For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 22, 2005
Fact Sheet: President Bush's Accomplishments in 2005
A Week Of Accomplishments
The President Will Work With Congress To Complete Reauthorization Of The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is a key part of America's efforts to combat terrorism and protect the American people. The Patriot Act has enhanced information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence personnel and has provided critical tools to find and catch terrorists - tools that have been used for years to investigate other crimes such as organized crime and drug dealing. The President looks forward to continuing to work with Congress on reauthorization.
Congress Took Action To Reduce Government Spending. Both the House and Senate made a fiscally responsible vote to cut spending by $39.7 billion and keep the government on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. This will also be the first time in nearly a decade that Congress has reduced entitlement spending. This demonstrates a strong commitment to funding the Nation's priorities while ensuring that taxpayer money is spent wisely.
President Bush Signed The "Gulf Opportunity Zone Act Of 2005." To further spur economic growth, the President proposed - and Congress passed - provisions for a Gulf Opportunity Zone, with tax relief and loans to be provided to businesses and entrepreneurs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
President Bush Signed The "Stem Cell Therapeutic And Research Act Of 2005." This legislation creates a new Federal program to collect and store cord blood and expands the current bone marrow registry program to also include cord blood.
President Bush Is Committed To Winning The War On Terror
The United States Is Advancing Democracy Around The World. To win the War on Terror, the United States is supporting the growth of democratic movements and institutions that offer an alternative to the hatred and fear espoused by the terrorists. Millions turned out to vote in Iraq and Afghanistan after decades of tyranny, and Afghanistan inaugurated its new freely and fairly elected legislature just this past week. This year, the world has witnessed democratic revolutions in Georgia, Lebanon, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. By advancing the cause of liberty and freedom, America is giving millions an alternative to intolerance and violence and ensuring security for future generations.
The United States Is Pursuing A Comprehensive Strategy For Victory In Iraq. To strengthen security, the Coalition and Iraqi security forces are clearing out areas controlled by the enemy, working with Iraqi forces to hold that territory, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives. America is helping Iraqis build inclusive democratic institutions that protect all Iraqis, engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq and marginalize those who never will. The Coalition is working with Iraqis to help them build capable and effective Iraqi security forces so that Iraqis can secure their own country. Economically, America is helping the Iraqis restore infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the economic framework that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq.
Iraq Has Made Tremendous Political Progress. In just over two-and-a-half years, Iraqis have gone from living under a brutal tyrant to liberation, free elections, and a democratic constitution. Just this past week, over 10 million Iraqis voted to elect the only constitutional democratic government in the Arab world. The Iraqi people are sending a message they will not be intimidated and will determine their own destiny. By helping Iraqis build their democracy, the United States will gain an ally in the War on Terror, inspire reformers across the Middle East, and make the American people more secure.
America Is Fighting Terrorism And Safeguarding The Homeland. Defeating a broad and adaptive terrorist network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong allies. Working with these partners, the United States is disrupting conspiracies to attack Americans, destroying the terrorists' ability to wage war, and stopping proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To defend the homeland, the Administration is working to reform the intelligence services and the FBI, training more first responders, and disrupting terrorist cells in our midst with tools like the Patriot Act. The United States is hunting down the terrorists in the shadows before they can attack this country again.
The President Nominated The First Director Of National Intelligence (DNI). President Bush signed into law the landmark Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which overhauls the intelligence community, mandating a range of reforms and centralizing in one office key authorities. The DNI serves as President Bush's principal intelligence advisor and the leader of the Intelligence Community. The first DNI, Ambassador John Negroponte, was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in this past April.
President Bush Released The National Strategy For Pandemic Influenza. The President outlined the Nation's strategy to detect outbreaks, expand domestic vaccine production capacity, stockpile treatments, prepare to respond to a pandemic, and ensure the health and safety of all Americans. The Administration's ongoing implementation of the National Strategy will ensure a coordinated and effective Federal response and close cooperation with international partners and state, local, and tribal governments.
President Bush Is Combating The Spread Of WMD. The President has made clear that WMD in the hands of terrorists represents a grave threat, and he has taken aggressive steps on multiple fronts to limit access to - and prevent the use of - WMD materials or weapons by terrorists. The Administration has established the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, led efforts at the United Nations to adopts UNSCR 1540, freeze assets of WMD proliferators, established the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, worked with overseas partners to combat proliferation, and developed a comprehensive plan with Russia to secure all nuclear material in Russia two years ahead of schedule.
President Bush Proposed A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Plan To Enhance America's Homeland Security. The President has outlined efforts to secure the border, prevent illegal crossings, and strengthen enforcement of immigration laws. The President also proposes to take pressure off the border by creating a Temporary Worker Program that meets the economy's demands while rejecting amnesty for those who break America's laws.
President Bush Is Advancing His Agenda To Maintain A Strong And Vibrant Economy
The Economy Is Growing And Creating Jobs. Since May 2003, the economy has added nearly 4.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent - lower than the average for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Last quarter, the economy grew at 4.1 percent and has been growing steadily for more than two years. More Americans now own their homes, and minority home ownership is near record highs. Real disposable income is up, and consumers are confident. New orders for durable goods have risen sharply, and shipments of manufactured goods are up. Over the past four-and-a-half years, productivity has grown at its fastest rate since the 1960s, and small businesses are thriving.
Cutting The Deficit. Each year the President has been in office, the rate of growth of non-security discretionary spending has been cut.
President Bush Calls On Congress To Restrain Spending. Last February, the President submitted the most disciplined budget proposal since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Congress has cut non-security discretionary spending and mandatory spending. The President's plan proposed to terminate or reduce more than 150 government programs, and Congress is poised to deliver savings on about 90 of these proposals.
We Remain On Track To Cut The Budget Deficit In Half By 2009. By continuing spending restraint and pro-growth economic policies, we will stay on track to meet the President's goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009
President Bush Has Called On Congress To Make Tax Relief Permanent. The President's tax relief, which is helping to grow the economy, will expire unless Congress acts. To maintain growth, there has to be certainty in the tax code, workers need to keep more of their paychecks, and Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent.
President Bush Signed Into Law The First National Energy Plan In More Than A Decade. The energy bill makes an unprecedented commitment to energy conservation and efficiency by promoting smarter technology; helps make cleaner and more productive use of our existing energy resources; and helps diversify energy supply by promoting alternative and renewable energy sources. The bill also helps promote needed investment in energy infrastructure. This is a good first step toward a more affordable and reliable supply of energy for American consumers.
President Bush Signed Into Law The Highway Bill. The highway bill will provide funding and flexibility for states to modernize America's network of roads, bridges, and mass transit systems, without raising gas taxes. With this multi-year funding bill in place, vital new transportation projects will proceed, which will make driving safer, ease congestion, and ensure that the Nation's transportation system keeps pace with our rapidly expanding economy.
President Bush Signed The Central America And Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) To Level The Playing Field For U.S. Workers And Open New Markets For American Goods. CAFTA-DR immediately eliminates tariffs on nearly 80 percent of U.S. exports to participating nations and is expected to generate billions of dollars in increased sales of U.S. goods and farm exports. This will help keep jobs in the United States and make American workers better able to compete. Also, with passage of CAFTA-DR, the United States supports stability and prosperity in the region, which will make Americans safer here at home.
The President Challenged The International Community To Help Developing Nations Through Free Trade. The international community must work together in the Doha negotiations to eliminate agricultural subsidies that distort trade and stunt development and also to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to open markets for farmers around the world. The United States has proposed to eliminate all trade-distorting tariffs, subsidies, and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same. This is key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations - and to promoting prosperity and opportunity for all nations.
The President's Initiatives Are Spreading Opportunity To Developing Nations. The President has encouraged developing countries to take primary responsibility and ownership for their own development through good governance, the rule of law, and sound economic policies, as well as by cultivating domestic and private resources in development. He has supported these goals through bold new programs, including the Millennium Challenge Account, which rewards developing countries that fight corruption and implement sound policies; the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, $15-billion effort that is providing hope throughout the developing world; and multilateral debt relief, which will provide 100-percent debt cancellation and a path towards the private capital markets for qualifying heavily indebted poor countries.
President Bush Nominated Ben Bernanke To Serve As Chairman Of The Federal Reserve Board Of Governors. Dr. Bernanke is a leading monetary policy expert, respected for his work as Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, as a former Governor of the Federal Reserve, and as a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. His enormous credibility will give confidence to the financial markets and win him the respect of economists and investors alike.
The President Nominated Well-Qualified Candidates To The U.S. Supreme Court
The President Nominated, And The Senate, Confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts. During his confirmation hearings, members of the Senate and the American people saw a nominee of exceptional integrity, deep humility, uncommon talent, experience, and character. Americans are confident that as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts will be prudent in exercising judicial power, firm in defending judicial independence, and a faithful guardian of the Constitution.
President Bush Nominated Judge Samuel Alito To Serve As Associate Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Alito has the keen intellect, impartiality, temperament, sound legal judgment, and integrity necessary to serve on the Supreme Court. As a Federal judge, he has a record of strictly interpreting the law. He has more judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in the past 70 years. The President knows the Senate will recognize Judge Alito's mastery of the law, deep commitment to justice and equality, great personal character, and he urges the Senate confirm him by January 20 to be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Bush Has Worked With Congress To Pass Legislation Important To The American People
President Bush Signed The Patient Safety And Quality Improvement Act Of 2005. President Bush signed into law a patient safety bill to improve health care by reducing medical errors. It also establishes a voluntary system to report health care errors. By giving patient safety organizations the ability to analyze past medical mistakes, this legislation will help prevent future mistakes and will improve the quality of care and lower costs for patients nationwide.
The President Signed Class Action Reform To Curb Lawsuit Abuse. The class action reform signed into law last February by President Bush will help reduce lawsuit abuse in our country and ease the burden of needless litigation on every American worker, business, and family. In particular, it helps prevent abusive class action lawsuits that result in large fees for lawyers and minimal awards for injured parties. President Bush is urging Congress to pass other legal reform measures, including medical liability and asbestos litigation reforms.
President Bush Signed Bankruptcy Reform Legislation That Makes The System Fairer For Creditors And Debtors. Under this law, Americans who have the ability to pay will be required to pay back at least part of their debts. This practical reform will help ensure debtors make a good-faith effort to repay as much as they can afford. This will make credit more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Is Working. As a result of NCLB, standards are higher, national test scores are on the rise, and minority students have made progress toward closing the achievement gap. On this year's National Assessment of Educational Progress, fourth-grade reading scores were six points higher than in 2000, and fourth- and eighth-grade math scores were the highest in the test's history. Between 2000 and 2005, scores for African-American students for fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade math have increased - and the gap between white and African-American students in those categories has decreased during that time.
President Bush's New Medicare Coverage Will Ensure That Everyone On Medicare Has Better Choices. The new Medicare law provides preventative care, prescription drug coverage for the first time, and more choices. In November, seniors began enrolling for the new prescription drug benefit that takes effect on January 1, 2006. All Medicare drug plans offer more and better choices and help low-income beneficiaries.
Congress Is Acting To Extend Welfare Reform. Both the Senate and House have agreed to extend provisions of welfare reform set to expire at the end of December and strengthen work requirements for welfare recipients.
The President Is Acting To Help The Gulf Coast Recover From Natural Disaster
The President And Congress Have Acted To Provide Resources For Hurricane Recovery. Since Hurricane Katrina struck, more than $70 billion has been made available for Gulf hurricane recovery efforts through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, low-interest loans to local governments, flood insurance, and funding relief from cost-share requirements.
President Bush Is Working To Make The New Orleans Levee System Better And Stronger. The President is focused on the safety and security of the citizens of New Orleans and is committed to providing the resources necessary for them to return home and rebuild their lives. The additional levee protections the Administration is proposing - including armoring, closing the three interior canals, and installing state-of-the-art pump stations - will address the main causes of the catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina.
The Administration Is Helping Hurricane Evacuees Find Housing. FEMA has provided rental assistance to more than 650,000 households to date and remains committed to providing families with the tools they need to become self-sufficient again. FEMA continues to reach out to those who have not yet found longer-term housing. For these evacuees, FEMA will continue payment for hotel rooms through January 7, 2006, or longer.
The Government Is Providing Education Assistance To States And Schools. The Department of Education is working with States and schools in the region and elsewhere to ensure a minimum of disruption for the hundreds of thousands of students affected by Hurricane Katrina. The President has proposed aid to affected states and to school districts taking in evacuated students, payments to States to enable displaced children to enroll in schools of their choice, and assistance to post-secondary institutions, students, and borrowers.
The Federal Government Is Helping The States Remove Debris. Nearly 56 million cubic yards of debris have been removed in AL, TX, MS, and LA. FEMA reimbursed the states at 100 percent for this expense for a month or longer in Alabama and Texas. This week, the President extended full Federal reimbursement for Louisiana until June 30, 2006, and for Mississippi until March 15, 2006.
The Federal Government Acted Aggressively To Ensure Energy Supply. Following the hurricanes, President Bush directed all Federal agencies to minimize possible shocks to the economy. The Department of Energy made crude oil available from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, ensuring continuity of energy supplies. The International Energy Agency agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil and gasoline. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff temporarily waived the Jones Act, allowing foreign-flagged ships to transport fuel between U.S. ports and import oil from Europe. The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Transportation eased regulatory rules to increase flexibility and availability of fuel supplies by waiving winter/summer blend requirements and rules for dyed diesel fuel. The Administration worked with private firms to restore the Gulf Coast's energy infrastructure. These actions have ensured a continuity of energy supplies to drivers, families, consumers, and small businesses.
The President Called On Americans To Help Those In The Gulf Coast Region. USA Freedom Corps created a nationwide information clearinghouse allowing individuals, businesses, schools, groups, and families to connect with volunteer opportunities to help families in the Gulf Coat. To date, American companies and individuals have combined to donate nearly $2.9 billion for relief, recovery, and reconstruction. Former Presidents Bush and Clinton have led a private fundraising effort that has already received pledges of more than $100 million to aid the Gulf Coast's recovery. Americans who want to contribute or volunteer can in the Gulf Coast can find more information at www.usafreedomcorps.gov.