The State of the Union
January 20, 2004
In his State of the Union address, President Bush discussed the serious
challenges facing our Nation and the steps we must take to make America a
more secure, more prosperous, and more hopeful country. The President
recognized that, over the last three years, America has come together to
overcome great challenges, and he underscored his faith and confidence in
the American people and our Nation's future. Now the choice is clear -
to move forward on the path to freedom and prosperity, or to turn back.
President Bush laid out ambitious goals for the future, behind which all
Americans can unite, and urged the Nation to move forward with the work
that still needs to be done this year:
- Making America Safer with Decisive Action to Win the War on Terror
- Keeping America on Track for a More Prosperous Future
- Strengthening Health Care for Millions of Americans
- Building a Better and More Compassionate America for All
Making America Safer with Decisive Action to Win the War on Terror
America is safer today because of the decisive action and leadership of
President Bush. Although there has not been a successful attack on our
homeland in 28 months, the President will not allow the nation to return
to a sense of false security and complacency. He called for continued
action at home and abroad to defeat the terrorists and pursuit of a
forward strategy of freedom to promote democracy throughout the Middle
- America continues to wage a relentless campaign against
terrorists who threaten our country. In this war, America is taking the
offensive - denying terrorists refuge; identifying, blocking, and seizing
their finances; and holding terrorists and their sponsors to account. We
have captured almost two-thirds of the known Al-Qaida leaders, including
the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
- Afghanistan, once ruled by the brutal Taliban regime that
sheltered Al-Qaida, has adopted a new constitution and is following the
path of democracy, including providing fundamental rights to women.
- Libya has now pledged to disclose and dismantle all of its
weapons of mass destruction programs.
- In Iraq, Saddam Hussein has been overthrown and captured, and the
enemies of freedom are being systematically routed from their hiding
places and rounded up. Iraqis are assuming greater responsibility for
their own security and future government, and America and more than 30
nations are helping the Iraqi people make the transition to full
sovereignty by the end of June. Although it is hard work, we will stand
by them as they complete the transition to democracy.
- The President called on Congress to renew the USA PATRIOT Act,
which provides law enforcement officials with essential tools needed to
track down terrorists. The USA PATRIOT Act allows investigators and
prosecutors to use laws originally designed to prosecute embezzlers and
drug traffickers to bring international terrorists to justice - enabling
Federal law enforcement to better share information, track terrorists,
disrupt their cells, and seize their assets.
- The President recognizes that different threats require different
strategies. He is working with other nations to ensure that North Korea
and Iran abandon their nuclear ambitions and join the world community in
preventing the spread of dangerous weapons.
- America's actions will result in the spread of democracy in the
Middle East - an important step that will provide an alternative to
terror and violence. To further encourage the progress of democracy,
President Bush is calling for a doubling of support for the National
Endowment for Democracy, and focusing its new work on the development of
free elections, free markets, free press, and free labor unions in the
Keeping America on Track for a More Prosperous Future
The last three years have revealed the fundamental strengths of America's
economy. Despite the unprecedented economic shocks of recession, the
September 11 attacks, corporate scandals, and war, America's economy is
on track for recovery and sustained job creation.
Helping Americans Access High-Demand Jobs:
- The tax relief proposed and signed into law by President Bush was
the right action at the right time for our economy. This tax relief
doubled the child tax credit; reduced the marriage penalty; phased out
the death tax; lowered taxes on capital gains, stock dividends, and small
businesses to create incentives for job creation; and lowered taxes for
every American who pays income taxes.
- The results of this decisive action are clear. Economic growth
in the 3rd quarter of 2003 and new home construction were the highest in
almost 20 years; homeownership levels are at historic highs;
manufacturing activity is increasing; inflation and interest rates are
low; and a quarter million jobs were created in the last half of 2003.
- President Bush called on Congress to secure these positive
economic trends for the future by making the tax relief permanent - so
families and businesses can plan and invest with confidence.
America's economy is growing,
but it is also changing due to higher productivity and new technology.
It is more important than ever that Americans have the education and
training needed to succeed. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing
important reforms to America's schools by insisting on standards and
accountability for results. There are substantial resources available to
implement these reforms, and President Bush will fight any effort to undo
Sustaining Economic Growth:
- Many older students and current workers will also need to
strengthen their skills to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. President
Bush proposed more than $500 million for a series of measures called Jobs
for the 21st Century - designed to provide extra help to middle and high
school students who fall behind in reading and math, expand Advanced
Placement programs in low-income schools, and invite math and science
professionals from the private sector to teach part-time in high
- The President's Jobs for the 21st Century initiative also
increases support for America's community colleges to train workers for
the industries that are creating the most new jobs. The initiative will
also provide larger Pell Grants for low-income students who prepare for
college with demanding courses in high school.
To help sustain America's economic recovery,
President Bush called on Congress to protect employers from junk
lawsuits, ensure an affordable and reliable supply of energy, and give
younger workers an opportunity to set aside a portion of their Social
Security taxes in personal retirement accounts. He also called for a
reduction in burdensome and needless Federal regulations on employers.
He also underscored his commitment to fiscal responsibility by announcing
that his FY 2005 budget will hold discretionary spending growth to less
than 4%, keeping America on track to cut the deficit in half in five
years. And, he asked Congress to reform our immigration laws to reflect
America's values while benefiting our economy.
Strengthening Health Care for Millions of Americans:
urged Congress to extend the benefits of modern medicine throughout our
country and take action to help control the rising costs of medical care
and give more Americans access to health insurance.
Strengthening Medicare: Just last month, President Bush signed
legislation to strengthen Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit,
keeping a commitment to seniors to help them afford the medicines they
Increasing Health Care Affordability and Coverage:
- Starting this year, seniors can choose to receive a drug discount
card that will save 10-25% off the retail price of most prescription
drugs - and millions of low-income seniors can get an additional $600 to
- Beginning next year, seniors will have new coverage for
preventive screenings against diabetes and heart disease, and seniors
just entering Medicare can receive wellness exams.
- In January of 2006, seniors can get prescription coverage under
Medicare. For a modest monthly premium, most seniors who do not have
prescription drug coverage could see their drug bills cut roughly in
half. Seniors will be able to keep Medicare just as it is today, or
choose the Medicare plan that fits them best - similar to the health care
choices offered to Members of Congress.
- President Bush will veto any effort to take this prescription
drug coverage away from seniors or limit their choices.
President Bush is
concerned about the rising cost of health care and helping Americans to
afford health care coverage that best meets their needs. The President
rejects the notion of a government-run health care system as some have
proposed. He outlined a series of steps for making health insurance more
affordable and accessible, including:
- Enabling small businesses to band together and negotiate for
lower insurance rates, covering more workers with health insurance,
through Association Health Plans.
- Giving lower-income Americans a refundable tax credit so millions
can buy their own basic health insurance coverage.
- Computerizing health records to reduce costs, improve care, and
lower the risk of medical mistakes.
- Eliminating frivolous medical lawsuits that damage the
doctor-patient relationship and keep good doctors from doing their good
- Allowing individuals who buy catastrophic health care coverage as
part of their new Health Savings Accounts to deduct 100% of the premium
from their taxes.
Building a Better and More Compassionate America for All
- During this time of great change in our nation, the President
spoke to the importance of preserving the timeless values and vital
institutions that continue to make America strong-like families, schools,
and religious congregations.
- The President proposed several new steps to help young Americans
make responsible choices.
- Drug use in high school has declined by 11 percent over the past
two years, and 400,000 fewer young people are using illegal drugs than in
2001. The President's FY 05 budget will include new funding to continue
our aggressive, community-based strategy to reduce demand for illegal
drugs - as well as an increase of $23 million for schools that want to
use drug testing as a tool to save children's lives.
- To ensure that role models do not send the wrong message about
substance abuse to millions of American children, the President called on
America's professional sports leagues and their unions to take decisive
action to address the problem of performance-enhancing drugs.
- At a time when 3 million American teenagers contract sexually
transmitted diseases each year, the President proposes a new grassroots
health campaign to inform teens and parents of the risks - and a doubling
of Federal funding for abstinence education programs.
- Defending the Sanctity of Marriage: The President emphasized his
belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, and he called for a
defense of the sanctity of marriage against activist judges who are
attempting to redefine marriage by court order without listening to the
voices of the people or their elected representatives. He will stand
behind the Defense of Marriage Act and called for a civil dialogue on
this important issue.
- Faith- and Community-Based Groups: The President is fully
committed to empowering more of America's faith- and community-based
charities to address some of our toughest social problems and help those
most in need. He proposes to codify the executive order he signed that
ends Federal discrimination against these groups. And he announced a new
plan to bring local and faith-based groups together with Federal agencies
to help recently released prisoners make a successful transition back to
society - reducing the chance that they will be arrested again. This
4-year, $300 million initiative will provide transitional housing, basic
job training, and mentoring.
President Bush described the state of our Union as confident and strong
and urged all Americans to move forward and complete the important work
"The President shall from time to time give to Congress
information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration
such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution
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