Action to Strengthen Small Businesses
St. Louis, Missouri
January 22, 2003
11:13 A.M. CST
Thanks for the warm welcome. (Laughter.) More inside than outside, I might add.
(Laughter.) But thank you all very much for giving me a chance to come and share
some thoughts about this great land and some of the challenges that face us.
I'm particularly thrilled to be in a place where the entrepreneurial spirit
is strong, and that is J.S. Logistics. (Applause.) It is strong because of the
spirit of the guys who run the company, John and Greg, and the people that work
with them to provide good service and product.
It's important for our fellow Americans to understand that the strength of our
country, the strength of our economy really depends upon the strength of the
small business community all across America. (Applause.) And that's why I'm
here today in this small business, to remind people about the importance of
I brought Hector Barreto, who is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Thank you for coming, Hector. (Applause.) I know there's a lot of other small
business owners here from around the state of Missouri. I'm honored you came.
Thank you for lending your support to what I am going to describe today as a
way to make sure people can find work in America.
I want to thank the employees of this good company for putting up with the small
entourage I travel with. (Laughter.) I want to thank the folks that came to
the roundtable today -- not only were some employees of JS, but there's some
folks who are running their own businesses and companies. We heard from single
moms, newly-married couples, people that are working hard to make sure the three-person
company stays afloat. It was a good discussion, and I'm going to share some
of the stories from that discussion with you in a minute.
I want you to know that this country has got some big challenges ahead of us.
There's no question in my mind that we're going to meet every challenge. (Applause.)
One of the challenges we have is to make sure that every American, from every
walk of life, has a chance to succeed in this country. (Applause.) That's an
important challenge. Where I spend a lot of time talking about education, to
make sure every child is educated; to make sure we insist upon high standards
for our schools; to make sure that we measure to understand whether those standards
are being met; and to make sure we solve problems early, before it's too late.
No child in America should be left behind in this country. (Applause.)
Today I had the honor of meeting Dezzie Houston, who came out to Air Force One
to say hello. She is a volunteer with the Missouri Mentoring Partnership. Where
are you, Dezzie? Oh, there you are. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) The reason
I bring this up is, part of making sure people aren't left behind in our society,
we've got to recognize in our plenty there are people who hurt, and there are
some who wonder whether or not the so-called American Dream is meant for them.
And so long as any of us hurt, we all hurt. And one way to help heal hurt and
encourage hope is to mentor somebody in need. You see, I like to remind people,
government can hand out money, but it can't put love into people's hearts or
a sense of purpose in people's lives. That happens when some caring individual
finds somebody in need and says, can I help you; what can I do to help you make
a better life. (Applause.)
And this society of ours is filled with all kinds of heroes, American citizens
doing their duty. And Dezzie is one such person. She told me that she has mentored
three people, three teens, encouraging them to either go to college or how to
find a job. I'm told, recently one of your mentorees graduated from college.
It must have made you feel incredibly proud to know that you had a hand in encouraging
that person to reach for the best in America. You had a hand in encouraging
that person to realize that his or her God-given talents should be used to the
fullest on the short time we have on Earth.
I want to congratulate you for being a mentor. I call upon any American who
is concerned about the future of our society to find somebody who needs a hand
and surround that person with your love and your talents. Thank you for being
here, Dezzie. (Applause.)
A big challenge we face is how to make sure that this world is a peaceful world,
and make sure our country is a secure country. I still remember September the
11th, 2001. It was a time in which history changed for America. When I was coming
up in Texas, it used to be that oceans could protect us. We wouldn't have to
worry about gathering threats abroad. We could pick and choose problems as they
arose because we felt we were safe and secure. We felt that our history was
such that the future would be secure and safe. But that's not what happened.
September the 11th changed the stakes for America. It changed the attitude we
must have if we're going to make sure our children can grow up in a safe and
Even though September the 11th is-- appears to be distant in our rear-view mirror,
our country is still under threat. We're under threat because of terrorists
who don't value life like we value life in America. See, in this country, we
say everybody is precious, everybody counts, everybody has got values. The enemy
we face doesn't feel that way. They don't care about innocent life. They don't
believe every life has value. They only believe the lives that have values are
those who bow to their sick ideologies.
And so we're still on guard here in America. And we're running these terrorists
down, one by one. It's a different kind of war that we fight. It's a war in
which the enemy hides in the recesses of the world. It's a war in which they
try to get inside caves in remote regions of the world. But you need to know
that America is on the hunt. There is a cave -- there's no cave deep enough
or corner of the world dark enough for them to hide from the long arm of justice
of the United States of America. (Applause.)
We're making progress. Sometimes you'll see about it, sometimes you won't. And
progress comes in different kinds of-- different kinds of ways. Our friends
in Great Britain have recently uncovered and have arrested a group of al Qaeda
that they think were intending to poison the British people. Slowly but surely,
we're rounding them up. That coalition of freedom-loving people still stands:
Either you're with us and those of us who love freedom, or you're with the enemy.
We've got an obligation to our children to hunt these people down. We've also
got an obligation to our children to address problems before they come back
to America, and in my judgment, in my considered judgment, there is a real risk
to America and our friends and allies in Iraq. (Applause.)
The dictator of Iraq has got weapons of mass destruction. He has used weapons
of mass destruction. He can't stand America and what we stand for. He can't
stand our friends and allies. He's a dangerous, dangerous man with dangerous,
dangerous weapons. And that's why the world came together at the United Nations
Security Council and said, Mr. Saddam Hussein must disarm. The message was as
clear as can possibly be delivered -- Mr. Saddam Hussein must disarm.
And the first step of that disarmament was for him to make a declaration of
his weapons -- 12,000 pages of deceit and deception were placed at the U.N.
Security Council. We know what it means to disarm; we know what a disarmed regime
does. We know how a disarmed regime accounts for weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam Hussein is not disarming, like the world has told him he must do.
He's a dangerous man, with dangerous weapons. He's a danger to America, and
our friends and allies. And that's why the world has said, disarm.
But Saddam Hussein has learned lessons from the past. See, the first time he
was told to disarm was 11 years ago. He is adept at deception and delays and
denying. He asked for more time so he can give the so-called inspectors more
runaround. He's interested in playing hide and seek in a huge country. He's
not interested in disarming.
I hope the world has learned the lessons from the past, just like Saddam Hussein
has learned the lessons from the past, but in a different way. It's time for
us to hold the world to account, and for Saddam to be held to account. We must
not -- (applause.) We must not be fooled by the ways of the past. After all,
we just discovered undeclared chemical warheads in Iraq. It's incredibly troubling
and disturbing for a man -- that is evidence of a man not disarming.
He wants to play a game. For the sake of peace, we must not let him play a game.
And so the resolutions of the Security Council will be enforced. (Applause.)
My hope is that Saddam Hussein will disarm voluntarily; that's my hope. I take
seriously the commitment of any troop into combat. I desire peace. But in the
name of peace, in the name of securing our future, if Saddam Hussein will not
disarm, the United States of America and friends of freedom will disarm Saddam
And should that path be forced upon us, there will be serious consequences.
There will be serious consequences for the dictator in Iraq. And there will
be serious consequences for any Iraqi general or soldier who were to use weapons
of mass destruction on our troops or on innocent lives within Iraq. (Applause.)
Should any Iraqi officer or soldier receive an order from Saddam Hussein, or
his sons, or any of the killers who occupy the high levels of their government,
my advice is, don't follow that order. Because if you choose to do so, when
Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried and persecuted as a war criminal.
And there will be serious consequences -- should we be forced into action, there
will be serious consequences for the Iraqi people -- and that's freedom, freedom
from oppression. (Applause.) Freedom from oppression, freedom from torture,
freedom from murder, freedom to realize your God-given talents.
And so we've got a lot of challenges when it comes to keeping the peace. But
this great, mighty nation, this kind, generous, compassionate nation will lead
the world to peace, so that not only our children, but children in the far reaches
of our globe can grow up in a peaceful society. (Applause.)
And here at home, we've got economic challenges. Think about what this economy
of ours has been through. In a short time, we've had a recession. I -- first
three quarters of my presidency were negative growth. That's the definition
of a recession. And then before we could get our head above water, the enemy
hit us -- and hurt us. It took thousands of innocent lives, and at the same
time, hurt our economy.
And we acted. We acted on the recession by letting you have more of your own
money. We enacted the largest tax cut in a generation. (Applause.) And it helped.
It helped bottom out that recession. You see, when people have more of their
own money, they tend to spend it. And when they spend it, it means somebody
is going to produce the product or the service in which they're spending their
money, which means, then, somebody is likely to find work.
We acted after the enemy hit us. We made sure our airlines got moving, and we
passed a terrorism insurance bill to encourage large construction projects to
move forward, so our hard-hats could find work here in America. We got the stock
markets up and running. We acted.
And then the confidence of our country was affected when it turned out some
of our corporate leaders didn't tell the truth, that they fudged the books,
that they thought in this-- they thought it was okay to deceive their employees
and shareholders. And they found out that it's not okay. We're going to find
them and prosecute those who don't tell the truth. (Applause.)
We've taken action, but there's more to do, because there's still people looking
for work. There's still uncertainty about the economic future of this country.
Any time somebody is looking for work and can't find a job says to me, we've
got a problem. And so today, I want to talk to you about how I think it's best
to address the problem, what Congress can do to make sure that the environment
for job growth is strong in America. And it starts with accelerating the tax
relief plan we've already passed. (Applause.)
The tax plan that passed doesn't take effect-- finally take effect until years
from now. The rates in 2006 -- dropping the lower rate from 15 percent to 10
percent in out-years; getting rid of parts of the marriage penalty; raising
the child credit from $600 to $1,000 -- (applause) -- all these plans have been
approved by the Congress. And yet our economy is still bumping along. For the
sake of economic vitality and growth, the Congress needs to accelerate the tax
plans. (Applause.) If the tax relief is good enough three years from now, surely
it's good enough today. (Applause.)
And when they act-- because I'm confident they'll hear the voices of the people--
and when they act, we will then make sure that the tax relief takes effect of
January of this year, to immediately get money in your pockets and into the
You hear a lot of talk about fairness, and there ought to be fairness in our
society. That's one of the great things about America, we try to be fair. A
family of four with an income of $40,000 will receive a 96-percent tax cut.
(Applause.) That's fair. And it's good for the economy. It's the right thing
to do. Ninety-two million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their
own money when this tax plan goes through. And that's good for the economy.
But there is a difference of opinion about who best to spend your money in Washington,
D.C. Sometimes they forget whose money you're spending. Listen to the rhetoric.
The government's money, they say. The money in Washington is not the government's
money, it's your money. And you can spend it just as good or better than the
government can. (Applause.)
In order to make sure people can find work, we've got to strengthen our small
business environment. And one of the things that gets lost in this debate about
tax relief is the effect of tax rate reductions on our small businesses. Oh,
sure, you hear the typical class warfare rhetoric, trying to pit one group of
people against another. But lost in the all the rhetoric is the fact that a
significant number of small businesses pay taxes at the individual income tax
rate, starting right here with JS Logistics. They are organized such that they
pay taxes on the company profits at the individual tax rate. So, therefore,
when you reduce all rates on the income tax code, you're affecting small business,
The best way to encourage job growth is to let companies like JS keep more of
their own money so they can invest in their business and make it easier for
somebody to find work. (Applause.)
Twenty-three million small business owners will receive an average tax cut of
$2,042 under this plan. Now, some will say in Washington, of course, that's
not much money. It's a lot of money to somebody who has got two employees. It's
a lot of money to somebody making a decision whether or not to expand a business.
It's a lot of money. And when you multiply the effects of that money throughout
our society, with all the individual decisions that are being made to strengthen
these small businesses, it is going to have an incredibly positive effect on
job growth in America.
And to make sure that job growth at the small business level is even more significant,
we ought to allow small firms to right off as expenses up to $75,000 a year,
instead of the limit of $25,000 a year. (Applause.)
So I met a guy today named Joe. He runs Software-to-Go. He's got three employees.
He said, I looked at your plan. Where are you, Joe? There you are. He said,
I looked at your plan. He said, by allowing businesses to expense up to $75,000,
it means somebody is more likely to buy a copying machine, or in this case,
an architectural fancy machine. (Laughter.) But the point is, is that he then
has more business opportunity, even though this tax relief doesn't affect him
directly. It affects his customers. It makes his customers more likely to buy
a product. And when Joe's customers are more likely to buy a product, he's more
likely to be able to employ people.
It is important for Congress to understand that the revitalization of the small
business sector is incredibly important to the job growth of the United States
of America. (Applause.)
One aspect of the tax relief plan that I haven't mentioned yet, which is important
to small business owners, is the elimination of the death tax. A lot of people
work all their lives to build up their business or their farm or their ranch.
And after they're gone, their heirs are unable to keep their assets because
of the death tax. It's unfair. It taxes a person's assets twice. It means that
family farms leave the family sooner than the owners of the farms would have
liked. It means small business owners like Joe may have problems passing their
business off to a child or somebody they choose to pass their business off of.
We put it on its way to extinction. Unfortunately, the law -- the rules of the
Senate are such that after 10 years from the time of the passage of the bill,
they could conceivably come back. For the sake of certainty, for the sake of
fairness, the Congress needs to make all the tax relief not only happen now,
but to make sure the tax relief is permanent. (Applause.)
I also believe we ought to end the double taxation on dividends in America,
as well. (Applause.) Dividends are important for our seniors. Many seniors rely
upon dividends to help them in their later years. Ending the double taxation
on dividends will encourage capital to flow into our markets. Capital equals
jobs. Ending the double taxation on dividends makes the tax code more fair.
Let me talk to you about one aspect of what I mean when I talk about helping
seniors. More than 40 percent of the people who receive dividends make under
$50,000 a year. Many of them are seniors. Three-fourths of the people in America
who receive dividends make less than $100,000 a year. Dividends help our fellow
citizens deal with their retirement years.
Dividends are a part of the savings of America. Double taxation of dividends
deprives people of needed money. It has bad effects. The average savings for
somebody 65 years and older, if we get rid of the double taxation on dividends,
will be $936 per year per tax return in America. Getting rid of the double taxation
of dividends helps Americans from all walks of life. (Applause.)
When this tax plan is passed -- and I expect Congress to hear from the American
people and pass it -- (applause) -- we will be putting $70 billion in the economy
over the next 16 months. That's how to make sure this economy is growing jobs
so people can work. That's important. It's called stimulative effect.
The Council on Economic Advisors said these proposals over the next three years
will create 2.1 million jobs, and that's important. This is a common-sense plan
that trusts the people with their own money, that recognizes that-- that there
are ways and things we've got to do to make sure this economy is growing.
Part of making sure our economy is strong is more money in your pockets. Part
of making sure the deficits don't balloon is for Congress to hold the line on
spending, and I expect them to be wise with your money. (Applause.)
I mentioned early on that I recognize there are hurdles, and we're going to
achieve those hurdles. There's no doubt in my mind we will, because of the nature
of this country. The entrepreneurial spirit in America is strong. Look right
around you, right here in J.S. It's one of the things that makes us a great
nation. There are thousands of Americans from all walks of life who are realizing
their dream of owning their own business, and that's incredibly positive. And
the government can help create an environment where that makes-- is more possible.
There are thousands of our fellow citizens who are loving their neighbor just
like they'd like to be loved themselves. That doesn't require a government program.
It requires answering a higher calling. (Applause.) The compassion of this country
runs deep in our soul, and there are thousands of Americans who are willing
to serve overseas in the name of peace and liberty.
If you've got a relative in the United States military, the Commander-in-Chief
is proud of their skills, proud of their service, and proud of their commitment
-- (applause) -- and proud of their commitment to peace and freedom.
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)