Promotes Compassionate Conservatism
San Jose, California
April 30, 2002
10:35 A.M. PDT
Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome. I am so grateful for the Commonwealth
Club and the Churchill Club for inviting me here. I appreciate you all coming,
and I appreciate your hospitality.
I want to thank Dr. Gloria Duffy for her generous introduction and for her invitation.
I want to thank Silvia Fernandez, who's the President of the Churchill Club,
for joining the Commonwealth Club to host this event. I want to thank all the
elected officials who are here. I want to thank my fellow citizens for coming.
Whenever I visit California, I'm impressed by the beauty of this state and by
the spirit of the people. Because of its size, the health of the California
economy influences every American. And California has got a culture of optimism
and energy that touches all of us, as well. This is a vital and a vibrant place.
And I'm glad to be back. (Applause.)
The last time I visited San Jose, Silicon Valley was still in an economic boom,
and America was at peace. For many in this valley, and across our country, those
times are a world away. After a recession made worse by a national emergency,
we have seen some good news. Our economy is beginning to grow. Just last week,
we had the good news about strong growth in the first quarter. Yet this vital
region reminds us that a lot of work remains to be done.
Business investment and job creation are not what they should be. We cannot
be content with one quarter's news. We cannot be complacent. My attitude is
that we'll let the statisticians talk about the numbers. But so long as somebody
who wants to work can't find work, that's a problem for America. (Applause.)
We have a great task ahead of us. We must turn our short-term recovery into
long-lasting expansion that reaches every part of our country. Our economy grows
when trade barriers fall. I ask the Senate to join the United States House of
Representatives in giving me what's called trade promotion authority. (Applause.)
It's important to be a confident country. And I'm confident in the ability of
American entrepreneurs and producers to compete in the world. I'm confident
that our farmers and ranchers can compete in the world. And I know American
technology companies are the best in the world. And we must open new markets
so they can sell to the world. (Applause.)
Our economy grows when the tax burden goes down, and stays down. (Applause.)
Much of the growth we have seen this quarter is the result of consumer spending,
fueled by well-timed tax deductions. (Laughter.) To encourage growth in job
creation, we must protect the lower tax rates we've enacted, and we must make
them permanent. (Applause.) And to make sure there is economic vitality around
our country, our government must control its appetite for excessive spending.
Our economy grows entrepreneurs are rewarded for their success, not hounded
by regulations and needless litigation. (Applause.) We must enact reforms that
free entrepreneurs from pointless regulation and endless litigation, and to
restore trust in our economy. Corporate leaders must be held to the highest
ethical standards. (Applause.) And, as your state knows, our economy grows when
we have steady, stable and affordable sources of energy. (Applause.)
In Washington, we must adopt -- finally adopt -- a comprehensive strategy to
conserve more, to produce more, and to deliver the energy that keeps our economy
running. (Applause.) Both Houses have passed an energy -- passed energy legislation.
I expect them to get a bill to my desk soon for the good of American economy
and American jobs. (Applause.) By acting in the above way, we confirm that the
role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create
the conditions for economic growth.
Since I was last here, America has also accepted a great challenge in the world:
to wage a relentless and systematic campaign against global terror. (Applause.)
The security of the American people is the central commitment of the American
government. We are in for a long and difficult war. It will be conducted on
many fronts. But as long as it takes, we will prevail. (Applause.)
In the first phase of our military operation, American and coalition forces
have liberated -- have liberated -- the people of Afghanistan from a barbaric
regime. (Applause.) Our Armed Forces performed with skill and success and honor.
A regime has fallen. Terrorists in that country are now scattered, and the children
of Afghanistan have returned to school, boys and girls. (Applause.) Our work
in that country is not over. We are helping the Afghan people to rebuild their
nation. And in every cave, in every dark corner of that country, we will hunt
down the killers and bring them to justice. (Applause.)
We have entered the next phase of the war, with a sustained international effort,
to rout out terrorists in other countries, and deny al Qaeda the chance to regroup
in other places. Across the world, governments have heard this message: You're
either with us, or you're with the terrorists. (Applause.)
And for the long-term security of America and civilization itself, we must confront
the great threat of biological and chemical and nuclear weapons in the hands
of terrorists or hostile regimes. We will not allow the world's most dangerous
regimes to threaten America or our friends and allies with the world's most
destructive weapons. (Applause.)
History has called us to these responsibilities, and we accept them. America
has always had a special mission to defend justice and advance freedom around
the world. Whatever the difficulties ahead, we are confident about the outcome
of this struggle. Tyranny and terror and lawless violence will not decide the
world's future. As Ronald Reagan said. and as every generation of Americans
has believed, the future belongs to the free. (Applause.)
In a time of war, we reassert the essential values and beliefs of our country.
In the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln pointed toward a new birth of freedom. Leading
America into global war, Franklin D. Roosevelt defined the four freedoms: freedom
of speech and religion, freedom from fear and want. Whenever America fights
for the security of our country, we also fight for the values of our country.
In our time, we will defend the land we love and we will act on the ideals that
gave it birth.
In America, we've not always lived up to our ideals, yet we always reached for
them. We believe that everyone deserves a chance, that everyone has value, that
no insignificant person was ever born. We believe that all are diminished when
any are hopeless. We are one people, committed to building a single nation of
justice and opportunity. (Applause.)
America rejects bigotry. (Applause.) We reject every act of hatred against people
of Arab background or Muslim faith. (Applause.) We reject the ancient evil of
anti-Semitism, whether it is practiced by the killers of Daniel Pearl, or by
those who burn synagogues in France. (Applause.)
America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish,
Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected
here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American
because we're one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America
is one country. (Applause.)
These American ideals of opportunity and equality come to us across the generations.
And they have attracted millions from across the world. Yet there are young
Americans growing up here, under this flag, who doubt the promise and justice
of our country. They live in neighborhoods occupied by gangs and ruled by fear.
They are entitled by law to an education, yet do not receive an education. They
hear talk of opportunity and see little evidence of opportunity around them.
Every American must believe in the promise of America. And to reach this noble,
necessary goal, there is a role for government. America doesn't need more big
government, and we've learned that more money is not always the answer. If a
program is failing to serve people, it makes little difference if we spend twice
as much or half as much. The measure of true compassion is results.
Yet we cannot have an indifferent government either. We are a generous and caring
people. We don't believe in a sink-or-swim society. The policies of our government
must heed the universal call of all faiths to love a neighbor as we would want
to be loved ourselves. We need a different approach than either big government
or indifferent government. We need a government that is focused, effective,
and close to the people; a government that does a few things, and does them
Government cannot solve every problem, but it can encourage people and communities
to help themselves and to help one another. Often the truest kind of compassion
is to help citizens build lives of their own. I call my philosophy and approach
"compassionate conservatism." It is compassionate to actively help
our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility
and on results. And with this hopeful approach, we can make a real difference
in people's lives. (Applause.)
Compassionate conservatism places great hope and confidence in public education.
Our economy depends on higher and higher skills, requiring every American to
have the basic tools of learning. Every public school should be the path of
Yet, sadly enough, many are the dead-end of dreams. Public schools are some
of the most important institutions of democracy. (Applause.) They take children
of every background, from every part of the world, and prepare them for the
obligations and opportunities of a free society. Public schools are Americans
great hope, and making them work for every child is America's great duty.
The new education reforms we have passed in Washington give the federal government
a new role in public education. Schools must meet new and high standards of
performance in reading and math that will be proven on tests and posted on the
Internet for parents and everyone to see. And we're giving local schools and
teachers unprecedented freedom and resources and training to meet these goals.
It is conservative to let local communities chart their own path to excellence.
It is compassionate to insist that every child learns, so that no child is left
behind. (Applause.) By insisting on results, and challenging failure where we
find it, we'll make an incredible difference in the lives of every child in
Compassionate conservatism offers a new vision for fighting poverty in America.
For decades, our nation has devoted enormous resources to helping the poor,
with some great successes to show for it: basic medical care for those in need,
a better life for elderly Americans. However, for millions of younger Americans,
welfare became a static and destructive way of life.
In 1996, we began transforming welfare with time limits and job training and
work requirements. And the nation's welfare rolls have been cut by more than
half. But even more importantly, many lives have been dramatically improved.
One former welfare recipient here in California, happened to be a mother of
a chronically-ill child and the victim of domestic violence, describes her experience
upon leaving welfare. She said, "I feel like an adult again. I have my
We need to continue to fully transform welfare in America. As Congress takes
up welfare reform again in the coming weeks, we must strengthen the work requirements
that prevent dependency and despair. Millions of Americans once on welfare are
finding that a job is more than a source of income. It is a source of dignity.
And by helping people find work, by helping them prepare for work, we practice
Welfare reform must also, wherever possible, encourage the commitments of family.
Not every child has two devoted parents at home -- I understand that. And not
every marriage can, or should be saved. But the evidence shows that strong marriages
are good for children. (Applause.)
When a couple on welfare wants to break bad patterns and start or strengthen
a marriage, we should help local groups give them counseling that teaches commitment
and respect. By encouraging family, we practice compassion.
In overcoming poverty and dependence, we must also promote the work of charities
and community groups and faith-based institutions. These organizations, such
as shelters for battered women or mentoring programs for fatherless children
or drug treatment centers, inspire hope in a way that government never can.
Often, they inspire life-changing faith in a way that government never should.
Our government should view the good Americans that work in faith-based charities
as partners, not rivals. (Applause.) We must provide new incentives for charitable
giving and, when it comes to providing federal resources to effective programs,
we should not discriminate against private and religious groups. (Applause.)
I urge the Senate to pass the faith-based initiative for the good of America.
It is compassionate to aggressively fight poverty in America. It is conservative
to encourage work and community spirit and responsibility and the values that
often come from faith. And with this approach, we can change lives one soul
at a time, and make a real difference in the lives of our citizens.
The same principles of compassion and responsibility apply when America offers
assistance to other nations. Nearly half of the world's people still live on
less than $2 a day. When we help them, we show our values, our belief in universal
human dignity. We serve our interests and gain economic partners. And by helping
the developing nations of the world, we offer an alternative to resentment and
conflict and terror.
Yet the old way of pouring vast amounts of money into development aid without
any concern for results has failed, often leaving behind misery and poverty
and corruption. America's offering a new compact for global development. Greater
aid contributions from America must be and will be linked to greater responsibility
from developing nations. (Applause.)
I have proposed a 50-percent increase in our core development assistance over
the next three budget years. Money that will be placed in a new Millennium Challenge
Account. At the end of this three-year period, the level of our annual development
assistance will be $5 billion higher than current levels.
This is a record amount of spending. And in return for these funds, we expect
nations to rout out corruption, to open their markets, to respect human rights,
and to adhere to the rule of law. And these are the keys to progress in any
nation, and they will be the conditions for any new American aid. (Applause.)
It is compassionate to increase our international aid. It is conservative to
require the hard reforms that lead to prosperity and independence. And with
this approach, we'll make a real difference in the lives of people around the
Compassionate conservatism guides my administration in many other areas. Our
health care policies must help low-income Americans to buy health insurance
they choose, they own and they control. (Applause.) Our environmental policy
set high standards for stewardship, while allowing local cooperation and innovation
to meet those standards. Our housing programs moved beyond rental assistance
to the pride and stability of home ownership. Our reforms in Social Security
must allow and encourage and help working Americans to build up their own asset
base and achieve independence for their retirement years. (Applause.)
All of these policies and all of these areas serve the same vision. We are using
an active government to promote self-government. We're encouraging individuals
and communities and families to take more and more responsibility for themselves,
for their neighbors, for our nation. The aim of these policies is not to spend
more money or spend less money; it is to spend on what works.
The measure of compassion is more than good intentions, it is good results.
Sympathy is not enough. We need solutions in America, and we know where solutions
are found. When schools are teaching, when families are strong, when neighbors
look after their neighbors, when our people have the tools and the skills and
the resources they need to improve their lives, there is no problem that cannot
be solved in America. (Applause.)
By being involved and by taking responsibility upon ourselves, we gain something
else, as well: We contribute to the life of our country. We become more than
taxpayers and occasional voters, we become citizens. Citizens, not spectators.
Citizens who hear the call of duty, who stand up for their beliefs, who care
for their families, who control their lives, and who treat their neighbors with
respect and compassion. We discover a satisfaction that is only found in service,
and we show our gratitude to America and to those who came before us.
In the last seven months, we've been tested, and the struggle of our time has
revealed the spirit of our people. Since September the 11th, we have been the
kind of nation our founders had in mind, a nation of strong and confident and
self-governing people. And we've been the kind of nation our fathers and mothers
defended in World War II; a great and diverse country, united by common dangers
and by common resolve.
We in our time will defend our nation, and we will deliver our nation's promise
to all who seek it. In our war on terror, we are showing the world the strength
of our country, and by our unity and tolerance and compassion, we will show
the world the soul of our country. May God bless America. (Applause.)