedules can be such a benefit for families, but right now, the law has limitations that make it harder for employers to offer flex time or comp time. More flexibility in the workplace will help Americans better manage the demands of work and family, and that will make family stronger.

President Bush will work with Congress to make flex time and comp time more available for Americans. And I have a feeling that many people who could take advantage of flex time would spend that time making a difference in their communities.

As I have traveled around the United States, I have seen how decent and generous Americans are. Compassion and ingenuity is being put to work all over our country to lift up lives. From the mentoring of children of prisoners to bringing meals and friendly conversation to our elderly neighbors, Americans rise to meet every challenge, and we have a boundless capacity to improve the lives of the people around us.

On promoting compassion and service, on strengthening our economy and advancing health care and education, President Bush stands solidly on the side of people who are working hard to make life better for themselves and their neighbors. Thanks to the President's leadership, America is moving forward. (Applause.)

These are hopeful times in our nation. We're moving forward with great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. And these are times that require particularly strong and determined leaders, and I'm proud that my husband is that kind of leader. (Applause.)

Thank you all. Thanks so much for coming out to greet me today. And thank you, Sue, so much for letting us use your business and your life as an example and a role model for all of us, an inspiration for all of us. Thank you. (Applause.)

And thank you, Debbie. Thank you, Debbie and Mark, for the great work you do. And thank you, Governor Pawlenty, and thanks to each one of you. Thank you for your friendship. (Applause.)

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