Action on Economic Plan
Parkrose High School
January 5, 2002
3:15 P.M. PST
Well, thank you all very much for such a gracious and warm welcome. It's nice
to be back here in Oregon. (Applause.) I'm impressed by the Mighty Ducks, they're
awfully good. (Applause.) I wasn't a believer, now I am. (Laughter and applause.)
They're good. Of course, they gave my Texas boys a good lesson last year, as
I recall. (Laughter.)
But thanks for coming out on a Saturday afternoon to say hello. I was earlier
in California and then I'm here; went to a community college. You've got a wonderful
community college here in the Portland area, which is worried about helping
people find work. And I went by and saw the good instructors there that are
trying to help people help themselves.
And I come in here to be able to share some thoughts with you. And then I'm
going to hustle on home for dinner. (Laughter.) Right there in Crawford, Texas.
I want to thank Katie Harman for being here. (Applause.) It was a pleasure to
meet your mayor. Mayor Katz, thank you for coming; it's very gracious for you
to be here today. (Applause.)
I picked a good man from Portland to represent us in New Zealand, that's my
friend, Butch Swindells, who is now the Ambassador to New Zealand. (Applause.)
I spent a little time with some people that work for a company called INFOCUS,
which is a company -- (applause). John, it sounds like you packed the crowd.
(Laughter.) Either that, or you've got a big family. (Laughter.) But I want
to thank John Harker and his team for coming to talk to me about how best they
think we can stimulate growth. I want to thank them for employing people in
this part of the world; for trying to figure out how to grow their economy;
for worrying about their work force, as well as making a quality product.
I'm going to share some thoughts that John shared with me in a little bit. But
I do want to thank you for coming.
I also want to thank my friends, Senator Gordon Smith and Greg Walden. They
were hitch-hiking in California and they needed -- (laughter.) They were looking
for a free ride and Air Force One happened to be available. (Laughter.) But
they did fly down with me. I'm impressed by these two good men.
We spent a lot of time talking about Oregon. They're deeply concerned about
the fact that a lot of people aren't working. I am, too. They're deeply concerned
about the fact that parts of your state are not being treated very well. (Applause.)
We spent time talking about the Klamath Basin. (Applause.) I share their concern
about people who make a living off the land. And I told these two good men that
we'll do everything we can to make sure water is available for people who farm.
I also want to thank two of the Congressmen from this area, Earl Blumenauer
and Darlene Hooley, for being here, as well. Thank you so much for coming; I
appreciate you being here. (Applause.) I know you had better things to do on
Saturday afternoon, and here you are, stuck with me. (Laughter.) Thanks for
coming, it means a lot.
You know, there were some -- some of the things that are happening in Washington,
I expected. And there was one thing that happened was not expected. It's been
a heck of a year. (Laughter.) I will tell you, before I get into the expected
and unexpected, I believe 2002 is going to be a fabulous year for America. (Applause.)
I remember meeting with business leaders in Austin, Texas -- this is before
I began heading north to become sworn-in as your President -- and there was
deep concern about the economy then. A year ago December, people were saying,
this economy is soft and we're going to be in for a rough ride. It was not unexpected
to see the economic slow-down. And I want to share some thoughts with you about
how we can reverse the trend. Although I'm optimistic about our economy, there
are some numbers coming out that appear that things are getting a little better.
The unemployment rate is 5.8 percent. But if you're unemployed, it's 100 percent,
and I'm worried about that. (Applause.)
The unexpected, obviously, was September the 11th, when evil people decided
to attack America. I say "evil people" because I don't view this as
a religious war. I view this as a struggle of good versus evil. And, make no
mistake about it, good will prevail. (Applause.)
We are making steady progress in the first theater on the war against terror.
We have made it clear to people that we weren't going to allow the injustice
done to America to stand. And that if anybody harbored these people or fed them
or clothed them or tried to provide them help, they were just as guilty as the
terrorists were. (Applause.)
These people are like parasites and they find a host. And for those of you who
ranch, you understand what a parasite can do to the host cow, for example. Too
many parasites weaken the host. What happened was, was that they became parasites
in Afghanistan. But we weaken the host: the Taliban no longer is in power. (Applause.)
And as a result, this great nation should be proud of the fact that we led a
coalition that liberated women and children. (Applause.) A coalition that brought
down a government that was so incredibly repressive it's hard for those of us
who live in America to understand. Some of my finest memories thus far of this
war against terror was the joy that came on people's faces when they realized
that the Taliban would no longer hold them hostage to an outdated, outmoded,
dictatorial point of view. (Applause.)
I am so proud of our country. I'm proud of the fact that at the same time that
we waged a war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, we fed the people. I read an
important headline the other day, that it said it looked like we avoided a terrible
disaster by providing food for thousands of people in Afghanistan. While we
dropped bombs, we also dropped food and medicine and clothing to make sure that
the innocents in Afghanistan could survive the brutal winter in that part of
the world. We're a great nation. (Applause.)
We're making steady progress -- and I use the word "steady" because
sometimes it seems like there is a certain impatience in the airwaves. But I
don't believe there's an impatience amongst the American people. As a matter
of fact, I think the American people are very patient. They understand this
is a difficult assignment. And they understand, like I do, that we've got to
be patient in order to be successful.
But we've accomplished a lot in 90 days. That's not a very long period of time.
It's been a long period of time for al Qaeda -- (laughter) -- but it hasn't
been a very long period of time for us. (Applause.)
The reason we've had, we've got a good strategy and we've got a great military.
For those of you who serve in our military, or for those of you whose sons or
daughters or relatives serve in the military, thank you. (Applause.)
But I do want to remind our fellow citizens that we're now in a dangerous phase
of this war in Afghanistan. Because those who are willing to send young people
to their suicide death hide in caves, themselves, to save their own skin. And
I told the world, just like I told the American people, you can hide, but we
will smoke you out and bring you to justice. (Applause.)
I'm so sorry to report the Sergeant Nathan Chapman lost his life yesterday.
But I wanted -- I want Sergeant Chapman's family to know that the cause for
which he died is just and noble, the cause of freedom and the hope that our
children and grandchildren will be able to grow up in a world that is free of
the barbaric behavior of terrorism. (Applause.)
We're on a mission and we will not yield until the mission is complete. The
war against terror is broader than just Afghanistan. And that is exactly what
I have made clear to members of the vast coalition which we have put together.
I said there are no shades of grey in this fight for civilization; there are
no shades of grey. Either you're with the United States of America or you're
against the United States of America. (Applause.)
I'm sure there were some people who were anxious to sit on the fence for a while.
But what they've come to realize is that this nation, when aroused, is a mighty
nation; a nation that when we make up our mind we're going to do something,
we're going to do it. We're going to shake terrorism loose wherever it exists
and bring those to justice who have hurt America, and bring those to justice
who might hurt America.
Let me tell you that part of this war is overseas, but part of it is here at
home. My biggest job as your President is to make sure no one harms the American
people. My biggest job is to rally the resources of this country and have a
homeland defense that will take every lead, every idea, every hint that somebody
may harm us and rout them out and give them a chance to protect America and
give them a chance to make this land secure.
And if we find somebody who wants to harm America, who espouses the philosophy
that's terrorist and bent, I can assure you we will bring that person to justice.
(Applause.) This nation is on alert, and it should be.
But one of the things we're not going to let the terrorists do is to cause us
not to behave like Americans and enjoy our freedoms, and enjoy our neighborhoods
and enjoy travel and enjoy the great wonders of our country. They think they
can shut us down, they've got the wrong country they're dealing with. (Applause.)
There is a new spirit in this country, and a unity that is so powerful and so
real that even a fellow who is hermetically sealed in the White House can feel
it. (Laughter.) I am proud of the nation.
And we should not respond one way abroad and have a different attitude about
issues that face us at home. Here's what I think. I think it's time for Congress
to focus on what's best for America and not political parties. (Applause.) I
believe we need to set priorities and get positive things done.
I'm getting ready to sign an education bill on Tuesday. (Applause.) My friends
in Midland, Texas will not believe it when they turn on C-SPAN or one of these
other channels, because I am going to stand up and say to the nation, one, this
is a good piece of legislation and, two, I want to thank Senator Ted Kennedy
for working on it with me. (Applause.)
He's done a fine job. It shows what's possible when you set aside -- listen,
I'm a proud party man, but I'm American first, and that's what we ought to be
dealing with when it comes to legislation. (Applause.) And there are troubling
signs that some in the nation's capital want to go back to the old ways. And
I don't think we ought to let them do that.
I think we ought to focus on what's good for the country. And take the issue
of the economy. Like yourselves, I'm deeply concerned about the fact that Oregon
leads the country when it comes to unemployment. And we've got to do something
about that. First, my principle is this, in tough times people need an unemployment
check -- but for the long-term, what they need is a paycheck and we've got to
figure out how to get jobs going. (Applause.)
I think it's very important for us to extend unemployment benefits, including
monies to help people pay for their health care, for those whose lives were
affected on 9/11. I think it's very important for our country to do this. I
know there is the will to get that done in Washington, D.C. It makes sense that
we help people.
I met with the people in the community college today -- a chemical engineer
and an electrical engineer who were reliant upon the high-tech world to make
a living. They got laid off. They need these benefits so they can help themselves
and be prepared when the economy recovers.
But any economic stimulus plan must also expand the job base. We ought to be
asking ourselves, what does it take to increase more jobs, so people can find
work. And that starts with understanding that the biggest job creators in America
are the small business and entrepreneurs of America. (Applause.)
I mentioned that last winter -- we got the indications that the economy was
slowing down. And that's one of the reasons I fought so hard for tax relief.
Because I understand that if the economy is growing down -- slowing down, the
best thing to do is to give people their own money back. The best thing to do
-- (applause) -- is because the government doesn't create wealth, the government
creates an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish. (Applause.)
There is an amazing new kind of economic theory working its way through Washington,
and it said that tax relief causes recessions. (Laughter.) I'm not exactly sure
what economic book that came out of, but if you want to get your way out of
a recession, you provide tax relief. The worst thing you can do -- the worst
thing you can do is raise taxes in a recession. And, yet, some in Washington,
D.C., are talking about getting rid of the tax cuts. I can't think of anything
worse for growing our economy.
The answer to those who want to raise taxes is no, you're not going to raise
Most small businesses are sole proprietorships or, perhaps, a limited partnership.
And when you cut personal income taxes, you're really affecting the ability
of small businesses to grow. The question we ought to ask is how do you expand
the job base?
I spent time with John and the people of his good company. I like the idea of
providing incentives to encourage corporate America to make investments in capital
which is equal to jobs eventually. We ought to have an economic stimulus package
that says let's create more jobs for the American people, and we ought to get
on about the American people's business -- put politics aside and come together
and do what's right for this country. (Applause.)
We have the ingredients for a plan. There's a bill that came out of the House;
there was one that could have come out of the Senate -- the votes were there.
And so I just hope some of the senators that kind of stood in the way of getting
an economic plan done listen to the people and hear the voices of the people
and come back and do what's right for the country. (Applause.)
I'll tell you something about America. The people are the true strength of this
country. And we can talk about government all we want to talk about, but the
thing that makes this country great is our people. I have been so proud of the
American people. I love the stories that had to do with the aftermath of September
the 11th. When they heard that women of cover, women of the Muslim faith were
worried about going outside their home because somebody might take severe action
against them -- Jewish women and Christian women in the suburb of Detroit called
up on the phone and said, we want to help you go to the store, we want to provide
whatever comfort we can so you can go about your lives.
That's the America I know. And that's the America I love. (Applause.)
It's been an amazing event, series of events that have taken place. One of the
most heartening things for me is to know that thousands of Americans are reassessing
their values. Moms and dads are asking what they can do to be better parents.
That as a result of the evil-doer, not only are we responding militarily and
not only have we put this broad coalition together that says we'll rid the world
of terror, but here at home people are saying, gosh, let me reassess my life.
It's so important for moms and dads to know that the most important job they
will ever have is to love their children with all their heart and all their
I'm so pleased to report to you that the great fabric of the country, in terms
of helping people, exists because of faith-based institutions regardless of
their religion. All across neighborhoods in America, that people are asking
the question, what can I do to help. That the great mosaic of America is made
up of the millions of acts of kindness which takes place every single day.
September the 11th was an attack on our country, but it didn't affect our heart,
it didn't affect our soul.
My great hope for the year 2002 is that people who want to work can find a job.
My hope is that our military is safe in their mission. I understand the war
on terror is going to beyond probably 2002. I have no unrealistic aspirations
about a calendar, a quick calendar.
But my true hope, as well, is that the great compassion of America and the value
system that has made us so different and so unique continues to be vibrant and
strong; that people, when they want to know how to help America, turn to a neighbor
in need and say, I want to help; to provide comfort for a child who may need
a loving mentor; to say to somebody elderly on your block, gosh, I want to provide
That's the great -- that's my hope for the country. That our compassion continues
to well up, and that this great American experience continues to touch every
possible heart. I pray for peace. I pray for prosperity. And I pray for the
greatest land on the face of the earth -- America. (Applause.)