on Congress to Act on Nation's Priorities
Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility
Trenton, New Jersey
September 23, 2002
10:15 A.M. EDT
Thanks a lot for coming out this morning. It is my honor to be -- it is my honor
to be back in New Jersey. I want to thank you all for coming out. I want to
thank the people of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard for your hospitality.
(Applause.) I'm here to talk about how best to make America a stronger country,
a safer country, and a better country for all of us. (Applause.)
There is an old bridge over the Delaware River that says: Trenton makes, the
world takes. (Applause.) It talks about the work ethic of the people of this
part of our country, it talks about the creativity, it talks about the true
strength of America. The true strength of America are our fellow citizens. The
strength of our country is the people of America. And I'm honored to be with
such hardworking people. (Applause.)
Congress can help. Congress needs to work hard before they go home. Congress
needs to get some things done, which means a homeland security department, a
budget that reflects our priorities. They've got to make sure they don't overspend
your money. They've got to remember, everything they do must go to make sure
America is a stronger and safer and better place. (Applause.)
I want to thank Brigadier General Glenn Rieth for opening up this hangar and
for inviting me to this base. I want to thank all the Guard personnel who serve
the United States of America. I want to thank you for your service, I want to
thank you for your sacrifice. (Applause.) I want to thank your governor for
being here today. I appreciate Governor McGreevey being at the steps of Air
Force One. I'm thankful for his hospitality. I appreciate him coming to say,
hello, and I'm honored he's here today to hear this speech. Governor, thank
you for coming.
I appreciate members of the congressional delegation. Congressmen Ferguson,
Saxton and Smith from New Jersey, thank you all for being here. (Applause.)
I want to thank Bob Prunetti who is the Mercer County Executive, for greeting
me here, as well. And I want to thank you all for coming.
Here's what's on my mind: I want our people to work here in America. Any time
somebody who wants to work can't find a job, it means we've got a problem in
this country. And we will not rest until people can find work. A stronger America
means a strong economy. A stronger country means that our good, hardworking
Americans are able to put food on the table for their families.
Now, we're making progress. Listen, interest rates are low, inflation is low,
we've got the best workers in the world. We've got the best, hardest workers
and smartest workers in the world. We've got the ingredients for growth. But
what has taken place so far is not good enough for me. And I hope it's not good
enough for the Congress. What's happening in the economy is not good enough
for a stronger America. And Congress can help.
Listen, I come from the school of thought that says, if you've got an economic
problem -- and remember, for the first three quarters of my administration we
were in negative growth; the stock market started to decline in March of 2000;
economic growth started to slow down in the summer of 2000; we were in recession
in the first three quarters of 2001.
In order to make sure the country was stronger, I pulled this page out of the
economic textbook, the page that says, if you let people keep more of their
own money, they're going to spend it on a good or a service. If they spend it
on a good or a service, somebody will produce the good and service. And if somebody
produces a good or service, some American is more likely to find work. The tax
relief came right at the right time for economic growth and jobs. (Applause.)
And if Congress wants to help in job creation, they need to make the tax relief
permanent. They need to make the tax relief permanent so our New Jersey small
businesses and entrepreneurs can plan for the future. After all, most growth
of new jobs comes from small businesses all across America.
Congress also must understand they've got to pass an energy bill. You see, an
energy bill will be good for jobs. An energy bill will be good for national
security. We need an energy bill that encourages consumption [sic], encourages
new technologies so our cars are cleaner, encourages new renewable energy sources,
but at the same time encourages increase of supply here at home, so we're less
dependent on foreign sources of crude oil. (Applause.)
Congress needs to get some work done before they go home. And one of the most
important things they can do is to pass an anti-terrorism insurance bill. See,
we need an insurance bill to cover potential terrorist acts, so that hard hats
in America can get back to work. And I want a bill on my desk that says we care
more about the working people and less about the trial lawyers. We want a bill
that puts the hard hats back to work, not enriches the trial lawyers here in
In order to make sure our country is stronger and our economy grows, Congress
must be wise with your money. Notice I said "your money." When it
comes time to budgeting and appropriations, which means spending, sometimes
in Washington they forget whose money they're talking about. You hear them talking
about the government's money. No, the money in Washington is not the government's
money, the money in Washington is your money. And we better be careful about
how we spend your money. And if Congress overspends, it's going to a problem
for making America's economy continue to grow. And so my message to Congress
is: remember whose money you're spending.
Now, one of the problems we have is that any time you're worried about spending,
you set a budget. That's what you do. The Senate hasn't been able to do so.
They don't have a budget, which means it's likely they're going to overspend.
See, every idea in Washington is a good idea. Everybody's idea sounds good,
except the price tag is generally in the billions. In order to make sure the
country is stronger, we need fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C. We need
to make sure that Congress does not overspend. Without a budget, they're likely
They set deadlines on you, when it comes to paying your IRS, paying your taxes.
There ought to be a deadline on them in order to get a budget passed and to
get bills passed. Now, because they haven't been able to move, they're going
to send my desk soon what looks like what they call a temporary spending bill.
And that temporary spending bill should not be an excuse for excessive federal
spending. The temporary spending bill ought to remember whose money they're
spending. A temporary spending bill ought to be clean, so that we don't overspend
as the economy is trying to continue to grow. What we need in Washington is
fiscal responsibility, fiscal sanity. We need to set priorities with your money.
And the most important priority I have is to defend the homeland; is to defend
the homeland from a bunch of killers who hate America. (Applause.)
It's very important for the school children here to listen to what I'm about
to say. You're probably wondering why America is under attack. And you need
to know why. We're under attack because we love freedom, is why we're under
attack. And our enemy hates freedom. They hate and we love. They hate the thought
that this country is a country in which people from all walks of life can worship
and almighty God any way he or she fits. They hate the thought that we have
honest and open discourse. They hate the thought that we're a beacon of liberty
We differ from our enemy because we love. We not only love our freedoms and
love our values, we love life, itself. In America, everybody matters, everybody
counts, every human life is a life of dignity. And that's not the way our enemy
thinks. Our enemy hates innocent life; they're willing to kill in the name of
a great religion. (Applause.) And as long as we love freedom and love liberty
and value every human life, they're going to try to hurt us. And so our most
important job is to defend the freedom, defend the homeland -- is to make sure
what happened on September the 11th doesn't happen again, we must do everything
we can -- everything in our power -- to keep America safe.
There are a lot of good people working hard to keep you safe. There are people
at the federal level and at the state level, a lot of fine folks here at the
local level, doing everything we can to run down every lead. If we find any
kind of hint, we're moving on it -- all within the confines and all within the
structure of the United States Constitution. We're chasing down every possible
lead because we understand there's an enemy out there which hates America.
I asked the Congress to work with me to come up with a new Department of Homeland
Security, to make sure that not only can this administration function better,
but future administrations will be able to deal with the true threats we face
as we get into the 21st century. A homeland security department which takes
over the hundred different agencies and brings them under one umbrella so that
there's a single priority and a new culture, all aimed at dealing with the threats.
I mean, after all, on our border we need to know who's coming into America,
what they're bringing into America, are they leaving when they're supposed to
be leaving America. (Applause.) Yet, when you look at the border, there are
three different federal agencies dealing with the border: there is Customs and
INS and Border Patrol. And sometimes they work together and sometimes they don't
-- they don't. They've got different work rules. They've got different customs.
Sometimes they have different strategies. And that's not right.
So I asked Congress to give me the flexibility necessary to be able to deal
with the true threats of the 21st century by being able to move the right people
to the right place at the right time, so we can better assure America we're
doing everything possible. The House responded, but the Senate is more interested
in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the
American people. I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does
not allow this President, and future Presidents, to better keep the American
people secure. (Applause.)
And people are working hard in Washington to get it right in Washington, both
Republicans and Democrats. See, this isn't a partisan issue. This is an American
issue. This is an issue which is vital to our future. It'll help us determine
how secure we'll be.
Senator Gramm, a Republican, Senator Miller, a Democrat, are working hard to
bring people together. And the Senate must listen to them. It's a good bill.
It's a bill I can accept. It's a bill that will make America more secure. And
anything less than that is a bill which I will not accept, it's a bill which
I will not saddle this administration and future administrations with allowing
the United States Senate to micro-manage the process. The enemy is too quick
for that. We must be flexible, we must be strong, we must be ready to take the
enemy on anywhere he decides to hit us, whether it's America or anywhere else
in the globe. (Applause.)
But the best way to secure our homeland, the only sure way to make sure our
children are free and our children's children are free, is to hunt the killers
down, wherever they hide, is to hunt them down, one by one, and bring them to
As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter how long it takes. See, we're talking
about our freedom and our future. There's no cave deep enough, as far as I'm
concerned; and there's no cave deep enough, as far as the United States military
is concerned, either. I want you all to know, if you wear the uniform of our
great country, I'm proud of you. I've got confidence in you. I believe that
you can handle any mission. (Applause.)
No, it's a different kind of war than our nation has seen in the past. One thing
that's different is oceans no longer keep us safe. The second thing is, in the
old days, you could measure progress by looking at how many tanks the enemy
had one day, and how many he had the next day, whether or not his airplanes
were flying or whether or not his ships were floating on the seas. It's a different
kind of war. And America has begun to adjust its thinking about this kind of
See, this is the kind of war where the leaders of the enemy hide. They go into
big cities -- or as I mentioned, caves -- and they send youngsters to their
suicidal death. That's the kind of war we're having. It's not measured in equipment
destroyed, it's going to be measured in people brought to justice. And we're
making progress. I had made it clear to the world that either you're with us
or you're with the enemy, and that doctrine still stands. (Applause.) And as
a result of the hard work by our United States military and the militaries and
law enforcement officers of other countries, we've arrested or brought to justice
a couple thousand or more. Slowly but surely, we're finding them where we think
they can hide.
We brought one of them in the other day. He thought he was going to be the 20th
hijacker, or at least he was bragging that way. I don't know if he's bragging
now. But, see, he thought he was immune, he thought he was invisible, he thought
he could hide from the long arm of justice. And like many -- about the like
number haven't been so lucky as the 20th hijacker. They met their fate.
We're getting them on the run, and we're keeping them on the run. They're going
to be -- as part of our doctrine, we're going to make sure that there's no place
for them to alight, no place for them to hide. These are haters, and they're
killers. And we owe it to the American people and we owe it to our friends and
allies to pursue them, no matter where they try to hide.
And that's why I asked the Congress for the largest increase in defense spending
since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so because I firmly believe that
any time we commit our troops into harm's way, you deserve the best pay, the
best training and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) I also asked for
a large increase because I wanted to send a clear signal to the rest of the
world that we're in this for the long haul; that there is no calendar on my
desk that says, by such and such a day we're going to quit, that by such and
such a day we will all have grown weary, we're too tired, and therefore we're
That's not the way we think in America. See, we understand obligation and responsibility.
We have a responsibility to our children to fight for freedom. We have a responsibility
to our citizens to defend the homeland. And that only means -- not only means
dealing with real, immediate threats, it also means anticipating threats before
they occur, before things happen. It means we've got to look out into the future
and understand the new world in which we live and deal with threats before it's
And that's why I went into the United Nations the other day. And I said to the
United Nations, we have a true threat that faces America; a threat that faces
the world; and a threat which diminishes your capacity. And I'm talking about
Iraq. That country has got a leader which has attacked two nations in the neighborhood;
a leader who has killed thousands of people; a leader who is brutal -- see,
remember, we believe every life matters and every life is precious -- s leader,
if there is dissent, will kill the dissenter; a leader who told the United Nations
and the world he would not develop weapons of mass destruction, and for 11 long
years has stiffed the world.
He looked at the United Nations and said this is a paper tiger, their resolutions
mean nothing. For 11 years he has deceived and denied. For 11 years he's claimed
he has had no weapons and, yet, we know he has.
So I went to the United Nations and said, either you can become the League of
Nations, either you can become an organization which is nothing but a debating
society -- or you can be an organization which is robust enough and strong enough
to help keep the peace; your choice.
But I also told them that if they would not act, if they would not deal with
this true threat we face in America, if they would not recognize that America
is no longer protected by oceans and that this man is the man who would use
weapons of mass destruction at the drop of a hat, a man who would be willing
to team up with terrorist organizations with weapons of mass destruction to
threaten America and our allies, if they wouldn't act, the United States will
-- we will not allow the world's worst leaders to threaten us with the world's
worst weapons. (Applause.)
I want to see strong resolutions coming out of that U.N.; a resolution which
says the old ways of deceit are gone; a resolution which will hold this man
to account; a resolution which will allow freedom-loving countries to disarm
Saddam Hussein before he threatens his neighborhood, before he threatens freedom,
before he threatens America and before he threatens civilization. We owe it
to our children and we owe it to our grandchildren to keep this nation strong
and free. (Applause.)
And as we work to make America a stronger place and a safer place, we always
must remember that we've got to work to make America a better place, too --
a better place. And that starts with making sure every single child in America
gets a great education. (Applause.) Make sure that every child -- make sure
that we focus on each child, every child. It says we expect and believe our
children can learn to read and write and add and subtract. As a society, we
will challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations.
We believe every child can learn, every child matters, and therefore we expect
to be told whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add
and subtract. And if we find they're not, if we find there are certain children
who aren't learning and the systems are just shuffling through as if they don't
matter, we must challenge the status quo. Failure is unacceptable in America.
Every child matters, and no child should be left behind in this great country.
A better America, a better America is one which makes sure that our health care
systems are responsive to the patient and make sure our health care systems,
particularly for the elderly, are modern. We need prescription drug benefits
for elderly Americans. The Medicare system must be reformed, must be made to
work so that we have a better tomorrow for all citizens in this country. (Applause.)
A better America is one that understands as we're helping people go from dependency
to freedom, from welfare, we must help them find work. A better America understands
that when people work, there is dignity in their lives. A better America is
America which understands the power of our faith-based institutions in our country.
It's in our churches and synagogues and mosques that we find universal love
and universal compassion. (Applause.)
You know what's really interesting about what's taking place in America is this:
the enemy hit us, but out of the evil done to America is going to come some
incredible good, because of the nature of our soul, the nature of our being.
On the one hand, I believe we can achieve peace. Oh, I know the kids hear all
the war rhetoric and tough talk, and that's necessary to send a message to friend
and foe alike that we're plenty tough, if you rouse this country, and we're
not going to relent.
But we're not going to relent because my desire is to achieve peace. I want
there to be a peaceful world. I want children all across our globe to grow up
in a peaceful society. Oh, I know the hurdles are going to be high to achieving
that peace. There's going to be some tough decisions to make, some tough action
for some to take. But it's all aimed at making America safe and secure and peaceful,
but other places around the world, too. I believe this -- I believe that if
our country -- and it will -- remains strong and tough and we fight terror wherever
terror exists, that we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace in the Middle
East, we can achieve peace in South Asia. We can achieve peace.
No, out of the evil done to America can come a peaceful world. And at home,
out of the evil done to our country can come some incredible good, as well.
We've got to understand, in America there are pockets of despair and hopelessness,
places where people hurt because they're not sure if America is meant for them,
places where people are addicted. And government can help eradicate these pockets
by handing out money. But what government cannot do is put hope in people's
hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That's done when neighbor loves
neighbor. That's done when this country hears the universal call to love a neighbor
just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
No, out of the evil done to America is coming some incredible good, because
we've got citizens all across this land -- whether they be a part of our faith-based
institutions or charitable institutions -- citizens all across this land who
have heard the call that if you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want
to resist the evil done to America, love your neighbor; mentor a child; put
your arm around an elderly citizen who is shut-in, and say, I love you; start
a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop; go to your Boys and Girls Clubs; help somebody
No, this country, this country has heard the call. This country is a country
full of such incredibly decent and warm-hearted and compassionate citizens that
there's people all across New Jersey and all across America who without one
government act, without government law are in fact trying to make the communities
in which they live a more responsive and compassionate and loving place.
Today I met Bob and Chris Morgan, USA Freedom Corps greeters, who coordinate
blood drives right here in New Jersey for the American Red Cross. Nobody told
them they had to do that. There wasn't a law that said, you will be a part of
collecting blood. They decided to do it because they want to make America more
able to address emergency and help people in need. Whether it's teaching a child
to read, whether it's delivering food to the hungry or helping those who need
a -- housing, you can make a huge difference in the lives of our fellow Americans.
See, societies change one heart, one conscience, one soul at a time. Everybody
has worth and everybody matters. No, out of the evil done to America is going
to come a compassionate society. (Applause.) Now this great country will show
the world what we're made out of. This great country, by responding to the challenges
we face will leave behind a legacy of sacrifice, a legacy of compassion, a legacy
of peace, a legacy of decency for future generations of people fortunate enough
to be called an American.
There's no question in my mind -- I hope you can tell, I'm an optimistic fellow
about our future. I believe we can overcome any difficulty that's put in our
path. I believe we can cross any hurdle, climb any mountain, because this is
the greatest nation on the face of the earth, full of the most decent, hardworking,
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. Thank you, all. (Applause.)