Budget Discipline and Fiscal Restraint
September 16, 2002
10:34 A.M. CDT
Thank you all very much. It's an honor to be here. In 1992, the Sears company
got the A-Team. (Laughter.) I'll leave it at that. (Laughter.)
I'm honored to be introduced by Jim Leach. He is a distinguished, honorable,
honest man. We need those kind of people in Washington. I'm proud of him. (Applause.)
I'm proud to call him friend, and I'm real proud he introduced me. I want to
thank other members of the Iowa delegation who are here today, starting with
Senator Chuck Grassley. (Applause.) I appreciate his friendship, I appreciate
his leadership. I'm also proud to be with Jim Nussle and Greg Ganske, two members
of the United States Congress from the state of Iowa. We're flying back to Washington
-- I hope the reason they're here is to hear my speech, not to get a free ride.
(Laughter.) Well, we'll find out after I give the speech. (Laughter.) But these
are good folks, they care deeply about our country, and so do I.
I'm here to talk to you about how to make our country safer and stronger and
better. That's what we've got to be thinking about during these troubling times.
Before I begin, I'm grateful to Steve Lovejoy, who is the director of operation
here at Sears Manufacturing company, for giving me the tour. (Applause.) Big
Steve. (Laughter.) I appreciate the employees who greeted me on the assembly
line. I want to thank all the hard working people here at Sears for doing such
a fine job, for working hard, for caring deeply about your families, for upholding
your responsibilities as a mom or a dad.
I appreciate the Sears family -- Jim and Steve and Lisa Ware -- for upholding
a fine family tradition of not only making a quality product, but remembering
they have a responsibility to the employees who work here and treat the employees
with dignity and respect, like you do. I appreciate your leadership. (Applause.)
I appreciate Bob Lane, the chairman and CEO of John Deere, coming over here
today to say hello. It's very interesting, his comment was, he said, I'm fortunate
to be a customer of this fine company. That's a good sign. (Applause.)
Finally, at Air Force One, I had the honor of meeting a fellow named Dean Claussen.
You probably don't know Dean -- (applause.) Dean brought all his cousins with
him. (Laughter.) The reason I wanted Dean to come here with me is because I
had the honor of thanking him for being a soldier in the army of compassion.
He's a high school junior. He was obviously raised right by Dale and Kathy,
his mom and dad who are with us. But Dean is the kind of person who understands
that we can change America for the better, one person at a time.
And so he, as a member of the Scott County 4-H Council -- and he volunteers
his time. He volunteers his time to help those in need. He is -- told me they're
raising books for some kids in Fiji; that he has recently fed the hungry; that
he understands to be a citizen of this country is to serve something greater
than yourself. See, the great strength of the country lies in the hearts and
souls of our fellow citizens. And when a neighbor loves a neighbor, indeed,
America as a whole benefits. And, Dean, I want to thank you for your leadership
and your compassion. (Applause.)
People oftentimes ask me, what can I do to help our country in the face of some
difficult times, and one of them is to love a neighbor just like you'd like
to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want to
make a impact in the community in which you live, find somebody who hurts and
love them. (Applause.)
I mentioned we've got some big issues here in America, and we do, but there's
nothing we can't overcome. After all, this is the finest country on the face
of the earth, full of the greatest people. (Applause.)
I think a lot about the security of our homeland. Matter of fact, I think about
it every single day. And at the same time, it's important for Congress and my
administration also to never forget the security of the American people. You
see, my attitude is somebody who wants to work can't find a job, we've got a
problem and we need to deal with it. And so, while the security of the homeland
is an important priority, so is the security of the American worker.
I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that the environment for job creation
is strong. I want people working. I want people to be able to put bread on the
table for their families. I want moms and dads who want to work to be able to
do so, for the sake of their families and for the good of the country.
One of the ways we've got to make sure that we keep our economy strong is to
be wise about how we spend our money. If you overspend, it creates a fundamental
weakness in the foundation of economic growth. And so I'm working with Congress
to make sure they hear the message -- the message of fiscal responsibility.
See, it starts with understanding whose money we spend in Washington. It's not
the government's money we spend, the money we spend is your money. And that's
the most important premise when it comes to budget. (Applause.)
It also means that we've got to set priorities. You know, every idea sounds
like a brilliant idea in Washington. Everybody's idea is a great idea -- just
up there they come with billions as the price tag. The bill is a little high.
So I said, why don't we work together to create some priorities, starting with
the most important priority, which is defend America against killers. That's
the most important priority. (Applause.)
I can't put it any other way about them, either. They're nothing but a bunch
of cold-blooded killers. You've just got to understand that about the nature
of the enemy. They hate us because we love. They hate, we love freedom, is why
they hate us, and we're not going to quit loving freedom. And so our most important
priority, when it comes to budgeting and time and effort is to protect innocent
life here in America. And make no mistake about it, we will. We'll do just that.
But in order to make sure there is a -- priorities are funded, there needs to
be a budget. And thanks to Jim Nussle, who is the budget man in the House of
Representatives, we have a budget that focuses on setting priorities and focuses
on getting us back to a balanced budget. But there's been no budget out of the
United States Senate. They haven't passed a budget. They have no plan to balance
And that's of concern. It's of concern because if you have no budget, it means
there's no discipline. And if there's no discipline it's likely that the Senate
will overspend. And when they overspend, they not only overspend for this year,
this coming year, they'll overspend for every year afterwards, too. For the
sake of fiscal sanity, the United States Senate must remember whose money we're
spending, and get us a budget, and get us to head towards a balanced budget.
And while they're worrying about the budget and money, they need to give me
a defense bill. They need to get -- stop talking, and get a defense bill to
my desk. If the number one priority is to defend the American people, the best
thing they need to do is pass the defense bill, so we can get after defending
the American people next year. (Applause.)
So we've got to worry about how much we spend. And by the way, there's plenty
of money up there. We've got to worry about how much we spend, in order to make
sure that our economy continues to grow. I'm worried about the economic security
for every American. I'm also optimistic about the future, because inflation
is down, interest rates are down, the productivity of the American worker is
the best in the world. We've got the best farmers and ranchers in the world.
I've read that textbook, that economic textbook that says, when there's a recession
-- and by the way, when we first came in, there was a recession. We had three
quarters of negative growth. That's the definition of recession. One way to
encourage economic growth is to let the people keep more of their own money.
You see, if you have more money in your pocket, you're going to demand a good
or a service. And when you demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to
produce or to make that good, or produce that service. And when somebody produces
the good and service, it means somebody is more likely to find work. The tax
relief plan we passed, which says we trust the American people with their own
money, came at the right time in American economic history, and we need to make
the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
I had the honor of saying "hello" to the head of the construction
union, the local man who runs the construction union here at the airport. He
came out because we're working closely together with the head of the national
union to get passed what we call terrorism insurance. If you're worried about
jobs in America, like I am, then you've got to make sure that your construction
industry is working. You want your hard hats out there working.
And yet when the terrorists attacked us, it created a dilemma for people who
want to build big building projects. They can't get the insurance necessary
to go forward. Congress needs to help on this. Congress needs to pass a bill
that is good for the hard hats of America, not good for the trial lawyers, and
get a terrorism insurance bill to my desk, so over 300,000 workers can find
work and get back to work. (Applause.)
I say 300,000 -- those are the number of jobs which have been delayed or scuttled
as a result of Congress not coming together to act on this important matter.
And we need an energy bill, too. If you're worried about economic security in
America, we ought to have an energy bill, one which encourages conservation,
one which encourages renewable sources of energy, such as ethanol, and one at
the same time that makes us less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil.
(Applause.) It's in our economic interests that we have an energy plan, it's
in our national security interests that we have an energy plan. Congress has
been talking about energy, they need to get a bill to my desk before they go
home to run for re-election.
And so my message to the Congress is, don't forget there are some people who
are still trying to find work. And we need to work together. We need to put
aside all this Republican stuff and Democrat stuff, and work together to make
sure the economy is strong and vibrant, and the great American worker can find
And at the same time, we've got to remember that there's still an enemy out
there trying to hit us. There's an enemy that I mentioned earlier, hates what
we stand for. It's a different kind of enemy than we have fought in the past.
These are the kind that don't have tanks and formation of aircraft or flotilla
of ship. These are the kind that hide in caves and then send somebody to their
suicidal death. These are the kind that hijack a great religion -- a religion,
by the way, which preaches love and compassion and tolerance -- they hijack
it and then murder in the name of that religion. These are the kind that have
hate in their heart. And these are the kind that we need to do everything in
our power to stop. We owe it to the sake of our freedom, and we owe it to our
The first thing we've got to do is to make sure our country responds here at
home to this threat, to this ever -- to this threat that just keeps going on.
And that means that we've got to get our government working in coordination.
I proposed a department of homeland security to make sure that the agencies
involved with securing the homeland have as their number one priority your protection.
That means that there needs to be a single agency where these agencies are housed,
so that we create a culture of coordination and cooperation -- a culture that
allows for there to be fast movement when it comes to moving people to the right
place at the right time, in order to respond to an enemy who still exists.
And I'll give you one area where we need to do a better job, and that's on our
borders. We need to know who's coming into America, we need to know what they're
bringing into America, we need to know if they're leaving when they say they're
going to leave America. For the sake of the security of the country, we need
to have a border which is secure. A border which facilitates trade and honest
traffic, but a border which recognizes there -- a border -- a strategy which
recognizes there's risks here in the 21st century. We've got to deal with it.
Right now, when you go down to the border, there's three different departments
dealing with the border -- the INS, the Customs, and the Border Patrol -- all
full of fine people, but sometimes the strategy differs between the agencies.
The uniforms look different, which may be all right. But in order to do what's
right for the American people, I need the capacity to be able to have these
agencies work closely together. We'll protect workers' rights, we'll protect
the collective bargaining rights for those who want to join a union at the federal
level. But I need flexibility.
The House passed a good bill; the Senate better not pass a bad bill -- otherwise,
I will to veto it. They need to worry more about the security of the American
people, and less about special interests in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
So we're working hard to secure the homeland. There's a lot of fine folks that
are spending a lot of time on America's behalf. Listen, we're sharing information.
Any time we get a hint -- and you've seen these alerts -- sometime these alerts
come up because we're getting people talking and we're hearing what they're
saying, and we're sharing information better. We assess every threat. We take
everything seriously. And America is responding.
But the best way to respond to the threats that we face is to fine these killers,
one person at a time, hunt them down, and bring them to justice, which is exactly
what America is going to do. (Applause.)
It takes time. It takes a lot of effort. But we're a determined nation. You
know, I had the feeling that after September the 11th that some around the world
would grow weary and tired of this effort. Some would say, well, the threat
really doesn't exist anymore. That's not how America feels. That's not how that
fellow we just picked up in Pakistan feels, too. He's the one that thought he
was going to be the 20th bomber. He thought he could hide. He thought he could
still threaten America. But he forgot the greatest nation on the face of the
earth is after them, one person at a time. (Applause.)
We put together a great alliance. There are other people in this world who love
freedom just like we do. There are other countries with some strong leaders
who understand the stakes that -- understand that history has now put the spotlight
on us to find out what we're made out of. And so our alliance is strong and
we're hunting them down one at a time. We've captured over 2,500 or so of these;
about that many weren't as lucky.
Thanks to the United States military -- and by the way, those who serve our
military are some of the finest citizens we have here in America. (Applause.)
Troops that made a huge sacrifice -- they're sacrificing for freedom. They fight
at mountain -- on mountaintops in thin air. They -- looking down caves. They're
slowly but surely doing what I've asked them to do, to be on pursuit for the
sake of freedom, for the sake of our liberty, so your child can grow up in a
And that's why, when I went to the Congress, I asked for a substantial increase
in defense spending, because I want our troops who are placed in harm's way
to have the best training, the best pay, the best possible commitment. We owe
it to them and we owe it to their loved ones. (Applause.)
And that defense appropriations bill, which I mentioned Congress hasn't passed
yet, needs to get to my desk soon -- and also sends a signal to friend and foe
alike, we're in this deal for the long haul. When it comes to the defense of
our freedom, there is no artificial date when we say we quit. When it comes
to securing a future for our children and our children's children, we will stay
And that not only means hunting down al Qaeda and al Qaeda type terrorists which
hate America. It also means dealing with true and real threats that we can foresee.
One of the most dangerous threats America faces is a terrorist network teaming
up with some of the world's worst leaders who develop the world's worst weapons.
I gave a speech to the United Nations talking about Iraq, and making it crystal-clear
to the United Nations that Saddam poses an international problem. This is a
man who poisoned his own people, poisoned his neighbors. He's invaded two countries.
He signed agreements that said he would develop no weapons of mass destruction,
wouldn't hold any weapons of mass destruction. Yet, for 11 years, he's totally
ignored what he said he would do. He basically told the United Nations, your
deal don't mean anything to me.
I told the United Nations it can show us whether or not it's going to serve
its purpose to help keep the peace, or whether it's going to be irrelevant.
We, of course, want the United Nations to be relevant. We want them to be a
part of a framework of peace as we head into the 21st century. But I also made
it clear, this: that unless they're action from the nations at the United Nations,
that that's not satisfactory, as far as the United States is concerned.
And if Iraq regimes continues to defy us, and the world, we will move deliberately,
yet decisively, to hold Iraq to account. We owe this to our children. We must
anticipate. Somebody said, well, you know, they don't have a nuclear weapon.
I said, well, the most dangerous thing -- and we know they're trying to get
one -- the most dangerous thing would be to find out they had a nuclear weapon
after they developed one.
It's a new world we're in. We used to think two oceans could separate us from
an enemy. On that tragic day, September the 11th, 2001, we found out that's
not the case. We found out this great land of liberty and of freedom and of
justice is vulnerable. And therefore we must do everything we can -- everything
we can -- to secure the homeland, to make us safe. (Applause.) To be a safe
America, a strong America, and a better America.
One way to make sure we have a better America is to make sure every single child
gets educated in this country. I don't mean a few. I don't mean only those in
suburban districts, I mean every single child. I'm proud to have worked with
members of Congress to pass a bill which says, here in America, we believe in
high standards when it comes to educating children; that we will challenge the
soft bigotry of low expectations; that we believe the people of Iowa should
chart the path to excellence for the children of Iowa; and that we expect there
to be accountability in return for federal money.
See, we want to know, if you believe every child can learn, than you want to
know if every child is learning. And if they're not, we'll correct the problems
early before it's too late. There are no second-rate children in Iowa or in
To make sure there's a better America, we've got have a place where every senior
has access to high quality health care. We need a Medicare system which works,
a Medicare system which recognizes medicine has changed and needs to be reformed,
a Medicare system which will provide better coverage for Iowa's seniors, including
prescription drug coverage. I look forward to working with Congressman Nussle,
Congressman Leach, Senator Grassley on the Senate side, to come up with a bipartisan
effort to make sure this important program, Medicare, works for the senior citizens
of the state of Iowa. (Applause.)
And as we think about helping people, we've got to make sure our welfare system
remembers that work is an integral part of dignity, that we want to help people.
We want to help them find jobs. (Applause.)
No, we can make -- do a better job of passing legislation that will help America
be a better place. But the truth of the matter is, like I mentioned earlier,
America will become a better place when people follow their hearts, when people
help people in need.
One of my most important initiatives in Washington is what I call the faith-based
initiative, because I recognize that government can hand out money, but what
it cannot do is put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's
lives. What I want to do is unleash the great compassion of America, by changing
America one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. You see, when you love
a neighbor, you fight evil, but you also leave behind a legacy of compassion
and decency. It's what I call the gathering momentum of millions of acts of
kindness and decency, which take place in spite of government. It takes place
because our fellow citizens have heard the call, the call to personal responsibility.
One of the things that the enemy did when they hit us is they awoke a new spirit
in America. It used to be, you know, if it feels good, just go ahead and do
it, as part of our culture -- if you've got a problem, blame somebody else.
America now understands that ushering in a period of personal responsibility,
responsible for something other than yourself is important for our country.
If you're a mom or a dad, you're responsible for loving your children. You're
the one who is responsible for loving your children with all your heart. If
you're living right here in the great state of Iowa, you're responsible for
the quality of life in your community. It's you who is responsible for making
sure your public schools are the best. If you find a neighbor in need, you're
responsible for serving that neighbor in need, you're responsible for loving
a neighbor just like you'd like to love yourself.
No, there's a new patriotism here in America. It's more than just working on
homeland defense, it's more than putting your hand over your heart. It is serving
something larger than self. And when we all do that, we will make it clear to
the enemy that not only did they hit a great nation, they hit a nation which
is compassionate and decent and loving.
No, evil done to America was mighty and tough, and still many grieve. But out
of that evil can come incredible good. Out of the evil done to America can come
peace, peace for our children, peace for our children's children. And out of
evil done to America can come a more compassionate and decent and hopeful country.
There's no question in my mind -- no question in my mind -- that we will succeed,
because this is the greatest nation, full of the finest people on the face of