at Working for America Event
MFA Feed Mill
January 14, 2002
2:30 P.M. CST
Thank you all very much. So there I was, sitting in the residency at the White
House -- (laughter) -- watching a football game, eating a pretzel. (Laughter.)
And the next thing I know is Barney, the Scottish Terrier, is wondering what
the heck happened. (Laughter.)
I want you all to know that I learned a good lesson, and that is: I should have
listened to my mother. (Laughter.) She said, never try to swallow your pretzel
until you chewed it. (Laughter.)
Thank you all for coming. And thank you for letting me come. (Applause.) If
you see some of the folks who lined the road coming in, tell them thanks. Really,
I wish we had a bigger hall, so I could thank everybody in person, but there's
a lot of people from your communities that are out there to wave and I'm really
grateful. Thank the high school kids and the teachers for being out there, as
I'm working my way through the midwest, through the heartland, because I want
to send a couple of messages to the American people. One message is, food is
really important for the economy of this country. (Applause.) That in the year
2000, $1.3 trillion of the GDP came from food and fiber; 24 million Americans
were employed as a result of work and food and fiber.
That if we're talking about the economic health of the country, we've got to
always understand it begins with a healthy farm economy. And if we're worried
about creating jobs -- which I am -- then we've got to think, we use some common
sense principles in order to expand the job base, so people can find work.
I'm also glad to be in the heartland because it's a place that understands values:
the values of family and faith, of personal responsibility and hard work. (Applause.)
I started my day in Moline, Illinois, at the John Deere plant, where they're
making Harvesters. And then here, of course, in Aurora, and Springfield, Missouri.
And then I'm on my way to New Orleans, where they sell the product. It's a good
message for America, to understand how the farmer works, in relationship to
the equipment manufacture, in relationship to the exporter.
I'm so happy that people in my administration understand the importance of the
farmer to our country, starting with our Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman.
(Applause.) And the Secretary of Commerce, Don Evans. (Applause.) Thank you
both for being here.
I want to thank Senator Kit Bond for traveling with me today. (Applause.) He
was giving me a good lesson on Missouri politics, as was Jim Talent, when we
drived over. Thank you for coming, Jim. (Applause.) And I'm traveling with two
members from the Missouri congressional delegation, Kenny Hulshof and Todd Akin.
Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
Now, my friend, Roy Blunt, isn't here. He's evidently on a mission somewhere
else. But he sent his better half. And I want to thank very much -- I want to
thank sweet Roseann Blunt for coming as well. Thank you for coming. (Applause.)
I want to thank the Missouri Farmers Association. I want to thank the people
who run this outfit. And I want to thank my fellow citizens for coming today.
One of the things I strongly believe is that the role of government is not to
create wealth. The role of government is to create an environment in which people
are willing to take risk, an environment in which people are willing to risk
capital, an environment that heralds the entrepreneur and the small business
person. That's the role of government.
If the role of government is to create an environment in which people are willing
to take risk, one of the things government must do is to work hard to create
confidence in the people. And at this moment in history, the best thing I can
do, along with my administration, in order to build the confidence of the American
people, is to prevent the evil ones from hitting us again. (Applause.)
The best way to make sure this economy recovers, and people can find work is
to have a homeland security system that runs down every hint that somebody might
harm us; runs down every lead that we find. I want to assure you all that I
spend a lot of time, as did my administration, on this top priority; that we're
working with intelligence-gathering services from around the world to sniff
out, to listen to, to find out who might be trying to harm us again.
That we've got our law enforcement officers around our country -- at the federal,
state and local level -- now understand that they must remain on alert, that
there's still an enemy and we've got to stop them. The FBI's primary mission
is homeland security, and we're working closely with folks in your communities
to make sure that if there's any hint that somebody might try to harm America,
that we're going to act, and act now, and bring them to justice.
I'm proud of the efforts of many all around our country who are working endless
hours to make America safe. But the best way to make America safe is to hunt
the enemy down where he tries to hide and bring them to justice. And that's
exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)
I gave our military a mighty task, and they have responded. I want to thank
those of you who have got relatives in the military -- a brother or a sister,
or a son or a daughter, or a mom or a dad -- they have made me proud. And I
hope they made you proud, as well. (Applause.)
We sent the military on a clear mission, and that is to bring the evil ones
to justice. It's a mission, however, that I expanded to include this: that if
you hide a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if you provide aid and comfort
for a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist. (Applause.) That's
why the Taliban is no longer ruling Afghanistan.
I think that one of the most joyous things for me is to see the faces of the
Afghan women as they have been liberated from the oppression of the Taliban
rule. Not only is our military destroying those who would harbor evil, destroying
whatever military they had, destroying their defenses, but we're liberators.
We're freeing women and children from incredible oppression. (Applause.)
The humanitarian aid workers are home -- as part of the conditions I laid down
for the Taliban. The Taliban is in total rout. But we haven't completed our
mission yet. And we're now at a very dangerous phase of the war in the first
theater, and that is sending our boys and troops into the caves. You see, we're
fighting an enemy that's willing to send others to death, suicide missions in
the name of religion, and they, themselves, want to hide in caves.
But you know something? We're not going to tire. We're not going to be impatient.
We're going to do whatever it takes to find them and bring them to justice.
They think they can hide, but they're not going to hide from the mighty reach
of the United States and the coalition we have put together. (Applause.)
I see members of the FFA here. I want you to know that the cause that our military
now wages is a just cause, it's an important cause; that I long for peace, but
I also understand that this nation must lead the war against terror if you and
your children and your grandchildren are going to grow up and understand the
freedoms that we so enjoy in America. That if you and your children and grandchildren
can grow up in a peaceful and hopeful world, now is the time for this country
to lead. And lead we will. (Applause.)
I'm worried that the attacks on 9/11 have affected the ability for people to
find work, and we're going to do something about it. Not only are we going to
make the homeland secure, but we've done some things in Washington that actually
make sense. (Laughter.) And one of them is to pass a good education bill, that
makes public education a priority, that sets high standards -- (applause) --
that calls people into account if there's failure, and that trusts the local
people to run their own schools. (Applause.)
I had the privilege of traveling the country last week with two Republicans
and two Democrats -- the sponsors of the bills. One of the Democrats happened
to be Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Never did I dream -- (laughter)
-- that I would say good things about him. (Laughter.) Never did he dream that
I would say good things about him. (Laughter.) But I can, because he joined
together with an administration to come out with a bill that's a good bill.
It goes to show -- this bill shows what can happen in Washington when we're
willing to put our political parties behind and focus on what's best for the
United States of America. (Applause.)
I'm going down to New Orleans tomorrow -- I like to go there; it's a nice place
to eat and I'm going to be -- (laughter.) I've got a lot of friends in Louisiana;
it's right next to the state where I used to be governor. But I'm also going
to remind people of the importance of trade -- trade not only for the agricultural
sector of our country, but trade in general. And let me tell you my view.
If you're good at something, you ought to try to encourage it, to become a bigger
part of your world. And if you're good at growing crop, we ought not to diminish
the ability to grow crops in America, we ought to encourage. And the way to
do that is to find other places to sell crops. If you're the best in the world
at what you do -- which we are in farming -- then it seems like to me we ought
to encourage that product to be sold not only here in America, but level the
playing field so it can be sold all across the world. (Applause.)
I know there's a lot of farmers around who say, you know, we've heard that before.
Every trade agreement trades out the farmer. Here comes old Bush from Texas
and he says he's for the farmer, yet, you watch -- they'll worry more about
other products, and when it comes time to argue for the agricultural sector,
they'll just leave us out.
But that's not the way it's going to be, folks, because I understand how important
agriculture is, not only for America, but how important it is for international
trade for our country. Not only domestically, but internationally agriculture
And I'd just ask you to look at the record. In China, I argued that China ought
to be in the WTO, because it's good for the American agriculture. Look at the
agreement. We've opened up the Chinese markets to U.S. farmers. It's good for
China and, more importantly, it's good for the U.S. farmers to have that market
available. (Applause.) We've got to trade. It's in our nation's interest to
trade. And it's a sure way to help create jobs.
We've also got to have an energy policy, if we're going to grow for the long-term.
One of the great things about America is, is that we're self-sufficient in food.
It's a national security interest to be self-sufficient in food. It's a luxury
that you've always taken for granted here in this country. But imagine if we
have to rely upon somebody else to provide us food -- it would be a problem.
The good news is, we can not only grow food for ourselves, we can grow food
That's not the way it is in energy. We're too reliant upon foreign sources of
energy. We're too reliant upon parts of the world that may like us, may not
like us, for our sources of energy. It seems like to me that we ought to work
hard to become more self-sufficient, less reliant, by having an energy plan
that encourages conservation, encourages the use of ethanol, for example, value
added processing -- (applause) -- and also explores for energy in our own hemisphere
and in our own states, in an environmentally friendly way. (Applause.)
Finally an administration has come along and said, let's have a national energy
plan. And that's exactly what passed out of the House, and hopefully we can
get it out of the Senate. Just like the trade bill that came out of the House.
Hopefully, we can get it out of the Senate. Hopefully, when they come back,
they listen to the American people and put plans in place that will help our
economy grow so that people can find work.
Finally, I want to talk to you about economic policy out of Washington. It seems
like to me that the question we ought to be asking in Washington is, what does
it take to help people create jobs? What's it take? I started with this part.
I said that if you give people their own money back, if you let them keep more
of their hard-earned dollars, that's good for the economy. If a consumer has
got more money, he or she spends it on a product, causing the person who manufactures
the product to keep jobs in place and/or increase jobs.
And so we worked together and passed meaningful, real tax relief. (Applause.)
It came at exactly the right time. The economy started to show signs of slowing
down in March of 2001. A way to stimulate growth during recession is to give
people, let them keep their own money. That's Economics 101 -- except, it sounds
like some of them hadn't taken the course in Washington. (Laughter.)
There's now some talk that maybe we should raise taxes in a recession. That
would be a disaster for the American economy, and we're not going to let it
happen. (Applause.) And one of the best parts of that bill, that tax bill, was
phasing out the death tax so the American farmer can pass his assets from one
generation to the next. (Applause.)
And there are some things we ought to do in Washington to help. We ought to
help people who lost their job on 9/11, whose industries were affected as the
result of that attack. That means extending unemployment benefits. That means
helping people with health care. But here's the way I think about it: people
really don't want an unemployment check, they want a permanent paycheck. And,
therefore, we ought to figure out ways to expand the job base of America.
Every question ought to be, how do we grow our economy in a smart way. (Applause.)
Therefore, I'm more than willing to work with the Democrats and Republicans
to help the unemployed, but I ask them to think long-term for America. Accelerating
depreciation makes sense for people who buy equipment. It makes sense to speed
up the tax relief. It makes sense to help low-income taxpayers with money in
their pocket to enhance demand.
Oh, there's some smart things we can do to stimulate this economy. And there's
some smart things we will do to make sure that we've got a good farm bill. I
look forward to working with both political parties to come up with a farm bill
that meets the following principles.
One, it will be generous and affordable. There will be ample money in there
to meet the needs, and it's money that will fit into our budget. Secondly, a
farm bill must provide a safety net for the American farmer, without encouraging
over-production and thereby depressing prices. Thirdly, the farm bill must support
our strong commitment to trade. Fifthly, it must offer incentives for good conservation
practices on working lands. And, finally, establish farm savings accounts, to
help farmers manage risks.
These are sound principles, which will enable the American farmer to plan, to
think ahead, to be able to survive in a down time, and thrive when the markets
get good. I look forward to working to get a good farm bill, and I look forward
to working with you to get a good farm bill. (Applause.)
Here are some practical steps to make sure that our economy recovers: good education,
that will help in the long run, for certain; good tax policy; a good stimulus
package; a good farm bill;, good trade policy; and, most importantly, homeland
security that keeps Americans safe.
You know, when the enemy hit us, I was amazed to read that they really thought
we were soft. They kind of didn't understand America very well. They might have
been watching too much TV or something, I don't know what it was. But they thought,
well, we'll hit them, and then America will fold their tent. We may launch a
Cruise Missile or two, but that will be it. Man, did they make a big mistake.
They don't understand how much we love freedom, and that we're willing to fight
for it. They didn't understand people -- they must not have understood people
being on a commercial airline, figuring -- realizing what was happening, then
saying a prayer, and bringing the plane down to save others lives. They didn't
understand sacrifice. (Applause.)
But what they really don't understand is the character of the American people.
They don't realize that this nation is a nation full of people who are determined
and strong, but compassionate and loving. A lot of times people ask me, what
can I do, in the war against terror? Well, obviously, if you see something unusual,
report it. Treat people with respect. Value all religious -- religions.
But there are some other things you can do. Fight evil with good. We can fight
terror using our military, and we're going to, of course. But we can fight terror
and evil with acts of kindness, with millions of acts of kindness, all across
the country. The best thing about America is the fact that that happens on a
daily basis. There are people who walk across the street to a neighbor in need,
and say, can I help you? What can I do to help? They find somebody who is shut-in,
and say, I'd like to just love you for a second. It happens when Sunday Schools
or synagogues or mosques empty out, and they look for somebody to help. It happens
when people raise money for a local charity. It happens when somebody says,
I want to be a Boy Scout leader, to teach a child good values. It happens when
somebody mentors a child, and teaches them how to read.
The war on terror is a war we will fight on many fronts. It is a war we're going
to win on many fronts. It's a war we'll win at home. Because this is a compassionate
nation, full of decent and loving and caring people. And it is such an honor
to be the President of the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
Thank you for having me. God bless. Thank you all. (Applause.)