with Small Business Owners in New Jersey
Remarks to the New Jersey Business Community
Wyndham Newark Airport Hotel
Elizabeth, New Jersey
June 16, 2003
11:47 A.M. EDT
Thanks for the warm New Jersey welcome. Thanks for giving me the chance to
come by and share some thoughts with you about the challenges that this country
First, I tell you it was good to be with my dad over Father's Day. I hope
you all had a good Father's Day, as well. (Applause.) Spent a lot of time
fishing together and caught a few fish. (Laughter.) But thanks for letting
me come by.
I just came from Orange, New Jersey. (Applause.) And went by the Andrea
Foods pasta factory. (Applause.) That's you. The Savignanos and the Wilkinsons
were there, Rose Marie and Michael. They're the sons and daughters of Andrea
and Doro, who started the business. It's so refreshing to see the American
Dream alive and well, just like it is at Andrea Foods.
I was struck by the diversity of Orange, New Jersey. I saw a lot of different
nationalities as I drove through. It reminded me of a couple of things about
our country -- one, that we are the land of opportunity and the land of hope
and we will keep it that way. (Applause.) Part of being a land of opportunity
means that we must continue to foster what I call the ownership society,
to encourage value and honor, owning -- people owning their own business
or owning their own home, maybe some day owning their own pension plan in
the security -- Social Security system, having the right to make choices
in the health care sector. The things that make America strong and unique
is not only are we a hopeful land and a diverse land, but we're a land that
Today I want to talk about the importance of small businesses. I want to
herald the entrepreneurs. I want to say thanks to those who have taken risks.
And I want to remind our fellow citizens that in order for our economy to
recover we must remember the strength and the importance of the small business
owner in America. (Applause.)
So I want to thank all the small business owners who are here today. Thank
you for taking risk, thank you for employing a lot of our fellow Americans.
I want to thank the associations who helped put this event together. I want
to thank Hector Barreto, who is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
I want to thank him for his kind introduction. I want to thank him for his
work in helping to create an environment in which people from all walks of
life are willing to risk capital to own their own business.
I want to thank the mayors who are joining us today. I want to thank the
folks that I had a chance to visit with at Andrea Foods. I visited with entrepreneurs,
visited with taxpayers; I mentioned Michael and Rose Marie. I also talked
to John Cicero, and the Harveys -- Paul and Lisa. These are people who will
benefit from the tax relief plan because they're married, because they pay
taxes -- (laughter) -- and because they have children. (Applause.)
And I met the Memmelaars -- father and son -- of Royal Master Grinder,
a small business company right here in this part of the world. I met Pat
Mulhern, of Mulhern Bearing* (Belting) Company. We sat around the table and
I listened to the concerns of both taxpayer employee, as well as small business
owner. And the concerns are great, but the concerns can be solved.
Probably the greatest concern about making sure that -- that our country
is confident and optimistic is to make sure the country is secure. People
want to have a secure environment in which to risk capital. And, therefore,
our biggest challenge, or one of the biggest challenges is to make sure that
we continue to fight and win the war on terror. (Applause.)
In Washington, D.C., and at the state level and at the local level we all
have what I call a charge to keep, which is to do everything we can to protect
the American homeland. And that only -- not only means making sure that we
cooperate better at the federal, state and local level, and do a better job
with our borders and our ports to communicate better, but it also means that
we've got to stay on the offensive. The best way to protect the homeland
is to hunt the killers down, one at a time, and bring them to justice, which
is what America will do. (Applause.)
On September the 11th, our country was shocked -- this part of the world
was particularly shocked -- at the violence, the sudden violence done. We
were shocked into recognizing that oceans can no longer protect us from harm,
and therefore we have the serious charge to keep.
And we acted, because this nation will not be intimidated. This nation will
not be blackmailed by terror. This nation will do what it takes to defend
something we hold dear to our hearts, and that is our freedom. And we acted.
(Applause.) We acted on a doctrine that says, we will bring you to justice
because of what you did to the American citizens. And by the way, if you
harbor a killer -- if you feed a killer, if you hide a killer, you're just
as guilty as the killer. We acted and the Taliban no longer is in power in
Afghanistan, which is not only good for the security of the free world, it
is incredibly good for the people who suffered in Afghanistan under barbaric
This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq. Now, there are
some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what
I like to call them. Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free
world in '91, in '98, in 2003. He continually ignored the demands of the
free world, so the United States and friends and allies acted. And one thing
is for certain -- (applause) -- and this is for certain: Saddam Hussein is
no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)
We've got a lot of brave troops still on the move, still looking for terrorists.
We're cooperating with our friends and allies, we're sharing intelligence,
we're running down their money trails. But one thing is certain for the American
people to know, that this government will use whatever technologies and skill
is necessary to secure America by hunting down those who would harm us, one
person at a time. It is a charge we have been given and it is a charge we
will keep. (Applause.)
We also had to deal with an economy which was not as strong that we wanted
it to be. My attitude is, if somebody is looking for work and they can't
find a job, we got an issue. And therefore, we acted. I went to the United
States Congress when I first got elected and said, this nation is -- looks
like it's in recession. We need to let people have more of their own money
in order to stall off the recession.
You see, when the economy is grinding down, when it's not as strong as it
should be, when demand is lax, the best way to deal with an economic slow-down,
is to let people have more of their own money -- (applause) -- is to let
people -- let people spend their own money, increase demand for goods and
services. Which is exactly what we did. (Applause.) And we had one of the
shallowest recessions in our nation's history as a result of the tax relief
But then the terrorists hit us. September the 11th was a shock not only
to our national conscious, it hurt our economy. And we began to get our bearings
and get our feet on the ground, and then another shock happened to America:
we discovered that some of our corporate citizens forgot what it meant to
be a responsible leader. Some of our corporate leaders didn't tell the truth,
tried to fudge the facts, weren't honest with the shareholders and their
employees. And that hurt the confidence of our economy. By the way, they
will pay a price for not telling the truth. (Applause.)
But we needed more action, so I went in front of the Congress this year
and I said, let's come together, let's set aside all the party politics and
partisan bickering and remember why we're in Washington in the first place
-- we're there to do what's right for the American people. We must care about
how to help somebody find work. That's what we ought to be focused on, not
partisanship, but what's right for the American people.
And, thankfully, enough of us got together and passed a tax relief plan
that will allow the American people to have more money in their pocket, that
will encourage businesses to make more investment. And that says to investors,
we want you to invest more. The tax relief proposal was based on a simple
principle. It starts with, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's
money, it's the people's money. (Applause.)
And when you've got additional money in your pocket, you're going to demand
a good or a service. And when you demand a good or a service, in this economy,
somebody is going to meet that demand. Somebody will produce the good or
a service. And when that happens, somebody is more likely to find work. That's
the basis of the tax relief plan, the jobs and growth package that I proposed
and that was passed.
And here's what was accomplished. We've lowered taxes all across the board,
so that people have more take-home pay. And that's important, not only for
the individual consumer and the taxpayer, but that's equally important for
small businesses. And the reason it's important for small business is, most
small businesses are Subchapter S or sole proprietorships, which means they
pay taxes at the individual level. So when you hear the -- hear me talk about
reducing individual tax rates, the American people have got to understand,
that means capital infusion into the small businesses of America, which means
somebody is more likely to find work when small businesses have more money
to invest and more money to spend. (Applause.)
The Child Tax Credit has been expanded from $1,000 -- to $1,000 from $600,
and the $400 differential will be in the mail by July. (Applause.) I was
going to say, check's in the mail. (Laughter.) Better be in the mail. (Laughter.)
Somebody might be looking for work in Washington. (Laughter and applause.)
We reduced the marriage penalty, which helps a million New Jersey couples.
(Applause.) We have cut the top rate of taxes of dividends and capital gains
to 15 percent. Small businesses under the bill that I signed can deduct up
to $100,000 -- up from $25,000 -- in new equipment from their taxes. (Applause.)
And if they invest more than $100,000, they qualify for a 50 percent bonus
depreciation that further reduces the cost of investment. These are important
incentives for economic vitality and growth. These are so important that
people like Andrea Foods is now contemplating new capital investment. They're
contemplating buying new machines that will make their business more productive.
Productivity is an important part of any small business. It enables you to
better compete. It means it's more likely you'll have a stable work force.
It means you can get a better return on dollars spent.
These good folks at Andrea make 1,200 pounds of pasta every minute. I saw
a lot of calories grinding through. (Laughter.) Yet, Rose Marie and Michael
are not satisfied with the production level of their company. They want to
expand. They want to make more jobs available in the neighborhood in which
they work. They want to be able to compete better. And so they're now contemplating
a new -- buying a new pasta cooker and a new flash freezer, which will expand
their production by 50 percent. They took a look at the tax relief plan,
they calculated the benefits. They said, it makes sense for us to buy new
machinery so that we can expand.
And that's really important. It's not only important for their business.
It's likely that if this -- if all goes well, they'll add 20 more employees.
But it's pretty darn important for the person who's going to manufacture
their machine and sell it to them. In other words, their decision has more
to -- has much more to do than just inside their own business. Their decision
affects other people, as well. And that's why this part of the law is so
And so when Michael turns around and orders a pasta cooker, he may talk
to John, at MBC Food and Machinery in Hackensack, New Jersey. After all,
they've been doing business with each other for quite a while. At least their
dads have been doing business with each other for quite a while. They've
had a history of working together.
But John has seven employees busy on the -- would keep seven more employees
busy if this machine order comes in. And he's excited about it, obviously.
He's hoping Michael makes the right decision. (Laughter.) Maybe we can arrange
a contract right here. (Laughter.)
But it all happened as a result for Congress coming together and asking
the fundamental question: how do we get this economy going again, what can
we do that's wise enough to encourage investment, particularly at the small
business level? The ability to expense capital dollars more quickly for small
business and in greater amounts for small businesses is an incredibly important
part of economic growth because small businesses provide most of the new
jobs created in America. (Applause.)
That was the common story I heard this morning by the small business owners
-- we intend to take advantage of the smart things you did in the tax code
in order to increase employment and to make sure our businesses are more
We've also got other problems that we need to deal with here in America
to make sure our small businesses grow. One of those problems is too many
lawsuits, people are getting sued too often. (Applause.) We've had some abuse
in the class action lawsuits, which make life more expensive here in America.
And I appreciate very much the House of Representatives dealing with this
issue. And I strongly support the measures they took, the reform on class
action, which makes the -- easier for class action suits to end up in federal
court. This has got better restraint on the excesses that sometimes take
place as a result of class action lawsuits.
In other words, in order -- if you get into federal court it makes it easier
to stop lawyers from shopping around the country looking for a favorable
court. Because generally what happens is in a class action suit the people
who are suing get very little, and the lawyers filing the suit get a whole
lot. And that doesn't seem fair to the Congress and it doesn't seem fair
to me, and the Senate needs to act. (Applause.)
I'm concerned and mindful about what paperwork and regulations do to small
businesses. (Applause.) So I put out an executive order that requires all
federal regulatory agencies to minimize the burden on our small businesses.
And I expect Hector to make sure that the burden is minimized on the small
businesses. We've got an issue e-mailing -- (applause.)
I'm concerned about the fact that we don't have a national energy policy.
You know, this country has made a wise decision to protect our air and water,
and that's good. In order to protect our air, many of the power plants have
switched to natural gas. Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel.
The problem is, we don't have a policy that encourages the exploration for
natural gas, so demand is going up for natural gas and supply isn't. And
that's why you're seeing the price rise. We need common sense energy policy
in America. We need an energy policy that makes us less dependent on foreign
sources of energy, and we need an energy policy -- (applause) -- and we need
an energy policy that uses our technologies in such a way that we can explore,
in environmentally safe ways, for additional supplies of natural gas. When
demand for a product goes up and supply doesn't follow that demand, prices
The Congress must act. I have proposed common sense, reasonable energy policy
for America. The House has passed a bill. The Senate is debating the bill.
For the sake of American consumers and small businesses, we need a national
energy policy. (Applause.)
I understand the cost of health insurance to small businesses. I understand
the need for us to put good policy in place that doesn't nationalize health
care, that doesn't make the federal government the end all for health care,
but a policy that addresses concerns. For example, health clinics for the
poor all across America are necessary to take the strain off of small businesses,
as well as community hospitals. We need to have associate health care plans
to allow small businesses to come together and pool risks, which will take
the pressure of rising premiums.
We need to help our docs. If one of the things we need is affordable and
accessible health care, it makes sense to push for medical liability reform.
We got too many junk lawsuits that cause docs -- (applause). In a litigious
society, particularly for doctors, doctors and hospitals will practice what's
called preventative medicine. They will do tests -- ask for tests, perform
tests, just to protect themselves in a court of law. And that's expensive.
And that becomes expensive for consumers. And then, of course, these lawsuits
will cause doctors' premiums to go up. And that causes the consumers to have
to pay more. Or in some cases, it causes doctors not to practice medicine.
It drives them out of business. If you're interested in having a health care
system that is -- provides affordable and accessible health care, you ought
to join the efforts to have medical liability reform.
Now, when I came to Washington, D.C., I took a look at the issue and I said,
well -- you know, having been a governor, I said, well, maybe these issues
ought to be solved at the state level. Then I looked at the impact on our
budgets. Preventative medicine and the high cost of litigation drives up
the cost of Medicaid, drives up the cost of Medicare, drives up the cost
of providing veterans with health care.
I've come to the conclusion that all these lawsuits are a national issue
and therefore require a national solution, and have sent up an idea to the
United States Congress that says, people ought to have their day in court,
bad docs certainly ought to be punished, people ought to recover economic
damages -- but there ought to be a hard cap on non-economic damages, and
there ought to be a reasonable cap on punitive damages. In order to be able
to get a handle on the cost -- rising cost of health care, we ought to let
our docs practice medicine without fear of a junk and frivolous lawsuit.
Finally, when I get back to Washington here in an hour, I'm going to start,
again, working on the Medicare reform package. I believe that this nation
can set aside the old-style politics and come together and make sure our
seniors have got a health care system that is modern, that includes prescription
drugs and that allows our seniors the same opportunity that federal employees
have, which is the ability to choose a plan that best meets their needs.
Listen, if choice in health care is good enough for members of the United
States Congress and their employees, it ought to be good enough for the seniors
of the United States of America. (Applause.)
We've got issues, but we're going to deal with them. We've got challenges,
but there's no doubt in my mind we can overcome them. There's been a lot
of talk around the world about the muscle of the United States of America,
and we're pretty strong. (Applause.)
But our military muscle is not the true strength of America. I mean, there's
no question about it, we've got the capacity to fight and win war and therefore
make the world more peaceful. There's no question about it, because of our
technologies and the skill and bravery of our troops, we can now target the
guilty and protect the innocent. (Applause.)
But those who focused only on that don't really understand America. The
strength of America is the heart of the American people. The strength of
this country is the great compassion of the people who live here. Today,
when I got off the Air Force One, I met Marisa Fontainhas. You probably never
heard of Marisa. She is a graduate of New Jersey Institute of Technology.
But the reason I bring her up is because she volunteered at the St. John's
Soup Kitchen. She decided that a patriotic American is somebody who does
more than just put their hand over their heart and pay taxes -- hopefully
less taxes now -- (laughter) -- but somebody who is willing to serve something
greater than themselves.
At the same time, Scott Stevens was there. You probably heard of old Scott.
He just happened to win the Stanley Cup. (Applause.) The reason the two go
together is because Marisa was recognized by the New Jersey Devils Foundation
for her desire to make a difference in somebody's life and, therefore, was
awarded a college scholarship. Marisa, thank you for coming. I'm glad you're
But Scott volunteers, as well. He's knocking heads on the ice, and then
he's trying to save lives off the ice. (Laughter.) He volunteers at the School
Assembly Program. In other words, he's using his position to make a difference
in somebody's life.
There are people who hurt in America, people who wonder whether or not the
American Dream is meant for them, people who hear the word entrepreneurship
and not sure what the heck that means. Our attitude -- or my attitude is,
so long as one of us hurt, we all hurt. And, therefore, we have a responsibility
as Americans to put our arms around somebody who hurts. And each of us can
make a difference. The true strength of this country is the fact that there
are millions of Marisas all across America, who without a government law
or without the President picking up the phone and saying, would you help
somebody in need, are doing it on their own. And as a result, this society
is and can and will continue to change, one heart, one soul, one conscience
at a time -- So that the bright lights of hope of this great country will
be able to shine in every neighborhood, in every part of our land.
No, listen, we're tough, which will make the world a more peaceful place
and a more free place. But the true strength of the country, the true strength
of America happens when a neighbor loves a neighbor just like they'd like
to be loved themselves, and it happens every day in America. (Applause.)
Thank you all for coming. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless