Think Tank

President G.W. Bush Speeches Source Text

Good morning. Monday is Tax Day, and that means many of you are busy finishing up your tax returns. The good news is that this year Americans will once again keep more of their hard-earned dollars because of the tax cuts we passed in 2001 and 2003. An important debate is taking place in Washington over whether to keep these tax cuts in place or to raise your taxes. For the sake of American workers and their families, and for our entrepreneurs, I believe Congress needs to make the tax relief permanent. Our economy prospers when Americans like you make the decisions on how to spend, save, and invest your money. So the tax relief we passed cut taxes for everyone who pays income taxes. We cut taxes on families by lowering rates and by doubling the child credit. We also reduced the marriage penalty, because our tax code should encourage marriage, not penalize it. We cut taxes on small businesses, allowing them to expand and hire more workers. And we worked with Congress to phase out the death tax, because government should not tax farmers or small business owners twice -- once when you make your money and a second time when you try to pass the fruits of your life's work on to your loved ones. So far, the tax relief I signed has left $880 billion with America's workers and small business owners and families, and you have used that money to fuel an economic resurgence. Our economy has added jobs for 31 months in a row, creating more than 5.1 million new jobs for American workers. And the unemployment rate is now down to 4.7 percent, below the average rate for each of the past four decades. Real after-tax income per person has grown by more than 8 percent since I took office. And that means, on average, Americans have an income that is $2,100 higher this year than it was at the beginning of 2001, after adjusting for inflation. Not everyone agrees that we should let you keep more of your money. Some in Washington said that by cutting taxes, we were "ruining" our economy. On the day that the House and Senate were finalizing the 2003 tax cuts, one Democratic leader said these cuts would "do nothing to create jobs." Since then, the facts have proven that critic wrong -- 5.1 million times over. Tax relief has done exactly what it was designed to do: It has created jobs and growth for the American people. Yet some here in Washington are now proposing that we raise taxes, either by repealing the tax cuts or letting them expire. These are the same politicians who told us that letting you keep more of your own money would be irresponsible, and reckless, and shameful. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. To keep our economy creating jobs and opportunity, Congress needs to make the tax relief permanent. There's more to do to maintain America's economic strength. We're working to address rising energy prices and health care costs, which puts pressure on family budgets and the bottom lines of our small businesses. I have proposed practical reforms that would make health care more available and affordable, and I put forward an energy initiative that would make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. I urge Congress to act on these important priorities, so we can keep America the economic leader of the world and allow more families and small businesses to realize the American Dream. America's economy is strong and benefiting all Americans. By keeping taxes low and adopting sound policies that help our workers to compete and our businesses to grow and expand, we will keep the economy moving forward and extend prosperity and hope in our country. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, Members of the United States Senate reached a promising bipartisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, this compromise is being blocked by the Senate Democratic leader who has refused to allow Senators to move forward and vote on amendments to this bill. I call on the Senate Minority Leader to end his blocking tactics and allow the Senate to do its work and pass a fair, effective immigration reform bill. Immigration is an emotional issue and a vitally important one. At its core, immigration is the sign of a confident and successful nation. It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes, leave their families, and risk everything to come to America. Their talent, hard work, and love of freedom have helped make America a vibrant, strong Nation. And by reforming our immigration laws to meet the realities of the 21st century, we will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty for generations to come. I made clear that a comprehensive immigration reform bill must include three elements: First, comprehensive immigration reform must secure our borders. Since I took office, we've increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and Federal agents have apprehended and sent home more than 6 million people entering this country illegally, including more than 400,000 with criminal records. To improve security at the border, we're hiring thousands more Border Patrol agents; we're deploying new technologies like infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles to help our agents do their jobs; we're installing physical barriers to entry, like fences in urban areas. We're making good progress, but we have much more work ahead to gain control of our border. I'll continue to work with Congress to strengthen border security, so we can prevent illegal immigrants from crossing our border and make the immigration system more orderly and secure. Second, comprehensive immigration reform must strengthen the enforcement of our laws in America's interior. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 42 percent, increased the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators, enhanced worksite enforcement, and gone after smugglers, gang members, and human traffickers. A good immigration bill should enhance our ability to stop document fraud and help employers comply with our laws. Finally, comprehensive immigration reform must include a temporary worker program that relieves pressure on our borders, while rejecting amnesty. A temporary worker program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that no American is available to do. By creating a legal channel for those seeking temporary work in America, we would reduce the number of people trying to sneak across the border. This would free up law enforcement officers to focus on criminals, drug dealers, terrorists, and others who mean us harm. A temporary worker program would also improve security by creating tamper-proof identification cards, so we can keep track of every temporary worker who is here on a legal basis and identify those who are not. A new temporary worker program should not provide amnesty. Granting amnesty would be unfair to those who follow the rules and obey the laws. Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage others to break the law and create new waves of illegal immigration. We must ensure that those who break our laws are not granted an automatic path to citizenship. We should also conduct the debate on immigration reform in a manner worthy of our Nation's best traditions. To keep the promise of America, we must remain a welcoming society and also enforce the laws that make our freedom possible. As we do, our Nation will draw strength from the diversity of its citizens and unity from their desire to assimilate and become one people. By working together, we can fix our immigration system in a way that protects our country, upholds our laws, and makes our Nation proud. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, Members of the United States Senate reached a promising bipartisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, this compromise is being blocked by the Senate Democratic leader who has refused to allow Senators to move forward and vote on amendments to this bill. I call on the Senate Minority Leader to end his blocking tactics and allow the Senate to do its work and pass a fair, effective immigration reform bill. Immigration is an emotional issue and a vitally important one. At its core, immigration is the sign of a confident and successful nation. It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes, leave their families, and risk everything to come to America. Their talent, hard work, and love of freedom have helped make America a vibrant, strong Nation. And by reforming our immigration laws to meet the realities of the 21st century, we will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty for generations to come. I made clear that a comprehensive immigration reform bill must include three elements: First, comprehensive immigration reform must secure our borders. Since I took office, we've increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and Federal agents have apprehended and sent home more than 6 million people entering this country illegally, including more than 400,000 with criminal records. To improve security at the border, we're hiring thousands more Border Patrol agents; we're deploying new technologies like infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles to help our agents do their jobs; we're installing physical barriers to entry, like fences in urban areas. We're making good progress, but we have much more work ahead to gain control of our border. I'll continue to work with Congress to strengthen border security, so we can prevent illegal immigrants from crossing our border and make the immigration system more orderly and secure. Second, comprehensive immigration reform must strengthen the enforcement of our laws in America's interior. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 42 percent, increased the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators, enhanced worksite enforcement, and gone after smugglers, gang members, and human traffickers. A good immigration bill should enhance our ability to stop document fraud and help employers comply with our laws. Finally, comprehensive immigration reform must include a temporary worker program that relieves pressure on our borders, while rejecting amnesty. A temporary worker program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that no American is available to do. By creating a legal channel for those seeking temporary work in America, we would reduce the number of people trying to sneak across the border. This would free up law enforcement officers to focus on criminals, drug dealers, terrorists, and others who mean us harm. A temporary worker program would also improve security by creating tamper-proof identification cards, so we can keep track of every temporary worker who is here on a legal basis and identify those who are not. A new temporary worker program should not provide amnesty. Granting amnesty would be unfair to those who follow the rules and obey the laws. Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage others to break the law and create new waves of illegal immigration. We must ensure that those who break our laws are not granted an automatic path to citizenship. We should also conduct the debate on immigration reform in a manner worthy of our Nation's best traditions. To keep the promise of America, we must remain a welcoming society and also enforce the laws that make our freedom possible. As we do, our Nation will draw strength from the diversity of its citizens and unity from their desire to assimilate and become one people. By working together, we can fix our immigration system in a way that protects our country, upholds our laws, and makes our Nation proud. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As tax day approaches later this month, many American families are now finishing their tax returns. And as you do, an important debate is taking place in Washington that will affect the amount you will pay in the years ahead. I believe our economy grows when you're allowed to keep more of your hard-earned money and make your own decisions about how to save, spend, and invest. So, working with Congress, we've provided tax relief for all Americans who pay income taxes. We lowered tax rates to let workers keep more of their paychecks. We doubled the child tax credit and reduced the marriage penalty, and we put the death tax on the road to extinction. We also cut taxes on dividends and capital gains and expanded incentives for small businesses to invest so they could grow and create new jobs. Since 2001, the tax relief we delivered has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, and small businesses, and families like yours, and you used that money to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Last year, our economy grew at a healthy 3.5 percent, faster than any other major industrialized nation. One politician in Washington said in 2003 that our tax cuts were "ruining our economy and costing us jobs." The truth is that since August 2003, America has added almost 5 million new jobs. Our unemployment rate is now 4.8 percent -- lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Real after-tax income is up 8 percent per person since the beginning of 2001. More Americans now own their own homes than at any time in our history, and minority homeownership is at record levels. Consumer confidence is at its highest level in nearly four years. Productivity has grown strongly over the past five years, and our small business sector is thriving. The evidence is overwhelming: The opponents of tax cuts were wrong. Tax relief has helped to create jobs and opportunities for American families, and it's helped our economy grow. By maintaining our pro-growth economic policies and practicing spending restraint in Washington, we can keep our economy growing and stay on track to meet our goal of cutting the budget deficit in half by 2009. The problem is that the tax relief we passed is set to expire over the next few years. Some Democrats in Washington are insisting that we let that happen -- or even repeal the tax cuts now. In either case, that would weaken our economy and would leave American families with a big tax hike that they do not expect and will not welcome. Because America needs more than a temporary economic expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. To keep our economy growing, to keep our businesses investing, and to keep creating jobs, we need to ensure that you keep more of what you earn -- so Congress needs to make the tax relief permanent. Making tax relief permanent includes extending the tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. These tax cuts have been vital to our economic growth. By lowering the cost of capital, this tax relief has given businesses an incentive to invest and expand, and that has helped create jobs and opportunity. I urge the Congress to extend these pro-growth tax cuts, so our businesses can plan with confidence and keep creating jobs for American workers. The debate in Congress over taxes ultimately comes down to this: Who knows best how to use your money -- the politicians in Washington or you? I believe the money we spend in Washington is your money, not the government's money. I trust you to make the best decisions about what to do with your hard-earned dollars, because when you do, your family is better off, our economy grows, and prosperity and opportunity spread throughout our great land. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Monday, I will attend a naturalization ceremony here in Washington. It's always inspiring to watch a group of immigrants raise their hands and swear an oath to become citizens of the United States of America. These men and women follow in the footsteps of millions who've come to our shores seeking liberty and opportunity, and America is better off for their hard work and love of freedom. America is a nation of immigrants, and we're also a nation of laws. And our immigration laws are in need of reform. So at Monday's ceremony, I will discuss my vision for comprehensive immigration reform that will secure our borders, improve enforcement of our immigration laws, and uphold our values. Comprehensive immigration reform begins with securing our borders. Since I took office, we've increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and the Department of Homeland Security has caught and sent home nearly 6 million illegal immigrants. To improve security at the border, we're hiring thousands more Border Patrol agents. We're deploying new technology, like infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles, to help our agents do their job. And we're installing physical barriers to entry, like fences in urban areas. We're also working to end the unwise practice of catch-and-release. For decades, many illegal immigrants were released back into society soon after they were caught, because we did not have enough detention space. So we're adding more beds so we can hold the people we catch, and we're reducing the time it takes to send them back home. When illegal immigrants know they will be caught and sent home, they will be less likely to break the rules, and our immigration system will be more orderly and secure. We're making good progress, but we have much more work ahead, and we will not be satisfied until we have control of our border. Comprehensive immigration reform also includes strengthening the enforcement of our laws in America's interior. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 42 percent. We're increasing the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators, enhancing work site enforcement, and going after smugglers and gang members and human traffickers. Finally, comprehensive immigration reform requires a temporary worker program that will relieve pressure on our borders. This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do. By reducing the number of people trying to sneak across the border, we would free up our law enforcement officers to focus on criminals and drug dealers and terrorists and others who mean us harm. One thing the temporary worker program would not do is provide amnesty to those who are in our country illegally. I believe that granting amnesty would be unfair, because it would allow those who break the law to jump ahead of people who play by the rules and wait in the citizenship line. Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage waves of illegal immigration, increase pressure on the border, and make it more difficult for law enforcement to focus on those who mean us harm. For the sake of justice and for the sake of border security, I firmly oppose amnesty. In the coming days, the United States Senate plans to consider proposals on immigration reform. This is an emotional debate. America does not have to choose between being a welcoming society and being a lawful society. We can be both at the same time. As we debate the immigration issue, we must remember there are hard-working individuals, doing jobs that Americans will not do, who are contributing to the economic vitality of our country. To keep the promise of America, we must enforce the laws of America. We must also ensure that immigrants assimilate into our society and learn our customs and values -- including the English language. By working together, we can meet our duty to fix our immigration system and deliver a bill that protects our country, upholds our laws, and makes our Nation proud. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In recent weeks, Americans have seen horrific images from Iraq: the bombing of a great house of worship in Samarra, sectarian reprisals between Sunnis and Shias, and car bombings and kidnappings. Amid continued reports about the tense situation in parts of that country, it may seem difficult at times to understand how we can say that progress is being made. But the reaction to the recent violence by Iraq's leaders is a clear sign of Iraq's commitment to democracy. I'm encouraged to see that Iraqi political leaders are making good progress toward forming a unity government, despite the recent violence. Our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad, reports that the violence has created a new sense of urgency among these leaders to form a national unity government as quickly as possible. I urge them to continue their work to put aside their differences, to reach out across political, religious, and sectarian lines, and to form a government that can confront the terrorist threat and earn the trust and confidence of all Iraqis. I also remain optimistic because slowly but surely our strategy is getting results. This month I'm giving a series of speeches to update the American people on that strategy. I'm discussing the progress we are making, the lessons we have learned from our experience, and how we are fixing what has not worked. This past week, I discussed the security element of our strategy. I spoke about our increasingly successful efforts to train Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight against the terrorists. And I described our strengthened efforts to defeat the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. On Monday, I will give a speech discussing how we are working with all elements of Iraqi society to remove the terrorists and restore order in Iraqi cities, to rebuild homes and communities, and to achieve the stability that can come only from freedom. I will also share some concrete examples of how this approach is succeeding -- evidence of real progress that is too often lost amid the more dramatic reports of violence. Sunday marks the third anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The decision by the United States and our Coalition partners to remove Saddam Hussein from power was a difficult decision -- and it was the right decision. America and the world are safer today without Saddam Hussein in power. He is no longer oppressing the Iraqi people, sponsoring terror, and threatening the world. He is now being tried for his crimes, and over 25 million Iraqis now live in freedom. This is an achievement America and our allies can be proud of. These past three years have tested our resolve. We've seen hard days and setbacks. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the terrorists made Iraq the central front in the war on terror, in an attempt to turn that country into a safe haven where they can plan more attacks against America. The fighting has been tough. The enemy has proved brutal and relentless. We have changed our approach in many areas to reflect the hard realities on the ground. And our troops have shown magnificent courage and made tremendous sacrifices. These sacrifices by our Coalition forces -- and the sacrifices of Iraqis -- have given Iraq this historic opportunity to form a democratic government and rebuild itself after decades of tyranny. In the past three years, Iraqis have gone from living under a brutal tyrant, to liberation, sovereignty, free elections, a constitutional referendum, and last December, elections for a fully constitutional government. By their courage, the Iraqi people have spoken and made their intentions clear: They want to live in a democracy and shape their own destiny. In this fight, the American and Iraqi people share the same enemies because we stand for freedom. The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people, and we will settle for nothing less than complete victory. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for the terrorists to plot new attacks against our nation. More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong. Yet there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat. So America will not abandon Iraq to the terrorists who want to attack us again. We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This month will mark the three-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which liberated Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. As this milestone approaches, I will be giving a series of speeches to update the American people on our strategy for victory in Iraq. I will discuss the progress we are making, the lessons we've learned from our experiences, and how we're fixing what has not worked. On Monday, I will give the first of these speeches, focusing on the security element of our strategy: the task of defeating the terrorists and training Iraqi security forces so they can take the lead in the fight and defend their own democracy. The Iraqi security forces have made great strides in the past year, and they performed well after the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This mosque is one of Shia Islam's holiest sites, and after it was bombed, bands of armed militia began exacting revenge, with reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques and random violence that took the lives of hundreds of innocent Iraqis. Immediately after the attack, Iraq's leaders came together and acted to restore calm and end the violence. They deployed Iraqi security forces to Baghdad and other areas threatened by violence. These forces moved rapidly and effectively to protect religious sites, enforce a curfew, and re-establish civil order where necessary. We commend them for their good work. The situation in Iraq is still tense. Reports of kidnappings and executions are being taken very seriously. The Iraqi government has made clear that such violent attacks cannot be tolerated. The vast majority of Iraqis have shown they want a future of freedom and peace. By their response over the past two weeks and their participation in three successful elections last year, the Iraqi people have made clear they will not let a violent minority take that future away by tearing the country apart. And the Iraqi security forces have shown that they are capable of rising above sectarian divisions to protect the unity of a free Iraq. The effective performance of the Iraqi security forces during this crisis showed that our hard work to build up and train these forces is paying off. In the coming months, we will help prepare more Iraqi battalions to take the lead in battle, and Iraqi forces will assume responsibility over more territory. Our goal is to have the Iraqis control more territory than the Coalition forces by the end of this year. And as Iraqis assume responsibility over more territory, this frees American and Coalition forces to concentrate on hunting down high-value targets like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates. As we take the fight to the terrorists, they realize they cannot defeat us directly in battle, so they have resorted to brutal attacks against innocent Iraqis and American forces using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. IEDs are homemade bombs that can be hidden in cars or by the side of a road and detonated remotely, using everyday devices like garage door openers and cordless phones. These weapons are now the principal threat to our troops and to the future of a free Iraq -- and to defeat this threat, my Administration has established a new high-level command at the Department of Defense, led by retired four-star General Montgomery Meigs. This weekend, General Meigs is briefing me at the White House on our plan to defeat the threat of IEDs. We're harnessing every available resource, the ingenuity of our best scientists and engineers, and the determination of our military to defeat this threat -- and we're not going to rest until this danger to our troops has been removed. In the coming days, there will be considerable reflection on the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and our remaining mission in Iraq. The last three years have tested our resolve. The fighting has been tough. The enemy we face has proved to be brutal and relentless. We have changed our approach in many areas to reflect the hard realities on the ground. And the sacrifice being made by our young men and women who wear the uniform has been heartening and inspiring. Amid the daily news of car bombs and kidnappings and brutal killings, I can understand why many of our fellow citizens are now wondering if the entire mission was worth it. I strongly believe our country is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was an enemy of America who shot at our airplanes, had a history of pursuing and using weapons of mass destruction, threatened and invaded his neighbors, ordered the death of thousands of his citizens, and supported terrorism. After the liberation of the Iraqi people, al Qaida and their affiliates have made Iraq the central front on the war on terror. By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America. The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people. This will require more difficult days of fighting and sacrifice, yet I am confident that our strategy will result in victory, and then our troops can come home with the honor they have earned. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. I have been traveling this past week in South Asia on a trip to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. My first stop was Afghanistan, and I was thrilled to see firsthand the incredible transformation that has taken place there. Before September the 11th, 2001, Afghanistan was ruled by a cruel regime that oppressed its people, brutalized women, and gave safe haven to the terrorists who attacked America. Today, the terror camps have been shut down; women are working; boys and girls are back in school; and 25 million people have now tasted freedom. The Afghan people are building a vibrant young democracy that is an ally in the war on terror. And America is proud to have such a determined partner in the cause of freedom. I was pleased to visit with President Karzai and members of his cabinet and government. I told them America will stand with the Afghan people as they build a free society and fight our common enemies, and we will see the mission through without wavering. I was honored to visit our troops at Bagram Air Base who are serving on the front lines of the war on terror. It was a privilege to thank them in person for their courage and for the sacrifice of their families back home. These fine Americans are standing watch for liberty halfway across the world, and I told them that all Americans were proud of them. The next stop on my trip was India. Like America, India has endured terrorist attacks on its own soil. Like America, India is a democracy that understands the best way to ensure peace is to advance freedom. And like America, India is working to help nations like Afghanistan build the institutions of a free and democratic society. Relations between the United States and India have never been better. One important aspect of this partnership is working together to meet the energy needs of our growing economies, especially through the use of clean and safe nuclear power. On my trip, the United States and India reached an historic agreement to share civilian nuclear technology as India brings its civilian nuclear programs under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This agreement is good for American security because it will bring India's civilian nuclear program into the international nonproliferation mainstream. The agreement also is good for the American economy. The agreement will help meet India's surging energy needs, and that will lessen India's growing demand for other energy supplies and help restrain energy prices for American consumers. Another important aspect of this partnership is the growing trade between our two countries. In the past 10 years, India has passed economic reforms that have opened its door to trade and helped raised the living standards for millions of its people. In my meetings with Prime Minister Singh, I made clear that trade between our countries must be free and fair. I know that America's workers can compete with anyone, any time, anywhere so long as the rules are fair. Ultimately, the best way to create jobs for Americans is to expand markets for American products. Today, India is one of the fastest-growing export markets. India has now a growing middle class that is estimated at 300 million people -- more than the entire population of the United States. Middle class Indians are buying home appliances from American companies like Whirlpool. Younger Indians are enjoying McCurry meals from McDonald's. And Air India has recently ordered 68 planes from Boeing. Last year, exports to India grew by more than 30 percent. And all this trade is creating jobs and opportunity in America. So we will continue to work to level the playing field for our workers, farmers, and businesses -- and deliver a better life for all Americans. The final stop on my trip was Pakistan, another important ally in the war on terror. After September the 11th, 2001, President Musharraf understood that he had to make a fundamental choice. He could turn a blind eye and leave his people hostage to the terrorists, or he could join the free world in fighting the terrorists. President Musharraf made the right choice for his people, and America appreciates his leadership. Since he joined the fight against terror, President Musharraf has faced several attempts on his life, yet President Musharraf has not faltered. He understands that the terrorists are a threat to the peace and security of the Pakistani people and the world. Our relations with Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan will enhance the security of our country. By working with these leaders and the people of these three nations, we're seizing the opportunities this new century offers and helping to lay the foundations of peace and prosperity for generations to come.

Good morning. On Sunday and Monday, I will meet with America's governors during their annual gathering in Washington, D.C. As a former governor, I appreciate the work of these fine public servants. I look forward to talking with them about the challenges and opportunities facing their states and our nation and discussing how leaders of both parties can work together to solve problems for our citizens. One of the most important issues we will discuss is how to improve health care for the American people, and we have a good example in the Medicare system that provides health care coverage for our seniors. When I took office, I found a Medicare system that would pay tens of thousands of dollars for a surgery, but not the money for the prescription drugs that could have prevented the surgery in the first place. So, working with Congress, we passed critical legislation that modernizes Medicare, provides seniors with more choices, and gives them better access to prescription drugs. More than 25 million people with Medicare now have prescription drug coverage, and hundreds of thousands more are enrolling each week. This new coverage is saving seniors money on their drug premiums: the typical senior will end up spending about half of what they used to spend on prescription drugs each year. Another issue I will discuss with governors is how to keep America the most innovative and competitive nation in the world. In my State of the Union Address, I announced the American Competitiveness Initiative. Under this Initiative, we will double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research in the physical sciences over the next decade. We will also make the research and development tax credit permanent to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to increase their investments in innovation. These investments will lead to new technologies that will offer a better life for our citizens and keep our economy strong. My Competitiveness Initiative will also give American children a firm grounding in math and science to prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century. I proposed that we train 70,000 additional high school teachers over the next five years to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science and bring in 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms and give extra help to students who struggle with math. By ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed in life, we will ensure that America's economy succeeds in the world. When I meet the governors, I will also talk about our energy strategy. I proposed an Advanced Energy Initiative to take advantage of new technologies. Under this Initiative, we will change how we power our homes and offices by investing in clean coal technology, solar and wind power, and clean, safe nuclear energy. And we will change how we power our cars and trucks by investing in hybrid vehicles, pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen, and alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. By applying the talent and innovative spirit of our citizens, we will move beyond a petroleum-based economy, protect our environment, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. I'll also discuss with governors our progress in the war on terror. The states are playing a vital role in the war effort through the contributions of their National Guard units. During the past two years, many governors have traveled to Iraq or Afghanistan to visit with the men and women from their states who are serving in freedom's cause. These governors have seen firsthand the courage of our troops and their dedication to the mission. Last month, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee visited Iraq and Afghanistan with three of his fellow governors. He said: "People back home need to realize just how proud they should be of our men and women here. It is obvious these troops remain upbeat and focused on ridding the world of terrorists." To improve health care, keep America competitive, achieve greater energy independence, and protect our Nation, we must put aside politics and focus on what is best for the future of our country. America's governors are good allies in this effort, and I look forward to working with them in the year ahead. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming week, I will visit Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado, to discuss our strategy to ensure that America has affordable, reliable, and secure sources of energy. The best way to meet our growing energy needs is through advances in technology. So in my State of the Union Address, I announced the Advanced Energy Initiative. We will pursue promising technologies that will transform how we power our vehicles, businesses, and homes -- so we can reduce our Nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy. This morning, I want to speak to you about one part of this initiative: our plans to expand the use of safe and clean nuclear power. Nuclear power generates large amounts of low-cost electricity without emitting air pollution or greenhouse gases. Yet nuclear power now produces only about 20 percent of America's electricity. It has the potential to play an even greater role. For example, over the past three decades, France has built 58 nuclear power plants and now gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet here in America, we have not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s. So last summer I signed energy legislation that offered incentives to encourage the building of new nuclear plants in America. Our goal is to start the construction of new nuclear power plants by the end of this decade. As America and other nations build more nuclear power plants, we must work together to address two challenges: We must dispose of nuclear waste safely, and we must keep nuclear technology and material out of the hands of terrorist networks and terrorist states. To meet these challenges, my Administration has announced a bold new proposal called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Under this partnership, America will work with nations that have advanced civilian nuclear energy programs, such as France, Japan, and Russia. Together, we will develop and deploy innovative, advanced reactors and new methods to recycle spent nuclear fuel. This will allow us to produce more energy, while dramatically reducing the amount of nuclear waste and eliminating the nuclear byproducts that unstable regimes or terrorists could use to make weapons. As these technologies are developed, we will work with our partners to help developing countries meet their growing energy needs by providing them with small-scale reactors that will be secure and cost-effective. We will also ensure that these developing nations have a reliable nuclear fuel supply. In exchange, these countries would agree to use nuclear power only for civilian purposes and forego uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. My new budget includes $250 million to launch this initiative. By working with other nations under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, we can provide the cheap, safe, and clean energy that growing economies need, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation. As we expand our use of nuclear power, we're also pursuing a broader strategy to meet our energy needs. We're investing in technologies like solar and wind power and clean coal to power our homes and businesses. We're also investing in new car technologies like plug-in hybrid cars and in alternative fuels for automobiles like ethanol and biodiesel. Transforming our energy supply will demand creativity and determination, and America has these qualities in abundance. Our Nation will continue to lead the world in innovation and technology. And by building a global partnership to spread the benefits of nuclear power, we'll create a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous world for future generations. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today I want to talk to you about the new Medicare prescription drug coverage that went into effect on January 1st of this year. When I came into office, I found a Medicare system that was antiquated and not meeting the needs of America's seniors. The system would pay tens of thousands of dollars for a surgery, but not a few hundred dollars for the prescription drugs that could have prevented the surgery in the first place. So working with Congress, we passed critical legislation that modernizes Medicare, provides seniors with more choices, and gives seniors better access to the prescription drugs they need. Since the program went into effect six weeks ago, more than 24 million people with Medicare now have prescription drug coverage, and hundreds of thousands more are enrolling each week. The competition in the prescription drug market has been stronger than expected and is lowering costs for taxpayers and seniors alike. This year, the Federal government will spend 20 percent less overall on the Medicare drug benefit than projected just last July. The average premium that seniors pay is a third less than had been expected -- just $25 per month, instead of $37 per month. And the typical senior will end up spending about half of what they used to spend on prescription drugs each year. Last month in Oklahoma City, a senior named Dorothy Brown signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage. Dorothy has six prescriptions, and previously she paid about $300 a month for her medicines. A Medicare enrollment counselor at a shopping mall helped Dorothy log on to the Medicare website, where she typed the information on Dorothy's Medicare card and listed Dorothy's prescriptions. When the counselor was finished, the computer showed five different plans that fit Dorothy's needs. Dorothy chose the least-expensive plan -- and now, instead of paying $300 a month, she will pay about $36 a month for her medicines. And as a result, Dorothy will save more than $3,000 this year. For Dorothy and for the vast majority of our seniors, the new prescription drug program is working well. Still, when you make a big change in a program involving millions of people, there are bound to be some challenges, and this has been the case with the new drug coverage. Some people had trouble the first time they went to the pharmacy after enrolling. Information for some beneficiaries was not transferred smoothly between Medicare, drug plans, and the states. And in the early days of the drug coverage, waiting times were far too long for many customers and pharmacists who called Medicare or their drug plans to seek help. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt has traveled to 18 states in the past three weeks to meet with governors and make sure the prescription drug program is working for everyone, and we're making good progress. We're ensuring that drug plans have more up-to-date information on their beneficiaries, and we're improving data-sharing among Medicare, health plans, and the states. We have also extended the transition period from 30 days to 90 days, to guarantee that seniors do not go without the medicine they need as they switch to a new drug plan. We have also acted to ensure that phone calls to the Medicare help line are now answered with little or no waiting time, and we're working with insurers to help them do the same on their phone lines. Despite early challenges, the results so far are clear: The new Medicare prescription drug plan is a good deal for seniors. If you're a Medicare recipient and have not yet signed up for prescription drug coverage, I encourage you to review your options and choose the plan that is right for you. Americans who have parents on Medicare should encourage and help them to sign up. Citizen groups, faith-based organizations, health professionals, and pharmacies across America are working to help answer questions. Seniors can also get information 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by visiting the official Medicare website at Medicare.gov. Prescription drug coverage under Medicare has been available for just a few weeks, but its benefits will last for decades to come. I was proud to sign this Medicare reform into law. And because we acted, millions of American seniors are now saving money, getting the life-saving drugs they need, and receiving the modern health care they deserve. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week in the State of the Union address, I set forth my American Competitiveness Initiative. This plan will help our Nation to compete with confidence, raise the standard of living for our families, and generate new jobs for our citizens. Generations of risk-takers, inventors, and visionaries have made America the world's most prosperous and innovative nation. Just 25 years ago, most Americans used typewriters instead of computers, rotary phones instead of cell phones, and bank tellers instead of ATMs. Today America is at the doorstep of even more technological advances. But we cannot afford to be complacent. We're seeing the rise of new competitors, like China and India, who are making great strides in technology. In response, some people want to wall off our economy from the world. That is called protectionism. The American people should not fear our economic future because we intend to shape our economic future. To keep America the world's most competitive and innovative nation, we must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. My American Competitiveness Initiative will encourage innovation throughout our economy and give American children a firm grounding in math and science. This initiative has three key elements. The first element is to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next decade. Most of the technological advances we enjoy today are the fruits of research investments made years ago, and many of these advances benefitted from government support. The increased funding I have proposed will support America's creative minds as they explore promising areas, such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources. These investments will lead to new inventions that offer better choices for consumers and a better life for our citizens. The second element of this new initiative is to encourage bolder private sector investment in technology, because the private sector remains America's greatest engine of innovation. The research and development tax credit gives businesses an incentive to invest in projects that could lead to new discoveries. Congress allowed this tax credit to expire at the end of 2005, and the House and Senate are now considering another temporary extension. But a temporary extension does not allow our innovators to plan and invest with certainty. Other countries offer permanent tax incentives for research and development. To keep America the world's leader in technology and innovation, Congress needs to make the tax credit for research and development permanent. The third element of this initiative is to make sure our children learn the skills they will need to keep America the world's most innovative country. Math and science are critical to many of our country's fastest-growing industries, so we must encourage our children to take more math and science classes and make sure those classes are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. I'm proposing that we train 70,000 high school teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math so they have a better chance at good high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. The American Competitiveness Initiative will help our nation remain the world's economic leader. By investing in research and development, unleashing the innovative spirit of America's entrepreneurs, and making sure that our economy has workers highly skilled in math and science, we will lay the foundation for lasting economic prosperity. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The United States Senate is now considering my nomination of Judge Sam Alito to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court. As Americans saw in his confirmation hearings, Sam Alito is a man of great character and integrity. He has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years. He understands that the role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda. And throughout his extraordinary career, Sam Alito has earned the tremendous respect of his colleagues and attorneys across the political spectrum. This past Wednesday, I met with a distinguished group of 39 former law clerks to Judge Alito. During Judge Alito's 15 years on the bench, these fine men and women have worked side-by-side with him, providing legal research, discussing and debating pending cases, and seeing firsthand how he arrives at decisions. They are uniquely qualified to assess what kind of Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito would be, and they are united in their strong support of Judge Alito's nomination. One of Judge Alito's former clerks, who describes herself as a "left-leaning Democrat," says this about Sam Alito: "He's a man of great decency, integrity, and character. I believe very strongly he deserves to be confirmed as the Court's next associate justice." Another former clerk worked on Senator Kerry's presidential campaign. She says this about Judge Alito: "His approach to judging is not about personal ideology or ambition, but about hard work and devotion to law and justice." In fact, Judge Alito has the strong support of all 54 of his former clerks, regardless of their political beliefs. They know him well, and they know he'll make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. Judge Alito has also earned broad support from his fellow judges on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven of them took the extraordinary step of testifying on his behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Former Chief Judge Ed Becker -- who sat with Judge Alito on more than 1,000 cases -- said this about his colleague: "He's a real judge, deciding each case on the facts and the law, not on his personal views." Another colleague on the Third Circuit who was appointed by President Clinton said this about Judge Alito: "He is a fair-minded man, a modest man, a humble man, and he reveres the rule of law." This judge went on to say that, if confirmed, Judge Alito "will serve as a marvelous and distinguished associate justice." Judge Alito received the American Bar Association's highest possible rating -- a unanimous "well-qualified." The ABA based its rating on its assessment of Judge Alito's integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. In the past, leading Democratic senators have called the ABA rating the "gold standard" for judicial nominees. This past week, Judge Alito gained the endorsement of Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell. Governor Rendell said he was not pleased with the partisan way some of his fellow Democrats have handled Sam Alito's nomination. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia announced he was voting for Judge Alito. And he said that many people in his state were calling the treatment of Judge Alito by some Democrats "an outrage and a disgrace." Another Democratic Senator expressed concern that the Senate confirmation process in recent years has become "overly politicized, to the detriment of the rule of law." The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Alito's nomination. Throughout its 216-year history, the Senate has held an up-or-down vote on every Supreme Court nominee with majority Senate support. Judge Alito has demonstrated that he is eminently qualified to serve on our nation's highest court, and America is fortunate to have a man of his integrity and intellect willing to serve. I'm grateful to Judge Alito, his wife Martha, and the Alito children for their patience and dignity during the process. And I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Judge Sam Alito as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past Thursday, I visited a thriving company in Loudoun County, Virginia, named JK Moving and Storage. I met with the owners and workers and with small businesspeople from the area, and I discussed my agenda to keep America's economy growing and to help our small businesses stay vibrant and strong. Our agenda for growing the economy and helping small businesses starts with wise tax policy. Our economy grows when American workers and families can keep more of their hard-earned money to spend, save, and invest as they see fit. Small businesses create most of the new jobs in our country, and tax relief helps them as well, because most small businesses pay taxes at individual income tax rates. So after I took office, we cut taxes on everyone who pays income taxes -- leaving more money in the hands of workers and families and giving small businesses more resources to expand and hire. We increased the tax incentives for small businesses to invest in new equipment, and we cut taxes on dividends and capital gains. We also put the death tax on the road to extinction because farmers and small business owners should not be taxed twice after a lifetime of work. Thanks to tax relief, spending restraint, and the hard work of America's entrepreneurs and workers, our economy today is strong. We've added over 400,000 jobs in the last two months and over 4.6 million jobs since May 2003. Our unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Our economy grew at 4.1 percent in the third quarter of 2005, and it has been growing at nearly that rate for two years. Real after-tax income has grown 7 percent per person since 2001. Productivity is high, inflation is contained, consumers are confident, and more Americans now own their homes than at any time in our Nation's history. Unfortunately, just as we are seeing how our tax cuts have created jobs and opportunity, some in Washington want to repeal the tax relief. Others want to just let it expire in a few years. Either way, they want to raise your taxes. If that happens, families across America would see their taxes increase dramatically. Small businesses would also pay higher taxes -- which would mean less money to hire workers and buy new equipment. To keep our economy growing and our small business sector strong, we need to ensure that you keep more of what you earn -- so Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. For the sake of America's small businesses, workers, and families, we must also make health care more affordable and accessible. A new product known as Health Savings Accounts helps control costs by allowing businesses or workers to buy low-cost insurance policies for catastrophic events and then save, tax-free, for routine medical expenses. This year, I will ask Congress to take steps to make these accounts more available, more affordable, and more portable. Congress also needs to pass Association Health Plans, which allow small businesses across the country to join together and pool risk so they can buy insurance at the same discounts big companies get. Our small businesses are confronting other challenges that we must address. Too many entrepreneurs face the threats of costly junk lawsuits. Last year, we passed bipartisan class-action reform to ease this burden. Now Congress needs to curb abusive asbestos litigation, pass medical liability reform to reduce the costs of frivolous litigation on our doctors and patients, and penalize those who abuse the legal system by repeatedly filing junk lawsuits. Rising energy costs are also a concern for small businesses, so we're going to continue to work to develop new technologies and alternative and renewable fuels that will make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy. And we will continue to open up new markets for small businesses so they can sell their products and services overseas. On a level playing field, I know our workers, farmers, and businesses can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere. America's economy is strong and growing stronger. Small businesses have been a driving force behind the tremendous growth and job creation of recent years. By adopting sound policies that help our small businesses continue to grow and expand, we will keep the economy moving forward and extend prosperity and hope in our country. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Last October, I was proud to nominate Judge Sam Alito to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This week, Judge Alito testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the American people saw a man of character and intelligence. He forthrightly answered questions with grace and composure, and showed his personal humility and legal brilliance -- qualities that have made him one of America's most accomplished and respected judges. In his opening statement to the Committee, Judge Alito offered an eloquent description of the proper role of a judge. He put it this way: "A judge cannot have any agenda, a judge cannot have any preferred outcome in any particular case. The judge's only obligation is to the rule of law. In every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires." Judge Alito has embodied this understanding of a judge's proper role throughout his distinguished career. He has participated in thousands of appeals, and he has authored hundreds of opinions. His record shows that he strictly and fairly interprets the Constitution and laws, and does not try to legislate from the bench or impose his personal preference on the people. As the American people saw this week, Judge Alito always approaches the law in a thoughtful, fair, and open-minded way. Throughout his life, Sam Alito has demonstrated a mastery of the law, great decency, and a strong commitment to public service. As a young man, he wore his country's uniform in the Army Reserve, and achieved the rank of Captain. Early in his legal career, he worked as a federal prosecutor. As Assistant to the Solicitor General, Sam Alito argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court. He later served in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, where he provided constitutional advice for the President and the executive branch. In 1987, President Reagan named Sam Alito the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey -- the top federal prosecutor in one of the Nation's largest federal districts. The Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent. In this important post, Sam Alito showed a passionate commitment to justice and the rule of law, and earned a reputation for being both tough and fair. He moved aggressively against white-collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime, and violations of civil rights. In 1990, President Bush nominated Sam Alito for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Senate once again confirmed him by unanimous consent. He's served with distinction on that court for 15 years, and he has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years. Sam Alito's brilliance, integrity, and accomplishments have gained him respect and praise from his colleagues and from attorneys across the political spectrum. This week, fellow judges from the Third Circuit publicly testified in support of his confirmation, and they praised his integrity and fairness. The American Bar Association gave Judge Alito a unanimous rating of "well-qualified" -- the ABA's highest possible rating. The ABA concluded that Judge Alito meets "the highest standards" of "integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament." In the past, leading Democratic senators have called the ABA's rating system the "gold standard" for judicial nominees. During this week's hearings and over the course of his career, Judge Alito has demonstrated that he is eminently qualified to serve on our Nation's highest court. I'm grateful to Senator Arlen Specter for his superb work in chairing the hearings. I also thank Judge Alito's wife, Martha, and the Alito children for their patience and dignity during the confirmation process. Now the Senate has a duty to give Judge Alito a prompt up-or-down vote. I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Sam Alito as 110th Justice of the Supreme Court. America is fortunate to have a man of his intellect and integrity willing to serve, and as a Justice on our Nation's highest court, Sam Alito will make all Americans proud. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As we begin 2006, we are hearing more good news about the American economy. This week we learned that our economy added 108,000 jobs in December and has added over 400,000 jobs in the last two months. Our unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Our economy grew at more than 4 percent in the third quarter of 2005, and it has been growing at nearly that rate for two years. Productivity is high, consumers are confident, and more Americans now own their homes than at any time in our Nation's history. To keep our economy strong and secure the American Dream for future generations, leaders in Washington must make sound decisions. And one of the best decisions we made since I took office was to cut your taxes, so you could keep more of your hard-earned money to save and spend as you see fit. We lowered tax rates to let workers keep more of their paychecks. We doubled the child credit. We reduced the marriage penalty. We also cut taxes on dividends and capital gains, and we created incentives for small businesses to invest in new equipment so they could expand and create new jobs. Some people in Washington said these tax cuts would hurt the economy. The day the House voted for tax relief in May 2003, one Democratic leader declared it a "reckless and irresponsible tax plan that will undermine opportunity in our country." Since those words were spoken, our economy has added more than 4.6 million new jobs for the American people. Unfortunately, just as we're seeing new evidence of how our tax cuts have created jobs and opportunity, some people in Washington are saying we need to raise your taxes. They want the tax cuts to expire in a few years, or even repeal the tax cuts now. In either case, they want you to get a big tax hike. If we allow that to happen, a family of four making $50,000 would see their federal income taxes go up by nearly 50 percent. Inaction by the Congress will mean a tax increase on the American people. When you hear people in Washington say we don't need to make the tax relief permanent, what they're really saying is they're going to raise your taxes. To keep our economy growing, we need to ensure that you keep more of what you earn, and Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. Our economy is also strong because we've been wise with taxpayers' dollars. We've now cut the rate of growth in non-security discretionary spending each year I've been in office. Working with Congress, last year we ended or reduced about 90 low-priority or poorly performing government programs, cut non-security discretionary spending, and stayed on track to meet our goal of cutting the federal deficit in half by 2009. The bigger challenge to our budget is long-term deficits driven by mandatory spending or entitlements. We can solve this problem: We do not need to cut entitlements, but we do need to slow their growth. When Congress returns from its recess, it has an opportunity to show its commitment to controlling entitlement spending. Before members of the House and Senate left Washington, they agreed to rein in future spending on entitlements by nearly $40 billion. Now Congress needs to finish its work on this important bill. By passing the first reduction in the growth of entitlement spending in nearly a decade, Congress will send a clear signal that the people's representatives can be good stewards of the people's money. As we work to keep your taxes low and restrain federal spending, we have other challenges to address. A growing economy requires secure and affordable sources of energy, free and fair trade, legal reform and regulatory reform, and a health care system where workers can find affordable care. And we must ensure that all Americans get a good education, so they will have the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century. In the months ahead we will work on all these issues. By making choices that reward hard work and enterprise, we will keep the American economy prosperous and strong and guarantee opportunity for generations to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. 2005 has been a year of strong progress toward a freer, more peaceful world and a more prosperous America. This year we watched the Iraqi people defy the terrorists and suicide bombers and hold three successful elections, voting to choose the only constitutional, democratic government in the Arab world. We also saw the people of Afghanistan elect a democratic parliament in a nation that only a few years ago was ruled by the Taliban. These are amazing achievements in the history of liberty. As freedom and democracy take hold in a troubled region, we are making the American people safer here at home, and laying the foundation of peace for future generations. The United States has a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq, so in the year ahead, we will continue to pursue the comprehensive strategy for victory that I have discussed with you in recent weeks. This strategy has security, political, and economic elements. First, our coalition is staying on the offense, finding and clearing the enemy out of Iraqi cities, towns, and villages, transferring more control to Iraqi units, and building up the Iraqi security forces so they can increasingly lead the fight to secure their country. Second, we are helping Iraqis build the political institutions of an inclusive, unified, and lasting democracy. And third, our coalition is overcoming earlier setbacks and moving forward with a reconstruction plan to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure. As we help Iraq build a peaceful and stable democracy, the United States will gain an ally in the war on terror, inspire reformers across the Middle East, and make the American people more secure. During 2005, thanks to our tax relief, spending restraint, and the hard work of the American people, our economy remained the envy of the world. Our economy has been growing strongly for more than two years, and has added nearly 4.5 million jobs since May of 2003. More Americans own their homes than at any time in our nation's history. Inflation is low, productivity is high, and small businesses are flourishing. Real disposable income is up, consumers are confident, and early reports suggest good retail sales this holiday season. To keep our economy moving forward, we must continue to pursue sound policies in Washington and be wise with taxpayers' money. We made real progress this year in restraining government spending. Last February, I submitted to Congress the most disciplined budget proposal since Ronald Reagan was President. Working with the Congress, we ended or reduced about 90 lower-priority or poorly performing government programs, cut non-security discretionary spending, and kept overall discretionary spending growth below the rate of inflation. We have now cut the rate of growth in non-security discretionary spending each year I have been in office. Before their holiday recess, both the House and the Senate also voted to cut mandatory spending by nearly $40 billion. This will be the first reduction of entitlement spending in nearly a decade. By being responsible with the taxpayers' money, we are funding our nation's priorities, while staying on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. In the new year, we must also make permanent the tax relief that has kept our economy growing. We will work to expand free and fair trade, so America's farmers, workers, and businesses can enjoy the opportunities the global economy offers. We'll build on the progress we've made with this year's energy bill, so our nation will be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. We will continue to promote an ownership society in which people have more control over their retirement and health care. We'll continue to improve education and job training programs, so our citizens have the skills necessary to compete and succeed in the 21st century. And we will show the compassionate heart of our nation and provide the people of the Gulf Coast the help they need to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In 2005, America grew in prosperity, advanced the cause of freedom and peace, and enhanced our security. Our duties continue in the new year, and I'm confident that our nation will meet the challenges that lie ahead. Thank you for listening, and happy New Year. # # #

Good morning. On this Christmas Eve, Laura and I send our best wishes to families across America as you gather in your homes to celebrate the holiday. Christmas is a time of joy and peace, and we hope the holiday season brings all of you happy reunions with families and friends, and time to rest and reflect as you look forward to a new year. At Christmas, we give thanks for the gift of the birth of Christ, and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. In this great and prosperous land, we have so much to be thankful for, and Christmas reminds us of our obligation to share these blessings with others. There are many among us who are hurting and require a helping hand. In the new year, I hope Americans will look for ways to volunteer your time and talents where they are needed most. By reaching out to a neighbor in need, we make our nation a more just and compassionate place. This Christmas, we remember our fellow citizens who suffered from the hurricanes and other disasters that struck our nation this past year. We pray for their strength as they continue to recover and rebuild their lives and their communities. During the holiday season and throughout the year, we think with pride of the men and women of our Armed Forces, who are keeping our nation safe and defending freedom around the world. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, they are protecting our liberty by spreading liberty to others, and all Americans are grateful to our troops for their courage and commitment. We're also grateful to their families. Staying behind when a family member goes to war is a heavy burden -- and it's particularly hard at Christmas. We pray for our military families; we ask Almighty God to bestow His protection and care on their loved ones as they protect our nation from grave dangers. We also remember the heroic men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's freedom. We pray that God will comfort the loved ones they left behind. The sacrifices of these brave troops have rescued millions from lives of tyranny and sorrow, and made America more secure. We will always cherish the memory of each of our fallen servicemen and women, and count it a privilege to be citizens of the country they served. The times we live in have brought many challenges to our country. And at such times, the story of Christmas brings special comfort and confidence. Christmas reminds us that we can trust in God's promise of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. On a night more than 2,000 years ago, an angel of the Lord brought good tidings of great joy: the God of Heaven had come to Earth, and He would be with us always. Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.

Good morning. As President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life. On September the 11th, 2001, our freedom and way of life came under attack by brutal enemies who killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. We're fighting these enemies across the world. Yet in this first war of the 21st century, one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front. And since September the 11th, we've been on the offensive against the terrorists plotting within our borders. One of the first actions we took to protect America after our nation was attacked was to ask Congress to pass the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act tore down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence authorities from sharing vital information about terrorist threats. And the Patriot Act allowed federal investigators to pursue terrorists with tools they already used against other criminals. Congress passed this law with a large, bipartisan majority, including a vote of 98-1 in the United States Senate. Since then, America's law enforcement personnel have used this critical law to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters, and to break up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and Ohio. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do: it has protected American liberty and saved American lives. Yet key provisions of this law are set to expire in two weeks. The terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks. The terrorists want to attack America again, and inflict even greater damage than they did on September the 11th. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence officials have the tools they need to protect the American people. The House of Representatives passed reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Yet a minority of senators filibustered to block the renewal of the Patriot Act when it came up for a vote yesterday. That decision is irresponsible, and it endangers the lives of our citizens. The senators who are filibustering must stop their delaying tactics, and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act. In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment. To fight the war on terror, I am using authority vested in me by Congress, including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force, which passed overwhelmingly in the first week after September the 11th. I'm also using constitutional authority vested in me as Commander-in-Chief. In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks. This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country. As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad. Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late. The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad. The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups. The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it. Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization. This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States. Thank you. 10:13 A.M. EST

Good morning. This week members of a House and Senate conference committee reached an agreement on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Since its passage after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, the Patriot Act has proved essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our enemies from striking America again. This week's agreement would renew all 16 provisions of the Patriot Act that are scheduled to expire at the end of this month -- and it would make 14 of these provisions permanent. It reauthorizes critical national security tools, while bolstering the Patriot Act's significant protections of civil liberties. It also includes provisions to fight crime and terrorism at America's seaports, and tougher criminal penalties and increased resources to combat the dangerous spread of methamphetamine abuse throughout our country. I applaud the conference committee for its good work. Now Congress needs to finish the job. Both the Senate and the House need to hold a prompt vote, and send me a bill renewing the Patriot Act so I can sign it into law. Over the past four years, the Patriot Act has been a strong weapon for going after the terrorists. America's law enforcement and intelligence personnel have put the Patriot Act to wise and effective use while protecting our civil liberties. They have used the law to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters or break up terror cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas, and Ohio. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do -- it has protected American liberty and saved American lives. By renewing the Patriot Act, we will ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence officers have the tools they need to protect our citizens. The Patriot Act tore down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence authorities from sharing vital information about terrorist threats. Now law enforcement and intelligence officers are working together. The Patriot Act also allowed federal investigators to pursue terrorists with the same tools they already use against other criminals. For example, before the Patriot Act, it was easier to track the phone calls of a drug dealer than the phone calls of a terrorist. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to get the credit card receipts of a tax cheat than those of an al Qaeda bankroller. The Patriot Act ended these double standards. The theory is straightforward: If we have good tools to fight street crime and fraud, then law enforcement should have at least the same tools to fight terrorism. The Patriot Act is helping America defeat our enemies while safeguarding civil liberties for all our people. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Under the act, law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone or search his property. Congress also oversees our use of the Patriot Act. Attorney General Gonzales delivers regular reports on the Patriot Act to the House and the Senate. The valuable protections of the Patriot Act will expire at the end of this month if Congress fails to act, but the terrorist threats will not expire on that schedule. In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this vital law for a single moment. So I urge Congress to approve the conference committee agreement promptly and reauthorize the Patriot Act. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier this week I visited Arizona and Texas to observe firsthand our efforts to protect our southwest border. And I met with customs and border protection agents who are working tirelessly to enforce our laws and keep our borders secure. Illegal immigration and border security are issues that concern Americans. We're a nation built on the rule of law, and those who enter the country illegally break the law. In communities near our border illegal immigration strains the resources of schools, hospitals, and law enforcement. And it involves smugglers and gangs that bring crime to our neighborhoods. Faced with this serious challenge our government's responsibility is clear. We're going to protect our borders. Since I took office we've increased funding for border security by 60 percent, and our border agents have caught and sent home more than 4.5 million illegal immigrants, including more than 350,000 with criminal records. Yet we must do more to build on this progress. This week I outlined my comprehensive strategy to reform our immigration system. The strategy begins with a three-part plan to protect our borders. First we will promptly return every illegal entrant we catch at our border, with no exceptions. For illegal immigrants from Mexico, we are working to expand an innovative program called interior repatriation, in which those caught at the border are returned to their hometowns, far from the border, making it more difficult for them to attempt another crossing. For non-Mexican illegal immigrants, we're changing the unwise policy of catch and release to a policy of catch and return, and we're speeding up the removal process. Second, we must fix weak and unnecessary provisions in our immigration laws, including senseless rules that require us to release illegal immigrants if their home countries do not take them back in a set period of time. Third, we must stop people from crossing the border illegally in the first place. So we're hiring thousands more Border Patrol agents, we're deploying new technology to expand their reach and effectiveness, and we're constructing physical barriers to entry. Comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve enforcement of our laws in the interior of our country, because border security and interior enforcement go hand-in-hand. In October, I signed legislation that more than doubled the resources for interior enforcement, so we'll increase the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators, enhance work site enforcement, and continue to go after smugglers, gang members, and human traffickers. Our immigration laws apply across all of America, and we will enforce those laws throughout our land. Finally, comprehensive immigration reform requires us to create a new temporary worker program that relieves pressure on the border, but rejects amnesty. By creating a legal channel for willing employers to hire willing workers we will reduce the number of workers trying to sneak across the border, and that would free up law enforcement officers to focus on criminals, drug dealers, terrorists, and others who mean us harm. This program would not create an automatic path to citizenship, and it would not provide amnesty. I oppose amnesty. Rewarding law-breakers would encourage others to break the law and keep pressure on our border. A temporary worker program will relieve pressure on the border and help us more effectively enforce our immigration laws. Our nation has been strengthened by generations of immigrants who became Americans through patience, hard work, and assimilation. In this new century we must continue to welcome legal immigrants and help them learn the customs and values that unite all Americans, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God, tolerance for others, and the English language. In the coming months, I look forward to working with Congress on comprehensive immigration reform that will enforce our laws, secure our border, and uphold our deepest values. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, we gather with our loved ones to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Each family has its own traditions, yet we are united as a nation in setting aside a day of gratitude. We are thankful for our family and friends, who fill our lives with joy and love. We are thankful for the abundance of this prosperous land. We are thankful for the freedom that makes possible the enjoyment of all these gifts. And we acknowledge with humility that all these blessings and life itself come from Almighty God. On Thanksgiving and throughout the year, we are grateful to the men and women of our Armed Forces for securing the peace in these dangerous times. Many members of our Armed Forces are observing this holiday in places far from home. They are serving with courage and skill in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to defend our freedom and extend the blessings of freedom to others. In the past year, these brave Americans have continued to fight terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. And they have helped the people of Iraq and Afghanistan hold historic and successful elections. They are America's finest, and we thank them today and every day for their service and sacrifice. This week we also extend our gratitude to our military families, who are making great sacrifices to advance freedom's cause. Many of our servicemen and women have endured long deployments and separations from home. Many of those they leave behind must deal with the burden of raising families while praying for the safe return of their loved ones. All Americans honor and appreciate the commitment and sacrifice of our military families. We think especially this week of those military families who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Every person who dies in the line of duty commands the eternal gratitude of the American people. The military families who mourn the fallen can know that America will not forget their sacrifice, and they can know that we will honor that sacrifice by completing the noble mission for which their loved ones gave their lives. The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us that, "to whom much is given, from him much will be required." As we count our blessings, we are mindful of the need to share our blessings and gifts with others, and America is moved to compassionate action. This compassionate spirit was seen again this year, when Americans rallied to help their neighbors in need after the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We pray for continued strength as we rebuild these communities and return hope to our fellow citizens. The universal call to love a neighbor also extends beyond our shores, moving us to help people in other lands. Our nation has begun to help the millions of people in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan who are suffering after last month's devastating earthquake in South Asia. I urge you to visit the website of the South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund at SouthAsiaEarthquakeRelief.org to find out how you can help. And to help others in need in your hometown, across America, and around the world, please visit the USA Freedom Corps website at USAFreedomCorps.gov. This week of Thanksgiving, we ask that God continue to bless our families and our nation. Laura and I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming Tuesday, America's Medicare beneficiaries can begin to enroll for new prescription drug coverage. This new benefit is the greatest advance in health care for seniors and Americans with disabilities since the creation of Medicare 40 years ago. In the past, Medicare would pay tens of thousands of dollars for ulcer surgery, but not a few hundred dollars for prescription drugs that eliminate the cause of most ulcers. In the past, Medicare would pay more than $100,000 to treat the effects of a stroke, but not $1,000 per year for blood-thinning drugs that could have prevented the stroke in the first place. With this new prescription drug benefit, Medicare will now help pay for the prescription drugs that can prevent serious illness. Seniors will get more choices and better treatment, and America will get a Medicare system to fit the needs of the 21st century. The new coverage will begin on January 1st. If you or someone you love depends on Medicare, I urge you to learn about the new choices you have so you can make a decision and enroll. Enrollment is entirely voluntary, and seniors who want to keep their Medicare coverage the way it is will be able to do so. But for those who want to take advantage of this new drug benefit, enrolling by May 15th will ensure you the lowest possible premiums. The sooner you enroll, the sooner you can have the peace of mind this coverage will bring. The new prescription drug coverage will benefit people on Medicare in three important ways. First, it will help all seniors and Americans with disabilities pay for prescription drugs, no matter how they pay for their medicine now. Seniors who have no drug coverage and have average prescription drug costs will see savings of at least 50 percent. And seniors who have the highest drug costs will receive special help. Starting in January, once a senior has spent $3,600 in a year, Medicare will cover 95 percent of all prescription costs. Second, this new coverage will offer more and better health care choices than ever before. That means seniors can save more and get the coverage they want -- not a "one size fits all" plan that does not meet their needs. Every prescription drug plan will offer a broad choice of generic and brand-name drugs, and seniors will be able to select any Medicare prescription drug plan in their area that fits their needs and their medical history. Third, this new prescription drug coverage will provide extra help to low-income seniors and beneficiaries with disabilities. About a third of the seniors will be eligible for a Medicare prescription drug benefit that includes little or no premiums, low deductibles, and no gaps in coverage. On average, Medicare will pick up the tab for more than 95 percent of the costs that low-income seniors pay for prescription drugs. The days of low-income seniors having to make painful sacrifices to pay for their prescription drugs are now coming to an end. Last month, those of you on Medicare received in the mail a handbook called "Medicare and You" that includes detailed information about your options. Citizen groups and faith-based organizations across America are also working to spread the word so that Medicare recipients can get their questions answered and make informed choices. If you have Medicare, I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more. Review your choices, and make the decision that is right for you. If you have family or friends on Medicare, you can help too. Helping can be as simple as showing an older neighbor how to fill out a form, or making a call for your mom or dad. You can get information 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-MEDICARE, or by visiting the official Medicare website at Medicare.gov. In the 21st century, preventing and treating illness often require prescription drugs. In the coming months, we will help every Medicare recipient make a confident choice about their prescription drug coverage. By expanding drug coverage for our nation's seniors, we will help all Americans on Medicare receive the modern health care they deserve. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I was proud to nominate Judge Sam Alito to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Alito is one of America's most accomplished and respected judges. During his long career in public service, he has demonstrated all the qualities that the American people expect in a Supreme Court Justice: mastery of the law, a deep commitment to justice, and great personal character. He is scholarly, fair-minded, and principled, and these traits will serve our nation well on our highest court. Judge Alito now serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. When he was nominated to his current seat in 1990, Judge Alito received strong bipartisan support, and the United States Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent. He has served on that court with distinction for 15 years, and now has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years. During his career on the bench, Judge Alito has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions. He has demonstrated that he understands the proper role of a judge: to interpret the Constitution and laws, not to impose the judge's own preferences or priorities on the people. And in the performance of his duties, Judge Alito's brilliance, his modesty, and his even demeanor have gained him the respect of his colleagues and of the attorneys appearing before him. Prior to becoming a judge, Sam Alito served for three years as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. When President Reagan nominated him to this position in 1987, the Senate confirmed him by unanimous consent. As the top prosecutor in one of the nation's largest federal districts, Sam Alito moved aggressively against white-collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime, and violations of civil rights. He showed a passionate commitment to the rule of law, and he gained a reputation for being both tough and fair. Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Sam Alito served in other critical positions in the Department of Justice. In the Office of Legal Counsel, he provided constitutional advice for the President and the executive branch. As Assistant to the Solicitor General, he argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he argued dozens of cases before the federal courts of appeals. The son of an Italian immigrant who came to America in 1914, Sam Alito is a product of New Jersey public schools. He was valedictorian and student council president at Hamilton East-Steinert High School in Hamilton, New Jersey. He went on to become a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University. He attended Yale Law School and was editor of the Yale Law Journal. After graduating from law school, he was a law clerk for a federal court of appeals judge. He has served in the Army Reserves, where he achieved the rank of captain. Sam Alito's life has been marked by consistent excellence and achievement, combined with personal decency and a commitment to public service. The United States Senate will now exercise its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on Judge Alito's nomination. The process is off to a good start. Since I announced his nomination, Judge Alito has met with many senators, and they are learning more about his great character, accomplishments, and ability. Our nation is fortunate to have a man of Judge Alito's intellect and integrity willing to serve. I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Judge Alito as the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week marked another important milestone in carrying out our strategy in Iraq. On Tuesday, the Iraqi election commission formerly certified the passage of the new Iraqi constitution, after nearly 10 million Iraqis turned out to vote on it two weeks ago. This is a moment of tremendous significance for Iraq, the region, and the world. Three years ago, when Saddam Hussein ruled with an iron grip, the prospect of Iraqis voting on a democratic constitution would have been unthinkable. Now, the Iraqi people have shown that individual rights and rule by the people are universal principles, and that these principles can become the basis for free and decent governments throughout the Middle East. The new Iraqi constitution received support from Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Iraq's largest Sunni political party endorsed the constitution and urged its followers to approve the draft. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was also dramatically lower. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for elections in December. Just 30 months removed from the rule of a dictator, and nine months after they first elected their own leaders, the Iraqi people are resolving tough issues through an inclusive political process. And this process is isolating the extremists who wish to derail democracy through violence and murder. The terrorists were also watching the Iraqi vote. These brutal killers follow a radical ideology that exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision. They hope to establish a totalitarian state in Iraq that denies all political and religious freedom, and they hope to use that country as a base for attacks on all people -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike -- who disagree with their twisted perversion of the Muslim faith. The terrorists' goals leave no room for individual conscience or democratic participation, so they threatened to kill any Iraqi who went to the polls, including women and the elderly, and even those who opposed the constitution. And they continue to use random bombings to try to break the will of the Iraqi people and of coalition forces, as we saw again this week, when the terrorists bombed two Baghdad hotels. Instead of surrendering to intimidation, the Iraqi people once again risked their lives for their liberty. Instead of turning against one another, the Iraqi people turned out to express their will at the polls. And instead of allowing their nation to become a haven for terrorists, the Iraqis are choosing democracy and freedom for their country. The political process in Iraq now moves forward. Iraqis will return to the polls in December to elect a new government under their new constitution. This government will be our ally in the war on terror, a partner in the struggle for peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and an inspiration for people across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. Our security at home is directly linked to a Middle East that grows in freedom and peace. The success of the new Iraqi government is critical to winning the war on terror and protecting the American people. Ensuring that success will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve, and it will involve more risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. The progress we have made so far has involved great sacrifice. The greatest burden has fallen on our military families. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of them has left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. Yet these patriots have also left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans, and millions of others who have only known oppression, to enjoy the blessings of liberty. The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and win the war on terror. We will train Iraqi security forces and help a newly elected government meet the needs of the Iraqi people. In doing so, we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I signed into law a bill that supports our ongoing efforts to defend our homeland. To defend this country, we have to enforce our borders. When our borders are not secure, terrorists, drug dealers, and criminals find it easier to sneak into America. My administration has a clear strategy for dealing with this problem: We want to stop people from crossing into America illegally, and to quickly return the illegal immigrants we catch back to their home countries. For the past four years, we've been implementing this strategy. To stop illegal immigrants from coming across our borders, we've added manpower, upgraded our technology, and taken the final steps necessary to complete a 14-mile barrier running along the San Diego border with Mexico. To enforce our immigration laws within our borders, we've hired more immigration agents, gone after criminal gangs, and targeted smugglers and coyotes who traffic in human beings. We are getting results: Since 2001, we have removed more than 4.8 million illegal immigrants from the United States, including more than 300,000 with criminal records. Our border patrol and immigration agents are doing a fine job, but we still have a problem. Too many illegal immigrants are coming in, and we're capturing many more non-Mexican illegal immigrants than we can send home. And one of the biggest reasons we cannot send them back is that we lack space in our detention facilities to hold them until they are removed. When there's no bed available, non-Mexicans who are caught entering our country illegally are given a slip that tells them to come back for a court appearance. Most never show up. And then they disappear back into the shadows of our communities. This is called "catch-and-release," and it is unacceptable. The bill I signed includes $7.5 billion that will help us address the problem of illegal immigration in two important ways. First, it provides more than $2.3 billion for the Border Patrol so we can keep more illegal immigrants from getting into the country in the first place. These funds will help us hire a thousand new border patrol agents, improve our technology and intelligence, expand and improve Border Patrol stations, and install and improve fencing, lighting, vehicle barriers, and roads along our border areas. I appreciate the help Congress has given us for our common goal of creating more secure borders. Second, this bill also provides $3.7 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement so we can find and return the illegal immigrants who are entering our country. With these funds, we can expand the holding capacity of our detention facilities by 10 percent. This will allow us to hold more non-Mexican illegal immigrants while we process them through a program we call "expedited removal." This will make the process faster and more efficient. Putting more non-Mexican illegal immigrants through expedited removal is crucial to sending back people who have come here illegally. As Secretary Chertoff told the Senate this week, our goal is to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions. And this bill puts us on the path to do that. For Mexicans who cross into America illegally, we have a different plan, but the same goal. Now, most of the 900,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico who are caught each year are immediately escorted back across the border. The problem is that these illegal immigrants are able to connect with another smuggler or coyote and come right back in. So one part of the solution is a program called "interior repatriation" where we fly or bus these illegal immigrants all the way back to their hometowns in the interior of Mexico. By returning illegal Mexican immigrants to their homes, far away from desert crossings, we're saving lives and making it more difficult for them to turn right around and cross back into America. As we improve and expand our efforts to secure our borders, we must also recognize that enforcement cannot work unless it's part of a comprehensive immigration reform that includes a temporary worker program. If an employer has a job that no American is willing to take, we need to find a way to fill that demand by matching willing employers with willing workers from foreign countries on a temporary and legal basis. I'll work with members of Congress to create a program that will provide for our economy's labor needs without harming American workers, and without granting amnesty, and that will relieve pressure on our borders. A critical part of any temporary worker program is ensuring that our immigration laws are enforced at work sites. America is a country of laws; we must not allow dishonest employers to flout those laws. So we've doubled the resources for work site enforcement since 2004. We have much more work ahead of us. But the Homeland Security bill I signed this week provides vital support for our efforts to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, and make all Americans safer and more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend is a momentous time in the history of the Middle East. After choosing their leaders in free elections in January, the Iraqi people have gone to the polls to vote on a democratic constitution. This constitution is the result of months of debate and compromise by representatives of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious communities. These leaders came together to produce a document that protects fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for a lasting democracy. Earlier this week, the Iraqi people embraced changes to the text that have led to its endorsement by some Sunni leaders, as well as Kurdish and Shia leaders. Now the people of Iraq will have the final say. By casting their ballots, the Iraqi people deal a severe blow to the terrorists and send a clear message to the world: Iraqis will decide the future of their country through peaceful elections, not violent insurgency. And by their courageous example, they're charting a new course for the entire Middle East. This weekend's election is a critical step forward in Iraq's march toward democracy, and with each step the Iraqi people take, al Qaeda's vision for the region becomes more remote. As Iraqis prepared for this election, the world learned of a letter written by a leading terrorist explaining why Iraq is the central front in their war on civilization. Al Qaeda's number two leader, a man named Zawahiri, wrote to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi. We intercepted this letter, and we have released it to the public. In it, Zawahiri lays out why al Qaeda views Iraq as "the place for the greatest battle" of our day. He says that establishing al Qaeda's dominion over Iraq is the first step towards their larger goal of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East. Zawahiri writes: "The jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals. The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq. The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq." This letter shows that al Qaeda intends to make Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations, including the United States. The letter makes equally clear that the terrorists have a problem: Their campaign of murder and mayhem is turning the people against them. The letter warns Zarqawi that, "many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia." Even al Qaeda recognizes that with every random bombing and every funeral of a child, the Muslim world sees the terrorists for what they really are: murderers at war with the Iraqi people. These terrorists are driven by an ideology that exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision: the establishment of a totalitarian empire that denies political and religious freedom. This is why the terrorists have fought to prevent and disrupt this weekend's elections. They understand that the act of voting is a rejection of them and their distorted vision of Islam. Simply by coming out to vote, the Iraqi people have shown that they want to live in freedom, and they will not accept a return to tyranny and terror. The terrorists know their only chance for success is to break our will and force us to retreat. The al Qaeda letter points to Vietnam as a model. Zawahiri says: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam, and how they ran and left their agents, is noteworthy." Al Qaeda believes that America can be made to run again. They are gravely mistaken. America will not run, and we will not forget our responsibilities. In Iraq, we have brought down a murderous regime. We have stood by the Iraqi people through two elections, and we will stand by them until they have established a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. When we do, Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror and a partner for peace and moderation in the Muslim world. And because America stood firm in this important fight, our children and grandchildren will be safer and more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I nominated an exceptional individual to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court of the United States. Harriet Miers is a remarkable woman and an accomplished attorney. She has wide experience in the courtroom and at the highest levels of government. And she will be an outstanding addition to our nation's highest court. Harriet Miers was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, where she attended the public schools. When illness struck her family, Harriet went to work to help pay for her own college education. She stayed close to home in Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University, and received a Bachelor's Degree in mathematics. She remained at SMU for law school and earned a place on the law review. After graduation, she was hired for a prestigious two-year clerkship for a federal trial judge. From there, she went on to an extraordinary career in private practice and public service and became a pioneer for women lawyers. She was the first woman to be hired at her law firm, the first woman to become president of that firm, the first woman to lead a large law firm in the state of Texas, the first woman head of the Dallas Bar Association, and the first woman elected as president of the State Bar of Texas. In her law practice, Ms. Miers handled hundreds of cases in state and federal courts, from massive commercial litigation to criminal cases to civil disputes. She served in local government on the Dallas City Council, and later held office in state government, as well. As Ms. Miers rose through the legal ranks, she also put in long hours of volunteer legal work on behalf of the poor and underprivileged, and served as a leader for more than a dozen community groups and charities. Beginning in the 1990s, Harriet Miers was regularly rated one of the top 100 lawyers in America, and one of the top 50 women lawyers in the country. Because of her skill and record of remarkable achievement, in 2001, I asked her to work in my administration. For the past five years, Harriet Miers has served our nation in critical roles, including White House Counsel, one of the most important legal positions in the country. As counsel, Ms. Miers addresses complex matters of constitutional law, serves as the chief legal advisor during regular meetings of the National Security Council, and handles sensitive issues of executive-congressional relations, among many other essential duties. She has led the effort to help nominate outstanding judges for the federal judiciary. She was in charge of the process that resulted in the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts. Harriet Miers would come to the Supreme Court with a background in private practice and high-government service, and this puts her in strong company. Indeed, since 1933, 10 of the 34 justices came to the Supreme Court directly from positions in the executive branch, such as the one Ms. Miers now holds. And no Supreme Court nominee in the last 35 years has exceeded Harriet Miers' overall range of experience in courtroom litigation, service in federal, state and local government, leadership in local, state and national bar associations, and pro bono and charitable activities. Throughout her life, Ms. Miers has excelled at everything she has done. She's been a leader and a trailblazer for women lawyers, and her work has earned the respect of attorneys across the nation. I chose Harriet Miers for the Court both because of her accomplishments, and because I know her character and her judicial philosophy. Harriet Miers will be the type of judge I said I would nominate: a good conservative judge. She shares my belief that judges should strictly interpret the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench. She understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the text of the Constitution and statutes as written, not as he or she might wish they were written. And she knows that judges should have a restrained and modest role in our constitutional democracy. Like Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Byron White, who were also nominated to the Supreme Court directly from legal positions in the executive branch, Harriet Miers will be prudent in exercising judicial power and firm in defending judicial independence. When she goes before the Senate, I am confident that all Americans will see what I see every day: Harriet Miers is a woman of intelligence, strength, and conviction. And when she is confirmed by the Senate, I am confident that she will leave a lasting mark on the Supreme Court and will be a justice who makes all Americans proud. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I met with the generals who are overseeing our efforts in Iraq -- Generals Abizaid and Casey -- to discuss our strategy for victory. They updated me on the operations in Baghdad last weekend in which Iraqi and coalition forces tracked down and killed the second most wanted al Qaeda leader in Iraq. This brutal killer was a top lieutenant of the terrorist Zarqawi. He was also one of the terrorists responsible for the recent wave of attacks in the Iraqi capital, which is part of the terrorist campaign to halt political progress in Iraq, by stopping this month's referendum on the Iraqi constitution. Our strategy in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down deadly terrorist leaders. We're conducting aggressive counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are concentrated. We are constantly adapting our tactics to the changing tactics of the terrorists, and we're training more Iraqi forces to assume increasing responsibility for their country's security. The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war. It used to be that after we cleared the terrorists out of a city there were not enough qualified Iraqi troops to maintain control, so if we left to conduct missions in other areas of Iraq, the terrorists would try to move back in. Now the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to keep a better hold on the cities we have taken from the terrorists. The Iraqi troops know their people and their language, and they know who the terrorists are. By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we have cleared out, we can keep those cities safe, while moving on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country. We used this approach recently in Iraq's northwest region where Iraqi and coalition forces targeted an area that was one of the main routes for foreign terrorists entering Iraq from Syria. During operations in the key town of Tal Afar, Iraqi security forces outnumbered coalition forces for the first time in a major offensive operation. Because of our joint efforts, hundreds of insurgents and terrorists have been killed, or captured, or flushed out, and our continued efforts will make it more difficult for foreign terrorists to enter Iraq. As part of our strategy, Iraqi forces have stayed behind in Tal Afar to ensure that the terrorists cannot return and regroup. And coalition and Iraqi troops are pursuing the terrorists in western Iraq, working to deny al Qaeda a safe haven there, and to stop terrorists from crossing into the country through Syria. I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness. In fact, this week coalition forces were able to turn over security responsibility for one of Iraq's largest cities, Karbala, to Iraqi soldiers. As Iraqi forces show they're capable of fighting the terrorists, they are earning the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people, which will ensure the success of a free and democratic Iraq. More difficult and dangerous work still lies ahead. The terrorists have a history of escalating their attacks before Iraq's major political milestones, and two elections are fast approaching. In two weeks, Iraqis will vote on a democratic constitution, and if that constitution is approved, they will return to the polls later this year to elect a fully constitutional government. As Iraqis take these next steps on the path to freedom and democracy, the terrorists will do everything they can to stop this progress and try to break our will. They will fail. Defeating the terrorists in Iraq will require more time and more sacrifice. Yet all Americans can have confidence in the military commanders who are leading the effort in Iraq, and in the troops under their command. They have made important gains in recent weeks and months; they are adapting our strategy to meet the needs on the ground; and they're helping us to bring victory in the war on terror. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend I will visit U.S. Northern Command in Colorado where we're monitoring Hurricane Rita. As the hurricane continues along its destructive path, the American people can know courageous and dedicated men and women are responding to our citizens in need. We are marshaling resources of the federal government to save lives and property, and bring comfort to those who have evacuated because of this storm. Over the past week, federal, state and local governments have been closely coordinating their efforts for Hurricane Rita. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA prepositioned food, water, ice, and emergency response teams, and helped with the evacuations in Texas and Louisiana. Military assets were also prepositioned so they could be deployed immediately after the storm passes. At this moment, the following Navy ships are in the region: the Iwo Jima, the Shreveport, the Tortuga, the Grapple, the Patuxent, and the Comfort. The Texas National Guard has activated its Guardsmen, nearly 3,500 so far, with more on call if they are needed. Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and helicopters are in place, ready to rescue, evacuate, and relocate civilians trapped by the storm. And additional Coast Guard air crews and aircraft are now arriving from around the country. We've also organized and identified civilian volunteers, including more than 200 doctors and more than 400 registered nurses. The American Red Cross is prepared to deliver hundreds of thousands of meals a day. Our government is taking every step possible to protect life and bring comfort to those affected. As we respond to Hurricane Rita, we're continuing our efforts to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina, a storm that has caused unprecedented destruction across an entire region. The recovery of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi is a commitment of the American people, and in this effort, all Americans have a role to play. In the recovery effort, the federal government has a vital role, and we'll do our duty. We'll help rebuild roads, bridges, schools, water systems and other infrastructure in the disaster zone. We will cut through red tape in Washington so we can speed the work of rebuilding and get the Gulf Coast region back on its feet. In the recovery effort, state and local leaders will play a vital role in laying out their plans and vision for the future of their communities. Earlier this week, I met with community leaders and local officials in the region to hear their ideas on rebuilding and recovery. I told them that the vision of a revitalized New Orleans should come from the people of New Orleans, and the vision of a new Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama should come from the people of those states. We will do everything we can to guide the recovery effort, and help them realize their vision so that communities along the Gulf Coast are better and stronger than before the storm. In the recovery effort, the private sector will play a vital role. To rebuild lives and communities, we need to encourage small business growth in that region, with immediate tax relief and other incentives for job-creating investment. Private enterprise is the engine for creating new jobs in America and it will be the engine that drives the recovery of the Gulf Coast. In the recovery effort, the American people will play a vital role. This week, Laura visited Texas to thank leaders of faith-based groups who've rallied to help their Louisiana neighbors in desperate need. Charities and houses of worship and idealistic men and women across America have opened up their homes, their wallets and their hearts to the victims of Katrina. And with the arrival of another violent storm, our neighbors in the Gulf Coast will need continued help. Our fellow citizens in the affected areas can know they can count on the good hearts of the American people. The past three weeks have tested our nation and revealed the strength and resilience of our people. Americans have the determination and the will to overcome any challenge from man or nature. The courageous spirit of America will carry us through any storm, and the compassionate soul of our nation will help us rebuild. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I visited Mississippi and Louisiana, and reported to the nation on our strategy to help our neighbors in these devastated areas recover and rebuild. In the aftermath of Katrina, we have seen our fellow citizens uprooted from their homes, searching for loved ones, and grieving for the dead. These scenes have touched our hearts and moved our whole nation to action. And the outpouring of compassion has sent a clear message to the victims of this storm: Our whole nation cares about you; you are not alone. The recovery of the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. And I have made a pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will help our citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. Our strategy rests on three commitments. Our first commitment is to meet the immediate needs of those who had to flee their homes and leave all their possessions behind. As of this week, more than 500,000 evacuee families have gotten emergency help to pay for food, clothing and other essentials, and they will receive broader help in the future. I've asked for, and the Congress has provided more than $60 billion, an unprecedented response to an unprecedented crisis. Our second commitment is to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast put their lives back together and rebuild their communities. Our goal is to get people out of shelters by the middle of October. So we're providing direct assistance to evacuees that will allow them to rent apartments, and we're beginning to bring in mobile homes and trailers for temporary use in affected areas. We'll also help provide housing for the many workers who will rebuild cities in the region, so that reconstruction can move forward quickly. To relieve the burden on local health care facilities in the disaster areas, we're sending extra doctors and nurses, and setting up well-supplied temporary community health centers. A number of states have taken in evacuees and shown them great compassion, admitting children to school and providing health care. So I'll work with Congress to ensure the states are reimbursed for these extra expenses. Our third commitment is to ensure that the communities we rebuild emerge better and stronger. Out of this tragedy comes an opportunity to harness the good and gracious spirit of America, and deliver new hope to neighborhoods that were suffering before the storm. Our reconstruction efforts will be guided by certain principles: When cities are rebuilt, those cities should have many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses. When houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. To achieve these aims I've proposed the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone in the disaster area, with immediate tax relief and other incentives for job-creating investment. And to encourage home ownership, I have proposed a new urban homesteading act, which would identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide lots to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat For Humanity. As we rebuild homes and businesses we will renew our promise to be the land of equality and decency. And one day Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but also in character and justice. Our citizens have responded to this tragedy with action and prayer. We ask God's comfort for the men and women who have suffered so much. We pray that the missing find safe return, and those who were lost find holy rest. And we sought the strength of the Almighty for the difficult work that lies ahead. In the life of our nation we have seen that wondrous things are possible when we act with God's grace. From the rubble of destroyed homes we can see the beginnings of vibrant new neighborhoods. From the despair of lives torn asunder we can see the hope of rebirth. And from the depth of darkness we can see a bright dawn emerging over the Gulf Coast and the great city of New Orleans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Sunday, our nation will observe the fourth anniversary of the September the 11th terrorist attacks. Every American has memories of that day that will never leave them. We remember the images of fire and terror at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania, and in the heart of New York City. We remember the ruthlessness of those who murdered the innocent and took joy in their suffering. We remember the courage of the police and firefighters and rescue personnel who rushed into burning buildings to save lives, knowing they might never emerge. And we remember the victims -- moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives -- and the loved ones they left behind. As night fell on America on September the 11th, 2001, we felt grief and great sorrow. Yet we also saw that, while the terrorists could kill the innocent, they could not defeat the spirit of our nation. The despair and tragedy of that day were overcome by displays of selflessness, courage and compassion. And in the days and weeks that followed, America answered history's call to bring justice to our enemies and to ensure the survival and success of liberty. And that mission continues today. Four years later, Americans remember the fears and uncertainty and confusion of that terrible morning. But above all, we remember the resolve of our nation to defend our freedom, rebuild a wounded city, and care for our neighbors in need. Today, America is confronting another disaster that has caused destruction and loss of life. This time the devastation resulted not from the malice of evil men, but from the fury of water and wind. Hurricane Katrina flattened entire towns along our Gulf Coast, and left one of America's most storied cities under water. Tens of thousands have lost homes and loved ones and all their earthly possessions. The storm took countless lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their communities with no assurance of returning soon. Once more our hearts ache for our fellow citizens, and many are left with questions about the future. Yet we are again being reminded that adversity brings out the best in the American spirit. In this time of great suffering, we have seen the courage and determination of rescue personnel who willingly risk their lives to save the lives of others. We have seen the spirit of America's armies of compassion who have rallied in response to this tragedy. Faith-based organizations and community groups and individual citizens across the country are caring for those affected by the storm, and comforting those whose loved ones are lost or missing. Across our country, Americans are generously opening their homes and hearts to their brothers and sisters in need. To find out how you can help, I urge you to visit usafreedomcorps.gov, or call 1-877-USA CORPS. The citizens of the Gulf Coast can count on their fellow Americans in this time of trial, and their government is standing with them, as well. This week I signed legislation providing an additional $52 billion for response and recovery efforts. We have already begun distributing $2,000 in emergency relief to every displaced household, money they can use immediately for food, clothing and other essentials. I have also called for all people from disaster areas to be granted special evacuee status, making it easier for them to collect federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid wherever they are in America. We are assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and we will help the people of the Gulf Coast recover from adversity. Despite all they've endured, the people of that region are determined to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives, and their fellow Americans are determined to help them. To accomplish the difficult work ahead of us, our nation will call upon our vast resources and the ingenuity of our citizens, and these will be required in full measure. Our greatest resource in such times is the compassionate character of the American people, because even the most destructive storm cannot weaken the heart and soul of our nation. America will overcome this ordeal, and we will be stronger for it. Even in the deepest darkness, we can see the light of hope, and the light shows us the way forward. We will honor the memory of those we have lost; we will comfort the victims of Katrina; and we will make the Gulf Coast more vibrant than ever. In all that lies before us, may God watch over the United States of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Yesterday I saw the aftermath of one of the largest natural disasters ever to strike America. A vast coastline of towns and communities are flattened; one of our great cities is submerged. The human costs are incalculable. In Biloxi I met Bronwynne Bassier and her sister, Kim. Bronwynne told me that the only earthly possessions she has left were the clothes on her back. I also met relief and rescue workers who are performing heroically in difficult circumstances. They've been working around the clock, risking their own lives to save the lives of others. Yet, despite their best efforts, the magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable. During my visit I discussed these problems at length with Governor Riley of Alabama, Governor Barbour of Mississippi, Governor Blanco of Louisiana and Mayor Nagin of New Orleans. Each state will have its own set of challenges and issues to solve. Yet all of us agree that more can be done to improve our ability to restore order and deliver relief in a timely and effective manner. This morning I received a briefing on the latest developments on the ground. Right now there are more than 21,000 National Guard troops operating in Louisiana and Mississippi, and more are on the way. More than 13,000 of these troops are in Louisiana. The main priority is to restore and maintain law and order, and assist in recovery and evacuation efforts. In addition to these National Guard forces, the Department of Defense has deployed more than 4,000 active duty forces to assist in search and recovery, and provide logistical and medical support. Hour by hour, the situation on the ground is improving. Yet the enormity of the task requires more resources and more troops. Today I ordered the Department of Defense to deploy additional active duty forces to the region. Over the next 24 to 72 hours, more than 7,000 additional troops from the 82nd Airborne, from the 1st Cavalry, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force will arrive in the affected areas. These forces will be on the ground and operating under the direct command of General Russ Honore. Our priorities are clear: We will complete the evacuation as quickly and safely as possible. We will not let criminals prey on the vulnerable, and we will not allow bureaucracy to get in the way of saving lives. Yesterday I also signed a $10.5 billion emergency aid package to fund our ongoing relief efforts. This is a down payment on what will be a sustained federal commitment to our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast. I want to thank the Congress for their quick, bipartisan action, and I look forward to working with them in the days and weeks ahead. I know that those of you who have been hit hard by Katrina are suffering. Many are angry and desperate for help. The tasks before us are enormous, but so is the heart of America. In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need. And the federal government will do its part. Where our response is not working, we'll make it right. Where our response is working, we will duplicate it. We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters all along the Gulf Coast, and we will not rest until we get this right and the job is done. This week we've all been humbled by the awesome powers of Mother Nature. And when you stand on the porch steps where a home once stood, or look at row upon row of buildings that are completely under water, it's hard to imagine a bright future. But when you talk to the proud folks in the area, you see a spirit that cannot be broken. The emergency along the Gulf Coast is ongoing; there's still a lot of difficult work ahead. All Americans can be certain our nation has the character, the resources, and the resolve to overcome this disaster. We will comfort and care for the victims. We will restore the towns and neighborhoods that have been lost in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We'll rebuild the great city of New Orleans. And we'll once again show the world that the worst adversities bring out the best in America. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless our country. 10:11 A.M. EDT

Good morning. In recent days, we have witnessed remarkable events in the broader Middle East. People are making the tough choices necessary for a future of security and hope that will make the region and the world more peaceful. During the past two weeks, Prime Minister Sharon and the Israeli people took a courageous and painful step by removing Israeli settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. I congratulate the Prime Minister for his bold leadership. Now that Israel has withdrawn, the way forward is clear. The Palestinians must show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way. We will continue to help the Palestinians to prepare for self government and to defeat the terrorists who attack Israel and oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state. We remain fully committed to defending the security and well-being of our friend and ally Israel. We demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form because we know that progress depends on ending terror. And we will continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. As these hopeful events occur in the Holy Land, the people of Iraq are also making the tough choices and compromises necessary for a free and peaceful future. In January, eight-and-a-half million Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to the polls to vote. Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups made the courageous choice to join the political process. And together, they have worked toward a democratic constitution that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens. Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government. What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion -- not at the barrel of a gun. The establishment of a democratic constitution in Iraq, just like the establishment of a constitution in Afghanistan last year, will be a landmark event in the history of the broader Middle East. And it will bring us closer to the day when the nation of Iraq can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. The terrorists are trying to stop the rise of democracy in Iraq because they know a free Iraq will deal a decisive blow to their strategy to dominate the Middle East. But the Iraqi people are determined to build a free future for their nation, and they are uniting against the terrorists. We saw that unity earlier this month when followers of the terrorist Zarqawi tried to force Shiite Muslims to leave the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Sunni Muslims in that city came to the defense of their Shiite neighbors. As one Sunni leader put it, "We have had enough of Zarqawi's nonsense. We don't accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis." By choosing to stand with their fellow Iraqis, these Sunnis rejected the terrorists' attempt to divide their nation and incite sectarian violence. Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed. American and Iraqi forces are on the hunt side by side to defeat the terrorists. As we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces. Our strategy is straightforward: As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned. Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve. Yet people across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope. And as they take these brave steps, Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations. By advancing the cause of liberty in the Middle East, we will bring hope to millions and security to our own citizens. And we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people. And since that day, we have taken the fight to the enemy. We have combated terrorists on the home front by disrupting terror cells and their financial support networks. We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home. And we're spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled region, we are bringing security to our own citizens and laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren. In this war, our nation depends on the courage of those who wear the uniform. During the coming weeks, I will meet with some of the brave men and women who have been on the front lines in the war on terror. Next week in Idaho, I will visit with some of the fine citizen soldiers of the Idaho National Guard. I will also see the men and women of the Mountain Home Air Force Base who played a leading role in the air campaign in Afghanistan after the September the 11th attacks. I will thank all of them for their service in the war on terror and I will thank the families who make their essential work possible. Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy. They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail. Next week, in Utah, I will also address the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention and thank the proud veterans who have given today's troops such a noble example of devotion and courage. At the end of the month, I will join our veterans and current service members in San Diego to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day, the day that ended World War II, the bloodiest conflict in human history. The veterans of World War II defended America when ruthless foes threatened our freedom and our very way of life. And after winning a great victory, they helped former enemies rebuild and form free and peaceful societies that would become strong allies of America. The World War II generation endured great suffering and sacrifice because they understood that defeating tyranny in Europe and Asia was essential to the security and freedom of America. Like previous wars we have waged to protect our freedom, the war on terror requires great sacrifice from Americans. By their courage and sacrifices, today's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines are taking their rightful place among the heroes of history, and the American people are thankful and proud. In this war, many of these brave men and women have given their lives to defend their fellow citizens and to bring the hope of freedom to millions who have not known it. We owe these fallen heroes our gratitude, and we offer their families our heartfelt condolences and prayers. Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission. We can be confident in the ultimate triumph of our cause, because we know that freedom is the future of every nation and that the side of freedom is the side of victory. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I met in Texas with Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the rest of my senior foreign and defense policy advisors. We discussed recent events in Iraq, including the political progress that is taking place in that country. Despite the acts of violence by the enemies of freedom, Iraq's elected leaders are now finishing work on a democratic constitution. Later this year, that constitution will be put before the Iraqi people for their approval. The establishment of a democratic constitution is a critical step on the path to Iraqi self-reliance. Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed. We're hunting down the terrorists and training the security forces of a free Iraq so Iraqis can defend their own country. Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home to a proud and grateful nation. The recent violence in Iraq is a grim reminder of the brutal nature of the enemy we face in the war on terror. Our mission in Iraq is tough because the enemy understands the stakes. The terrorists know that a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a crippling blow to their hateful ideology. And that is why our work in Iraq is a vital part of the war on terror we're waging around the world. This war on terror arrived on our shores on September the 11th, 2001. Since that day, the terrorists have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Baghdad, London, and elsewhere. The enemy remains determined to do more harm. The terrorists kill indiscriminately, but with a clear purpose -- they're trying to shake our will. They want to force free nations to retreat so they can topple governments across the Middle East, establish Taliban-like regimes in their place, and turn the Middle East into a launching pad for attacks against free people. The terrorists will fail. Because we are fighting a murderous ideology with a clear strategy, we're staying on the offensive in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, fighting terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. When terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they're less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks on America. We're also spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East, because free societies are peaceful societies. By offering a hopeful alternative to the terrorists' ideology of hatred and fear, we are laying the foundations of peace for our children and grandchildren. In the war on terror, our troops are serving with courage and commitment, and their bravery is inspiring others to join them. All of our services met or exceeded their active duty recruitment goals last month, and the troops closest to the fight continue to reenlist in impressive numbers. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are all on track to meet or exceed their reenlistment goals for the year. Our troops know the stakes of this war, and Americans can have pride and confidence in our all-volunteer forces. In recent days, we have seen again that the path to victory in the war on terror will include difficult moments. Our nation grieves the death of every man and woman we lose in combat, and our hearts go out to the loved ones who mourn them. Yet, even in our grief, we can be confident in the future, because the darkness of tyranny is no match for the shining power of freedom. The terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield. The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve. That will not happen on my watch. Withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely would betray the Iraqi people, and would cause others to question America's commitment to spreading freedom and winning the war on terror. So we will honor the fallen by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, and by doing so we will ensure that freedom and peace prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As families across the country enjoy the summer, Americans can be optimistic about our economic future. In the past four years, our economy has been through a lot: we faced a stock market decline, a recession, corporate scandals, an attack on our homeland, and the demands of an ongoing war on terror. To grow the economy and help American families, we acted by passing the largest tax relief in a generation. And today, thanks to the tax relief and the efforts of America's workers and entrepreneurs, our economy is strong and growing stronger. This past week, we learned that America added over 200,000 new jobs in July. Since May of 2003, we've added nearly 4 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, below the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. And more Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history. Recent economic reports show that our economy is growing faster than any other major industrialized nation. Small businesses are flourishing. Workers are taking home more of what they earn. Real disposable personal income has grown by over 12 percent since the end of 2000. Inflation is low and mortgage rates are low. And over the past year, the home ownership rate in America has reached record levels. The tax relief stimulated economic vitality and growth and it has helped increase revenues to the Treasury. The increased revenues and our spending restraint have led to good progress in reducing the federal deficit. Last month we learned that the deficit is now projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected. I set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and we are ahead of pace to meet that goal. To continue creating jobs and to ensure that our prosperity reaches every corner of America, we're opening markets abroad for our goods and services. This past week, I was proud to sign the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. This historic agreement will level the playing field for America's workers and farmers, and open up a market of 44 million customers for products made in the United States. To keep our economy growing we also need affordable, reliable supplies of energy. Next week in New Mexico, I'll sign a bipartisan energy bill that encourages conservation, expands domestic production in environmentally sensitive ways, diversifies our energy supply, modernizes our electricity grid and makes America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. And next Wednesday in Illinois, I'll sign a highway bill that will improve the safety of our roads, strengthen our transportation infrastructure and create good jobs. Our economy is strong, yet I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. So this coming Tuesday I will meet with my economic team in Texas to discuss our agenda to keep the economy moving forward. As Congress considers appropriations bills this fall, we will work with the House and the Senate to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, or not at all. We need to make the tax relief permanent, end the death tax forever, and make our tax code simpler, fairer and more pro-growth. We'll continue working on Social Security reform. Social Security is sound for today's seniors, but there's a hole in the safety net for our younger workers, so I'll work with the Congress to strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. I'll continue to press for legal reform to protect small businesses, doctors and hospitals from junk lawsuits. And we will work to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The American economy is the envy of the world and we will keep it that way. We will continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America, so more of our citizens can realize the American Dream. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This year Congress and I have addressed many key priorities of the American people and we're making great progress. At the start of the year, I urged Congress to ease the burden of junk lawsuits on American workers, businesses and families, so Congress passed, and I signed, bipartisan class-action reform. We called for restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, so Congress passed, and I signed common-sense reform of our nation's bankruptcy laws. I requested vital funds for our men and women in uniform, so Congress passed, and I proudly signed, critical legislation to give our troops the resources they need to fight and win the war on terror. This past week has brought even more progress, with four major achievements. First, I signed into law a patient safety bill that will improve our health care system by reducing medical errors. Second, Congress came to an agreement on a highway bill that will improve safety, modernize our roads and bridges, and create jobs. Third, Congress passed the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. This historic agreement will reduce barriers to American goods, services and crops, and make our nation more secure by strengthening the young democracies in our neighborhood. Finally, after years of debate, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to pass a comprehensive energy plan that will reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy. This bill will encourage conservation and efficiency, increase domestic production, promote alternative and renewable resources, and modernize the electricity grid. I thank the members of Congress who worked so hard on this vital legislation and I look forward to signing it into law. As members of Congress return home for their August recess, I plan to travel to seven states around the country. I will talk to Americans about our growing economy. Thanks to the tax relief we passed and the spending restraint, our economy today is growing faster than any other major industrialized country. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We created more than 2 million jobs in the past 12 months; more Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history. The 2005 deficit is projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected, and we're now ahead of the pace needed to meet my goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009. We have more to do, and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. I look forward to talking to the American people about our plans to continue strengthening the economic security of America's seniors and working families. During August, I will also meet with our troops and their families, and update the American people on the latest developments in the war on terror. We have a comprehensive strategy in place; we're improving our homeland security and intelligence. The House renewed the key provisions of the Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of this year. And I call on the Senate to do the same. We're also spreading freedom, because free countries are peaceful. And we're staying on the offensive against the terrorists, fighting them abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. I also urge members of the Senate to use August to prepare to act on my nomination of Judge John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court. This talented and capable man will fairly interpret the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench. Judge Roberts' time on the D.C. Circuit Court, his service at the Department of Justice and at the White House in two administrations, his impressive career as a top attorney in private practice, and his stellar academic and legal background demonstrate why Americans of all points of view have expressed their support for him. One of the highest honors for any lawyer is to argue a case before the Supreme Court. In his extraordinary career, Judge Roberts has argued a remarkable 39 cases before the nation's highest court. I look forward to working with the Senate in the weeks ahead so that Judge Roberts can receive a timely and dignified hearing and be confirmed before the Court reconvenes on October 3rd. Our achievements so far this year show how much can be done when we come together to do what is right for the American people. When Congress returns in September, I will continue to work with the Republicans and Democrats to build on this good progress for all Americans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Under the Constitution, one of the most consequential decisions a President makes is an appointment to the Supreme Court. This week I was proud to announce my nomination of Judge John Roberts to be the Supreme Court's next Associate Justice. Judge Roberts has a stellar record of achievement. He is a man of sound judgment and the highest integrity. He has the qualities Americans expect in a judge -- experience, wisdom, fairness and civility. He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench. Judge Roberts currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is often considered America's second highest court. He has also served as a top lawyer at the Department of Justice, an attorney in the White House for President Ronald Reagan, and a distinguished advocate in private practice. He gained early experience at the Supreme Court as a law clerk to Justice William Rehnquist. He graduated with high honors from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. And as a young man growing up in Indiana, he captained his high school football team and worked summers in a steel mill to earn money for college. One of the highest honors for any lawyer is to argue a case before the Supreme Court. In his extraordinary career, Judge Roberts has argued a remarkable 39 cases before the nation's highest court. He is known by Democrats and Republicans alike as a brilliant thinker, a fair-minded judge, and a decent man. After I nominated Judge Roberts to the Court of Appeals in 2001, a bipartisan group of more than 150 lawyers sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee -- and here is what they wrote: "Although as individuals we reflect a wide spectrum of political party affiliation and ideology, we are united in our belief that John Roberts will be an outstanding federal appeals court judge and should be confirmed by the United States Senate. He is one of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation." The next step for Judge Roberts is the Senate confirmation process. The process is off to a good start. Since I announced his nomination, Judge Roberts has met with a number of senators from both parties. Democrats and Republicans have expressed their respect for Judge Roberts' qualifications and intellect, just as they did two years ago when they confirmed him to be a federal appeals court judge by unanimous consent. In the weeks ahead, the Senate will have an opportunity to rise above partisanship. I've spoken to Senate Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Reid, as well as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Senators Specter and Leahy. These senators share my goal of an orderly and dignified confirmation process, and it is important that Judge Roberts be confirmed before the Court reconvenes on October the 3rd. President Clinton's two appointments to the Supreme Court proved that the Senate can conduct a thorough review and vote on a nominee within a reasonable timetable. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 42 days after the President submitted her nomination, and Justice Stephen Breyer was confirmed 73 days after his nomination was submitted. In both cases, Democrats and Republicans helped move the process forward promptly and voted to confirm the justices, despite significant philosophical differences. America is fortunate to have a man of such wisdom and intellectual strength willing to serve our country. I'm grateful to Judge Roberts' wife, Jane, and their two children, Jack and Josie, and I look forward to the Senate voting to confirm Judge John Roberts as 109th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Under the Constitution, I have the responsibility to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. This past week I met with Democratic and Republican leaders in the United States Senate and sought their views on the process, and their thoughts on the qualities to look for in a potential nominee. Also, my staff has talked with more than 60 members of the United States Senate. Members of the Senate are receiving a full opportunity to provide their opinions and recommendations, and I appreciate their advice. I will be guided by clear principles as I make my decision. My nominee will be a fair-minded individual who represents the mainstream of American law and American values. The nominee will meet the highest standards of intellect, character, and ability, and will pledge to faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our country. Our nation deserves, and I will select, a Supreme Court justice that Americans can be proud of. The American people also expect a Senate confirmation process that rises above partisanship. When I met with Senate leaders, we discussed our shared goal of making sure that the confirmation process is dignified. The nominee deserves fair treatment, a fair hearing, and a fair vote. I will make my nomination in a timely manner so the nominee can be confirmed before the start of the Court's new term in October. The experiences of the two justices nominated by President Clinton provide useful examples of fair treatment and a reasonable timetable for Senate action. In 1993, the Senate voted on and confirmed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court 42 days after President Clinton submitted her nomination. And despite the significant philosophical differences many senators had with Justice Ginsburg, she received 96 votes in favor of confirmation. The following year, Justice Stephen Breyer was confirmed 73 days after his nomination was submitted, with 87 votes in his favor. Again, Republican senators in large numbers voted for confirmation of Justice Breyer despite significant philosophical differences. These examples show that the thorough consideration of a nominee does not require months of delay. As we continue the process to fill the opening on the Supreme Court, we are also moving forward on other important priorities for the American people. This past week, we received more good news on the economy. The 2005 deficit is projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected. I told the Congress and the country we would cut the deficit in half by 2009. This week's numbers show that we are ahead of pace, so long as Congress acts wisely with taxpayer dollars. This good news on the budget is coupled with other news that shows the economy is strong and getting stronger. Our economy is growing faster than any other major industrialized nation. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We have created more than 2 million jobs in the past 12 months. More Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history, and home ownership in America is at an all-time high. To keep our economy growing and creating jobs, Congress needs to continue working in the upcoming weeks on our pro-growth economic agenda. First, for the sake of our economic security and our national security, the Congress must complete its work on a good energy bill that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Second, the House needs to follow the Senate's lead by approving the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. By lowering trade barriers for our exports, this agreement will level the playing field for America's goods, services and crops, and help create jobs for American workers. Third, Congress needs to send me a fiscally responsible highway bill that modernizes roads and bridges, improves safety and opens up new job opportunities. Finally, Congress needs to move forward with Social Security reform. For those of you who were born before 1950, Social Security will not change. But the system has made promises to our younger workers that it cannot pay for. And the cost of fixing the system grows higher with every year we wait. So Congress needs to act now to strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. The American people expect members of both parties to offer a positive agenda and get things done for our country. By working together in the weeks ahead, I am confident we will achieve positive results for all Americans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Thursday morning, terrorists struck at the heart of one of the world's great cities in a series of bombings that hit London's subway and bus system as thousands of commuters headed to work. We in America know the sense of loss that our British friends feel at this moment. We extend our sympathies to those who suffered terrible injuries, and we pray for the families mourning the loss of loved ones. In this dark hour, the people of Great Britain can know that the American people stand with them. These barbaric attacks occurred as world leaders gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit. While terrorists were killing innocent men and women in London, leaders at the G8 were discussing how free nations can combat poverty and HIV/AIDS, create a cleaner environment, and improve the lives of people everywhere. The contrast could not be more vivid between the intentions and the hearts of those who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and the evil intentions and acts of those who rejoice in the death and suffering of the innocent. We experienced this evil in our own country on a clear September morning in 2001. Since that day, terrorists have continued to kill and maim -- in Bali, and Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, Baghdad, London, and elsewhere. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent. They believe that with a few hard blows, and the televised repetition of horrific images of violence, they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken. On the day of the London attacks, every world leader at the G8 summit stood with Prime Minister Blair as he said: "Our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people." The free world is united in its resolve: We will never yield to terrorists and murderers. In the face of such adversaries, there is only one course of action: We will continue to take the fight to the enemy, and we will fight until the enemy is defeated. We are now waging a global war on terror -- from the mountains of Afghanistan to the border regions of Pakistan, to the Horn of Africa, to the islands of the Philippines, to the plains of Iraq. We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home. We will continue to deny the terrorists safe haven and the support of rogue states. And at the same time, we will spread the universal values of hope and freedom that will overwhelm their ideology of tyranny and hate. The free world did not seek this conflict, yet we will win it. Here at home, federal, state, and local officials are doing everything possible to protect us from another terrorist attack in America. While we have no specific credible information suggesting an imminent attack in the United States, in light of the bombings in London, we have raised the threat level from elevated to high for our passenger rail, subway, and bus systems. I urge all Americans to remain alert, and to report any suspicious activity to your local authorities. This week, there is great suffering in the city of London. Yet the British people are resilient, and they have faced brutal enemies before. The nation that survived the Nazi Blitz will not be intimidated by terrorists. And just as America and Great Britain stood together to defeat the murderous ideologies of the 20th century, we again stand together to defeat the hateful ideologies of the 21st century. The terrorists cannot shake our will. America and its allies will act decisively, because we know that the future of civilization is at stake in this struggle, and we know that the cause of freedom will prevail. May God bless the people of Great Britain, and may He continue to bless America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Laura and I wish all Americans a happy Fourth of July weekend. I look forward to celebrating Independence Day with the people of Morgantown, West Virginia. On the Fourth of July, we remember the vision and conviction of America's Founders. We remember the ideals of liberty that led men from 13 colonies to gather in Philadelphia and pen a declaration of self-evident truths. And we remember the extraordinary personal courage that made their efforts a success. Doctor Benjamin Rush said that signing the Declaration of Independence was "like signing your own death warrant." He signed it anyway -- right above his fellow Pennsylvania delegate, Benjamin Franklin. On Independence Day, we are also mindful that the promises of the Declaration have been secured by the service and sacrifice of every generation. America's first defenders were mostly farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers who waged a desperate fight for independence. Our Union was preserved through the costly battles of the Civil War -- including one at Vicksburg that ended on Independence Day, 1863. And we live in freedom because Americans prevailed in the hard-fought struggles of the 20th century, from the Marne and Normandy to Iwo Jima and Inchon Bay. America is home to 25 million military veterans -- and we will always be grateful for their unselfish courage. Today, a new generation of Americans is defending our freedom against determined enemies. At posts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, our men and women in uniform are taking the fight to the terrorists overseas, so that we do not have to face the terrorists here at home. And by freeing millions from oppression, our Armed Forces are redeeming a universal principle of the Declaration that all are created equal, and all are meant to be free. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform. The burden of war falls especially hard on military families, and I thank them for the support they give our troops in their vital work. Some of America's finest men and women have given their lives in the war on terror, and we remember them on Independence Day. We pray for the families who have lost a loved one in freedom's cause. And we know that the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission, so we will stay in the fight until the fight is won. In this time of testing, all our troops and their families can know that the American people are behind them. On this Fourth of July weekend, I ask every American to find a way to thank men and women defending our freedom -- by flying the flag, sending letters to our troops in the field, and helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website - AmericaSupportsYou.mil. You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, we will stand with the men and women who defend us all. In the summer of 1776, John Adams called the American Revolution "the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of nations." And 229 years later, history has proved him right. The Fourth of July is a day to be proud of our heritage as freedom's home and defender. It is a day to be confident in the future, because the spirit of our founders still shapes the conscience of our country. Above all, it is a day to give thanks to God for His many blessings on America, and for the privilege to call ourselves citizens of this special land. I hope all Americans enjoy a memorable and safe Independence Day celebration. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past week, I had the honor of hosting Prime Minister Jaafari -- the leader of Iraq's first democratically-elected government in more than a half century. Prime Minister Jaafari and I discussed our strong partnership, and the dramatic progress his nation has made over the past year. Next Tuesday is the first anniversary of the moment the Iraqi people reclaimed their free and sovereign nation. To mark that historic date, I will travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to speak to our troops and the American people about our mission in Iraq, why it remains important to our safety here at home, and our two-track strategy for victory. The military track of our strategy is to defeat the terrorists and continue helping Iraqis take greater responsibility for defending their freedom. The images we see on television are a grim reminder that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are ruthless killers with no regard for human life. The killers include members of Saddam Hussein's regime, criminal elements and foreign terrorists. The terrorists know that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror, because they know that a stable and democratic Iraq will deal a severe blow to their ideology of oppression and fear. The terrorists' objective is to break the will of America and of the Iraqi people before democracy can take root. Insurgents have tried to achieve that goal before. Two years ago, they tried to intimidate the Iraqi Governing Council -- and failed. Last year, they tried to delay the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq -- and failed. This year, they tried to stop the free Iraqi elections -- and failed. Now the terrorists are trying to undermine the new government and intimidate Iraqis from joining the growing Iraqi security forces. Yet democracy is moving forward, and more and more Iraqis are defying the terrorists by joining the democratic process. Our military strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their freedom and protect their people, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. The political track of our strategy is to continue helping Iraqis build the institutions of a stable democracy. The Iraqi people have taken landmark steps by voting in free elections and forming a representative government. Prime Minister Jaafari has assured me that his government is committed to meeting its deadline to draft a new constitution for a free Iraq. Then the constitution will be submitted to the Iraqi people for approval, and new elections will be held to choose a fully constitutional government. These are monumental tasks for the new democracy of Iraq -- and the free world will continue to stand behind the Iraqi people. This past week, more than 80 countries and international organizations came together in Brussels to discuss how to help Iraqis provide for their security and rebuild their country. And next month, donor countries will meet in Jordan to discuss Iraqi reconstruction. Our nation's mission in Iraq is difficult, and we can expect more tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead. Yet I am confident in the outcome. The Iraqi people are growing in optimism and hope. They understand that the violence is only a part of the reality in Iraq. Each day, Iraqis are exercising new freedoms that they were denied for decades. Schools, hospitals, roads, and post offices are being built to serve the needs of all Iraqis. Increasing numbers of Iraqis are overcoming their fears and working actively to defeat the insurgents. And every Iraqi who chooses the side of freedom has chosen the winning side. Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners have accomplished in Iraq. Our country has been tested before, and we have a long history of resolve and faith in the cause of freedom. Now we will see that cause to victory in Iraq. A democratic Iraq will be a powerful setback to the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. A democratic Iraq will be a great triumph in the history of liberty. And a democratic Iraq will be a source of peace for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today we face two issues of vital importance for all Americans: growing our economy and protecting our citizens from those who wish to do us harm. So in the weeks ahead, I will continue to focus on ways to ensure that our government takes the side of working families, and that America prevails in the war on terror. As we take the steps necessary to achieve these goals, we will make our future one of peace and prosperity. Today we have good reason to be optimistic about our economy. More Americans are working today than at any time in our history. More Americans own their homes than at any time in our history. More Americans are going to college and own their own businesses than at any time in our history -- and a new economic report shows that inflation is in check. Our policies have put us on the track to growth, but leaders in Washington must not become complacent. We need to work together to ensure that opportunity reaches every corner of our great country. Delivering opportunity means allowing families to keep more of the money they earn. So we enacted the largest tax relief in a generation. That is only a beginning. You need a reformed tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand, and rewards your hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. And Congress needs to do its part by making the tax relief we passed permanent and burying the death tax forever. Delivering opportunity also means adapting to the needs of a new century. In this new century, American prosperity will increasingly depend on our ability to sell our goods and services overseas, so we need to pass initiatives like the Central American Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement to create a level playing field for American farmers and small businesses. In this new century, Americans require a reliable and affordable supply of energy. I proposed a comprehensive energy policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In this new century, Americans need to know that if they work hard their whole lives, they will retire with dignity, so we're working to save Social Security to ensure that the next generation of retirees will be as secure in their retirement as today's generation. As we work to deliver opportunity at home, we're also keeping you safe from threats from abroad. We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. These foreign terrorists violently oppose the rise of a free and democratic Iraq, because they know that when we replace despair and hatred with liberty and hope, they lose their recruiting grounds for terror. Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home. We mourn every one of these brave men and women who have given his or her life for our liberty. The terrorists know they cannot defeat our troops, so they seek to weaken our nation's resolve. They know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East, so the terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people. Time and again, the Iraqi people have defied the skeptics who claim they are not up to the job of building a free society. Nearly a year ago, Iraqis showed they were ready to resume sovereignty. A few months ago, Iraqis showed they could hold free elections. This week, Iraqis have worked on an agreement to expand their constitutional drafting committee to ensure that all communities are represented in the process. I am confident that Iraqis will continue to defy the skeptics as they build a new Iraq that represents the diversity of their nation and assumes greater responsibility for their own security. And when they do, our troops can come home with the honor they have earned. This mission isn't easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight. We're fighting a ruthless enemy that relishes the killing of innocent men, women, and children. By making their stand in Iraq, the terrorists have made Iraq a vital test for the future security of our country and the free world. We will settle for nothing less than victory. I'll continue to act to keep our people safe from harm and our future bright. Together we will do what Americans have always done: build a better and more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As we enter the summer season, my administration is working hard to keep our economy growing and creating jobs. Next week, I will talk about some of my plans to help American families achieve long-term economic security. On Tuesday, I will discuss Social Security reform with young people in Pennsylvania. I will remind them that the Social Security system is in good shape for their grandparents and for anybody born prior to 1950. I will also tell them that we must act now to strengthen and modernize Social Security so these young people can have a secure retirement. Our young people understand that if we fail to act, Social Security will not be sound when they need it. They know that the millions of baby boomers about to retire will live longer and collect benefits that the system cannot afford. As we make Social Security permanently sustainable, we must also make it a better deal for younger workers, by allowing them to set aside a portion of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal savings accounts. These accounts would provide the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than the current system can offer. Personal accounts would contribute to the economic security of Americans by allowing them to build up a real nest egg, something they own and can pass on to their spouse or children, and that government cannot take away. On Wednesday, I will address the Energy Efficiency Forum here in Washington, and renew my call for Congress to act on the energy plan I proposed four years ago. Today's high energy prices are like a tax that drags on our economy. We must ensure that American families and small businesses have access to a reliable supply of affordable energy. My energy strategy will lessen our dependence on foreign oil by encouraging conservation, promoting domestic production in environmentally friendly ways, and funding promising new sources of energy such as hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel. It will also modernize our aging electricity grid. The House has passed a good energy bill; now the American people expect the Senate to act. For the sake of our economic and national security, Congress needs to get a good energy bill to my desk by August. On Thursday and Friday, I will discuss a key element of ensuring health care security for our nation's seniors. The Medicare modernization bill I signed into law in 2003 created a new prescription drug benefit, so our seniors could have more choices and receive the affordable modern health care they deserve. This voluntary benefit begins next January, and seniors will be eligible to enroll starting this November. The plan will provide many options for dependable prescription drug coverage through Medicare. During the coming months, we will work to educate all of our seniors about this new benefit, so they can choose confidently the drug plan that best meets their needs. Finally, to ensure economic security for all Americans, Congress needs to keep your taxes low and be wise with taxpayers' dollars. I proposed, and the House and Senate passed, a responsible budget resolution that meets our priorities and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. The weeks ahead will bring important decisions on government spending, including the highway bill. Congress needs to soon send me a fiscally responsible highway bill that modernizes our roads and bridges and improves safety and creates jobs. Achieving economic security for all Americans requires us to confront challenges now, not pass them on to future generations. In the coming weeks I will work with Congress on all these priorities, so we can strengthen our nation's prosperity for generations to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. America's economy is on the right track. Over the past two years, we've added more than 3.5 million new jobs. More Americans are working today than ever before. Home ownership is at an all time high. Small businesses are flourishing. Factory output is growing. And families are taking home more of what they earn. These are hopeful signs for our economy, and we must work hard to sustain that prosperity. When members of Congress return next week, they need to take action on four key priorities for the American people. First, Congress needs to complete an energy bill. America is growing more dependent on foreign oil, and that is driving up the price of gasoline across the country. For the past four years, I've called on Congress to pass legislation that encourages energy conservation, promotes domestic production in environmentally friendly ways, funds research into new technologies to help us diversify away from foreign oil, and modernizes the electricity grid. I applaud the House for passing an energy bill. Now the American people expect the Senate to act, so I can sign a good energy bill into law by August. Second, Americans expect Congress to be wise with their money. I proposed a disciplined federal budget that makes tax relief permanent, holds the growth in discretionary spending below the rate of inflation and reduces discretionary spending for non-security programs. The House and the Senate have worked together to pass a responsible budget resolution that keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. Now Congress must keep its promise to exercise restraint on spending bills and to rein in mandatory spending. The principle is clear: Every taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely or not at all. Third, Congress needs to ratify the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA. On Monday, I will travel to Florida to discuss CAFTA with leaders throughout the hemisphere. I look forward to telling them that CAFTA is a good deal for workers, farmers and small businesses in the United States and throughout the hemisphere. About 80 percent of products from Central America and the Dominican Republic now enter the United States duty free. Yet, American exports to those countries face hefty tariffs. CAFTA will level the playing field by making about 80 percent of American exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic duty free. CAFTA will lower barriers in key sectors like textiles, which will make American manufacturers more competitive in the global market. And CAFTA will make our neighborhood more secure by strengthening young democracies. CAFTA is a practical, pro-jobs piece of legislation. And Congress needs to pass it soon. Finally, Congress needs to move forward with Social Security reform. This past week, I traveled to Kentucky to talk about Social Security. Next Wednesday, I will discuss Social Security with builders and contractors in Washington, D.C. At each stop, I remind seniors they will continue to receive their Social Security checks every month. I also remind everyone that Social Security is in serious trouble for our children and grandchildren. Americans of all ages have made it clear they expect their leaders in Washington to strengthen Social Security for future generations. By taking action on all these priorities, Congress will strengthen the long-term economic security of the American people. Americans expect members of both parties to set aside partisan differences and get things done. I look forward to working with Congress to achieve results in the days ahead. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This Memorial Day weekend, Americans pay tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. As we honor the members of our Armed Forces who have died for our freedom, we also honor those who are defending our liberties today. On Friday, I met with some of the courageous men and women who will soon take their place in the defense of our freedom: the graduating class of the United State s Naval Academy. These new officers will soon be serving on ships, flying combat missions, and leading our troops into battle against dangerous enemies. They are prepared for the challenges ahead -- morally, mentally, and physically. The American people can be confident that their freedom is in good hands. Our citizens live in freedom because patriots are willing to serve and sacrifice for our liberty. And on Monday, I will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, a victory for freedom in which more than 400,000 Americans gave their lives. Today a new generation of Americans is making its own sacrifice on behalf of peace and freedom, and some have given their lives. In their hometowns, these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are more than names on a roll of honor. They were friends and neighbors, teachers and coaches, classmates and colleagues. Each was the most important person in someone's life; each had hopes for the future, and each left a place that can never be filled. We mourn their loss, and we honor their sacrifice. We pray for their families. And we take heart in knowing that these men and women believed deeply in what they were fighting for. Christopher Swisher was a staff sergeant from Lincoln, Nebraska, who joined the Army a year after graduating from high school. He was killed in an ambush while on patrol in Baghdad. Sergeant Swisher told his loved ones: "If anything happens to me, I'm doing what I want to be doing -- I'm protecting my family and my home." Rafael Peralta also understood that America faces dangerous enemies, and he knew the sacrifices required to defeat them. An immigrant from Mexico, he enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he got his green card. Just before the battle of Fallujah, he wrote his 14-year-old brother, "We are going to defeat the insurgents. Be proud of me, I'm going to make history and do something that I always wanted to do." A few days later, Sergeant Peralta gave his life to save his fellow Marines. This Memorial Day, we remember Sergeant Peralta, Sergeant Swisher, and all who have given their lives for our nation. And we honor them as we continue to wage the war on terror and spread freedom across the world. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are determined to secure their freedom, and we will help them. We're training Iraqi and Afghan forces so they can take the fight to the enemy and defend their own countries, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. Throughout our history, America has fought not to conquer but to liberate. We go to war reluctantly, because we understand the high cost of war. Those who have given their lives to defend America have the respect and gratitude of our entire nation. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today, I can report to you that we are making good progress in advancing the cause of freedom, defeating the forces of terror, and transforming our military so we can meet the emerging threats of the 21st century. As I speak, Laura is in the Middle East to help advance the freedom agenda; and her message is a powerful one -- that by working together for liberty, we will create a future of peace and opportunity for women and men worldwide. On Monday, I will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House to discuss freedom's remarkable progress in his nation. Afghanistan now has a constitution, an elected President, and its citizens will return to the polls this September to elect provincial councils in the lower house of the National Assembly. We're helping Afghanistan's elected government solidify these democratic gains and deliver real change. A nation that once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom, and we will help them succeed. Terrorists know that there is no room for them as freedom takes root in the broader Middle East, so they are fighting to stop its progress. But in recent weeks, we have dealt them a series of devastating blows. In Afghanistan, we have brought to justice dozens of terrorists and insurgents. In Pakistan, one of Osama bin Laden's senior terrorist leaders, a man named Al-Libbi, was brought to justice. In Iraq, we captured two deputies of the terrorist Zarqawi, and our forces have killed or captured hundreds of terrorists and insurgents near the Syrian border. Our strategy is clear: We will fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. While some difficult days still lie ahead, these recent victories are making America safer and the world more secure. As we make progress against today's enemies, we are also transforming our military to defeat the enemies we might face in the decades ahead. On Friday, I will speak to future leaders of our military who are graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy about how we are making our Armed Forces faster, more agile, and more lethal. To deal with the emerging threats of the 21st century, we are building a military that can deploy rapidly and deliver more fire power with fewer forward deployed forces. However, much of our military is still deployed in ways that reflect the threats of the Cold War. So last summer, I announced a plan to reposition our forces over the next decade. This shift will bring home 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel, while still maintaining a significant overseas presence. It will also allow us to reduce the stress on our military families and make the best overall use of our resources. In the months and years ahead, we will continue to do what is necessary to prepare our Armed Forces to protect the American people in this new century. The war on terror continues, and we are making solid progress, but we must not become complacent. We will continue to pursue terrorists abroad. We will continue to support democratic change throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader Middle East. And we will do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform and give them the tools they need to prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. I'm pleased to report that we see new signs that the pro-growth policies we have pursued during the past four years are having a positive effect on our economy. We added 274,000 new jobs in April -- and we have added nearly 3.5 million jobs over the past two years. Unemployment is down to 5.2 percent, below the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We have seen steady job gains during each of the past 23 months, and today more Americans are working than at any time in our history. There are other good reasons for optimism. The economy grew at a solid rate of 3.6 percent over the past four quarters, and economists expect strong growth for the rest of 2005. Manufacturing activity is enjoying its longest period of growth in 16 years. Inflation and mortgage rates remain low -- and we have more homeowners in America than ever before. These positive signs are a tribute to the effort and enterprise of America's workers and entrepreneurs. But we have more to do. So next week, I will focus on three priorities that will strengthen the long-term economic security of our nation. On Monday, I will travel to West Point, Virginia, to highlight the benefits of biodiesel, an alternative fuel that will help our country achieve greater energy independence. We'll also discuss our need for a comprehensive national energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil. This strategy will encourage more efficient technologies, make the most of our existing resources, help global energy consumers like China and India reduce their own use of hydrocarbons, encourage conservation, and develop promising new sources of energy such as hydrogen, ethanol and biodiesel. I applaud the House for passing an energy bill that is largely consistent with these goals. Now the Senate must act. Congress needs to get a good energy bill to my desk by the August recess so I can sign it into law. On Tuesday I will welcome our newest United States Trade Representative, former Congressman Rob Portman. Ambassador Portman understands that expanding trade is vital for American workers and consumers. He will make sure we vigorously enforce the trade laws on the books, while also working to continue opening foreign markets to American crops and products. The Central America Free Trade Agreement would help us achieve these goals. This agreement would help the new democracies in our hemisphere deliver better jobs and higher labor standards to their workers, and it would create a more level playing field for American goods and services. Congress needs to pass this important legislation. Finally, on Thursday, I will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to discuss with young people the importance of acting now to strengthen Social Security. The Social Security safety net has a hole in it for younger workers. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to make Social Security permanently solvent. And we need to make the system a better deal for younger workers, by allowing them to put some of their payroll taxes, if they so choose, into a voluntary personal retirement account. Because this money will be saved and invested, workers will have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return on their money than anything the current Social Security system can now give them. The American economy is the envy of the world. For the sake of our nation's hardworking families, we must work together to achieve long-term economic security, so that we can continue to spread prosperity and hope throughout America and the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Sunday and Monday, I will attend ceremonies in The Netherlands and Russia, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-E Day. These events will celebrate a great triumph of good over evil. We will never forget the acts of courage that made possible the liberation of a continent, or the heroes who fought in the cause of freedom. And we honor the brave Americans and allied troops who humbled tyrants, defended the innocent, and liberated the oppressed. By their courage and sacrifice, they showed the world that there is no power like the power of freedom -- and no soldier as strong as a soldier who fights for that freedom. The defeat of Nazi Germany brought an end to the armed conflict in Europe. Unfortunately, for millions of people on that continent, tyranny remained -- in a different uniform. In Latvia, where I'm also visiting on this trip, free people were taken captive by another totalitarian empire. Germany was split into free and un-free halves. And countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were cut off from liberty by an Iron Curtain. The people of these countries survived the Cold War through great courage, and then they took history into their own hands and reclaimed their freedom. The result is the continent of Europe, wounded by decades of conflict and oppression, is today whole, free and at peace for the first time in its history. The wave of democracy that swept Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 has now swept to nations like Georgia and Ukraine. And the victory for freedom represented by V-E Day has become a reality for millions of people. On my trip, I will visit Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, to applaud the people there for the Rose Revolution that advanced democracy in their land. Georgia has survived oppression, fought for liberty and taken its place among free nations. America is proud to call Georgia our partner in freedom, and we will help the people of that country enhance prosperity, improve security and spread liberty at home and abroad. The new democracies of Europe still have much work to do. Free elections are a significant achievement, yet they are only part of a fully functioning democracy. Democratic governments must be committed to providing full and equal rights for minorities, resolving conflicts peacefully, encouraging a vibrant political opposition, and ensuring the rule of law. As the nations of Central and Eastern Europe work to build up the institutions necessary for a free society, America will stand by their side. Today, these nations are standing with us as we defend liberty abroad. Freedom has no better friends than those with a fresh memory of tyranny. That is why countries like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia have been partners in our coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're grateful for their contributions, and especially for the example they are setting for other aspiring democracies. America and these new democracies are bound together by history, by the universal rights we have defended together, and by our deepest convictions. All of us understand that the advance of freedom is the concentrated work of generations -- from the brave Americans who fought against Nazi Germany sixty years ago to those who struggle for liberty today. And by working together, we will ensure that the promise of liberty and democracy won on V-E Day will one day reach every person and every nation in the 21st century. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past week I addressed the nation to talk about the challenges facing Social Security. The Social Security system that Franklin Roosevelt created was a great moral success of the 20th century. It provided a safety net that ensured dignity and peace of mind to millions of Americans in retirement. Yet today there is a hole in the safety net for younger workers, because Congress has made promises it cannot keep. We have a duty to save and strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. In the coming week, I will travel to Mississippi to continue to discuss ways to put Social Security on the path to permanent solvency. I will continue to assure Americans that some parts of Social Security will not change. Seniors and people with disabilities will continue to get their checks, and all Americans born before 1950 will also receive their full benefits. And I will make it clear that as we fix Social Security we have a duty to direct extra help to those most in need, and make Social Security a better deal for younger workers. We have entered a new phase in this discussion. As members of Congress begin work on Social Security legislation, they should pursue three important goals. First, I understand that millions of Americans depend on Social Security checks as a primary source of retirement income, so we must keep this promise to future retirees, as well. As a matter of fairness, future generations should receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today's seniors get. Second, I believe a reformed system should protect those who depend on Social Security the most. So in the future, benefits for low-income workers should grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By providing more generous benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make good on this commitment: If you work hard and pay into Social Security your entire life, you will not retire into poverty. This reform would solve most of the funding challenges facing Social Security. A variety of options are available to solve the rest of the problem. And I will work with Congress on any good-faith proposal that does not raise the payroll tax rate or harm our economy. Third, any reform of Social Security must replace the empty promises being made to younger workers with real assets, real money. I believe the best way to achieve this goal is to give younger workers the option of putting a portion of their payroll taxes into a voluntary personal retirement account. Because this money is saved and invested, younger workers would have the opportunity to receive a higher rate of return on their money than the current Social Security system can provide. Some Americans have reservations about investing in the markets because they want a guaranteed return on their money. So one investment option should consist entirely of Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Options like this will make voluntary personal retirement accounts a safer investment that will allow you to build a nest egg that you can pass on to your loved ones. In the days and weeks ahead, I will work to build on the progress we have made in the Social Security discussion. Americans of all ages are beginning to look at Social Security in a new way. Instead of asking whether the system has a problem, they're asking when their leaders are going to fix it. Fixing Social Security must be a bipartisan effort, and I'm willing to listen to a good idea from either party. I'm confident that by working together, we will find a solution that will renew the promise of Social Security for the 21st century. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. My most solemn responsibility as Commander-in-Chief is to protect the American people. At this moment, our courageous men and women in uniform are serving in distant lands, risking their lives to ensure our security. We must give them all the resources they need to protect us from the threats of determined enemies and to prevail in the war on terror. I applaud the House and Senate for their strong support of my supplemental funding request for our troops serving on the front lines. This funding will help provide the weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and equipment that our troops need to do their job. I urge Congress to come together to resolve their remaining differences, and send me a bill quickly. As our servicemen and women make our nation more secure, they are also helping to transform other nations that until recently knew only tyranny and despair. In Afghanistan, millions went to the polls after we helped liberate that country from the Taliban. In Iraq, the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces are helping Iraqis build a government that answers to the people instead of the other way around. As Iraqis assume increasing responsibility for the stability of their country, Iraqi security forces are becoming more self-reliant and taking on greater responsibilities. Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police, and security forces outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective, and then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned. As we fight the war on terror and spread freedom abroad, we continue to pursue pro-growth economic policies at home. Sustaining America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. That's why the 2006 budget I submitted to Congress holds the growth of discretionary spending to 2.1 percent -- below the projected rate of inflation. Spending discipline requires difficult choices. Every government program was created with good intentions, but not all are matching good intentions with good results. My 2006 budget eliminates, or substantially reduces, more than 150 federal programs that are not succeeding, that are duplicating existing efforts, or that are not fulfilling an essential priority. The principle is simple: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not spent at all. Spending wisely means reducing wasteful spending that can threaten the viability of essential programs like Medicaid. We must end overpayment for prescription drugs by states and the federal government. We will work with states to ensure that federal Medicaid dollars are spent properly and go to help those in need. And we must close loopholes that allow people who can afford to pay for their health care to shift the costs to Medicaid, and drain resources needed to provide health care for the poorest Americans. The savings in my budget are critical in helping us to keep our economy growing and creating jobs. Now members of Congress need to come together and send me a budget that funds our priorities, ensures that taxes stay low, and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. American families and small businesses across the country are feeling the pinch from rising gas prices. If you're trying to meet a family budget or a payroll, even a small change at the pump can have a big impact. America's prosperity depends on reliable, affordable and secure sources of energy. And today our energy needs are growing faster than our domestic sources are able to provide. Demand for electricity has grown more than 17 percent in the past decade, while our transmission ability lags behind. And we continue to import more than one-half of our domestic oil supply. In the coming days and weeks I'll talk more about what we need to do in Washington to make sure America has an energy policy that reflects the demands of a new century. The first order of business is for Congress to pass an energy bill. Next week Congress begins debate on energy legislation and they need to send me a bill that meets four important objectives: First, the energy bill must encourage the use of technology to improve conservation. We must find smarter ways to meet our energy needs, and we must encourage Americans to make better choices about energy consumption. We must also continue to invest in research, so we will develop the technologies that would allow us to conserve more and be better stewards of the environment. Second, the energy bill must encourage more production at home in environmentally sensitive ways. Over the past three years, America's energy consumption has increased by about 4 percent, while our domestic energy production has decreased by about 1 percent. That means more of our energy is coming from abroad. To meet our energy needs and strengthen our national security we must make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. Third, the energy bill must diversify our energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy like ethanol or biodiesel. We need to promote safe, clean nuclear power. And to create more energy choices, Congress should provide tax credits for renewable power sources such as wind, solar, and landfill gas. We must also continue our clean coal technology projects so that we can use the plentiful source of coal in an environmentally friendly way. The bill must also support pollution-free cars and trucks, powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of gasoline. Finally, the energy bill must help us find better, more reliable ways to deliver energy to consumers. In some parts of the country, our transmission lines and pipelines are decades older than the homes and businesses they supply. Many of them are increasingly vulnerable to events that can interrupt and shut down power in entire regions of the country. We must modernize our infrastructure to make America's energy more secure and reliable. Every source of power that we use today started with the power of human invention, and those sources have served us well for decades. Now it's time to apply our knowledge and technology to keep the American Dream alive in this new century. There is nothing America cannot achieve when we put our mind to it. And I urge Congress to work out its differences and pass an energy bill that will help make America safer and more prosperous for the years to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I have been in Rome to attend the funeral mass of Pope John Paul II. The ceremonies were a powerful and moving reminder of the profound impact this Pope had on our world. And on behalf of America, Laura and I were honored to pay tribute to this good and holy man. During nearly three decades on the Chair of St. Peter, this Pope brought the gospel's message of hope and love and freedom to the far corners of the Earth. And over this past week, millions of people across the world returned the Pope's gift with a tremendous outpouring of affection that transcended differences of nationality, language and religion. The call to freedom that defined his papacy was forged in the experiences of Pope John Paul's own life. He came to manhood during the Nazi occupation of his beloved Poland, when he eluded the Gestapo to attend an underground seminary. Later, when he was named Poland's youngest bishop, he came face to face with the other great totalitarianism of the 20th century: Communism. And soon he taught the communist rulers in Warsaw and Moscow that moral truth had legions of its own and a force greater than their armies and secret police. That moral conviction gave the man from Krakow a confidence that inspired millions. In 1978, when he looked out at the crowd in front of St. Peter's as their new Pope, the square rang with his words "Be Not Afraid." Everywhere he went, the Pope preached that the call of freedom is for every member of the human family because the Author of Life wrote it into our common human nature. Many in the West underestimated the Pope's influence. But those behind the Iron Curtain knew better, and ultimately even the Berlin Wall could not withstand the gale force of this Polish Pope. The Pope held a special affection for America. During his many visits to our country, he spoke of our providential Constitution, the self-evident truths about human dignity enshrined in our Declaration, and the blessings of liberty that followed from them. It is these timeless truths about man, enshrined in our founding, the Pope said, that have led freedom-loving people around the world to look to America with hope and respect. And he challenged America always to live up to its lofty calling. The Pope taught us that the foundation for human freedom is a universal respect for human dignity. On all his travels, John Paul preached that even the least among us bears the image of our Creator, so we must work for a society where the most vulnerable among us have the greatest claim on our protection. And by his own courageous example in the face of illness and suffering, he showed us the path to a culture of life where the dignity of every human person is respected, and human life at all its stages is revered and treasured. As the Pope grew physically weaker, his spiritual bond with young people grew stronger. They flocked to him in his final moments, gathering outside his window to pray and sing hymns and light candles. With them, we honor this son of Poland who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend, millions of Americans celebrate the joyous holiday of Easter. Easter is the most important event of the Christian faith, when people around the world join together with family and friends to celebrate the power of love conquering death. At Easter time we pray for all who serve in our military. The outstanding members of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are keeping America secure and advancing liberty in the world. We remember especially those who have given their lives in freedom's cause. Their sacrifice is a testament to the words of scripture: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Easter has a special meaning for the families of our men and women in uniform who miss their loved ones during the holidays. It can be very difficult when someone you love is deployed on a dangerous mission in a distant land. I appreciate the sacrifices our military families are making, and Americans know that their contributions are vital to our success in the war on terror. This week we have seen tragedy at home. Families in Minnesota are mourning the loss of their loved ones after the terrible shootings at Red Lake High School. Hours after the shooting, communities and churches across the nation offered prayers for the victims and their families. The Red Lake Nation reports receiving thousands of calls from people all over the world offering their sympathy and support. Laura and I are praying for the families of the victims, as are millions of Americans. This week I spoke with Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain to express the condolences of the American people and to pledge the continued help of the federal government. We are doing everything we can to meet the needs of the community at this tragic time. The FBI and the Department of Justice are working to coordinate relief through the Federal Crime Victim Assistance Fund. We're working closely with state, local and tribal authorities to provide counseling, help with funeral arrangements and other assistance. The tragedy at Red Lake was accompanied by acts of heroism and selflessness. A security guard named Derrick Brun saved the lives of countless students when he rose from his desk to confront the young gunman. Although he was unarmed, Derrick ignored the pleas of a colleague to run for his life. By engaging the assailant, he bought vital time for a fellow security guard to rush a group of students to safety. Derrick's bravery cost him his life, and all Americans honor him. As we help the families in this community, we must do everything in our power to prevent tragedies like this from happening. Children benefit from a sense of community, and the support and involvement of caring adults. To keep our children safe and protected, we must continue to foster a culture that affirms life and provides love, and helps our young people build character. On this Easter weekend, we honor all Americans who give of themselves, from those helping neighbors at home to those defending liberty overseas. Easter is the victory of light over darkness. In this season of renewal, we remember that hope leads us closer to truth, and that in the end, even death, itself, will be defeated. That is the promise of Easter morning. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger. Before coalition forces arrived, Iraq was ruled by a dictatorship that murdered its own citizens, threatened its neighbors, and defied the world. We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats to America before they fully materialize. Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people. Today the Iraqi people are taking charge of their own destiny. In January, over eight million Iraqis defied the car bombers and assassins to vote in free elections. This week, Iraq's Transitional National Assembly convened for the first time. These elected leaders broadly represent Iraq's people and include more than 85 women. They will now draft a new constitution for a free and democratic Iraq. In October, that document will be presented to the Iraqi people in a national referendum. Another election is planned for December to choose a permanent constitutional government. Free governments reflect the culture of the citizens they serve, and that is happening in Iraq. Today, Iraqis can take pride in building a government that answers to its people and honors their country's unique heritage. Millions of Americans saw that pride in an Iraqi woman named Safia Taleb al-Suhail who sat in the gallery during the State of the Union address. Eleven years ago, Saddam Hussein's thugs murdered her father. Today, Safia's nation is free, and Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. Safia expressed the gratitude of the Iraqi nation when she embraced the mom of Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood who was killed in the assault on Fallujah. To all the brave members of our Armed Forces who have taken part in this historic mission, and to your families, I express the heartfelt thanks of the American people. I know that nothing can end the pain of the families who have lost loved ones in this struggle, but they can know that their sacrifice has added to America's security and the freedom of the world. Iraq's progress toward political freedom has opened a new phase of our work there. We are focusing our efforts on training the Iraqi security forces. As they become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly assume a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country, and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. Today we're seeing hopeful signs across the broader Middle East. The victory of freedom in Iraq is strengthening a new ally in the war on terror, and inspiring democratic reformers from Beirut to Tehran. Today, women can vote in Afghanistan, Palestinians are breaking the old patterns of violence, and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are rising up to demand their sovereignty and democratic rights. These are landmark events in the history of freedom. Only the fire of liberty can purge the ideologies of murder by offering hope to those who yearn to live free. The experience of recent years has taught us an important lesson: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Over the last few weeks, I have traveled across our nation and met with tens of thousands of you to discuss my plans for strengthening Social Security. I share a great responsibility with your representatives in Congress. We must fix the system permanently, so it will be there for our children and grandchildren. I have been to 15 states, and I'm just getting started. On every visit, I am assuring those of you born before 1950 that Social Security will remain the same for you; no changes. No matter what the scare ads or politicians might tell you, you will get your checks. You grandparents also understand we have got to fix the holes in this vital safety net for future generations. I appreciate the wisdom of our seniors and I welcome your input on how to strengthen the system. You younger workers know what is happening to Social Security. The present pay-as-you-go system is going broke. Huge numbers of baby boomers, like me, will be retiring soon, and we are living longer and our benefits are rising. At the same time, fewer workers will be paying into the system to support a growing number of retirees. Therefore, the government is making promises it cannot keep. Still, some folks are playing down the problem, and say we can fix it later. The fact is, we have got a serious problem and we need to fix it now. If you are in your 20s, or if you have children or grandchildren in their 20s, the idea of Social Security collapsing is no small matter, and it should not be a small matter to the Congress. In 1983, Congress enacted what they thought was a 75-year fix to save Social Security from bankruptcy. This bipartisan solution turned out to be temporary because it did not address the system's fundamental flaws. Two years later, Social Security was headed out of balance again. Now some in Washington are talking about another 75-year fix, which means we will be back to the starting line a few years from now. We do not need a band-aid solution for Social Security. We want to solve this issue now and forever. Putting off real reform makes fixing the system harder and more expensive. As one Democrat leader observed recently, "Every year we delay adds at least $600 billion to the cost of saving the system." And the Social Security trustees agree. Postponing reform will leave our children with drastic and unpleasant choices: huge tax increases that will kill jobs, massive new borrowing or sudden, painful cuts in Social Security benefits or other programs. Our children deserve better and we can give them better. I have told Congress all ideas are on the table, except raising the payroll tax rate. Some of the options available include indexing benefits to prices, rather than wages; changing the benefit formulas; raising the retirement age -- ideas Democrats and Republicans have talked about before. Whatever changes we make, we must provide a better and stronger system for younger workers. And that is why I have proposed allowing younger Americans to place some of your payroll taxes in voluntary personal retirement accounts. You would have a choice of conservative bond and stock funds, with the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than is possible under the current system. If you earn an average of $35,000 over your career, you can build up nearly a quarter-million dollars in your account, on top of your Social Security check. This would be real savings you own, a nest egg you could pass on to your children. The American people did not place us in office to pass on problems to future generations and future Presidents and future Congresses. I will work with both parties to fix Social Security permanently. Social Security has been there for generations of Americans, and together we will strengthen it for generations to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the short time since I returned from my trip to Europe, the world has witnessed remarkable developments in the Middle East. In Lebanon, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in peaceful protest over the brutal assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. For years, the Lebanese people have suffered from the aftermath of a horrific civil war and occupation by Syria. Lebanese citizens who have watched free elections in Iraq are now demanding the right to decide their own destiny, free of Syrian control and domination. Syria has been an occupying force in Lebanon for nearly three decades, and Syria's support for terrorism remains a key obstacle to peace in the broader Middle East. Today, America and Europe are standing together with the Lebanese people. The United States and France worked closely to pass U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559. This resolution demands that Lebanon's sovereignty be respected, that all foreign forces be withdrawn, and that free and fair elections be conducted without foreign influence. The world is now speaking with one voice to ensure that democracy and freedom are given a chance to flourish in Lebanon. French President Chirac, British Prime Minister Blair, and German Chancellor Schr der have all called on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. A Syrian withdrawal of all its military and intelligence personnel would help ensure that the Lebanese elections occur as scheduled in the spring, and that they will be free and fair. At the same time, the Lebanese people were demonstrating against terrorism in Beirut, the elected leader of the Palestinian people, President Abbas, declared that his government is committed to chasing down and punishing those responsible for last weekend's terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Such action is critical, because that attack is a reminder that there are still groups and individuals who will kill to prevent peace in the Middle East. President Abbas made his remarks in London during an international meeting of world and Arab leaders, hosted by Prime Minister Blair. The leaders attending this meeting expressed their support for the Palestinians' efforts to reform their political institutions, their economy, and their security services. And the first reform must be the dismantling of terrorist organizations. Only by ending terrorism can we achieve our common goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and freedom. Today, people in a long-troubled part of the world are standing up for their freedom. In the last five months, we have witnessed successful elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territory and Iraq; peaceful demonstrations on the streets of Beirut; and steps toward democratic reform in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The trend is clear: In the Middle East and throughout the world, freedom is on the march. The road ahead will not be easy, and progress will sometimes be slow. But America, Europe and our Arab partners must all continue the hard work of defeating terrorism and supporting democratic reforms. Freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul, and spreading freedom's blessings is the calling of our time. And when freedom and democracy take root in the Middle East, America and the world will be safer and more peaceful. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past week I was in Europe, where I had good discussions with our friends and allies about how to meet the mutual challenges we face: spreading freedom and democracy, defeating terrorism, expanding prosperity and promoting peace. In our meetings, we reaffirmed the vital importance of the transatlantic alliance for advancing these common interests and values. Now that I'm back home, I'm eager to move ahead with one of my top domestic priorities: strengthening and saving Social Security. I have already met with tens of thousands of you in nine states to discuss this important issue. During the recent congressional recess, many senators and congressmen have held their own town hall meetings to discuss Social Security reform with their constituents. For example, Senator Rick Santorum hosted forums all across Pennsylvania this week. And Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan held nearly three dozen listening sessions in his district. I am pleased with the progress of the national discussion on this issue, and I look forward to hearing everyone's ideas when the Congress returns. Meanwhile, I'll be visiting New Jersey and Indiana next week, and I plan to keep traveling across the country to talk about Social Security. I will continue to reassure those of you born before 1950 that your Social Security benefits will not change in any way: You will receive your checks, and that is a fact. I will also make clear to younger workers that Social Security is heading toward bankruptcy. Massive numbers of baby boomers, like me, will soon begin to retire. People are living longer and benefits are scheduled to increase dramatically, and fewer workers will be paying into the system to support each retiree. For you younger workers, the current system has made promises that it cannot keep -- and that is also a fact. Every year we wait to address this problem will make any eventual solution more painful and drastic, and we will saddle our children and grandchildren with an ever-greater burden. We need to act now to fix Social Security permanently. As we fix Social Security, we must also make it a better deal for younger workers. I have proposed allowing you to set aside part of your payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. These accounts would be voluntary; the money would go into a conservative mix of bond and stock funds that would have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than anything the current system could provide. And that money would provide a nest egg to supplement your traditional Social Security check or to pass on to your children. Best of all, it would replace the empty promises of the current system with real assets of ownership. I have said repeatedly that all options are on the table for strengthening Social Security, with the exception of raising the payroll tax rate. I'm willing to listen to any good idea. And I will work in good faith with members of Congress from both parties on this issue. Some in Washington want to deny that Social Security has a problem, but the American people know better and you have the power to determine the outcome of this debate. I encourage all Americans, particularly our younger workers, who have so much at stake, to ask your elected leaders what they intend to do to keep the promise of Social Security alive in the 21st century. Saving Social Security will not be easy, but if you make clear that you expect your leaders to confront problems head on, not pass them on to future generations, I am confident that we will put aside partisan politics in Washington and meet our duty to you, the American people. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Tomorrow I leave on a trip to Europe, where I will reaffirm the importance of our transatlantic relationship with our European friends and allies. Over the last several weeks the world has witnessed momentous events -- Palestinians voting for an end to violence; Ukrainians standing up for their democratic rights; Iraqis going to the polls in free elections. And in Europe, I will talk with leaders at NATO and the European Union about how we can work together to take advantage of the historic opportunities now before us. Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic understand that the hopes for peace in the world depend on the continued unity of free nations. We do not accept a false caricature that divides the Western world between an idealistic United States and a cynical Europe. America and Europe are the pillars of the free world. We share the same belief in freedom and the rights of every individual, and we are working together across the globe to advance our common interest and common values. In Iraq, our shared commitment to free elections has stripped the car bombers and assassins of their most powerful weapon, their claim to represent the wishes and aspirations of the Iraqi people. In these elections, the European Union provided vital technical assistance. NATO is helping to train army officers, police and civilian administrators of a new Iraq. And 21 of our European coalition partners are providing forces on the ground. America and Europe are also working together to advance the cause of peace in the Holy Land, where we share the same goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and freedom. In my inaugural address I said that the liberty we espouse is a universal aspiration. Many Americans trace their roots back to Europe, and we can trace many of our founding ideals there, as well. It was a Frenchman who taught the framers of our Constitution the importance of the separation of powers. It was a Scot who explained the virtues of a free market. It was an Englishman who challenged us to correct the principal defect of our founding, the plague of slavery. And it was an Italian who gave us our name: America. America's strong ties to Europe are reflected in the largest two-way trading and investment relationship in the world. Today more than a fifth of all U.S. exports go to the European Union, and millions of Americans depend for their paychecks on the local affiliates of European parent companies. I will work with our European partners to open markets and expand opportunities for our businesses, our workers and farmers, and to advance the Doha Round of trade talks. I will make clear that one of my top priorities is to reduce the remaining European barriers to U.S. agricultural goods. Even the best of friends do not agree on everything. But at the dawn of the 21st century, the deepest values and interests of America and Europe are the same: defeating terrorism, conquering poverty, expanding trade and promoting peace. On both sides of the Atlantic, terrorist attacks on our cities and civilians have shown that freedom has dangerous enemies, and that the key to a lasting peace is the advance of human liberty. Today, security and justice and prosperity for our world depend on America and Europe working in common purpose. That makes our transatlantic ties as vital as they have ever been. And during my visit to Europe next week I will discuss with our friends and allies how we can strengthen those ties to build a future of peace and freedom for our children. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In my State of the Union address, I discussed the need to act to strengthen and save Social Security. Since then, I have traveled to eight states and spoken with tens of thousands of you about my ideas. I have reminded you that Social Security was one of the great moral successes of the 20th century. And for those born before 1950, I have assured you that the Social Security system will not change in any way, and you will receive your checks. I've also warned our younger workers that the government has made promises it cannot pay for with the current pay-as-you-go system. Social Security was created decades ago for a very different era. In 1950, about 16 workers paid into the system for every one person drawing benefits. Today, we have only about three workers for each beneficiary, and over the next few decades, baby boomers like me will retire, people will be living longer and benefits are scheduled to increase dramatically. Eventually, there will be just two workers per beneficiary. With every passing year, fewer workers will be paying ever-higher benefits to ever-larger numbers of retirees. So here is the result: 13 years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it collects in payroll taxes; and every year afterward will bring a new and larger shortfall. For example, in the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion a year to keep the system afloat. By the year 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than $300 billion a year. And by the year 2042, the entire system would be bankrupt. If we do not act now to avert that outcome, the only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs. To keep the promise of Social Security alive for our children and grandchildren, we need to fix the system once and for all. Fixing Social Security permanently will require a candid review of the options. In recent years, many people have offered suggestions, such as limiting benefits for wealthy retirees; indexing benefits to prices, instead of wages; increasing the retirement age; or changing the benefit formulas and creating disincentives for early collection of Social Security benefits. All these ideas are on the table. I will work with members of Congress and listen to any good idea that does not include raising payroll taxes. But we cannot pretend that the problem does not exist. Social Security will go broke when some of our younger workers get ready to retire, and that is a fact. And if you're a younger person, you ought to be asking your elected officials, what are you going to do about it -- because every year we wait, the problem becomes worse for our children. And as we fix Social Security permanently, we must make it a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to set aside part of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. The accounts would be voluntary. The money would go into a conservative mix of bond and stock funds that would have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than anything the current system could provide. A young person who earns an average of $35,000 a year over his or her career would have nearly a quarter million dollars saved in his or her own retirement account. And that money would provide a nest egg to supplement that worker's traditional Social Security check, or to pass on to his or her children. Best of all, it would replace the empty promises of the current system with real assets of ownership. Reforming Social Security will not be easy, but if we approach this debate with courage and honesty, I am confident we will succeed, because our children's retirement security is more important than partisan politics. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, in my address to Congress and the American people, I was pleased to report that the state of our union is confident and strong. Many challenges still lie before us, and I will work with Congress to do what Americans have always done -- leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. Meeting this responsibility to the future starts with being good stewards of the American economy. I welcome the bipartisan calls to control the spending appetite of the federal government. On Monday, my administration will submit a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. In the long run, the best way to reduce the deficit is to grow the economy. And we will take steps to make the American economy stronger, more innovative, and more competitive. We must also strengthen and save Social Security for our children and grandchildren. For those of you born before 1950, I have a message: The Social Security system will not change in any way for you. For younger workers, the system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. With every year that passes, we have fewer workers paying ever-larger benefits to ever-increasing numbers of retirees. In 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. By the time today's younger workers retire in 2042, the system will be bankrupt -- unless we act now. Fixing Social Security will require an open, candid review of the options. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer, and I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. As we proceed, we will adhere to a few basic principles. We will make Social Security's finances permanently sound, not leave the task for another day. We will not increase payroll taxes. We will make the system a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to save some of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal retirement accounts -- a nest egg they can call their own, which government can never take away. Our second broad responsibility to the future is to preserve and pass on the values that sustain a free society. We must continue to build a culture of life that respects human dignity while advancing science. To promote the compassionate character of America, we will pursue initiatives to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS, help our at-risk youth reject gangs and violence, and help prevent wrongful convictions in our courts. I will continue to nominate well-qualified judges who understand the proper role of courts in our democracy -- and the Senate must fulfill its constitutional responsibility, and give every nominee an up or down vote. Finally, our commitment to human dignity and freedom at home also leads us to spread freedom and peace around the world. We remain at war against the forces of terror, and we will not rest until the fight is won. We will continue to hunt down terrorists abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. Our budget will give our military all the tools they need for victory, and we will also honor the sacrifices of the fallen by increasing substantially the payments made to the families of our servicemen and women who have given their lives in the war on terror. Recently, we have seen freedom's gathering momentum in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine -- and last Sunday, in Iraq. On that day, millions of brave Iraqis defied the threats of terrorists, and cast votes to determine their nation's future. The whole world can now see that the assassins and car-bombers are doomed to fail, because they are fighting the desire of the Iraqi people to live in freedom. And when Iraq is democratic, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself, our nation will be safer, and our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. The work ahead is not easy. But we go forward with confidence, knowing that America's best days are yet to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom, and a crucial advance in the war on terror. The Iraqi people will make their way to polling centers across their nation. On the national ballot alone, voters will choose from nearly 19,000 candidates competing for seats in the Transitional National Assembly, in the country's 18 provincial councils, and in the Kurdistan National Assembly. This historic event will be overseen by the Independent Election Commission of Iraq, and will mark the first genuine, nationwide elections in generations. The terrorists and those who benefited from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein know that free elections will expose the emptiness of their vision for Iraq. That is why they will stop at nothing to prevent or disrupt this election. The terrorist Zarqawi -- who plans and orders many of the car bombings and beheadings in Iraq -- recently acknowledged the threat that democracy poses to his cult of hatred. "Of democracy in Iraq," he said, "we have declared a fierce war against this evil principle." He denounced as infidels all who seek to exercise their right to vote as free human beings. Yet in the face of this intimidation, the Iraqi people are standing firm. Tomorrow's elections will happen because of their courage and determination. All throughout Iraq, these friends of freedom understand the stakes. In the face of assassination, brutal violence and calculated intimidation, Iraqis continue to prepare for the elections and to campaign for their candidates. They know what democracy will mean for their country: a future of peace, stability, prosperity and justice for themselves and for their children. One resident of Baghdad said, "This election represents what is possible. To me, it's the start of a new life." This election is also important for America. Our nation has always been more secure when freedom is on the march. As hope and freedom spread, the appeal of terror and hate will fade. And there is not a democratic nation in our world that threatens the security of the United States. The best way to ensure the success of democracy is through the advance of democracy. Tomorrow's vote will be the latest step in Iraq's journey to permanent democracy and freedom. Those elected to the transitional National Assembly will help appoint a new government that will fully and fairly represent the diversity of the Iraqi people. This assembly will also be charged with drafting a permanent constitution that will be put to a vote of the Iraqi people this fall. If approved, a new nationwide election will follow in December that will choose a new government under this constitution. As democracy takes hold in Iraq, America's mission there will continue. Our military forces, diplomats and civilian personnel will help the newly-elected government of Iraq establish security and train Iraqi military police and other forces. Terrorist violence will not end with the election. Yet the terrorists will fail, because the Iraqi people reject their ideology of murder. Over the past year, the world has seen successful elections in Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Palestinian territories. In countries across the broader Middle East, from Morocco to Bahrain, governments are enacting new reforms and increasing participation for their people. Tomorrow's election will add to the momentum of democracy. One Iraqi, speaking about the upcoming vote, said, "Now, most people feel they are living in darkness. It is time for us to come into the light." Every Iraqi who casts his or her vote deserves the admiration of the world. And free people everywhere send their best wishes to the Iraqi people as they move further into the light of liberty. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. My fellow Americans, earlier this week I had the honor of taking, for the second time, the oath of office as your President. The inaugural ceremony is simple, yet its meaning is profound. Every four years, the American people hold an inauguration to reaffirm our faith in liberty, and to celebrate the democratic institutions that preserve it. To place one's hand on the Bible and swear the oath is a humbling experience, and a reminder of the high trust and great responsibility that the presidency brings. With deep appreciation for your support, and mindful of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, I'm eager to begin the work of a new term. In the years since I first swore to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, our nation has been tested. Our enemies have found America more than equal to the task. In response to attacks on our home soil, we have captured or killed terrorists across the Earth. We have taken unprecedented steps to secure our homeland from future attacks, and our troops have liberated millions from oppression. At home, thanks to pro-growth policies and the hard work of the American people, we overcame a recession and created over 2 million new jobs in the past year alone. Now we move forward. We remain in a war the United States will continue to lead -- fighting terrorists abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. We will strive to keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists and tyrants. And our nation will stand by the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free and democratic societies in their own lands -- because when America gives its word, America must keep its word. As I stated in my inaugural address, our security at home increasingly depends on the success of liberty abroad. So we will continue to promote freedom, hope and democracy in the broader Middle East -- and by doing so, defeat the despair, hopelessness and resentments that feed terror. At home, too, we will expand freedom. We will continue to bring high standards and accountability to our public schools, so that every child can learn. We will transform our retirement and health systems, reform the legal system and simplify the tax code, so that all Americans enjoy the dignity and independence that comes from ownership. In this ownership society, every citizen will have a real stake in the promise of America. And our most valued institutions will be better prepared to meet the new challenges of a new time. This week, Washington has been marked by pomp and circumstance. In a free nation, these ceremonies are more than pageantry. They underscore that public office is a public trust. America's elected leaders derive their authority from the consent of the American people, whom we serve. This is a high privilege, and that privilege carries a serious responsibility: to confront problems now, instead of passing them on to future generations. As long as I hold this office, I promise that I will serve all Americans and will work to promote the unity of our great nation. And working together, we will secure the blessings of liberty, not only for ourselves, but for generations of Americans to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I met with some of our fellow citizens from across the country to discuss one of the great responsibilities of our nation: strengthening Social Security for our children and grandchildren. For 70 years, the Social Security system has fulfilled the promise made by President Franklin Roosevelt, keeping our elderly citizens out of poverty, while assuring younger Americans a more secure future. Along with employer-funded pensions and personal savings, Social Security is for millions of Americans a critical element to their plans for a stable retirement. And for today's senior citizens and those nearing retirement, the system is sound. But for younger workers, Social Security is on the road to bankruptcy. And if we do not fix it now, the system will not be able to pay the benefits promised to our children and grandchildren. When President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, the average life expectancy was about 60 years, which meant that most Americans would not live to become eligible for benefits, then set at age 65. Today, most Americans enjoy longer lives and longer retirements. And that presents a looming challenge. Because Social Security was created as a pay-as-you-go system, current retirees are supported by the taxes paid by current workers. Unfortunately, the ratio of workers to retirees is falling steadily. In the 1950s, there were about 16 workers paying in for each person drawing out. Today, it's about three workers for every beneficiary. And by the time today's workers in their mid 20s begin to retire, there will be just over two. What this means is that in the year 2018, the system will go into the red -- paying out more in benefits each year than it receives in payroll taxes. After that, the shortfalls will grow larger until 2042, when the whole system will be bankrupt. The total projected shortfall is $10.4 trillion. To put that number in perspective, $10.4 trillion is nearly twice the combined wages of every single working American in 2004. Every year we put off the coming crisis, the higher the price our children and grandchildren will have to pay. According to the Social Security trustees, waiting just one year adds $600 billion to the cost of fixing Social Security. If we do not act now, government will eventually be left with two choices: dramatically reduce benefits, or impose a massive economically ruinous tax increase. Leaving our children with such a mess would be a generational betrayal. We owe it to the American worker to fix Social Security now. And our reforms begin with three essential commitments. First, if you're receiving your Social Security check, or nearing retirement, nothing will change for you. Your benefits are secure. Second, we must not increase payroll taxes on American workers because raising taxes will slow economic growth. Third, we must give younger workers -- on a voluntary basis -- the option to save some of their payroll taxes in a personal retirement account. Unlike Social Security benefits, which can be taken away by politicians, the money in a personal account would be yours. And unlike the money you put into Social Security today, the money in personal accounts would grow. A child born today can expect less than a 2 percent return after inflation on the money they pay into Social Security. A conservative mix of bonds and stocks would over time produce a larger return. Personal accounts would give every younger worker, regardless of income, the chance to save a nest egg for their later years and pass something on to their children. Saving Social Security is an economic challenge. But it is also a profound moral obligation. Today's young Americans deserve the same security their parents and grandparents enjoyed. Because the system is broken and promises are being made that Social Security cannot keep, we need to act now to strengthen and preserve Social Security. I look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to keep the promise of Social Security. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Americans continue to mourn the victims of the devastating tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. More than 150,000 lives are now feared lost, including tens of thousands of children. Communities have been decimated from Indonesia, to Thailand, to India, to East Africa. Thousands are missing, or injured; and millions are thought to be homeless, or without food and clean water. The world has united behind this urgent cause, and the United States is taking a leading role. We're working with other governments, relief organizations, and the United Nations to coordinate a swift and effective international response. We are rushing food, medicine, and other vital supplies to the region. And we are focusing efforts on helping the women and children who need special attention, including protection from the evil of human trafficking. This past week, I sent a delegation led by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Governor Jeb Bush, of Florida, to the Indian Ocean region. They surveyed the damage in several countries, met with local and regional leaders, assessed the relief efforts in place and began to evaluate what more can be done to help. Secretary Powell reported that American relief efforts are making major visible progress. We have made an initial commitment of $350 million in aid. And those funds are being distributed promptly to organizations on the ground. Navy vessels, including the USS Abraham Lincoln, have moved into the region to help provide, food, medical supplies and clean water. Helicopters and other military aircraft are meeting critical needs by airlifting supplies directly to victims in remote areas. As in so many other places, our servicemen and women are showing the courage and compassion of our nation to the world. We're also seeing the good heart of America in an outpouring of generosity here at home. Private citizens are showing their compassion in creative and inspiring ways. On a rainy day in Washington state, children sold hot chocolate by the side of the road and gave their profits to charity. Seven professional basketball players pledged to donate a thousand dollars to UNICEF for every point they scored in a game. American businesses have contributed cash and products, and many are matching donations by their employees. Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other religious congregations are taking up special collections for disaster victims. To draw even greater amounts of private donations, I asked former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to lead a nationwide charitable fundraising drive. Their mission is to encourage contributions both large and small, directly to the organizations with recovery efforts underway in the disaster area. I am grateful to the courageous relief groups that have responded so quickly to this catastrophe, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Salvation Army, Catholic Relief Services, Save The Children, CARE, AmeriCares and many others. Many of these organizations have long experience with natural disasters and in-depth knowledge of the recovery needs. They're in the best position to use donations wisely and effectively. To encourage support for these groups, I have signed legislation allowing Americans to deduct from their 2004 federal income tax cash contributions made to tsunami relief efforts this month. I urge all Americans to contribute as they are able. More information about making a donation is available on the Internet at www.usafreedomcorps.gov. In this time of grief for so many around the world, Americans have come together to pray for the victims and families of the tsunami disaster. We think especially of the children who have been lost, and the survivors searching for their families. And we offer our sustained compassion and generosity as the people of the devastated region begin to rebuild. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On this first day of a new year, we join the world in feeling enormous sadness over a great human tragedy. Last Sunday, an earthquake and violent tsunamis struck the nations that surround the Indian Ocean. The carnage is of a scale that defies comprehension, with over 100,000 deaths reported. I have signed a proclamation calling for our nation's flag to be flown at half-staff this coming week. As the people of this devastated region struggle to recover, we offer our love and compassion, and our assurance that America will be there to help. Earlier this week, I spoke with the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. I offered them the condolences of our nation and I praised their steadfast leadership. The task they face is difficult. Their relief resources are stretched nearly to the limit. Communications, roads and medical facilities have been badly damaged; disease has become a very real threat. Americans are a compassionate people and we are already hard at work helping those nations meet these challenges. The United States has pledged $350 million in relief assistance, with $15 million already in the hands of relief organizations in the affected countries. To help coordinate this massive relief effort, disaster response officials are on the ground and have established a support center in Thailand that is manned and operational; more than 20 patrol and cargo aircraft have been made available to assess the disaster and deliver relief supplies -- many of those aircraft are already on the scene. We have dispatched the aircraft carrier, Abraham Lincoln, the Maritime pre-positioning squadron from Guam, and an amphibious ship carrying a Marine Expeditionary Unit -- they will soon be in position to support relief efforts, to include the generation of clean water. Tomorrow, I will send a delegation to the area to meet with regional leaders and international organizations to assess what additional aid can be provided by the United States. The delegation will be led by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Governor Jeb Bush, who has extensive experience in the state of Florida with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts following natural disasters. Secretary Powell has already spoken with many of his counterparts in the region, and with officials from the United Nations, and other governments that are helping with the response. Together, we are leading an international coalition to help with immediate humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and long-term construction efforts. India, Japan and Australia have already pledged to help us coordinate these relief efforts, and I'm confident many more nations will join this core group in short order. Here at home, Americans are translating the blessings of our own country into generosity to others. From charitable organizations to private individuals to companies, our fellow citizens, on their own initiative, are raising millions of dollars for relief efforts. These Americans, donor and fundraiser alike, represent the best of our country and offer an example to the world. Any American who desires to donate to these efforts can easily do so online, by accessing the USA FreedomCorps web site at www.usafreedomcorps.gov. In this season when we gather with loved ones and count our many blessings, we hold the victims of this terrible tragedy in our hearts and prayers. And let us be mindful that even in this modern age, our world still requires compassion, tolerance and generosity from each of us. Laura and I send our condolences to all whose hearts are filled with grief this New Year's Day; and to our fellow Americans, we wish you peace and happiness in the coming year. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On this Christmas day, as families across the nation gather in our homes to celebrate, Laura and I extend to all Americans our best wishes for the holidays. We hope this Christmas is a time of joy and peace for each of you, and we hope it offers you a chance for rest and reflection as you look forward to the new year ahead. The Christmas season fills our hearts with gratitude for the many blessings in our lives. And with those blessings comes a responsibility to reach out to others. Many of our fellow Americans still suffer from the effects of illness or poverty, others fight cruel addictions, or cope with division in their families, or grieve the loss of a loved one. Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to our fellow citizens, that we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves. By volunteering our time and talents where they are needed most, we help heal the sick, comfort those who suffer, and bring hope to those who despair, one heart and one soul at a time. During the holidays, we also keep in our thoughts and prayers the men and women of our Armed Forces, especially those far from home, separated from family and friends by the call of duty. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, these skilled and courageous Americans are fighting the enemies of freedom and protecting our country from danger. By bringing liberty to the oppressed, our troops are helping to win the war on terror, and they are defending the freedom and security of us all. They and their families are making many sacrifices for our nation, and for that, all Americans are deeply grateful. The times we live in have brought many challenges to our country. And at such times, the story of Christmas brings special comfort and confidence. For 2000 years, Christmas has proclaimed a message of hope: the patient hope of men and women across centuries who listened to the words of prophets and lived in joyful expectation, the hope of Mary who welcomed God's plan with great faith, and the hope of Wise Men who set out on a long journey, guided only by a promise traced in the stars. Christmas reminds us that the grandest purposes of God can be found in the humblest places, and it gives us hope that all the love and gifts that come to us in this life are the signs and symbols of an even greater love and gift that came on a holy night. Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.

Good morning. This week my administration hosted an important conference on America's economic future. We heard from business owners, workers, economists, and many other Americans who are seeing hopeful signs throughout our country. Our economy has come through a lot these past four years and now our people are benefitting from solid economic growth, steady gains in new jobs, record home ownership, and rising family incomes. We also discussed some of the fundamental challenges facing our economy, from junk lawsuits and burdensome regulation to the complicated tax code, to the need for vital reforms in education, health care and entitlements. I will work with members of both political parties to confront these problems so we can keep our economy flexible, innovative and competitive, and so America remains the best place in the world to do business. Excessive litigation is one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth. The tort system now costs America's economy more than $230 billion a year, and no other country faces a greater burden from junk lawsuits. Our litigious society deters job creation and consumes billions of dollars that could be better spent on investment and expansion. Frivolous lawsuits put American workers at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy and have a devastating impact on the medical community. When Congress convenes next year, the House and Senate need to pass sound reforms on our medical liability, class action, and asbestos litigation systems. Another challenge in our economy is the rising cost of health care. More than half of all uninsured Americans are small business employees and their families. And while many business owners want to provide health care for their workers, they just can't afford the high cost. To help more Americans get care, we need to expand tax-free health savings accounts, which are already making a difference for small businesses and families. We should encourage health information technology that minimizes error and controls costs. And Congress must allow small firms to join together and buy health insurance at the same discounts big companies get. To grow their businesses and create jobs, small business owners also need relief from excessive taxes and regulation. The tax relief we passed has been critical to our economic recovery, and Congress needs to make that tax relief permanent. We also need to reform our complicated tax code to encourage investment and growth, and reduce headache for taxpayers. And to promote innovation in hiring, we must lift the burden of needless federal regulation on hardworking entrepreneurs. As our businesses create advanced, high-paying jobs, we must ensure that workers have the education and skills to fill those jobs. We've made a good start with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is already helping students make progress in the early grades. Now we need to bring high standards and accountability to high schools, and make sure job-training programs prepare workers for the innovative jobs of the 21st century. To help our young people we must also fix the long-term problems in the Social Security system. Workers in their mid-20s today will find Social Security bankrupt when they retire, unless we act to save it. As we reform and strengthen the system we will deliver all the benefits owed to current and near retirees. We must not increase payroll taxes. And we must tap into the power of markets and compound interest by giving younger workers the option of saving some of their payroll taxes in a personal investment account, a nest egg they call their own, which the government can never take away. The week's conference provided a good opportunity to discuss our economic challenges with Americans from many backgrounds, and to set the issues clearly before Congress. I'm open to good ideas from Democrats and Republicans. I will work with any who shares our goal of strengthening the economy. But I will not ignore these challenges and leave them to another day. We have a duty to the American people to act on these issues, and we will get results. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Social Security is one of the great moral achievements of American government. For almost 70 years, it has kept millions of elderly citizens out of poverty and assured young Americans of a more secure future. The Social Security system is essential, yet it faces a deepening long-term problem. While benefits for today's seniors are secure, the system is headed towards bankruptcy down the road. If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren. So this week I met with the bipartisan leadership of Congress and asked them to join me in a great cause: preserving the essential promise of Social Security for future generations. We must begin by recognizing an essential fact: The current Social Security system was created for the needs of a different era. Back in 1935, most women did not work outside the home, and the average life expectancy for American workers was less than 60 years. Today, more moms are working, and most Americans are blessed with longer lives and longer retirements. The world has changed, and our Social Security system must change with it. Today, Social Security is not a personal savings plan. There is no account where your money goes to earn interest. Benefits paid to today's retirees come directly from the taxes paid by today's workers. And each year there are more retirees taking money out of the system, and not enough additional workers to support them. In the 1950s, there were about 16 workers paying for every Social Security beneficiary. Today, there are about three. And eventually, there will only be two workers per beneficiary. These changes signal a looming danger. In the year 2018, for the first time ever, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes. And once that line into the red has been crossed, the shortfalls will grow larger with each passing year. By the time today's workers in their mid 20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt, unless we act to save it. A crisis in Social Security can be averted, if we in government take our responsibilities seriously, and work together today. I came to Washington to solve problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. I campaigned on a promise to reform and preserve Social Security, and I intend to keep that promise. I have set forth several broad principles to guide our reforms. First, nothing will change for those who are receiving Social Security and for those who are near retirement. Secondly, we must not increase payroll taxes, because higher taxes would slow economic growth. And we must tap into the power of compound interest, by giving younger workers the option to save some of their payroll taxes in a personal account, a nest egg they can call their own, which government cannot take away. Saving Social Security for future generations will not be easy. If it were easy, it would have already been done. There will be costs, yet the costs of continued inaction are unacceptable. And the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to fix the system. Saving Social Security will require bipartisan cooperation and the courage of leaders in both parties. The American people voted for reform in 2004, and now they expect us to work together and deliver on our promises. I look forward to working with members of Congress on this important issue. Together we will make certain that America meets its duty to our seniors and to our children and grandchildren. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, American military forces, intelligence officers, and law enforcement officials have defended our country with skill and honor, and have taken the fight to terrorists abroad. Here at home, we have created the Department of Homeland Security, strengthened our defenses, and improved the collection and analysis of vital intelligence. Yet we must do more. To protect America, our country needs the best possible intelligence. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission chart a clear, sensible path toward needed reforms to our government's intelligence capabilities. I strongly support most of those recommendations, and my administration is already implementing the vast majority of those that can be enacted without a vote of Congress. In August, I established the National Counterterrorism Center, where all the available intelligence on terrorist threats is brought together in one place. Just last month, I issued two directives instructing the FBI and CIA to hire new personnel, and to press forward with the transformation of these agencies to meet the threats of our time. But other key changes require new laws. For the past few months, I have been working with the Congress to produce an intelligence reform bill that will make America more secure. Congress made good progress toward a strong new law. Provisions have been included to strengthen our ability to arrest those who aid and train terrorists, to hold dangerous terrorists who are awaiting trial, and to prosecute those who seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The most important provisions of any new bill must create a strong, focused new management structure for our intelligence services and break down the remaining walls that prevent the timely sharing of vital threat information among federal agencies and with relevant state, local, and private sector personnel. Our intelligence efforts need a director of national intelligence who will oversee all of the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence community. The legislation I support preserves the existing chain of command, and leaves America's 15 intelligence agencies, organizations, and offices in their current departments. Yet the director of national intelligence will oversee all of America's intelligence efforts to help ensure that our government can find and stop terrorists before they strike. To be effective, this position must have full budget authority over our intelligence agencies. The many elements of our intelligence community must function seamlessly, with an overriding mission: to protect America from attack by terrorists or outlaw regimes. I will continue to work with the Congress to reach an agreement on this intelligence bill. I urge members of Congress to act next week so I can sign these needed reforms into law. We have made great progress against the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. We are safer, but we are not yet safe. The enemy is still plotting, and America must respond with urgency. We must do everything necessary to confront and defeat the terrorist threat, and that includes intelligence reform. By remaining focused and determined in these efforts, we will strengthen the safety of our citizens and defend our nation from harm. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As Americans gather to celebrate this week, we show our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our friends and families who fill our lives with purpose and love. We're grateful for our beautiful country, and for the prosperity we enjoy. We're grateful for the chance to live, work and worship in freedom. And in this Thanksgiving week, we offer thanks and praise to the provider of all these gifts, Almighty God. We also recognize our duty to share our blessings with the least among us. Throughout the holiday season, schools, churches, synagogues and other generous organizations gather food and clothing for their neighbors in need. Many young people give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters or food pantries. On Thanksgiving, and on every day of the year, America is a more hopeful nation because of the volunteers who serve the weak and the vulnerable. The Thanksgiving tradition of compassion and humility dates back to the earliest days of our society. And through the years, our deepest gratitude has often been inspired by the most difficult times. Almost four centuries ago, the pilgrims set aside time to thank God after suffering through a bitter winter. George Washington held Thanksgiving during a trying stay at Valley Forge. And President Lincoln revived the Thanksgiving tradition in the midst of a civil war. The past year has brought many challenges to our nation, and Americans have met every one with energy, optimism and faith. After lifting our economy from a recession, manufacturers and entrepreneurs are creating jobs again. Volunteers from across the country came together to help hurricane victims rebuild. And when the children of Beslan, Russia suffered a brutal terrorist attack, the world saw America's generous heart in an outpouring of compassion and relief. The greatest challenges of our time have come to the men and women who protect our nation. We're fortunate to have dedicated firefighters and police officers to keep our streets safe. We're grateful for the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch. And we give thanks to the men and women of our military who are serving with courage and skill, and making our entire nation proud. Like generations before them, today's armed forces have liberated captive peoples and shown compassion for the suffering and delivered hope to the oppressed. In the past year, they have fought the terrorists abroad so that we do not have to face those enemies here at home. They've captured a brutal dictator, aided last month's historic election in Afghanistan, and help set Iraq on the path to democracy. Our progress in the war on terror has made our country safer, yet it has also brought new burdens to our military families. Many servicemen and women have endured long deployments and painful separations from home. Families have faced the challenge of raising children while praying for a loved one's safe return. America is grateful to all our military families, and the families mourning a terrible loss this Thanksgiving can know that America will honor their sacrifices forever. As Commander-in-Chief, I've been honored to thank our troops at bases around the world, and I've been inspired by the efforts of private citizens to express their own gratitude. This month, I met Shauna Fleming, a 15-year-old from California who coordinated the mailing of a million thank you letters to military personnel. In October, I met Ken Porwoll, a World War II veteran who has devoted years of his retirement to volunteering at a VA medical center in Minneapolis. And we've seen the generosity of so many organizations, like Give2theTroops, a group started in a basement by a mother and son that has sent thousands of care packages to troops in the field. Thanksgiving reminds us that America's true strength is the compassion and decency of our people. I thank all those who volunteer this season, and Laura and I wish every American a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend I am on my first trip outside the United States since the election, traveling to South America for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. I am meeting with many allies and friends to strengthen our ties across the Pacific and discuss practical ways we can enhance prosperity, advance liberty, and improve our shared security. America and the nations of Latin America and Asia share many vital interests. All Pacific nations benefit from free and fair trade, the foundation of this region's remarkable prosperity. The United States has completed free-trade agreements with nations throughout Asia and the Americas, including Australia, and Singapore, Chile, the five nations in Central America, and the Dominican Republic. We are also negotiating new agreements with Thailand, Panama and the Andean nations of South America. America has opened our markets, and I will urge other countries to do the same. Pacific nations also have a clear interest in spreading the benefits of liberty, democracy and good government across this vital part of the world. From the recent history of the Asia Pacific region, we know that freedom is indivisible. The economic liberty that builds prosperity also builds a demand for limited government and self rule. Modernization and progress eventually require freedom in all its forms. And the advance of freedom is good for all, because free societies are peaceful societies. America and our friends are helping other countries lay the foundations of democracy by establishing independent courts, a free press, political parties and trade unions, by instituting the rule of law and by keeping up the fight against corruption. America joined with other members of the Organization of American States to create the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This charter recognizes democracy as the fundamental right of all peoples in the Americas and pledges our governments to promoting and defending the institutions of liberty. All Pacific nations must also keep up the fight against the forces of terror that threaten the success of our economies and the stability of the world. At last year's summit, APEC leaders started a major initiative to strengthen the security of ports and transportation networks, to defend our aircraft from the threat of portable missiles, and to end the flow of terrorist finances. This year, APEC leaders will work together to improve the security of our ships and ports. We will develop a new system to track and stop the travel of suspected terrorists using forged or stolen documents. And we launched new programs to support APEC members that have the will to fight terror, but need help in developing the means. Terrorism is a threat not just to the West, or to the wealthy, but to every nation. And every nation must fight the murderers. During my trip, I will also meet with President Lagos, of Chile, and President Uribe, of Colombia, to reaffirm our strong ties with those nations. Colombia is making progress in the fight against terrorists who traffic in illegal drugs, and America is standing with the Colombian government to oppose the drug trade that destroys lives in our countries and threatens the stability of our hemisphere. In my second term, I will continue to pursue a confident foreign policy agenda that will spread freedom and hope and make our nation more secure. America seeks wider trade and broader freedom and greater security for the benefit of America, our partners, and all of the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Allawi of Iraq authorized military operations to rid the city of Fallujah of Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists. American Marines and soldiers, alongside Iraqi security forces, are on the offensive against the killers who have been using Fallujah as a base of operations for terrorist attacks, and who have held the local population in the grip of fear. Fighting together, our forces have made significant progress in the last several days. They are taking back the city, clearing mosques of weapons and explosives stockpiled by insurgents, and restoring order for law-abiding citizens. In the course of this operation, Iraqi troops have discovered new evidence of the enemy's brutality. An Iraqi general has described hostage slaughter houses, where terrorists have killed innocent victims and proudly recorded their barbaric crimes. The terrorists have shown once again the stakes of this struggle. They seek to spread fear and violence throughout Iraq, throughout the Broader Middle East and throughout the world, and they will fail. The terrorists will be defeated, Iraq will be free, and the world will be more secure. Our commitment to the success of democracy in Iraq is unshakable and we will prevail. Ultimately, Iraq must be able to defend itself, and Iraqi security forces are taking increasing responsibility for their country's security. As we see in Fallujah, and as we saw in Najaf and elsewhere, Iraqi security forces are standing and fighting and risking their lives for the future of their nation. As terrorists have targeted these forces, still more brave Iraqis have come forward as volunteers. Today, nearly 115,000 trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are serving their country. The Iraqi government is on track to meet its goal of fielding more than 200,000 security personnel by the end of next year. In January, the Iraqi people will elect a transitional national assembly, which will draft a new constitution to prepare the way for the election of a permanent Iraqi government. The Iraqi people, like the people of Afghanistan before them, are embracing a democratic future, even in the face of threats and intimidation. Throughout the country, Iraqi men and women are registering to vote, political parties are forming, candidates for office are stepping forward. International support for the Iraqi election is essential, and that support continues to grow. Military forces from some 30 nations are working alongside Iraqi forces, helping to establish stability and security. A U.N. team is providing critical technical support to Iraq's independent electoral commission. Other diplomatic personnel are helping the Iraqi people prepare for those elections, to be held on schedule in January. As those elections draw near, the desperation of the killers will grow, and the violence could escalate. The success of democracy in Iraq would be a crushing blow to the forces of terror, and the terrorists know it. The defeat of terror in Iraq will set that nation on a course to lasting freedom, and will give hope to millions, and the Iraqi people know it. And a free, democratic Iraq will inspire reformers throughout the Middle East and make America more secure. The United States and our allies have shown our determination to help Iraqis achieve their liberty. We will continue to stand by our friends, and we will finish the job. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, the voters of America set the direction of our nation for the next four years. I am honored by the support of my fellow citizens. I commend Senator John Kerry for a spirited campaign. Now the election is behind us, and our country is ready to move forward. Our nation is fighting a continuing war on terror, and every American has a stake in the outcome. Republicans and Democrats and independents love our country, and together, we will protect the American people. We will persevere until the enemy is defeated and our nation is safe from danger. Every civilized country also has a stake in the outcome of this war. Whatever our past disagreements, we share a common enemy and common duties to confront disease and hunger and poverty in troubled regions of our world. I will continue reaching out to friends and allies, including our partners in NATO and the European Union, to promote development and progress, to defeat the terrorists, and to encourage freedom and democracy as the alternatives to tyranny and terror. Here at home, we have serious responsibilities and historic opportunities. To accelerate the momentum of this economy, and to keep creating jobs, we must take practical measures to help the small business sector. We must confront the junk and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of health care and hurting doctors and patients. We must continue to work on education reform, to bring high standards and accountability, not just to elementary schools, but to the high schools as well. We must reform our complicated and outdated tax code, to get rid of needless paperwork and make our economy more competitive in the world. And we must show our leadership by strengthening the Social Security system for our children and grandchildren. This is more than a problem to be solved. It is an opportunity to help millions of our fellow citizens find the security and independence of ownership. Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need the support of Republicans and Democrats and independents, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America. In the election of 2004, large issues were set before the country and discussed every day of the campaign. Now Americans are expecting bipartisan effort and results. My administration will work with both parties in Congress to achieve those results, and to meet the responsibility we share. With the campaign over, the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith. I see a great day coming for our country, and I'm eager for the work ahead. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In just a few days, Americans will choose who will lead our country during a time of war and economic opportunity. And the choice on Tuesday comes down to a few issues of great consequence. The first choice is the most important, because all our progress depends on our safety. Since September the 11th, 2001, I have led a relentless campaign against the terrorists. We have strengthened homeland security. We removed terror regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are on the offensive around the world, because the best way to prevent future attacks is to go after the enemy. My opponent has a different view. Senator Kerry says September the 11th didn't change him much, and his policies make that clear. He says the war on terror is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation." He has proposed what he calls a "global test" that would give foreign governments a veto over American security decisions. And when our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq needed funding for body armor and bullets, Senator Kerry voted against it. The direction of the war on terror is at stake in the election of 2004. And when you go to the polls on Tuesday, remember this: I will do whatever it takes to defend America and prevail in the war on terror, and I will always support the men and women who do the fighting. The second choice in this election concerns your family budget. As a candidate, I pledged to lower taxes for families, and I have kept my word. We doubled the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, and dropped the lowest tax bracket to 10 percent. Now working families keep more of their paychecks, and America's economy is growing faster than any other among major industrialized nations. My opponent voted against all our tax relief for working families. His votes would have squeezed about $2,000 more in taxes from the average middle-class family. Now Senator Kerry is promising to increase federal spending by more than $2.2 trillion. And to pay for all that new spending, he would have to raise taxes on American families. I will keep your taxes low because I know it's not the government's money, it's your family's money. The third choice in this election involves your quality of life. As President, I signed historic education reforms to bring high standards to the classroom and make schools accountable to parents, and our children are making progress in reading and math. We've strengthened Medicare, created health savings accounts, and expanded community health centers to help more Americans get health care. I'm proposing a series of practical reforms to make health care more affordable and accessible by expanding health savings accounts, allowing association health plans, and protecting patients and doctors from junk and frivolous lawsuits. My opponent has a different approach. Senator Kerry voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, but he has pledged to weaken the accountability standards. He's voted 10 times against medical liability reform. And now, he's proposing a big-government health care plan that would do nothing about rising health costs, and would cause millions of Americans to lose their private health insurance and end up on government programs. Finally, this election presents a choice on the values that keep our families strong. I believe marriage is a sacred commitment, and I will always defend it. I will continue to appoint judges who strictly interpret the law. And I will keep working to move this good-hearted nation toward a culture of life. On these issues, my opponent and I are miles apart. Senator Kerry was part of an out-of-the-mainstream minority that voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. He believes there ought to be a liberal litmus test for judicial appointments. He voted against banning the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. I believe that reasonable people can find common ground on difficult issues, and I will continue reaching out and bringing Americans together to protect our deepest-held values. All of these choices make this one of the most important elections in our history. These past four years, you have seen how I do my job. Even when you might not agree with me, you know where I stand, what I believe, and what I intend to do. Soon, the decision will be in your hands. And however you decide, I urge you to get out and vote on Tuesday. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the three years since September the 11th attacks, our government has acted decisively to protect the homeland. This week, I took another important step by signing the 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. This bill provides essential resources for Coast Guard patrols and port security, for the federal Air Marshal program, and for technology that will defend aircraft against missiles. With this law, we are adding new resources to patrol our borders and to verify the identity of foreign visitors to America. The new law also includes vital money for first responders, and for better security of chemical facilities and nuclear plants and water treatment plants and bridges and subways and tunnels. All these measures show the unwavering commitment of our government. And since 2001, we have tripled overall spending for homeland security. We are doing everything in our power to protect the American people. There is more to do, and we are moving forward. To protect America, our country needs the best possible intelligence. Chairman Tom Kean and other members of the 9/11 Commission made thoughtful and valuable recommendations on intelligence reform. My administration is already implementing the vast majority of those recommendations that can be enacted without a vote of Congress. We are expanding and strengthening the capabilities of the CIA. We are transforming the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping terrorism. We have established the Terrorist Threat Integration Center so we can bring together all the available intelligence on terrorist threats in one place. But other changes require new laws. Congress needs to create the position of the National Intelligence Director, with strong authority over the personnel and budgets of our intelligence agencies. These and other reforms are necessary to make our intelligence community more effective and to stay ahead of the threats. My administration has sent proposed legislation to Capitol Hill, and we are working with Congress to pass a good bill. I urge Congress to act quickly, so I can sign these needed reforms into law. The surest way to defend our country is to stay on the offensive against terrorists. In an era of weapons of mass destruction, waiting for threats to arrive at our doorsteps is to invite disaster. Tyrants and terrorists will not give us polite notice before they attack our country. As long as I am the Commander-in-Chief, I will confront dangers abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. My opponent has a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror. Senator Kerry was recently asked how September the 11th had changed him. He replied -- quote -- "It didn't change me much at all." End quote. And his unchanged world view becomes obvious when he calls the war on terror, "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation." That is very dangerous thinking. We must fight the war on terror with every asset of our national power. We are waging a global campaign from the mountains of Central Asia to the deserts of the Middle East, and from the Horn of Africa to the Philippines. These efforts are paying off. Since September the 11th, 2001, more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been killed, captured, or detained. The rest of them know we will hunt them down. America faces a grave threat, and our government is doing everything in its power to confront and defeat that threat. We're making progress in protecting our homeland, and progress against the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. And by staying focused and determined, we will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As your President, I have led this country with principle and resolve. We have confronted historic challenges and built a broad record of accomplishment. I have proposed and delivered four rounds of tax relief, and our economy is creating jobs again. We have added over 1.9 million jobs in the past 13 months, more than Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and France combined. The unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Thanks to our education reforms, math and reading scores are increasing in public schools. We have strengthened Medicare to help low-income seniors save money on their medicine. And soon every senior will have the option of prescription drug coverage. We have more to do. We will transform our systems of government to fit a changing world and to help more people realize the American Dream. We will expand health savings accounts and improve Social Security to allow younger workers to own a piece of their retirement. Because education is vital to our prosperity, we will raise expectations in public schools and invest in community colleges. And to make sure America is the best place in the world to do business and create jobs, we will cut regulations, end junk lawsuits, pass a sound energy policy and make tax relief permanent. Senator Kerry takes a very different approach to our economy. He was named the most liberal member of the United States Senate, and that's a title he has earned. Over the past 20 years, Senator Kerry has voted to raise taxes 98 times. He opposed all our tax relief, and voted instead to squeeze an extra $2,000 in taxes from the average middle class family. Now he's running on an agenda of higher taxes and higher spending and more government control over American life. My opponent wants to empower government. I want to use government to empower people. Since September the 11th, 2001, I have led a global campaign to protect the American people and bring our enemies to account. We have tripled spending on homeland security and passed the Patriot Act to help law enforcement and intelligence stop terrorists inside the United States. We removed terror regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now both nations are on the path to democracy. We shut down a black-market supplier of deadly weapons technology, and convinced Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction programs. And more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained or killed. In the middle of a war, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. He's proposed the Kerry doctrine, which would paralyze America by subjecting our national security decisions to a global test. He supports the International Criminal Court, where unaccountable foreign prosecutors could put American troops on trial in front of foreign judges. And after voting to send our troops into combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, he voted against the body armor and bullets they need to win. For all of Senator Kerry's shifting positions on Iraq, one thing is clear: If my opponent had his way, Saddam Hussein would be sitting in a palace today, not a prison, and Iraq would still be a danger to America. As chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer testified this week, "Most senior members of the Saddam Hussein regime and scientists assumed that the programs would begin in earnest when sanctions ended, and sanctions were eroding." Instead, because our coalition acted, Iraq is free, America is safer, and the world will be more peaceful for our children and our grandchildren. I will keep this nation on the offensive against terrorists, with the goal of total victory. I will keep our economy moving, so every worker has a good job, quality health care and a secure retirement. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I was honored to welcome the Prime Minister of a free and sovereign Iraq to the White House. In less than three months, Prime Minister Allawi and his government have accomplished a great deal, despite persistent violence in parts of Iraq. The enemies of freedom are using suicide bombings, beheadings, and other horrific acts to try to block progress. We are sickened by their atrocities, but we will never be intimidated, and freedom is winning. We're making steady progress in implementing our five-step plan toward the goal we all want: completing the mission so that Iraq is stable and self-governing, and American troops can come home with the honor they have earned. The first step was achieved on June 28th, not only on time, but ahead of schedule, when the coalition transferred full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens. The second step is to help Iraq's new government establish stability and security. Nearly 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today, and the Iraqi government is on track to build a force of over 200,000 security personnel by the end of 2005. In Najaf and other important areas, Iraqi military forces have performed with skill and success. The government's strategy is to surround and isolate enemy militias, reach out to the local population, and negotiate from a position of strength. Serious problems remain in several cities. Yet, Prime Minister Allawi believes this combination of decisive action and outreach to peaceful citizens is the most effective way to defeat the killers and secure the peace. And America stands with him. The third step in our plan is to continue improving Iraq's infrastructure. Today, in most of Iraq, children are about to go back to school, parents are going back to work, and new businesses are being opened. Electricity has been restored above pre-war levels. Telephone service has increased dramatically. In the next several months, more than $9 billion will be spent on contracts that will help Iraqis rebuild schools, refurbish hospitals and health clinics, repair bridges, upgrade the electrical grid, and modernize the communication system. Prime Minister Allawi and I agree that the pace of reconstruction can and should be accelerated, and we're working toward that goal. The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition to democracy. The multinational force of some 30 nations continues to help secure a free Iraq, and we are grateful for the service and sacrifice of all. Our coalition is also grateful that the United Nations has reestablished it's mission in Baghdad. We are grateful to the G-8 countries and the European Union for pledging support to the new Iraqi government. We are grateful to the NATO Alliance for help in training Iraqi forces. And we are grateful to many of Iraq's creditors, which have agreed to a further reduction of Iraq's debt. The fifth and most important step in our plan is to help Iraq conduct free national elections no later than January. An Iraqi electoral commission has already hired personnel, and is making key decisions about election procedures. Just this week, the commission began a public education campaign to inform Iraqis about the process and encourage them to become voters. United Nations electoral advisors are on the ground in Iraq, and Prime Minister Allawi and I have urged the U.N. to send more personnel to help ensure the success of the Iraqi elections. The war for Iraq's freedom is a fight against some of the most ruthless and brutal men on Earth. In such a struggle, there will be good days and there will be difficult days. But every day, our resolve must remain the same: Iraq, America, and our coalition will stand firm, and Iraq will be free, the world will be more peaceful, and America will be more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Three years after the attacks of September the 11th, our nation continues to confront the threats to our security. We're acting to protect the homeland, to track and disrupt terror networks across the world, and to hold to account the sponsors of terror. We're staying on the offensive, striking the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Americans also know that our long-term security requires a broader commitment. Our country is determined to spread hope and economic progress and freedom as the alternatives to hatreds, resentments, and terrorist violence. In hopeful societies men and women are far less likely to embrace murderous ideologies. And free governments will fight terrorists in their midst, instead of harboring them. We know that to create a safer world, we must build a better world. And we are acting. This week, I will speak in New York to the United Nations General Assembly, and I will talk about the great possibilities of our time to improve health, expand prosperity and extend freedom in our world. America and many nations are taking a bold stand in the fight against HIV/AIDS. My emergency plan for AIDS relief will provide an unprecedented $15 billion over five years to support the fight against the AIDS pandemic throughout the world, with the focus on the most afflicted countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. These funds are already at work, helping to prevent new infections, provide treatment and care for millions of victims. We've also joined with other nations to create the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In three years, the fund has raised $5.6 billion in pledges and provided funding for projects in more than 90 countries. And we will persist in the effort until these diseases are defeated. America and many other nations are also determined to turn the tide against global poverty by taking a new approach to economic development. It is now our policy to increase foreign aid to those governments that are serious about fighting corruption and improving education, health care, and economic opportunity for their people. Modern history teaches that honest governments that invest in their people and promote economic freedom can lift millions out of poverty and despair. And governments that truly serve their people deserve our help. The health and well-being of developing nations also depend on the defeat of hunger and illiteracy. We have launched an Initiative to end hunger in Africa, by teaching modern farming techniques and providing drought-resistant crops to farmers on that continent. And through our Africa Education Initiative, we're training teachers, distributing textbooks, and encouraging more school enrollment. America and many nations are also building a better world by standing with the liberated peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, as they move toward democracy. More than 10 million Afghan citizens have now registered to vote in next month's election. Iraq is approaching free elections in January. Terrorist enemies are trying to stop the progress of both those countries, and their violent and merciless attacks may increase as elections draw near. But all the world can be certain: America and our allies will keep our commitments to the Afghan and Iraqi people. Our long-term security -- the safety of our children and grandchildren -- will be served when the broader Middle East is home to stable, democratic governments that fight terror. At the United Nations this week, I will make some additional proposals to expand prosperity and accelerate the march of freedom in our world. Never in the history of the United Nations have we faced so many opportunities to create a safer world by building a better world. For the sake of our common security, and for the sake of our common values, the international community must rise to this historic moment. And the United States is prepared to lead. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. America is the home to the most dedicated, innovative, and decent workers in the world. And thanks to their effort and enterprise, America's economy is strong and growing stronger. This past week we learned that we added 144,000 new jobs in August, and nearly 60,000 more jobs in June and July than previously estimated. Overall, we've added about 1.7 million new jobs since last August. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent, nearly a full point below the peak last summer, and lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Our nation is proud of all our workers, and on this Labor Day Weekend, we say thank you. The world is changing dramatically for American workers. The global market is expanding, creating new markets for our goods and new competition for our people. Workers are changing jobs more often, and they need new skills to stay ahead. This time of change can be a time of great opportunity for American workers, and government must take their side. To create more jobs in America, we must make sure that America remains the best place in the world to do business. That starts with encouraging investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation, and making tax relief permanent. We also need to make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy, to expand trade and to level the playing field for American goods and services across the globe. And we must protect workers and small business owners from the frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America. Another drag on our economy is the tax code, which is a complicated mess filled with special interest loopholes and saddling our people with more than 6 billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. American workers and their families deserve a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. So I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. In this time of change, many workers want to go back to school to learn new or different skills. So we will double the number of people served by our principal job training program and increase funding for our community colleges. We will change outdated labor laws to make the workplace more family-friendly, and give workers more control over their schedules through comp-time and flex-time. I also have a plan to create American opportunity zones to help communities that have lost manufacturing, textile and other jobs. In these areas we'll provide tax relief, investment incentives, and regulatory relief specifically designed to attract new businesses and create new jobs. We will also improve housing, job training and education in opportunity zones so these communities in transition have all the resources they need to succeed. We'll also work to build an ownership society in America. Our nation is stronger when more people own their homes, their own health plans and a piece of their retirement. We will strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account, a nest-egg they can call their own and government can never take away. With all these proposals we'll provide American workers with a path to greater opportunity, more freedom and more control over their lives. American workers built this country and they continue to build our prosperity today. They have our gratitude and our confidence. And all Americans have my best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the three years since our country was attacked, America has remained on the offensive against terrorist enemies wherever they hide and plot. Part of that offensive has been to reorganize our government so that all our intelligence and law enforcement agencies cooperate effectively to expose and disrupt threats against America. The Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, concluded that these efforts have made America safer. They also concluded that America is still not safe. I agree with both of those conclusions. And so my administration is taking additional actions to reform our intelligence services, and improve America's ability to find, track, and stop dangerous terrorists. This week, I signed a series of executive orders to ensure that the people in government responsible for defending America and countering terrorism have the best possible information and support to identify threats and to protect the homeland. Some of these orders reflect specific recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. All of them are essential to America's security as we wage the war on terror. First, I have ordered the Director of Central Intelligence to perform the functions of the National Intelligence Director within the constraints of existing law, until Congress establishes that position. I agree with the 9/11 Commission that America needs a single official to coordinate the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence community with authority over personnel budgeting and policy. I am working with members of Congress to create this position. And while we act, the Director of Central Intelligence will play an expanded role. I also urge Congress to act swiftly on my nomination of Porter Goss, a proven reformer with decades of experience in intelligence to lead the CIA. Second, I have ordered the establishment of a national counterterrorism center. This new center builds on the capabilities of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which I created more than a year ago. The center will become our government's central knowledge bank for information about known and suspected terrorists, and will help ensure effective joint action across the government so that our efforts against terrorists are unified in priority and purpose. Center personnel will also prepare the daily terrorism threat report that comes to me and to senior government officials. Third, we're making sure that all agencies of our government share vital threat information. I have ordered the Director of Central Intelligence to ensure that we have common standards and clear accountability measures for intelligence sharing across the agencies of our government. I have established a new Information Systems Council to identify and break down any remaining barriers to the rapid sharing of threat information by America's intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and state and local governments. To continue to protect the freedoms and privacy of our citizens, I've established a civil liberties board to monitor information-sharing practices. America faces a great threat, and our government is doing everything in its power to confront and defeat that threat. We have made great progress against the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. We have made great progress in protecting our homeland. In all that lies ahead, America will stay focused and determined, and we will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the coming weeks, children across our nation will begin a new school year. They're looking forward to meeting new teachers, and learning new subjects, and making new friends. And thanks to good schools and good policies, we can all be confident this year will be a year of achievement for America's students and families. Two-and-a-half years ago, I signed the No Child Left Behind Act, a bipartisan law that is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations in public education. My budget for next year increases school funding to $37 billion, a 49 percent increase since 2001. And we're insisting on results in return. We are leaving behind the broken system that shuffled children from grade to grade, even when they were not learning the basics. We're requiring regular testing, providing extra help for children falling behind, we're giving information and options to parents, we are holding schools accountable for the progress of every child. We are already seeing hopeful results. Math scores are up from fourth and eight grades across the country. Fourth graders in urban schools are showing strong gains in both reading and math. And from Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland, to Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Mexico, minority children are improving test scores and narrowing the achievement gap. We recognize that some schools have catching up to do. That is why we are making extra resources available to the schools that need the most help. We are empowering parents, getting local education experts involved, and offering tutors to striving students. And to help the most disadvantaged students, we have boosted Title I funding to an unprecedented $12.3 billion, an increase of 41 percent since I took office. One federal grant went to Asheville City Schools in North Carolina, the home district of Ira B. Jones Elementary School. Two years ago, Jones did not meet standards under the new law. So district leaders used more than $200,000 dollars in federal aid to help Jones hire a reading coach, train additional teachers, increase parent involvement, and start an extended-day program for struggling students. This past school year, their efforts paid off. Jones met its target for yearly progress. This is how a fourth grade teacher described her reaction: "We screamed and yelled. We were absolutely thrilled." We want to see that kind of achievement at schools around the nation, both in the primary grades and in our high schools. So I'll work with Congress to pass my proposals to help high school students struggling in reading and math. We will expand Advanced Placement programs at low-income schools. We will ensure that high schools offer a rigorous curriculum in English, math, science, and social studies, so we can be certain a high school diploma means something. We will expand the use of the Internet to bring high level training to students around the country. These plans will build on the results we have seen these past two years. The pattern is clear, and encouraging. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing progress and hope to America's students, parents, and educators. We are gaining momentum, and we will not turn back. By ensuring a quality education for every child, we meet an important duty to the next generation. We're giving young people the confidence and skills they need to succeed in higher education, and to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Education is the gateway to a more hopeful future, and we will make sure that gate is open to all Americans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past week, the Games of the 28th Olympiad began in Athens. Athletes from more than 200 nations gathered at the opening ceremony to watch the lighting of the Olympic torch, and to begin two weeks of world-class competition. America is proud of our Olympians. The talented men and women of Team USA represent almost every state and every background, and range from 15 to 52 years of age. They are carrying on our nation's proud Olympic tradition, which extends back to the first modern games, held in Athens in 1896. In the coming days, more than 500 American athletes will compete in some 28 sports. In stadiums around Athens, and in living rooms here at home, millions of fans will cheer for Team USA. We will watch as our athletes set new records and create lasting memories, from the track to the pool to the gymnastics floor. And we will all be proud to see the stars and stripes rise when our fellow Americans win medals. Success in the Olympics is not defined on the medal stand, alone. For our athletes, a place on America's team is the culmination of years spent training and competing. They are proving that persistence and teamwork can help meet high goals. They are performing with honor, conducting themselves with humility, and serving as ambassadors of peace and goodwill to the entire world. By showing respect for every competitor, they are showing America's respect for the world, and they are inspiring us all. In Greece, the Olympics are returning to their ancient birthplace, and also the birthplace of democracy. These games arrive at a challenging hour for the world -- yet we have cause for great hope. At the opening ceremony, Team USA marched alongside men and women from Afghanistan and Iraq, nations that four years ago knew only tyranny and repression. Today, because the world acted with courage and moral clarity, those nations are free, and their athletes are competing in the Olympic Games. The rise of freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq is transforming life in those nations, and its effect will spread far beyond their borders. For the first time in history, people everywhere will see women competitors wearing the uniform of Afghanistan. For the first time in decades, the world will see Iraqi Olympians free from the brutal punishment of the dictator's son. Twenty-nine athletes from Iraq are competing in Athens, including the Iraqi soccer team, which thrilled the world by winning its first game. One woman on the Iraqi track team described her outlook this way: Someone who represents only herself has accomplished nothing; I want to represent my country. That same spirit motivates athletes from nations around the world. By coming together in friendly competition, all Olympians are sending the message that freedom and hope are more powerful than terror and despair. As we watch our athletes compete in Athens, we also think about the many Americans deployed overseas to defend our nation. In Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, our men and women in uniform are serving with great skill and compassion. They are making America more secure, and America is grateful to all of them, and to their families. I look forward to following the Olympics over the next two weeks. I congratulate the coaches and athletes and families of Team USA, and also the brave Paralympic athletes preparing to compete in Athens next month. I wish them all good luck in the games. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. My most solemn duty as President is to protect our country, and in the three years since our country was attacked, we have taken important steps to overcome terrorist threats to this nation. We have pursued terrorists across the world, destroying their leadership and denying them sanctuaries. We are working with other governments to break up terror cells and stop planned attacks, on virtually every continent. We've created a new Department of Homeland Security to win the battle against terror on the home front. We are working to secure our borders, air and sea ports and critical infrastructure. We are bringing the best technologies to bear against the threat of chemical and biological warfare. We're using the tools of the Patriot Act to track terrorists within our borders, and stop them before they kill our people. We have transformed the FBI to focus on the prevention of terrorist attacks. We've established a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze foreign and domestic intelligence on global terror in a single place. And we are sharing that intelligence in unprecedented ways with local officials and first responders who need it to protect our communities. I agree with the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Because of these steps at home and abroad, our country is safer than it was on September the 11th, 2001. Yet, we're still not safe. The elevation of the threat level in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. is a grim reminder of the dangers we continue to face. Information from arrests in Pakistan, taken together with information gathered by the U.S. intelligence community, indicated that al Qaeda has cased financial targets in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., and has recently updated their targeting information. This information was buttressed by other information we already had. We and our allies are working to protect our people from these threats. As we fight the ongoing terrorist threat we will continue moving forward with additional changes to protect our country. This week, I asked Congress to create the position of a National Intelligence Director. The person in that office will be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and will serve at the pleasure of the President. The Director will serve as the President's principal intelligence advisor and will oversee and coordinate the foreign and domestic intelligence community. The CIA will be managed by a separate Director. The National Intelligence Director will assume the broader responsibility of leading the intelligence community across our government, and he or she will have the resources and authority to meet that responsibility. This week I also announced that we establish a new National Counter-Terrorism Center. This new center will build on the excellent work of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and will become our government's knowledge bank for information about known and suspected terrorists. This center will also be responsible for preparing the daily terrorism threat report for the President and senior officials, and its director will report to the National Intelligence Director, once that position is created. We will act on other valuable recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. In the coming days, I will issue a series of directives to various departments on essential steps for the government on the war on terror. As we take these steps, our nation is grateful to the dedicated, hardworking men and women of our intelligence community who are working day and night to keep our country safe. We're a nation in danger. We're doing everything we can in our power to confront the danger. We're making good progress in protecting our people and bringing our enemies to account. But one thing is certain: We'll keep our focus, we'll keep our resolve, and we will do our duty to best secure our country. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week we received encouraging reports that show our economy is gaining strength. Consumer confidence hit a two-year high in July. Existing home sales hit an all-time new record in June. The home ownership rate has hit a new all-time high. And since last summer, our economy has grown at a rate as fast as any in nearly 20 years. These gains in our economy have come at a time when Americans are benefiting from the full effects of tax relief. I have traveled across America, meeting small business owners who are investing tax savings into new equipment, and I have met families who are using tax savings to pay for their children's needs. All of this added economic activity is creating opportunity. Since last August, Americans have started work at more than 1.5 million new jobs, many of them in high-growth, high-paying industries. The impact of our growing economy is being felt in Washington, where estimates of government deficits are shrinking. My administration now forecasts that the combined deficits in 2004 and 2005 will be about $100 billion less than previously expected, and because of my policy of strengthening the economy while enforcing spending discipline in Washington, we remain on pace to reduce the deficit by half in the next five years. These are hopeful signs and we must make sure our economy continues to gain momentum. Families are working hard to make ends meet, and these families depend on good policies in Washington that promote growth, new jobs and new opportunities. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, we are improving our public schools so students learn basic skills like reading, writing, math and science. We have expanded Pell Grant college scholarships so that more students can attend college, and we are helping community colleges train workers for the new high-skill jobs being created in our growing economy. We're giving individuals more control over their health care dollars through newly created health savings accounts, and we must also address the rising costs of health care by enacting common-sense reforms in our medical liability system. We must continue to open up foreign markets to American goods, because on a level playing field, American workers and farmers and entrepreneurs can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere. We must enact reforms to our legal system, so hardworking entrepreneurs are not run out of business by frivolous lawsuits. We must have a national energy policy so we become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. We must have sensible regulations so that America's job creators can focus on satisfying their customers and not bureaucrats in government. And we must keep taxes low on American families and small businesses, by making the tax relief we have passed permanent. Thanks to tax relief enacted since 2001, a family of four earning 40,000 a year now pays nearly $2,000 less in federal taxes. That is enough to pay the average home electricity bill for more than a year, or fill up the gas tank of two cars for an entire year. To millions of hard-working Americans, tax relief has been the difference in helping make ends meet. This is a crucial time for our economy. We have emerged from a period of great challenge. Terrorist attacks, recession and corporate scandal hurt the wallets of millions of Americans, but these shocks to our economy did not damage our spirit. We're a hardworking and resilient nation. Our economy is on a rising path, and together, we will bring our prosperity to every corner of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, the independent commission on the September the 11th attacks issued its final report. I appreciate the hard work of the commission over the past 20 months. They have produced a serious and comprehensive report, and I welcome their recommendations. Indeed, we have already put into action many of the steps now recommended by the commission, and we will carefully examine all the commission's ideas on how we can improve our ongoing efforts to protect America and to prevent another attack. The events of September the 11th, 2001, dramatically demonstrated the threats of a new era. In the nearly three years since the attacks, we have waged a steady, relentless, determined war on terrorists. We're fighting them in foreign lands so we do not have to face them here in America, and we are taking unprecedented steps to defend the homeland. Since September 2001, America and our allies have captured or killed thousands of terrorists, removed terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, convinced Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction, and put the world's most dangerous nuclear trading network out of business. We're chasing down terrorist enemies abroad, and within our own borders. On the home front, we have dismantled terrorist cells and prosecuted terrorist supporters from California, to Florida, to Massachusetts. As the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean, said this week, we are safer today than we were on 9/11. But as Governor Kean also noted, the danger to America has not passed. In a vast, free society such as ours, there is no such thing as perfect security. And no matter how good our defenses are, a determined enemy can still strike us. Yet all Americans can be certain our government is using every resource and technological advantage we have to prevent future attacks. We have created a new Department of Homeland Security with a single mission -- protecting the American people. We have established better communications networks to make information on rapidly emerging threats available to local officials in real-time. We are transforming the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping terrorism. And we created a new Northern Command in the Department of Defense with the mission of defending the American homeland. To better protect the country, we have posted Homeland Security personnel at foreign ports, beefed up airport and seaport security at home, and instituted better visa screening for those entering our country. We have placed state of the art equipment in major cities to detect biological agents, and stockpiled enough small pox vaccine for every American in case of an emergency. And this week, I signed a new law establishing Project BioShield, which will speed the development of new vaccines and treatments against biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack. On Thursday, I visited with first responders at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy. I thanked them for their service and assured them that America will give them the tools they need to do their jobs. Since September of 2001, my administration has provided more than $13 billion to equip and train more than half a million first responders across America. There's still more to do. As Commander-in-Chief, it is critical that I receive the best intelligence to defend the American people. The 9/11 Commission's recommendations will help guide our efforts as we work to protect the homeland. And we can be confident, although the threats of this new century are dangerous, America has the resources, the strength, and the resolve to overcome them. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Every day in America, parents struggle to raise their children in a culture that too often glorifies instant gratification and irresponsible behavior. During this time of great change in our Nation, government must stand with families to help them raise healthy, responsible children. Yesterday, the federal government released its annual report called "America's Children in Brief." This report collects a broad range of statistics that tell us about the promises and challenges facing America's young people. The good news is that we have made significant progress during the past decade. Strong families and communities are instilling responsibility and character in our children, and we are seeing encouraging results. Violent crime among our teenagers has decreased dramatically. From 1993 to 2002, the rate of teens committing violent crimes dropped 78 percent; and the rate of teens becoming victims of violent crimes dropped 74 percent. Among our youth, smoking and illicit drug use have declined. Teen birth rates have fallen to the lowest levels ever recorded, with the greatest progress occurring among African - American teenagers. Studies tell us that children raised in a household with married parents are far less likely to live in poverty, fail at school, or have behavioral problems. Fortunately, after a decades-long downward trend, the percentage of children living with married parents has remained steady since 1995. And through our proposed Healthy Marriages Initiative, my Administration is committed to ensuring that more of our children grow up in a stable home with a married mother and father. We are headed in the right direction. But we still have work to do, so my Administration is acting to encourage teens to make healthy choices. Although teen drug use has decreased, we can and must do more. We know that random drug testing in schools is effective, and it allows us to identify kids who need help. In my most recent budget, I proposed spending an additional $23 million for school drug testing. And although teen birth rates have declined, about 3 million of our teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases each year. So we've requested a doubling of federal funding for abstinence-only education programs. We have also requested $25 million for our Character Education Initiative. This program will encourage schools to develop curricula that promote good character and help children develop a sense of responsibility to their community. Today, I urge the Congress to act on all these important initiatives. When parents, schools, and government work together, we can counter the negative influences in today's culture and send the right messages to our children. As yesterday's report shows, we are making progress in changing the culture of America from one that said, "if it feels good, do it; and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. The decisions our children make now will affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. And when they make the right choices, they are preparing themselves to realize the bright future our Nation offers each of them. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The United States Senate this past week began an important discussion about the meaning of marriage. Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to protect the most fundamental institution of civilization, and to prevent it from being fundamentally redefined. This difficult debate was forced upon our country by a few activist judges and local officials, who have taken it on themselves to change the meaning of marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the state's highest court have ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. In San Francisco, city officials issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. Lawsuits in several states, including New Jersey, Florida, Nebraska, and Oregon, are also attempting to overturn the traditional definition of marriage by court order. In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, and President Clinton signed it into law. That legislation defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as a union between a man and a woman, and declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. Yet an activist court that strikes down traditional marriage would have little problem striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Overreaching judges could declare that all marriages recognized in Massachusetts or San Francisco be recognized as marriages everywhere else. When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution -- the only law a court cannot overturn. A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly -- yet to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice. A great deal is at stake in this matter. The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. If our laws teach that marriage is the sacred commitment of a man and a woman, the basis of an orderly society, and the defining promise of a life, that strengthens the institution of marriage. If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost, and the institution is weakened. The Massachusetts court, for example, has called marriage "an evolving paradigm." That sends a message to the next generation that marriage has no enduring meaning, and that ages of moral teaching and human experience have nothing to teach us about this institution. For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure. On an issue of this great significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another. All people deserve to have their voices heard. And that is exactly the purpose behind the constitutional amendment process. American democracy, not court orders, should decide the future of marriage in America. The process has now begun in the Congress. I urge members of the House and Senate to pass, and send to the states for ratification, an amendment that defines marriage in the United States as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As Americans gather this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, we can take pride in our country's great history, and look to the future with confidence. America remains a shining example to the world of all that free people can achieve. And our goal as a nation is to make sure that all Americans can share in the promise of our country. Our economy is showing steady progress. We've completed our 10th consecutive month of job creation. We added 112,000 jobs in June, and have added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. The unemployment rate has steadily declined, to 5.6 percent from 6.3 percent a year ago. With more jobs, and lower unemployment, we are seeing rising consumer confidence, higher incomes, continued gains in the rate of home ownership, and a restored sense of opportunity. Our strengthening economy is a tribute to millions of American entrepreneurs and workers. By their hard work and optimism, our nation has overcome recession, terrorist attack, corporate scandals, and the many economic challenges that come in a time of war. Our government is also doing its part. With pro-growth policies in Washington, we aim to encourage the hard work and optimism of our people. With tax relief, we are strengthening the spirit of enterprise. When people are allowed to keep more of what they earn, that is good for families trying to make ends meet, good for businesses looking for new customers, and good for those looking for jobs in our expanding economy. Now that jobs are coming back, we must build on this progress, and help American workers and families continue to meet the challenges of our changing economy. My plan will help America continue to lead the world, help our workers gain the skills they need, and create an environment where small businesses will thrive and create new jobs. Our first responsibility is not to raise taxes on hard-working Americans. All of the tax relief we have passed should be made permanent, so families can continue to keep more of what they earn, and businesses can plan for the future with confidence. I have a plan to help businesses and families with the rising costs of health care, and reduce the burden of frivolous lawsuits that unnecessarily punish the job creators in America. I'm working to open more markets and level the playing field for American entrepreneurs, and farmers, and ranchers. Our global economy requires Americans to remain prepared for change and innovation. That is why I have proposed to help our public schools and community colleges teach our future workers the skills they need to succeed. For the sake of economic security and job creation, I proposed a national energy policy that encourages conservation and production at home, and makes us less dependant on foreign sources of energy. All of these proposals are aimed at helping Americans prepare to meet new economic challenges, and I will continue to push the Congress to see them enacted into law. This Fourth of July weekend, as Americans celebrate our freedom, our thoughts are also with the men and women who defend that freedom as members of the United States military. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, they are fighting terrorists that threaten America, and helping to build hopeful, democratic societies where the ideology of terrorism has no place. Our nation honors their sacrifice. And one of our greatest sources of pride on this Fourth of July is that men and women like them wear the uniform of our country. I thank all of our servicemen and women for standing post. I wish all Americans a happy Independence Day. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I'm traveling to the U.S.-EU summit in Ireland, homeland to so many Irish Americans, and one of the fastest growing and modern economies in the European Union. I will also be attending the NATO summit in Turkey, a proud nation that successfully blends a European identity with secular democracy and Islamic traditions. I will discuss with our European allies our common struggle to defeat the forces of global terror, our common interest in the spread of prosperity and our common efforts to help the people of Iraq secure for themselves a future of freedom. Next Wednesday, full sovereignty in Iraq will be in the hands of the free Iraqi people. As that day approaches, the enemies of freedom in Iraq are growing ever more desperate. Last Tuesday, a young man from South Korea, Kim Sun-il, was viciously murdered by terrorists. That cold-blooded act demonstrated once again the evil nature of the enemy. Their barbaric violence is designed to destabilize Iraq's new government, intimidate the Iraqi people and shake the will of our coalition. Yet, our will is firm. South Korean President Roh has reaffirmed his determination to send more troops to help rebuild Iraq. Iraq's leaders, in a daily display of courage, refuse to be deterred from their dream of democracy, stability and prosperity for the Iraqi people. The international community has a responsibility to promote the rise of a free Iraq, and it is meeting that responsibility. Today, the nations of the European Union pledged their support for the new government of Iraq. Next week, at the NATO summit, we will discuss Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's request for NATO help in training Iraq's security forces. NATO has the capability to help the Iraqi people defeat the terrorist threat facing their country. As Iraq moves toward the transfer of sovereignty next week, NATO, the European Union and the United States are united in our determination to help the people of that nation. The world's free nations also have a responsibility to advance the blessings of liberty that have lifted our own nations. Earlier this month, the nations of the G8 pledged their energies and resources to working in partnership with the peoples of the broader Middle East to advance human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and economic opportunity. The United States, the European Union and NATO are looking beyond the borders of Europe to support the momentum of freedom in the broader Middle East. At these summits, we will seek to strengthen the security of our homelands from the threat of terror. We have taken steps to freeze and block terrorists' finances, make transportation safer and improve information sharing. We will discuss ways to further improve transportation safety and border security. Travel between our nations is the lifeblood of our friendship, our economies and our alliances, and that travel must be safe. One important way to make the world safer is to make the world better. The United States and Europe share a fundamental interest in the health of the global economy. Our trade and investment relationship is the largest in the world. It creates millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Open trade has the power to lift nations out of poverty, so we will reaffirm our commitment to free and fair trade, and the removal of obstacles to global economic growth. We believe that freedom has the power to defeat poverty and hopelessness and ignorance. We believe the advance of freedom makes the world safer for all nations. And we believe that when free nations work together, freedom will always prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, we received more good news showing that our economy is gaining momentum. The Department of Labor reported state-by-state job gains for the month of May. In every region of our nation, and across many growing industries, more Americans are finding work. The state of Arizona added 8,400 new jobs in May. New Jersey gained 9,500 new jobs. Pennsylvania added 10,700 new jobs. And North Carolina picked up 13,400 new jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen in 46 out of the 50 states over the last year. And many of the new jobs are being created in industries that pay above average wages, such as construction and education and manufacturing. Time and again, our economy has defied the gloomy predictions of pessimists. Because of the hard work of so many Americans, and because of the good policies in Washington, D.C., our economy is strong, and it is getting stronger. America has added more than 1.4 million new jobs since last August. Our economy has grown at the fastest pace in almost two decades. And the recession was one of the shortest and shallowest in modern American history. Americans are earning more, and because of tax relief, they're keeping more of what they earn. Real after-tax incomes have increased by 11 percent since the start of 2001. Those are important gains for our entire economy because they go to the taxpayers and not to the government. And we have seen that the taxpayers know best how to drive our economy forward. Moms and dads have used their child tax credit checks and other tax relief to boost demand throughout our economy. The home ownership rate is at an all-time high. And because of greater demand, businesses are making more purchases of equipment. Business investment is up more than 9 percent in the last year. And we know that when businesses invest, that makes it more likely someone will find a job. Tax relief is working. But there's more to do to keep our economy growing. My pro-growth, pro-jobs economic agenda starts with making tax relief permanent so the families and businesses can plan for the future with confidence. The House has voted to make much of my tax relief permanent. And now the Senate needs to act, so that we do not raise taxes on the American people. We must maintain our policy of open trade, because we know that on a level playing field, America's workers can compete with anyone in the world. We must make sure our children are learning and our workers are ready for their first day on the job. So I proposed reforms to improve our schools and worker training programs. We must have a national energy plan that promotes conservation, exploration, and investment in infrastructure, which will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. I proposed such a plan three years ago. Now it's time for the Congress to act. Our nation has a healthy, vibrant, and growing economy. Our nation is ready to face the economic challenges that lie ahead. We have millions of confident entrepreneurs who work hard and take risks and create opportunities for others. We have a culture of innovation where people are encouraged to come up with new solutions to old problems. We have a great work force. With these strengths, there is no limit to how much we can accomplish. And I am certain that our best days are yet to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, America mourned the passing of President Ronald Reagan. We remembered a gentle, decent man, and one of the greatest leaders our nation has known. He was a courageous patriot whose leadership transformed the country and the world he leaves behind. In this time of sadness, we think especially of Nancy Reagan, a loyal, loving wife of 52 years; and the President's three children, and the rest of the Reagan family. Ronald Wilson Reagan entered the world more than 93 years ago in an apartment above a local bank in Illinois. His life would include success in careers from sports broadcasting to film acting to public office. Along the way, his deepest convictions were formed. And through all the trials of life, those convictions never wavered. Ronald Reagan believed that everything happens for a reason, and that we can trust in God's purposes. He believed that people are basically good. He had no tolerance for bigotry or injustice. Above all, he believed in the courage and triumph of free men and in the capacity of the American people to overcome any obstacle. President Reagan brought those convictions to the White House in 1981, and he departed eight years later with achievements that have endured. With bold, persistent action, he restored the confidence of our nation, strengthened the spirit of free enterprise, challenged and shamed an oppressive empire, and inspired millions with his conviction and moral courage. As he showed what a President should be, he also showed us what a man should be. Ronald Reagan carried himself with a decency and attention to the small kindnesses that also define a good life. He was a courtly, gentle, and considerate man, never known to slight or embarrass others. From the Oval Office, he took time to answer letters from schoolchildren and grandmothers and countless strangers curious about life in the White House. Ronald Reagan deeply loved the United States of America. And that love is being returned. Over the past week, tens of thousands of mourners stood in line in California and in Washington, D.C. to pay their final respects. There were 21-gun salutes and dignified processions, and home-made memorials at a funeral home in Santa Monica. Now that Nancy Reagan has taken her husband to his place of rest, we offer our gratitude. Our country is stronger and our world is freer for the brave leadership of this modest son of America. Ronald Reagan always told us that for America, our best was yet to come. We know that is true for him, too. His work is done. And now a shining city awaits him. May God bless Ronald Reagan. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This has been an important week for the future of Iraq, for the Middle East, and for America's security. On Tuesday, in Baghdad, Iraq's new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, and United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi announced the members of Iraq's new interim government. Iraq's President is Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawar, an engineer from northern Iraq. There will also be two Deputy Presidents, and a 33-member Cabinet. This interim government reflects new leadership drawn from a broad cross-section of Iraqis. The new government brings together men and women of varied backgrounds who represent Iraq's ethnic and religious diversity. Five were regional officials, six are women, and all are Iraqi patriots, dedicated to building a brighter future for their country. Naming this new government advances our five-step plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom as a united and federal nation. It brings us closer to realizing the hope of millions of Iraqis, a fully sovereign nation with a representative government to protect their rights and serve their interests. It brings us closer to seeing a Middle East that knows the blessings of liberty, and it brings us closer to defeating a ruthless enemy that has killed thousands of innocents and still threatens the peace of the world. This new government will follow the political process outlined in the transitional administrative law, and prepare Iraq for a national election no later than January of next year. And while the enemy will continue to spread violence and fear, our coalition will work in full partnership with the new Iraqi government to provide the security that will make that election possible. In that election, the people of Iraq will choose a transitional national assembly, the first freely-elected, truly representative national governing body in Iraq's history. Iraq is on the path to democracy and freedom, and the international community is helping Iraq complete the journey. We're working with allied governments and with Iraq's new leaders on a new United Nations Security Council resolution that will express international support for Iraq's interim government, reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi people, and encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort of building a free Iraq. And this month, I am traveling to foreign capitals and international summits to discuss with world leaders our common responsibility to help a free Iraq succeed. Yesterday I was in Italy, where I met with the Holy Father. I also met with Prime Minister Berlusconi and joined in marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome. Today in France, I will meet with President Chirac, and on the 6th of June, I will join him in commemorating the D-Day landings at Normandy. From France, I will go directly to this year's G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia. This month, I will also attend the U.S.-EU Summit in Ireland, and the NATO Summit in Turkey. These meetings provide an opportunity for world leaders to show our solidarity with the Iraqi people as they build a free and democratic government. The challenges of our time extend beyond Iraq. The war on terror is being fought on many fronts, and since September the 11th, we have seen terrorist violence from Morocco to Indonesia. Yet the center of this conflict remains the Middle East. If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence and alarm, exporting killers of increasing sophistication and destructive power. If that region grows in democracy, prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business. It is our work to win this struggle. We're now about three years into the war against terrorism. We've met great challenges and there are more ahead. This is no time for impatience or self-defeating pessimism. We have work to do in the defense of our country and for the good of humanity, and by doing our duty and holding firm to our values, this generation will give the world a lesson in the power of liberty. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Monday is Memorial Day and all across America this weekend, people are remembering those who fought for freedom and who gave their lives in service to their country. Here in the Nation's Capital, Saturday has a special significance as we dedicate the World War II Memorial in the presence of thousands of veterans of that conflict. When it mattered most, an entire generation of Americans stepped forward to fight evil and show the finest qualities of our nation, and of humanity. The World War II Memorial will stand forever as a tribute to the generation that fought that war, and to the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. Because of their sacrifice, tyrants fell; fascism and Nazism were vanquished; and freedom prevailed. Today, freedom faces new enemies, and a new generation of Americans has stepped forward to defeat them. Since the hour this nation was attacked on September the 11th, 2001, we have seen the character of the men and women who wear our country's uniform. In places like Kabul and Kandahar, Mosul and Baghdad, we have seen their decency and brave spirit. And because of their fierce courage, America is safer. And two terror regimes are gone forever, and more than 50 million souls now live in freedom. Our mission continues, and we will see it through to victory. We have a strategy to defeat our terrorist enemy, and a plan to help establish lasting freedom in Iraq. The stakes are high, and they are clear. The enemy seeks to establish a new haven for terror and violence at the heart of the Middle East. They seek to force free nations to retreat into isolation and fear, yet we will persevere, and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty. Those who have fought the battles of the war on terror and served the cause of freedom can be proud of all they have achieved. And these veterans of battle will carry with them, for all their days, the memory of the ones who did not live to be called veterans. Each man or woman we have laid to rest had hopes for the future, and left a place that can never be filled. Each was the most important person in someone's life. For their families there is terrible sorrow, and we pray for their comfort. For the nation, there is a feeling of loss, and we remember each name. Through our history, America has gone to war reluctantly because we have known the costs of war. And in every generation, it is the best among us who are called to pay that price. Those who have paid those costs have given us every moment we live in freedom, and every living American is in their debt. We can never repay what they gave for this country. But on this holiday, we acknowledge the debt by showing our respect and gratitude. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week brought further evidence that across America, more citizens are finding jobs. The Department of Labor reported state-by-state job results, and these figures show that America's jobs engine is running strong. Nationally, we gained 288,000 new jobs in April, and the nation has added more than 1.1 million new jobs since last August. The unemployment rate has fallen steadily, and now stands at 5.6 percent, down from 6.3 percent last June, and lower than the average unemployment rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In April, the biggest job gaining states were Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Michigan. Forty-five states out of 50 added new workers. In some states, job creation had been strong for many months. Florida has gained more than a quarter million new jobs since December 2001. In Nevada, 90,000 new jobs have been created since January of 2002. And Missouri has added 57,000 jobs since last summer. States that have trailed in job growth are now making progress. Wisconsin and Ohio have each added more than 30,000 new jobs this year. New Hampshire gained 2,700 new jobs in April, alone. And in Oregon, the unemployment rate has fallen from a high of 8.7 percent last summer, down to 6.7 percent in April, as the state has added 29,000 new jobs. These gains are the result of the hard work of Americans -- and a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda that begins with tax relief. When we let the American people keep more of what they earn and save, they put that money to good use. They demand more goods and services, which creates demand for new workers. Now that our economy is expanding and adding more jobs, we need to make sure Americans keep their tax relief. Congress has begun to act. The House of Representatives has voted to make marriage penalty relief permanent, and to keep the expanded 10-percent bracket. This week the House also voted to make permanent the $1,000 per child tax credit, which is helping so many families. I congratulate the House on these important votes. Now the Senate should take action so we do not raise taxes on the American people. To sustain our economic growth, we must also ensure affordable and reliable sources of energy. To protect consumers against high prices, the Department of Energy has established a hotline to gather complaints of price gouging. This weekend in Amsterdam, Secretary Spence Abraham is meeting with petroleum producers from around the world on actions they can take to help the U.S. and global economy. Also, we have reformed federal regulations to allow badly needed improvements and expansion of the nation's petroleum refineries, so that more gasoline can get to the market quickly. But our nation must address fundamental energy challenges that have built over time. I have increased fuel economy standards for SUVs, vans, and pickups. And three years ago, I submitted to Congress a national energy strategy that would address our long-term energy needs. It called for tax incentives for fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, more exploration in places like Alaska, and greater use of ethanol, a reliable source of energy produced on our farms. This national strategy would help make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. Yet, these measures have been repeatedly blocked by members of the Senate -- and American consumers are paying the price. Three years is long enough. I urge the Congress to end the delays, and pass comprehensive energy legislation. With the right policies, we will maintain the strong forward momentum of the American economy, which is creating thousands of new jobs for American workers. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, our nation was sickened by the murder of an American civilian, Nicholas Berg. The savage execution of this innocent man reminds us of the true nature of our terrorist enemy, and of the stakes in this struggle. The terrorists rejoice in the killing of the innocent, and have promised similar violence against Americans, against all free peoples, and against any Muslims who reject their ideology of murder. Their barbarism cannot be appeased, and their hatred cannot be satisfied. There's only one way to deal with terror: We must confront the enemy and stay on the offensive until these killers are defeated. And this is precisely what our armed forces, and the forces of our coalition, are doing. In and around Fallujah, U.S. Marines are conducting joint patrols with local Iraqis to take back the city from Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters and other militants. In nearby towns, Marines are conducting raids to disrupt enemy attacks on supply routes and to root out anti-coalition fighters. To the south, in and around the cities of Najaf and Karbala, U.S. Army soldiers and Iraqi security forces are systematically dismantling the illegal militia led by the radical cleric al Sadr that has incited violence and attempted to seize control. Iraqi security forces ejected elements of this militia from a mosque in Karbala that was being used to store ammunition. The Iraqi people oppose the actions of this illegal militia, and Shia religious leaders have called on it to withdraw. Recent days have seen demonstrations in which ordinary Iraqis have taken to the streets, calling on the militia to withdraw from their cities and towns. As we attack and defeat the enemies of freedom in Iraq, we will continue to work with Iraqi leaders to build a free, democratic and independent government. The United Nations Special Envoy, Mr. Brahimi, is now back in Iraq, consulting with diverse groups of Iraqis. In the next few weeks, important decisions will be made on the make-up of an interim government. And on June 30th, the flag of a free Iraq will be raised, and Iraq's new interim government will assume a sovereign authority. America will keep its commitment to the independence and national dignity of the Iraqi people. Yet the vital mission of our military in helping to provide security will continue on July 1st and beyond. Coalition forces are training thousands of Iraqis to protect a free Iraq from external aggression and internal subversion. Our forces will remain in Iraq to assist the Iraqi people until Iraqis can secure their own country. Our country has great respect for the Iraqi people, and we are determined to expose and punish the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Charges have been filed against seven soldiers, and the first trial is set to begin next week. My administration and our military are determined that such abuses never happen again. All Americans know that the actions of a few do not reflect the true character of the United States Armed Forces. No military in the history of the world has fought so hard and so often for the freedom of others. Today, our forces are keeping terrorists across the world on the run. They're helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to build democratic societies, making America more secure. By their example, the people of those countries and of the countries around the world are coming to know that freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror. Our servicemen and women are defending America with unselfish courage, and their achievements have brought pride and credit to this nation. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In recent days, America and the world have learned of shocking conduct in Iraqi prisons by a small number of American servicemen and women. These individuals had been given the responsibility of overseeing Iraqis in American custody, and doing so in a decent and humane manner, consistent with U.S. law and the Geneva conventions. Instead we have seen shameful images of prisoners being subjected to abuse and humiliation. Such practices do not reflect our values. They are a stain on our country's honor and reputation. Shortly after reports of abuse became known to our military, an investigation was launched. Today several formal investigations, led by senior military officials, are underway. Some soldiers have already been charged with crimes. We will learn all the facts and determine the full extent of these abuses. Those involved will be identified; they will answer for their actions. All prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that similar disgraceful incidents are never repeated. What took place in that Iraqi prison was the wrongdoing of a few, and does not reflect the character of the more than 200,000 military personnel who have served in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. America is a compassionate country that believes in justice and in freedom. Americans believe in the worth and rights and dignity of every person. Our country has sent troops into Iraq to liberate that country, return sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and make America and the world more secure. In this cause, our troops perform a thousand acts of kindness, decency and courage every day. More than 700 Americans have given their lives. The brave and honorable soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines who are serving and sacrificing in Iraq -- not the few who have let us down -- show the true character of America. The men and women of our military have my complete confidence as they carry on with their mission. This has been a difficult few weeks. Yet our forces will stay on the offensive, finding and confronting the killers and terrorists who are trying to undermine the progress of democracy in Iraq. To address the violence in Fallujah, our Marines are working with Iraqis to conduct operations in and around the city. They are using targeted force to strike former Baathists and other militants, surrounding the city to prevent the escape of enemy fighters, and taking every precaution to avoid hurting the innocent. In the city of Najaf, an illegal militia is attempting to incite violence and seize control. The 1st Armored Division is steadily and systematically defeating these enemy forces, while seeking to protect the people and the holy sites of that city. Elements of this militia have been ejected from the Najaf governor's office, which they had been occupying. The vast majority of Iraqi people want a free society, and next month they will take another historic step forward when they regain sovereignty. On June 30th, a sovereign Iraqi interim government will assume authority, and Iraqis will take over the functions of their state, from basic services to law enforcement to diplomacy. On that day, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and relations with a new Iraqi government will be conducted through our new embassy. Our mission in Iraq will continue on July 1st, and beyond. We have no intention of leaving that nation at the mercy of thugs and murderers. We're determined to help build a free and stable Iraq, a nation at peace with its neighbors and with the world. Our nation is grateful to the men and women of our military, and to their families who face hardship and long separation. Our people in uniform are the best of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. A year ago, I declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, after coalition forces conducted one of the swiftest, most successful and humane campaigns in military history. I thanked our troops for their courage and for their professionalism. They had confronted a gathering danger to our nation and the world. They had vanquished a brutal dictator who had twice invaded neighboring countries, who had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and who had supported and financed terrorism. On that day, I also cautioned Americans that, while a tyrant had fallen, the war against terror would go on. One year later, despite many challenges, life for the Iraqi people is a world away from the cruelty and corruption of Saddam's regime. At the most basic level of justice, people are no longer disappearing into political prisons, torture chambers, and mass graves -- because the former dictator is in prison, himself. And their daily life is improving. Electricity is now more widely available than before the war. Iraq has a stable currency and banks are thriving. Schools and clinics have been renovated and reopened, and power plants, hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, and bridges are being rehabilitated. Iraq's oil infrastructure is being rebuilt, with the Iraqi oil industry already producing about 2.5 million barrels per day. On the ground in Iraq, we have serious and continuing challenges. Illegal militias and remnants of the regime, joined by foreign terrorists, are trying to take by force the power they could never gain by the ballot. These groups have found little support among the Iraqi people. Our coalition is implementing a clear strategy in Iraq. First, we will ensure an atmosphere of security as Iraqis move toward self-government. Our coalition supports the efforts of local Iraqis to negotiate the disarmament of the radicals in Fallujah. We've also made it clear that militias in Najaf and elsewhere must disarm or face grave consequences. American and coalition forces are in place, and we are prepared to enforce order in Iraq. The second element of our strategy is to return sovereignty to the people of Iraq on the schedule that we agreed to with the Iraqi Governing Council. Like any proud people, Iraqis want to manage their own affairs -- and that is a goal we share. On June 30th, a sovereign Iraqi interim government will take office. Iraqis will assume all administrative duties now performed by the coalition. Since February, United Nations Special Advisor Lakhdar Brahimi has been consulting with Iraqis on how best to form that interim government. The United States fully supports his mission. As the transfer of sovereignty approaches on June 30th, we are likely to see more violence from groups opposed to freedom. We will not be intimidated or diverted. On July 1st, and beyond, our reconstruction and military commitment will continue. In the cause of a free and stable Iraq, our servicemen and women are working hard and sacrificing greatly. And families of the brave troops who have fallen must know that their loss is not in vain. We will finish our work in Iraq, because the stakes for our country and the world are high. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the globe, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the Middle East. The success of Iraqi democracy would send forth the news, from Damascus to Tehran, that freedom can be the future of every nation. And democracy will succeed in Iraq, because our coalition is strong, because our resolve is firm, and because the people of Iraq desire and deserve to live in freedom. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I celebrated Earth Day by traveling to Maine and Florida to visit some of this nation's vital wetlands. From the Gulf of Maine, to the Gulf of Mexico, Americans are blessed to live amid many incredible wonders of nature. We no longer take those wonders for granted. We understand our responsibilities to the natural world to conserve and make better what we have been given. Wetlands are among our most important natural resources. They provide a habitat for wildlife, trap pollution, reduce the impact of floods and provide recreational opportunities. For many years, our nation has sought to slow the loss of our wetlands. We've made tremendous progress. And on Earth Day, I was proud to announce a new goal: Instead of just limiting our losses, we will expand the wetlands of America. To accomplish this objective, my administration will work to restore, improve and protect at least 3 million acres of wetlands over the next five years. This new wetlands policy reflects an enduring national commitment, carried forward by both parties, to protecting the environment. We're taking action to ensure cleaner air. Since Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, major air pollutants have been reduced by nearly 50 percent. My administration is building on that progress by implementing smarter ways to raise standards and improve air quality. The clean air interstate rule, based on the Clear Skies legislation I sent to Congress last year, will reduce the major causes of ozone and fine particles by 70 percent. This rule employs a market-based approach called "cap and trade" to reduce air pollution that crosses state borders. We're also completing an important new rule to remove sulfur from diesel fuels. Just as regulations to remove lead from gasoline have helped cut pollution in the 1970s, our new diesel rule will reduce harmful emissions from generators, tractors, and others diesel vehicles. Finally, we are regulating mercury emissions from power plants for the first time ever. Under our new proposal mercury emissions will be cut by approximately 70 percent. All these rules are based on sound science and good economics, and they will help every American breathe cleaner air. We also have a responsibility to be good stewards of the land. Two years ago, I signed legislation to clean up more of the abandoned and polluted industrial sites known as brownfields. Between 2001 and 2003, we restored over 1,000 brownfields to usable condition, more than were restored in the previous seven years. Our efforts have opened usable land for small businesses and residents in hundreds of communities across the country, and created more than 25,000 jobs in clean up and redevelopment. Another critical environmental priority is the health of our nation's forests. In recent years, millions of acres of forests, rangeland, and communities have been destroyed by wildfires. So last December, I signed the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to reduce the risk of fire, save lives and property, and improve the health of our forests. The law opens millions of acres of forest land to vital thinning projects. And by expediting the environmental review process, and directing courts to consider long-term threats to forest health, the law allows us to protect more of our nation's precious forests. In the past three decades, America has made great strides in honoring the ideal of conservation, and living by high standards of stewardship. My administration's environmental efforts uphold that legacy. In the past four years, America's air, land, and water have all gotten cleaner. Our new proposals build on that progress and help us advance toward our national goal of a cleaner, safer, healthier environment. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. For the past year, the September 11th Commission has met to examine the facts surrounding the terrorist attack on our nation. I look forward to the commission's report, and I expect it to contain important recommendations for preventing future attacks. One lesson the nation has already learned is that law enforcement and intelligence personnel must be allowed to share more information, so that we can better pursue terrorists inside the United States. In the weeks after September the 11th, Congress made essential reforms by passing the USA Patriot Act. That vital legislation gained overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to one. The Patriot Act tore down the artificial wall between the FBI and CIA, and enhanced their ability to share the information needed to hunt terrorists. The Patriot Act also marked a major shift in law enforcement priorities. We are no longer emphasizing only the investigation of past crimes, but also the prevention of future attacks. Because we passed the Patriot Act, FBI agents can better conduct electronic surveillance and wiretaps on suspected terrorists. And they now can apply other essential tools -- many of which have long been used to investigate white-collar criminals and drug traffickers -- to stop terrorist attacks on our homeland. Our government's first duty is to protect the American people. The Patriot Act fulfills that duty in a way that is fully consistent with constitutional protections. In making America safer, it has helped us defend our liberty. Since I signed the Patriot Act into law, federal investigators have disrupted terror cells in at least six American cities. And since September the 11th, the Department of Justice has charged over 300 persons in terrorism-related investigations. So far, more than half of those individuals have been convicted or pled guilty. Key elements of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. Some politicians in Washington act as if the threat to America will also expire on that schedule. Yet we have seen what the terrorists intend for us, in deadly attacks from Bali to Mombassa to Madrid. And we will not forget the lessons of September the 11th. To abandon the Patriot Act would deprive law enforcement and intelligence officers of needed tools in the war on terror, and demonstrate willful blindness to a continuing threat. Next week I will travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York to meet with the law enforcement officers who see the importance of the Patriot Act in their daily duties. They know we must not let down our guard. The war on terror will be won on the offensive, so Congress must renew the Patriot Act. Every hour of the day, America depends on the work of vigilant law enforcement and intelligence personnel. These men and women have difficult and dangerous jobs -- and they are performing superbly. In their mission of security, they are joined by members of the armed forces, who are taking the fight to our enemies overseas. The American people are grateful to all who defend us -- and we will continue to give them every tool and resource they need to keep America safe. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week in Iraq, our coalition forces have faced challenges, and taken the fight to the enemy. And our offensive will continue in the weeks ahead. As the June 30th date for Iraqi sovereignty draws near, a small faction is attempting to derail Iraqi democracy and seize power. In some cities, Saddam supporters and terrorists have struck against coalition forces. In other areas, attacks were incited by a radical named Muqtada-al-Sadr, who is wanted for the murder of a respected Shiite cleric. Al-Sadr has called for violence against coalition troops, and his band of thugs have terrorized Iraqi police and ordinary citizens. Coalition forces are conducting a multi-city offensive. In Fallujah, Marines of Operation Vigilant Resolve are taking control of the city, block by block. Further south, troops of Operation Resolute Sword have taken the initiative from al-Sadr's militia. Our coalition's quick reaction forces are finding and engaging the enemy. Prisoners are being taken, and intelligence is being gathered. Our decisive actions will continue until these enemies of democracy are dealt with. Some have suggested that we should respond to the recent attacks by delaying Iraqi sovereignty. This is precisely what our enemies want. They want to dictate the course of events in Iraq and to prevent the Iraqi people from having a true voice in their future. They want America and our coalition to falter in our commitments before a watching world. In these ambitions, the enemies of freedom will fail. Iraqi sovereignty will arrive on June 30th. In March, the Iraqi Governing Council signed a document that protects the rights of the Iraqi people, offers the timetable for elections, and paves the way for a permanent constitution. At this moment, United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is conducting intensive consultations with a wide range of Iraqis on the structure of the interim government that will assume control on July the 1st. We welcome this U.N. engagement. The transition to sovereignty will mark the beginning of a new government, and the end of the coalition's administrative duties. But the coalition's commitment to Iraq will continue. We will establish a new American embassy to protect our nation's interests. We will continue helping the Iraqi people reconstruct their economy, undermined by decades of dictatorship and corruption. And our coalition forces will remain committed to the security of Iraq. Iraq's elections for a permanent government are scheduled to be held near the end of 2005, and the elected government can count on coalition assistance. We will stand with the Iraqi people as long as necessary, to ensure that their young democracy is stable and secure and successful. As we have done before, America is fighting on the side of liberty -- liberty in Iraq, and liberty in the Middle East. This objective serves the interests of that region, of the United States and of all freedom-loving countries. As the greater Middle East increasingly becomes a place where freedom flourishes, the lives of millions in that region will be bettered, and the American people and the entire world will be more secure. From the first days of the war on terror, I said our nation would face periods of struggle and testing. As the June 30th transition approaches, we will continue to see a test of wills between the enemies of freedom and its defenders. We will win this test of wills, and overcome every challenge, because the cause of freedom and security is worth our struggle. This weekend, many of the men and women who serve that cause in uniform will celebrate Easter and Passover far from home. In this season that celebrates hope and freedom, our nation remembers in prayer the good and the brave people of our military. They are the best of America, and America is firmly behind them. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week we received powerful confirmation that America's economy is growing stronger. The Department of Labor reported that America added 308,000 jobs in March, the highest monthly job growth number since the spring of 2000. And since August, we've added over three-quarters of a million new jobs in America. The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent last June to 5.7 percent last month. Over the last year, the unemployment rate has fallen in 45 of the 50 states. This is good news for American workers, and good news for American families. Other economic signs are also very good. In the last half of 2003, our economy grew at the fastest rate in nearly 20 years. America has the fastest growing economy in the industrialized world. Inflation is low. And interest rates and mortgage rates are near historic lows. Manufacturing activity is high. Worker productivity is high, which means rising wages for American families. After-tax disposable income is up 10 percent since the end of 2000. And more Americans own their own home than at any time in history. Our economy's momentum is building. People are finding jobs, and the nation's future is bright. America's families and workers have reason to be optimistic. Tax relief put this economy on the path to growth. Since 2001, we have cut tax rates for everyone who pays income taxes. We've reduced the marriage penalty in our tax code. We raised the child credit to $1,000 per child, and we have reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains. This tax relief is critical because all workers are keeping more of what they earn, and small businesses, which create most of the new jobs in America, have the resources to expand and hire. As our economy adds more jobs, we will need to make sure all Americans are prepared to take advantage of new opportunity. We must help current workers and future workers learn the skills they need today and in the years to come. Our economy has increasing demand for workers with advanced skills, such as teachers, health care workers, and environmental engineers. But too many Americans do not have these kinds of skills. So on Monday, I will travel to North Carolina to propose reforms of our federal job training system, to give our workers the help they need. Better job training will mean better jobs for American workers. We must also make sure our schools are preparing the next generation of workers. We've already taken action to improve our elementary schools with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. This good law is raising standards and hopes for all our children. But we must also address the needs of older students in high schools and colleges. On Tuesday, I will travel to Arkansas, where I will propose ways to help high school students who are struggling in math and reading. I'll propose reforms that will strengthen vocational programs at our high schools, and I will propose more incentives for college students to take math and science so America can continue to lead the world economy. Over the past three years, our economy has overcome a lot of challenges -- from stock market declines, to recession, to terrorist attacks, to corporate scandals, to war. Yet our economy is moving forward, and jobs are being created steadily and increasingly. I'm optimistic about the future because I'm confident in the American worker and the American entrepreneur. And with the right policies in Washington, there are even brighter days ahead for American workers and American families. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week brought good news about homeownership in America. The Census Bureau reported that new home sales in February rose to an annual pace of 1.16 million homes, a 24 percent increase over the past year. This success follows one of the most impressive years in America's housing industry. More homes were sold in 2003 than ever before. Housing starts last year were at their highest level in a quarter century. Rising home values have helped take the wealth of American households to a new record level. In our growing economy, more Americans can afford a new home. Incomes are rising. The unemployment rate is falling. Mortgage rates are low. And because of tax relief, Americans have more to save, spend and invest -- and that means millions of American families have moved into their first homes. Our nation's 68 percent homeownership rate is the highest ever, and our government is taking steps to make owning a home a reality for more Americans, especially minorities and those with low incomes. In June 2002, I set the goal of adding 5.5 million new minority home owners in America by the end of this decade. Since then, more than 1.5 million minority families have moved into houses of their own. And for the first time, most minorities own their own home. We are building on this progress. I have signed into law the American Dream Down Payment Act, which will help low-income Americans to afford the down payment and closing costs on their first home. I'm asking Congress to provide an annual $200 million for this program. That additional money would help an estimated 40,000 low-income families every year become first-time homeowners. I'm proposing that we make zero down payment loans available to first-time buyers whose mortgages are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. And this will help about 150,000 families buy homes in the first year alone. Another obstacle to homeownership is the often complicated process of buying a home and getting a loan. My budget for 2005 would more than double funding for housing counseling services from 2001 levels. A house and a mortgage represent a big personal commitment, and we want to prepare more Americans to make that commitment with confidence. To make homeownership attainable for more of our citizens, I have asked Congress to create a tax credit to encourage the construction of affordable homes. Under my proposal, builders will have an incentive to provide an additional 200,000 affordable homes over five years for families with low incomes. And finally, we are encouraging the real estate and mortgage finance industry to join in our efforts in closing the homeownership gap. More than two dozen major companies and organizations have committed to extending more loans to low-income families, financing the construction of more affordable homes, and providing financial counseling to potential buyers. These policies will make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans. This week, I met with Lori Benavidez, a single mom living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Last November, with the help of a federal homeownership program, she moved into her first home. Here's what Lori says: "I never thought the day would happen when my girls and I would be sitting in our own home. It is a miracle." Every time a family moves into a home of their own, it fulfills a dream and it shows faith in the future, and that faith is well-placed because America's economy is strong and it is getting stronger. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I met with entrepreneurs and workers in Ohio and New York, and talked to them about how we are strengthening America's economy. Over the past three years, America's economy has faced a series of challenges: stock market decline, recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and the uncertainties of war. My administration confronted those challenges squarely, and acted boldly. We reduced taxes on families and small businesses, we encouraged new investment and we're seeing the results. America has the fastest-growing major industrialized economy in the world. American productivity has grown faster over the last two years than at any time in more than 50 years. More manufacturers have been reporting rising activity than at any point in the last 20 years. Home ownership rates are the highest ever. Inflation is low, and interest rates and mortgage rates are near historic lows. The unemployment rate of 5.6 percent is below the average unemployment rate in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s. And last month marked the sixth consecutive month of increased employment in America. Yet, some industries and some parts of the country are still lagging behind. In Ohio, where many manufacturers are now so productive, they can produce more goods without hiring new workers. In cities like Youngstown and Cleveland, many workers are concerned about their future, about their benefits, and about the opportunities their children will have. Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge, and they want to respond in old, ineffective ways. They want to increase federal taxes -- yet punishing families and small businesses is not a job-creation strategy. They want to build up trade walls, and isolate America from the rest of the world -- but economic isolationism would threaten the millions of good American jobs that depend on exports. These tired, old policies of tax and spend, and economic isolationism, are a recipe for economic disaster. There's a better way to help our workers and help our economy. First, we must pursue a confident policy of trade. Millions of American jobs depend on our goods being sold overseas; and foreign-owned companies employ millions of Americans here at home. We owe those workers our best efforts to make sure other nations open up their markets, and keep them open. We want the entire world to buy American, because the best products in the world carry the label, "Made in the USA." Second, we must remain the best place in the world to do business -- to start a company and hire workers. We need fewer mandates and unnecessary regulations on small businesses. We need legal reform in America to cut down on junk lawsuits. We need to help companies and their employees confront the rising costs of health care. We need to make sure the tax relief is made permanent, to keep our economy on the path to growth and job creation. Third, we need to make sure American workers are prepared for the higher-skilled jobs our economy is creating. I worked with Congress to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, which is bringing higher standards to every public school in America. We have a plan to help our high schools and community colleges train people in the skills they need. We're helping workers who have been displaced by the effects of trade, by giving them assistance for job training, and health care, and relocation expenses. Again and again, economic pessimists have questioned the skills and creativity and energy of America's workers. The pessimists have always been wrong. America's workers and entrepreneurs will meet every challenge. With the right policies in Washington, we will maintain America's economic leadership, we will create more jobs, and we'll help our workers achieve a better life. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week terrorists launched a series of attacks in Iraq, targeting religious sites in Baghdad and Karbala, during commemorations marking the Shia holy day of Ashoura. Laura and I and the American people were filled with grief and anger at these terrible acts of murder, which took the lives of dozens of innocent Iraqis. Some of these killers behind these attacks are supporters of Saddams former regime. Others are foreign terrorists. All of them are determined to halt and reverse all progress toward freedom in Iraq. One of the terrorist leaders, a killer named Zarqawi, recently wrote to a senior al Qaeda terrorist of his plan to tear Iraq apart with ethnic violence, to undermine Iraqi security forces, to demoralize our coalition, and to prevent the rise of a sovereign, democratic government. The killers strategy will fail. Immediately after the attacks, the world saw members of Iraqs Governing Council and other Iraqis quickly condemn the bombings, and voice their determination that their country will be peaceful and free. The Iraqi people refuse to live in fear, and so do the members of our coalition. Fighting alongside the people of Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists who seek to plunge Iraq into chaos and violence, and we will stand with the people of Iraq for as long as necessary to build a stable, peaceful and successful democracy. The Iraqi people are making excellent progress. Members of the Governing Council are having a free and open and spirited debate as they complete a new framework for governing their nation. This transitional administrative law will result in protecting the rights of all Iraqis, and will move the country toward a democratic future. A year ago, Iraqs only law was the whim of one brutal man. When the new law takes effect, Iraqis will, for the first time in decades, live under the clear protections of a written bill of rights. Under this law, all Iraqis will be treated equally. No religious or ethnic groups will be favored, and none will suffer discrimination at the hands of the state. The law will protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, the right to organize political parties, the right to vote in fair elections, and the right to worship according to ones own conscience. The law also will guarantee the right to a speedy, fair and open trial. No Iraqi will ever again have to fear the midnight knock of the secret police. The transitional administrative law will establish a clear path for the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty on June 30th of this year. Our coalition of 34 countries and the United Nations will continue to work closely with the Iraqi people as they progress toward this goal. The law calls for the election of a transitional national assembly by January 31, 2005. Later that year, this assembly will draft a new constitution to be ratified by the Iraqi people. And by the end of next year, the Iraqi people will elect a parliament and establish a government that is fully representative and truly free. Difficult work in creating a new Iraqi government remains. Yet Iraqis are equal to the tasks before them. The Iraqi people have shown the world that they are fully capable of living in freedom. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. For many years, illegal drug use has been a serious problem facing our country. Drugs cost people their savings and their health, and rob children of their promise. My administration is taking action to confront this danger. We have pursued an ambitious, focused strategy to cut demand for drugs at home, interdict supplies of drugs abroad, and treat more addicts who seek help. In 2002, I set a goal to reduce illegal drug use by 10 percent over two years, and by 25 percent over five years. This Monday, we will release the annual National Drug Control Strategy, which shows the impressive progress we have made. Youth drug use declined 11 percent between 2001 and 2003, meaning 400,000 fewer young people used drugs. These results exceeded our goal, and proved that our hard work is paying off. This year, we will expand our strategy so that we can make even greater progress in the fight against drugs. The best way to cut drug use is to cut demand for drugs at the ground level. So my budget includes a $10-million increase for drug-free communities, a common-sense prevention program that supports local coalitions working to stop young people from using drugs. Research shows that teenagers who abstain from drugs are unlikely to start using them later in life. So I have asked Congress to provide an additional $23 million for high schools who want to develop and carry out drug testing programs. Random drug testing gives students a strong answer to the social pressure to try drugs. It helps schools identify those using drugs so they can intervene with counseling and treatment before experiments turn into addictions. We've seen the positive results of drug testing across the country. Just two years after Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey began its testing program, drug use had declined significantly throughout the school. Hunterdon's principal described the program's effect this way: "We have never seen a prevention curriculum that affected the numbers this substantially. We finally had a tool that was making a large difference." As we reduce demand for drugs, we're also preventing drug supplies from entering our country. Our military and law enforcement personnel are targeting the world's most dangerous drug trafficking networks. We are dismantling these organizations and putting their leaders in jail. And by working with governments across our hemisphere, we are drying up the world's supply of illegal drugs at its source. Finally, we are taking steps to help those who have fallen into the destructive cycle of addiction. Drug dependence undermines productivity, as well as moral conviction and devastates millions of families each year. Some addicts recognize their problem and want to change, but cannot afford access to professional care. To help men and women like these, I launched an initiative called Access to Recovery. This program will help thousands of Americans get the treatment they need. And because I know a good way to change a person's behavior is to change their heart, faith-based treatment programs will always be an option. Congress has provided $100 million for this life-saving program. And this year, I have asked to double that amount. The progress reported in this year's Drug Control Strategy is encouraging. Our goals are ambitious, and we have seen they can be achieved. Now we will build on the improvement of the past two years. And we will continue working toward a society in which all citizens can lead a life of independence and purpose, free from the devastating influence of drugs. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I traveled to Fort Polk, in Louisiana, to visit with soldiers and family members who are giving vital service in the war on terror. Fort Polk is home to some of the Army's oldest and finest units. Since September the 11th, 2001, Fort Polk has trained and deployed more than 10,000 troops to fight the terrorist enemy worldwide, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks to their bravery and skill, America is waging this fight with focus and determination. Over the last 29 months, many terrorists have learned the meaning of justice. Nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. The terrorists are on the run, with good reason to fear what the night might bring. Success in the war on terror also requires that we confront regimes that might arm terrorists with the ultimate weapons. America is determined to meet this danger, and to deny terrorists and dangerous regimes the ability to threaten us with the world's most deadly weapons. For 12 years, the former dictator of Iraq defied the international community. He refused to disarm, or account for his illegal weapons and programs. My administration looked at the intelligence information and we saw a threat. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat. All of us knew Saddam Hussein's history. He waged aggressive wars against neighboring countries and inspired to dominate the Middle East. He cultivated ties to terrorists. He built weapons of mass destruction. He hid those weapons. And he used chemical weapons against thousands of Iraqis and Iranians. Saddam Hussein doubted our resolve to enforce our word. Now he sits in a prison cell while his country moves toward a democratic future.Today in Iraq, our coalition faces deadly attacks from a remnant of Saddam's supporters, joined by foreign terrorists. Recently we intercepted a letter sent by a senior al Qaeda associate named Zarqawi, to one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. The letter describes a terrorist strategy, to tear Iraq apart with ethnic violence, to undermine Iraqi security forces, to demoralize our coalition and to prevent the rise of a sovereign, democratic government. This terrorist outlines his efforts to recruit and train suicide bombers, and boasts of 25 attacks on innocent Iraqis and coalition personnel. And he urges al Qaeda members to join him in waging war on our coalition and on the people of Iraq. Zarqawi and men like him have made Iraq the central front in our war on terror. The terrorists know that the emergence of a free Iraq will be a major blow against a worldwide terrorist movement. In this, they are correct. But we have seen this enemy before and we know how to deal with them. Fighting alongside the people of Afghanistan, we are defeating the terrorists in that country. And fighting alongside the people of Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists there, as well. Iraq, like Afghanistan, will be free. Our coalition is working with Iraq's Governing Council to draft a basic law with a bill of rights. We're working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty. The establishment of a free Iraq will be a watershed event in the history of the Middle East, helping to advance the spread of liberty throughout that vital region. And as freedom takes hold in the greater Middle East, the people of the region will find new hope, and America will be more secure. Two-and-a-half years ago, on a clear September morning, the enemies of America brought a new kind of war to our shores. Three days later, I stood in the rubble of the Twin Towers. My resolve today is the same as it was then: I will not relent until the terrorist threat to America is removed. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On September the 11th, 2001, America and the world saw the great harm that terrorists could inflict upon our country, armed with box cutters, mace and 19 airline tickets. Those attacks also raised the prospect of even worse dangers, of terrorists armed with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The possibility of secret and sudden attack with weapons of mass destruction is the greatest threat before humanity today. America is confronting this danger with open eyes and unbending purpose. America faces the possibility of catastrophic attack from ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction, so we are developing and deploying missile defenses to guard our people. The best intelligence is necessary to win the war on terror and to stop proliferation. So we are improving and adapting our intelligence capabilities for new and emerging threats. We are using every means of diplomacy to confront the regimes that develop deadly weapons. We are cooperating with more than a dozen nations under the Proliferation Security Initiative, to interdict lethal materials transported by land, sea or air. And we have shown our willingness to use force when force is required. No one can now doubt the determination of America to oppose and to end these threats to our security. We are aggressively pursuing another dangerous source of proliferation: black-market operatives who sell equipment and expertise related to weapons of mass destruction. The world recently learned of the network led by A.Q. Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan and his associates sold nuclear technology and know-how to rogue regimes around the world, such as Iran and North Korea. Thanks to the tireless work of intelligence officers from the United States and the United Kingdom and other nations, the Khan network is being dismantled. This week, I proposed a series of new, ambitious steps to build on our recent success against proliferation. We must expand the international cooperation of law enforcement organizations to act against proliferation networks, to shut down their labs, to seize their materials, to freeze their assets and to bring their members to justice. We must strengthen laws and international controls that fight proliferation. Last fall at the United Nations I proposed a new Security Council resolution requiring all states to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders. I urge the Council to pass these measures quickly. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of the most important tools for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, is undermined by a loophole that allows countries to seek nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear power programs. I propose that the world's leading nuclear exporters close that loophole. The Nuclear Suppliers Group should refuse to sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to any state that does not already possess full scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants. For international rules and laws to be effective, they must be enforced. We must ensure that the International Atomic Energy Agency is fully capable of exposing and reporting banned nuclear activity. Every nation should sign what is called the Additional Protocol, which would allow the IAEA to make broader inspections of nuclear sites. We should also establish a special IAEA committee to focus on safeguards and verification. And no nation under investigation for proliferation violations should be able to serve on this committee or on the governing board of the IAEA. Governments breaking the rules should not be trusted with enforcing the rules. Terrorists and terrorist states are in a race for weapons of mass murder, a race they must lose. They are resourceful -- we must be more resourceful. They are determined -- we must be more determined. We will never lose focus or resolve. We will be unrelenting in the defense of free nations, and rise to the hard demands of our dangerous time. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The past few weeks have confirmed that America's economy is strong, and growing stronger. The nation's unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in January, the fourth consecutive monthly decline, and we added 112,000 new jobs, the largest single month increase since December of 2000. Overall, the nation has added 366,000 jobs in the past five months. There's more evidence of a strengthening economy. Manufacturers report new orders. GDP rose at a 6.1 percent in the second half of 2003, the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Inflation remains low, and our nation's home ownership rate just reached an all-time high. For the first time in our history, more than half of minority households own their own homes. All of these are signs that our economic recovery is becoming a lasting expansion. Yet many of the new jobs being created require workers to learn new skills, and we can make sure that more Americans are prepared for these new opportunities. Our efforts begin in our elementary schools, where students learn the basic skills that carry them through life. With the No Child Left Behind Act, we have raised standards, and we're making sure children learn the basics. Now we need to stay the course of reform, because the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity for all of America's children. We must also help high school students to prepare for the new jobs our economy is creating. I've asked Congress to pass my Jobs for the 21st Century proposal -- a plan that would help students who fall behind in reading and math -- expand advanced placement programs in low-income schools, and provide larger Pell grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school. We also recognize that many workers change jobs in the middle of their careers, and they often get the training they need at community colleges. I have asked Congress to provide $250 million to community colleges to help Americans get the skills they need for high-growth fields. Over the last several weeks, I have met with men and women who are studying at these colleges, and are on their way to better careers. Toledo, Ohio, I met with Mike Potter. After getting laid off in March, 2003, Mike enrolled at Owens Community College's Integrated Systems Technology program, which is supported by a Department of Labor grant. Mike got a new job soon, and is earning more than he did before. Here is what Mike told me: "People don't want to see a person with just one skill anymore. They want several skills." My administration is committed to helping more people like Mike learn the skills they need. And we will continue pursuing a pro-growth economic agenda, so that every person who wants to work can find a job. We'll help create more jobs in America by making tax relief permanent; by enforcing spending discipline and reducing the deficit; by enacting common sense reforms to our regulatory and legal systems; by taking steps to make health care more affordable and accessible; by passing a national energy policy; and by opening up more foreign markets for trade. Taking these steps will add momentum to our nation's economic expansion and extend jobs and prosperity to more Americans. I'm optimistic about our future, and one reason is because of America's workers and entrepreneurs. They are talented and hardworking, and they carry with them the spirit that has always made America a place of hope and opportunity. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming week, my administration will release our proposed budget for fiscal year 2005. In that detailed blueprint for government spending, Americans will see my priorities clearly at work. We will devote the resources necessary to win the war on terror and protect our homeland. We'll provide compassionate help to seniors, to schoolchildren, and to Americans in need of job training. And we will be responsible with the people's money by cutting the deficit in half over five years. With troops currently on the ground fighting our enemies, my budget increases defense spending by 7 percent, money that will go the pay for equipment, ammunition, and troop housing. We'll keep our military strong and ready for every challenge that may come. Since I took office, we have increased pay for our men and women in uniform by 21 percent. Next year, I propose raising their pay by another 3.5 percent. Our troops put their lives on the line to defend America, and we owe them our best in return. Given the continued terrorist threat against the American people, my budget nearly triples homeland security spending over 2001 levels, including an increase of nearly 10 percent next year, to $30.5 billion. This money will help tighten security at our borders, airports and seaports, and improve our defenses against biological attack. I'm proposing to raise the budget for the FBI by 11 percent, including a $357-million increase in spending on counterterrorism activities. America will not let its guard down in our war on terror. My budget also focuses on our priorities at home. This year, we'll begin moving towards prescription drug coverage under Medicare by providing drug discount cards to seniors. We'll also help lower-income seniors this year and next with up to $600 in direct assistance for drug costs. We're devoting additional resources to our schools, to help them meet the higher expectations set by the No Child Left Behind Act. My budget calls for a 49-percent increase over 2001 spending on our public schools. There will be additional money for early reading programs for schools in low-income areas, and for enhanced Pell Grant scholarships for students who complete a rigorous curriculum. My budget also asks Congress to fund my Jobs for the 21st Century initiative, which will help young people and adults gain the skills they need to fill the new jobs in our changing economy. This initiative will help high school students who are falling behind in reading and math by supporting better teaching methods. And with the support of Congress, we will provide new funding to America's fine community colleges, to help them teach the skills our changing economy demands. We're meeting these priorities within a responsible budget. Under my plan, overall discretionary spending will grow at less than 4 percent. And non-security-related spending would rise less than 1 percent, the smallest such proposed increase in 12 years. By exercising spending discipline in Washington, D.C., we will reduce the deficit and meet our most basic priorities. To assure that Congress observes spending discipline, now and in the future, I propose making spending limits the law. This simple step would mean that every additional dollar the Congress wants to spend in excess of spending limits must be matched by a dollar in spending cuts elsewhere. Budget limits must mean something, and not just serve as vague guidelines to be routinely violated. This single change in the procedures of the Congress would bring further spending restraint to Washington. Americans expect government to meet its most basic responsibilities -- protecting citizens from harm, and promoting prosperity and compassion at home. Americans also expect our government to live within spending limits. My 2005 budget is designed to meet both of these goals, using tax dollars wisely and by focusing resources where they are most needed. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming week I will report to the Congress and the American people on the state of our union. Over the past few years, America has been confronted with great challenges, and the American people have responded with strength and compassion and confidence. This nation is meeting its priorities, both at home and abroad. America continues to wage a relentless campaign against terrorists who threaten our country. We're fighting this war on the offensive, denying terrorists refuge, identifying and seizing their secret finances, and holding terrorists and their sponsors to account. These terrorists are still dangerous, and we will stay on the hunt until they are destroyed. Across the greater Middle East, America is confronting dangers and promoting democracy and hope, as the alternative to terror and violence. Afghanistan, once ruled by the brutal Taliban regime, has adopted a new constitution and is following the path of democracy, including providing fundamental rights to women. The leader of Libya has now pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his weapons of mass destruction programs. And in Iraq, the enemies of freedom are being systematically routed from their holes and rounded up. Iraqis are assuming greater responsibility for their own security and future government. American troops in that country are performing their duty with skill and courage, and we're proud of them all. Here at home, we continue to build prosperity and economic security for our people. Tax relief has helped turn our economy around. We've doubled the child tax credit, cut taxes for everyone who pays income taxes, and increased incentives for small businesses to invest in new equipment and create jobs. The results are clear. Our economy grew at its fastest pace in two decades in the third quarter of 2003. Manufacturers are seeing a rebound in new orders in factory activity. And more than a quarter-million new jobs have been created since August. Our government has also acted to strengthen our Medicare system. To keep our commitment to America's senior citizens, we're adding better preventative care and a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program. Many thought these reforms were impossible; yet members of both parties put old debates behind them and fulfilled our promise to America's seniors. On Tuesday night I will outline the steps we must take to meet the goals of this nation. We will work to expand opportunities for all Americans to own their own business. We'll press forward on an agenda of economic growth so that everyone who wants to work can find a job. We'll take steps to help families and small businesses deal with the rising cost of health care. We will continue to help schools and students meet the high standards we've set so no child in America is left behind. We will encourage the good work of faith-based groups that bring hope to those in need. For the sake of our own freedom and security, we will continue to fight the war on terror. With all these actions, we will continue to confront the challenges of our time, and we will continue to make America a more secure, more prosperous, and more hopeful place. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As the year 2004 begins, America's economy is strong and getting stronger. More Americans than ever own their own homes. More businesses are investing. More manufacturers are seeing increased activity than at any time in the last 20 years. Stock market wealth has increased by more than $3 trillion over the past year. And over the past five months, more than a quarter-million Americans started work at new jobs. In December, the unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent, from a high of 6.3 percent last June. This latest report underscores a choice about the future of our economy, and the future of those who are looking for work. We can continue on the path to prosperity and new jobs - a path marked by a pro-growth agenda that has cut taxes on paychecks for 109 million American taxpayers - or we can reverse the course by raising taxes on hardworking Americans. The choice is clear. Tax relief has got this economy going again, and tax relief will keep it moving forward. In my budget for the upcoming fiscal year, I will call on Congress to make permanent all the tax relief we have delivered to the American people and our nation's small businesses. If Congress fails to act, this tax relief will disappear and millions of American families and small businesses would see tax hikes starting in 2005. For the sake of our economic expansion, and for the sake of millions of Americans who depend on small businesses for their jobs, we need Congress to act to make tax relief permanent. Every American who pays income taxes got a tax cut: They should keep that tax cut in the future. American families saw the child credit double to $1,000 per child: They should keep that higher credit. American investors, including millions of seniors, saw taxes fall on dividend income and investment gains: They should keep that tax relief. American small businesses received new tax incentives to invest in equipment and software: They should keep those incentives. Every American family, including every farmer, rancher, and small business owner, will see the death tax disappear in 2010, then reappear in 2011. But the death tax should stay buried. Now is not the time to turn our backs on America's families and workers and entrepreneurs by letting much needed tax relief expire. Making tax relief permanent is a simple step that would keep our economy growing, so that every American who wants to work can find a job. We must continue to take other steps to promote growth and job creation throughout our economy. We must promote free and fair trade, reform our class action system, and help businesses and their employees address the problem of rising health care costs. To serve the economic needs of our country, we must also reform our immigration laws. Reform must begin by confronting a basic fact of life and economics: Some of the jobs being generated in America's growing economy are jobs American citizens are not filling. This past week, I proposed a new temporary worker program that would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job. The program I've outlined is not an amnesty program, an automatic path to citizenship. It is a program that recognizes the contributions that many undocumented workers are now making to our economy. This temporary worker program represents the best tradition of our society. It will help strengthen our economy, return order to our immigration system, and secure our homeland. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Two years ago this month, I signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, the most important reform of public education in a generation. In that landmark law, we made our expectations clear: every child in America will learn to read, write, add and subtract at grade level. Schools are now required to test children regularly to make sure students are learning and that schools are teaching well. And when schools do not show progress toward high standards, we're giving parents better options, including tutoring for their children, or a transfer to a better public school. Above all, the No Child Left Behind Act required a change in attitude from the educators and public officials responsible for our schools. We will no longer write off some children as hopeless. We will no longer accept or excuse schools that do not effectively teach the basics. We will insist on high standards and accountability because we believe that every school should teach and every child can learn. For the past 24 months, schools and state governments have been putting the new reforms into action. All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have drawn up plans to hold every public school accountable for student achievement. We're measuring results. We're giving teachers the information they need to improve instruction, and giving parents new options to help their children when schools do not measure up. We have recently received test results that show America's children are making progress. In 2003, math scores for fourth graders nationwide were nine points higher than in 2000. Math scores for eighth graders improved by five points. And a higher percentage of fourth graders tested at or above their grade level in reading. To mark the anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act, I will travel this coming week to schools in St. Louis, Missouri and Knoxville, Tennessee. Children at these schools once struggled, but in recent years, they have risen to meet our new standards. Their example shows that high expectations, a commitment to measuring achievement and a belief in every child can change lives and turn schools around. Some critics have objected to these reforms because they believe our expectations are too high, or that it is unfair to hold all students to the same standards regardless of background, or that we're punishing schools that are not making progress. But the time for excuses has passed. Our reforms insist on high standards because we know every child can learn. Our reforms call for testing because the worst discrimination is to ignore a school's failure to teach every child. And our reforms identify underperforming schools because we need to direct our help to the schools that need it most. In 2003, we provided $234 million to assist the lowest performing schools that need the most improvement. In 2004, we plan to more than double that amount. We have increased federal funding for elementary and high school education from about $25 billion in 2001, to more than $33 billion in 2003, an increase of about 36 percent, and the highest level ever. We've committed $1.8 billion in grants to help train tens of thousands of teachers to use effective reading instruction methods and materials. We expect schools to do their job, and we're helping them to do their job. So there's no excuse for failure. When we set a high standard, we are showing our belief in the capacities of every child. And when we prepare them to meet a high standard, we're giving them a better chance in life. High expectations set children on a path to success. I'm pleased to report that the No Child Left Behind Act is helping put more of America's children on that path, so they succeed in school and in life. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In this week of Christmas, Laura and I send good wishes to the families of America. We hope this season has brought happy reunions, celebration, and new memories to cherish as we approach the New Year. Christmas centers on the birth of a child, and on the message of hope and peace. We hear that message in many ways at Christmas, and it never loses the power to lift our hearts. The holidays can also deepen our sense of gratitude for life, and for all the family and friends who fill our lives. In this great and prosperous land, we remember how much we have been given, and how much we have to share. We think of those among us who spend the holidays in sadness or solitude. We think of those facing illness, or the loss of a loved one, or the hardships of poverty or unemployment. And across our country, caring citizens are reaching out to those in need by volunteering their time. By serving a cause greater than themselves, Americans spread hope in our country, and they make our nation better, one life at a time. At Christmas we also think of the men and women of our Armed Forces, who are defending freedom around the world. These brave Americans are fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere so that we do not meet these killers on our own streets. We are grateful for the courage and commitment of our troops, and we are safer because of their skill and sacrifice. Separation from loved ones is always difficult, especially at this time of year. All our men and women serving abroad can know that their families miss them, millions are praying for them, and their nation is proud of them. All who serve others are living out the spirit of the Christmas season. The story of Christmas is familiar to us all, yet it still brings inspiration and comfort and love to people everywhere. The voice first heard 20 centuries ago in Bethlehem stirs churches and communities to open homeless shelters and food pantries and job training centers to help those in need. This Christmas season comes at a time of great challenge for our country. Yet the story of this holiday reminds us of an eternal promise, that God's purpose is justice, and His plan is peace. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Every year during the holidays, families across America gather to celebrate our blessings -- and we unite to share those blessings with others. Particularly in this time of giving, our thoughts turn to fellow citizens who face hardship, or illness, or loneliness. Their burden often seems even greater at Christmastime, yet the hope of this season was meant for them, as well. The American people see these needs -- and they are responding, as always, with great generosity. Just this week, a government report found that more than 63 million Americans volunteered over the past year -- about 4 million more than in the year before. On average, volunteers gave 52 hours -- more than a full week of work -- of their year in service to others. This increase in volunteering is evidence of the new culture of service we are building in America, especially among young people. Nearly two years ago, I created the USA Freedom Corps to continue the momentum generated by the countless acts of kindness we saw after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. I asked every person in America to commit 4,000 hours over a lifetime -- or about 100 hours a year -- to serving neighbors in need. The response was immediate and enthusiastic, and has remained strong. Over 75,000 service organizations now work with USA Freedom Corps, and a growing percentage of Americans have answered the call to service. Americans are volunteering in every region of the country, and in nearly every part of the world. Many communities have formed Citizens Corps Councils to train neighborhoods in emergency response. About 50,000 people are enrolled in AmeriCorps, which carries out vital work in education, the environment, and homeland security. And the Peace Corps expanded to over 7,500 volunteers in 2003 -- the highest level of participation in almost three decades. Every time I travel in America, I have the honor to meet some of our country's most dedicated volunteers. They include people like Phuong Nguyen, a high school student in Denver who gives hours of her free time to lead service projects for the American Red Cross; and Ana Cooper of Miami, who helps senior citizens with daily needs like grocery shopping; and Bill Sellers, an 83 year old man from Houston who has dedicated almost half his life to feeding the hungry. Some of the men and women I have met are members of the armed forces, who volunteer time in their communities on top of their service to the nation. And next week, I look forward to helping a generous group from Virginia distribute Angel Tree gifts to children whose parents are in prison. America's 63 million volunteers are setting a fine example for our nation. They are meeting essential needs in their communities -- and they know the fulfillment that only comes from serving a cause greater than self. And many volunteers got started in the same way: because someone asked them. This holiday season, I ask every American to look for a challenge in your own community, and step forward to lend a hand. You can learn about thousands of service opportunities by visiting the USA Freedom Corps website, usafreedomcorps.gov. Many Americans volunteer with their families, allowing them to spend time together while improving the lives of others. And if you find a need that no one else is meeting, you might want to start a group of your own. The high level of volunteerism in our country is encouraging -- though not surprising. America is a compassionate and generous land. With their good works, volunteers are living out the spirit of this season. And year round they are showing the heart and soul of our people -- which is the greatest strength of our nation. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I was honored to sign the Medicare Act of 2003, the greatest advance in health coverage for America's seniors since Medicare was founded nearly four decades ago. This new law will give seniors better choices and more control over their health care, and provide a prescription drug benefit. Beginning in 2006, most seniors now without prescription coverage can expect to see their current drug bills cut roughly in half, in exchange for a monthly premium of about $35. And for the first time, seniors will have peace of mind that they will not face unlimited expenses for their Medicare. These and other major improvements in Medicare came about because Republicans and Democrats in Congress were willing to work together for the interests of our senior citizens. We were able to pass this law because we listened to the people, set the right priorities and worked hard until we finished the job. The reform and modernization of Medicare was one milestone in a year of accomplishment. We worked with Congress to take action in a number of areas on behalf of the American people. Last May, the House and Senate passed my jobs and growth package into law, delivering substantial tax relief to 91 million Americans. We reduced taxes for everyone who pays income taxes, increased the child tax credit, cut the taxes on dividends and capital gains, and gave 23 million small business owners incentives to invest for the future. And now we are seeing the results. In the third quarter, the economy grew at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. Productivity, manufacturing and housing construction are expanding. And we have added over 300,000 jobs since August. The tax relief we passed is working, and our economy is gaining strength. Legislation passed this year also showed the compassion and the good heart of America. We created the American Dream Down Payment Fund to help low-income citizens afford the down payment on homes of their own. We defended children from the violence of partial birth abortion, and passed new incentives to promote the adoption of children in foster care. And we acted to fight the global spread of AIDS by launching a multi-year emergency effort to prevent millions of new infections in Africa and the Caribbean, and to provide medicine and humane care to millions more who suffer. This year we took important action to protect the environment. Our whole nation saw the devastation left by wildfires in the west, and we passed healthy forest legislation to thin the underbrush that fuels catastrophic blazes. Our government also took urgent action on every front in the war on terror. Congress appropriated more than $31 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to prepare first responders and safeguard our ports and infrastructure, and help scientists develop vaccines against dangerous biological threats. Our country stood behind the men and women of our Armed Forces as they liberated Iraq and helped carry out the work of reconstruction there and in Afghanistan. In Congress, members of both parties worked together to provide vital resources for our troops, who are fulfilling their responsibility to defend the nation. All these actions have made us safer, more prosperous, and a better country. We confronted problems with determination and bipartisan spirit. Yet our work is not done. There will be pressing business in the new year on issues from job creation to health care to public schools. And above all, we will continue to fight the war on terror until the war is won. On behalf of all Americans, I thank the Congress for a productive year. Working together, we can add to this progress in the year to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week we received additional reports that America's economy is gaining strength. In November, our nation added 57,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent. In the past four months, 328,000 Americans started work at new jobs. In the third quarter of 2003, worker productivity rose at a 9.4 percent annual rate -- the fastest pace since 1983. Rising productivity means rising wages. And productivity gains help companies keep prices low, which allows American families to stretch their paychecks further. Other economic signs are positive. Surveys show manufacturing activity to be at its strongest level in 20 years. Automobile sales rose in November. Home construction continues to expand. During this season, America's families are planning for the year ahead, and they have reason to be optimistic. The American economy continues on a solid path of recovery. With strong sales and improving profits, companies will continue to hire new workers in the coming year. And because of tax relief, all workers will get to keep more of what they earn, and small businesses will be able to create more jobs. Since 2001, we have cut taxes for everyone who pays income taxes. We reduced the marriage penalty in our tax code. We raised the child credit to $1,000 per child. And we have reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains. This tax relief is critical because it keeps more money in the hands of workers and small business owners, and others who move this economy forward. Here in Washington, our responsibility is to make sure this economy keeps its momentum, and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job. I have proposed a six-point plan to strengthen this recovery and bring prosperity to every corner of America. In the coming months, I will continue to work with Congress to achieve these important measures. First, businesses are more likely to hire people if health care for workers is affordable. We need to allow small business owners to join together in association health plans, giving them the purchasing power of large companies when they shop for health insurance. And we must reform the medical liability system so that health care dollars serve the interest of patients, not the interests of trial lawyers. Second, we need broad legal reforms so frivolous lawsuits don't put good companies out of business and good people out of work. The Congress should start by enacting class action reform. Third, we must reduce unnecessary government regulation and red tape, so businesses can focus on consumers and customers, not paperwork. Fourth, Congress should enact a national energy policy so that businesses and farms and homeowners can count on a reliable and affordable supply of energy and our nation is less dependent on foreign sources of energy. Fifth, my administration is pursuing free and fair trade agreements so that our products and services can reach new markets and new customers overseas. Sixth, we should make all the tax relief we have passed permanent. The tax relief is scheduled to phase-out in coming years if Congress does not take action. Tax relief set our economy on the right track and permanent tax relief will keep it on the right track. By moving forward on this agenda, we can build on the great progress our economy is making. With the confidence and hard work of the American people, and with the right policies in Washington, there are even brighter days ahead for the American economy. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Thursday, I was honored to travel to Iraq, to spend Thanksgiving with some of the finest men and women serving in our military. My message to the troops was clear: your country is thankful for your service, we are proud of you, and America stands with you in all that you are doing to defend America. I'm pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail. Many members of our armed forces, guard and reserve observed Thanksgiving in places far from home. In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, our military is confronting the terrorist enemy so we don't meet that enemy in our own country. They're serving the cause of freedom. They're helping millions of people in newly liberated countries to build lives of dignity and hope. They are protecting the lives and security of the American people. All of us can be grateful to live in a country that has produced such brave men and women who stand between us and the dangers of the world. This holiday weekend is also a time when many proud military families are also feeling separation and worry. Long deployments in dangerous places have added hardships in military communities across the country. Many parents are dealing with the burdens of raising families, while praying for the safe return of a loved one. Our whole nation respects and appreciates the commitment and sacrifice of our military families. Americans are also thinking of the military families that must face this holiday with sorrow of recent loss. It is the nature of terrorism that a small number of people can inflict such terrible grief. Every person who dies in the line of duty commands the special gratitude of the American people. And the military families that mourn can know this: our nation will not forget their loved ones, and the sacrifice they made to protect us all. The courage of our soldiers and their families show the spirit of this country in great adversity. And many citizens are showing their appreciation by helping military families here at home. Members of the VFW have started an Adopt-A-Unit program, so veterans and their families can support military units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Volunteers from a group called Rebuilding Together have repaired homes for military families while their spouses are deployed. Citizens interested in finding volunteer opportunities to support our military should visit the USA Freedom Corps website at usafreedomcorps.gov. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to every member of the United States military, and to their families. It was a privilege to offer that gratitude in person to some of our troops serving in Iraq. May God bless them all, and may He continue to bless the United States of America. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I traveled to Florida to visit with seniors about an important goal for my administration and this nation. After years of debate and deadlock, the Congress is finishing work on the biggest improvements in senior health care coverage in nearly 40 years. Some important details of the Medicare legislation have to be worked out, but leaders in both the House and the Senate have already agreed to four clear-cut improvements to Medicare. First: Within six months of Medicare reform law, all seniors would be eligible for a Medicare-approved drug discount card. This card would give seniors an immediate 10 to 25 percent savings on the cost of their medicines. For seniors with typical drug costs of $1,285 a year, the card would deliver annual savings of up to $300. And for low-income seniors, the discount card would include a $600 annual credit toward drug costs. Second: Beginning in 2006, we would establish Medicare prescription drug coverage for all seniors who want it, at a monthly premium of about $35. For most seniors without coverage today, the new coverage would cut their annual drug bills roughly in half. Third: Seniors with the greatest need will get the most help. Low-income seniors would pay a reduced premium or no premium at all for the new drug coverage. And low-income seniors would also have lower co-payments for their medicines. Fourth: Our seniors would enjoy more choices in their health coverage, including the same kind of choices that members of Congress and other federal employees enjoy. If seniors have more choices, health plans will compete for their business, by offering better coverage at affordable prices. The choices we support include the choice of remaining in the traditional Medicare program. Some seniors don't want change, and if you're a senior who wants to stay in the current Medicare system, you will have that option. And with that option, you will also be able to get Medicare approved prescription drug coverage. Some seniors may choose a new Medicare-approved private plan, that includes a drug benefit, along with other options. Such options could include coverage for extended hospital stays or protection against high out-of-pocket medical expenses. Others may prefer managed care plans. Under the approach I support, seniors would have these options, as well. American seniors are calling for these improvements. Among the seniors I met in Florida was Marge MacDonald. Marge and her husband Mac do not have prescription drug coverage, and they are frustrated. Here is what Marge says: "I'm tired of the talk. Sooner or later somebody needs to do something." Marge is right. The time for delay and deadlock has passed. Now is the time for action. I ask seniors, and all Americans, to speak up, to call and write your representatives and senators, and urge them to work out a final bill. Congress has an historic opportunity to give all our seniors prescription drug coverage, health care choices and a healthier, more secure retirement. We must make these improvements this year, during this session of Congress. And with your help, we will get the job done. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week we heard some good news about the effects of tax relief on the American economy. The Department of Labor reported that our economy added 126,000 new jobs in October. And over the past three months, there were 286,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 6 percent. The four-week average for jobless claims has declined in six of the past seven weeks. And manufacturers reported that orders and shipments are both rising. This news comes one week after we heard that economic output rose at a 7.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace of growth in nearly 20 years. America's economy is getting stronger every day. American companies are investing. Americans are buying homes at a record pace, and homeownership is near record levels. Stock market values have risen, adding about $2 trillion in wealth for investors since the beginning of the year. We can all be encouraged, but we cannot be satisfied. These are early signs of progress. Now we must turn this progress into broad and lasting gains for all Americans. Our improving economy is also a changing economy. And some workers need help preparing for new jobs and new industries. In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where I traveled this week, manufacturing jobs have been declining for decades. The textile industry and furniture makers and farmers are hurting. In Winston-Salem, I also saw a good program at a community college that is training unemployed workers for new jobs in industries which are growing, such as biotechnology. Local businesses, along with the Department of Labor, are supporting this job training program. We must give more workers the opportunity to learn new skills so they can get ahead and provide for their families. My administration is investing more than $15 billion each year in job training and employment services. Americans can go to more than 1,900 one-stop career centers around the country, where, in a single location, they can check job listings, get help with a job application, and sign up for job training programs. We're also helping more students attend community colleges, where so many people find new skills. We boosted our request for Pell grants, which help adults of all ages pay for college, by 45 percent since I took office. And I've asked Congress to establish personal reemployment accounts for out-of-work Americans, to help them in their job search. These accounts would give up to $3,000 to unemployed workers to get training, to find child care, or to relocate to a city where there is a job. The most important thing we can do to help those looking for work is to make sure our current economic growth results in more new jobs. I have proposed a six-point economic plan to encourage companies to expand and hire workers. We must bring health care costs under control, reform our civil courts to end the junk lawsuits hurting small businesses, cut needless regulations so that small business owners can focus on pleasing their customers, instead of pleasing bureaucrats. We must pass a national energy policy to ensure an affordable and reliable supply of energy to our economy, promote free trade agreements that bring good jobs to America, and make tax relief permanent, so the gains we have seen do not disappear when tax relief is scheduled to go away. The tax relief of the past two years was based on a principle that when Americans keep more of their own earnings, they spend more and invest more and move the economy forward. We're now seeing that happen. Our economy is on a rising road, and now we must take the remaining steps to ensure that our economy becomes a lasting expansion, and our prosperity extends to every corner of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week terrorists launched a series of attacks in Iraq. Their targets included police stations in Baghdad and Fallujah, the headquarters of the International Red Cross, and living quarters for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. The majority of their victims were Iraqis working to rebuild and restore order to their country, and citizens of other nations engaged in purely humanitarian missions. Some of the killers behind these attacks are loyalists of the Saddam regime who seek to regain power and who resent Iraq's new freedoms. Others are foreigners who have traveled to Iraq to spread fear and chaos, and prevent the emergence of a successful democracy in the heart of the Middle East. They may have different long-term goals, but they share a near-term strategy: to intimidate Iraqis from building a free government and to cause America and our allies to flee our responsibilities. They know that a free Iraq will be free of them, and free of the fear in which the ideologies of terror thrive. During the last few decades, the terrorists grew to believe that if they hit America hard -- as in Lebanon and Somalia -- America would retreat and back down. Five years ago, one of the terrorists said that an attack could make America run in less than 24 hours. They have learned the wrong lesson. The United States will complete our work in Iraq. Leaving Iraq prematurely would only embolden the terrorists and increase the danger to America. We are determined to stay, to fight and to win. The terrorists and the Baathists loyal to the old regime will fail because America and our allies have a strategy, and our strategy is working. First, we are taking this fight to the enemy, mounting raids, seizing weapons and funds and bringing killers to justice. One example is Operation Ivy Focus, a series of aggressive raids by the Army's 4th Infantry Division, that in a little over a month has yielded the capture of more than 100 former regime members. In other operations those soldiers have also seized hundreds of weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives, and hundreds of thousands of dollars suspected of being used to finance terror operations. Second, we are training an ever-increasing number of Iraqis to defend their nation. Today, more than 90,000 Iraqis are serving as police officers, border guards and civil defense personnel. These Iraqi forces are also supplying troops in the field with better intelligence, allowing for greater precision in targeting the enemies of freedom. And we are accelerating our efforts to train and field a new Iraqi army and more Iraqi civil defense forces. Third, we are implementing a specific plan to transfer sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people. The Governing Council, made up of Iraqi citizens, has appointed ministers who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Iraqi government. The Council has also selected a committee that is developing a process through which Iraqis will draft a new constitution for their country. When a constitution has been ratified by the Iraqi people, Iraq will enjoy free and fair elections. All these efforts are closely linked. As security improves, life will increasingly return to normal in Iraq, and more and more Iraqis will step forward to play a direct role in the rebirth of their country. And as the political process moves forward and more and more Iraqis come to feel they have a stake in their countries future, they will help to secure a better life for themselves and their children. The terrorists and the Baathists hope to weaken our will. Our will cannot be shaken. We're being tested, and America and our allies will not fail. We will honor the sacrifice of the fallen by ensuring that the cause for which they fought and died is completed. And we will make America safer by helping to transform Iraq from an exporter of violence and terror into a center of progress and peace. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Last month, I addressed the United Nations, and told member countries that the peace and security of Iraq are essential to the peace and security of all free nations. I encouraged countries to help the people of Iraq to build a future of freedom and stability. I also called for a U.N. resolution supporting the efforts of our coalition in Iraq. The Security Council has now responded, by unanimously passing Resolution 1511, which endorses a multinational force in Iraq under U.S. command, and urges greater international support for Iraqi reconstruction. In recent weeks, leaders of South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, Denmark, Spain, and other nations have committed billions of dollars to Iraqi reconstruction. This week brought even more progress. In Madrid, representatives of more than 70 nations and international bodies -- including the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- gathered to discuss the future needs of Iraq, and the ways in which other countries can help. And these nations and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to aid the reconstruction of Iraq. This growing financial support will allow us to build on the success of the broad military coalition already serving in Iraq. Today, American forces in Iraq are joined by about 24,000 troops from 32 other countries -- including Great Britain, Poland, The Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Thailand, El Salvador, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Coalition forces are helping to hunt down the terrorists and Saddam holdouts, clearing mines from Iraqi waterways so that aid shipments can proceed, and coordinating the recruitment and training of a new Iraqi police force, army, and border police. Members of our coalition are also showing the compassion of our cause in Iraq. We are rebuilding schools, and clinics, and power plants. The Iraqi people are moving steadily toward a free and democratic society. Economic life is being restored to the cities. A new Iraqi currency is circulating. Local governments are up and running. And Iraq will soon begin the process of drafting a constitution, with free elections to follow. There is still difficult work ahead, because freedom has enemies in Iraq. Terrorists and loyalists of the former regime reveal their true character by their choice of targets: They have attacked diplomats, and embassies, relief workers, and the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad -- all symbols of the international effort to help the Iraqi people. America and the international community will not be intimidated. Every coalition member understands that Iraq must never again become the home of tyranny and terror, and a threat to the world. So we will be patient, and determined, and unified. America will continue working with the United Nations and our coalition partners to finish the work we have begun. Having liberated Iraq from a brutal tyrant, we will stand with the people of Iraq as that country becomes more stable, secure, and free. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. During the decades of Saddam Hussein's oppression and misrule, all Iraqis suffered, including children. While Saddam built palaces and monuments to himself, Iraqi schools crumbled. While Saddam supported a massive war machine, Iraqi schoolchildren went without text books, and sometimes teachers went unpaid. Saddam used schools for his own purposes: to indoctrinate the youth of Iraq and to teach hatred. Under Saddam, adult illiteracy was 61 percent, and for women it was a staggering 77 percent. Iraq is a nation with a proud tradition of learning, and that tradition was betrayed by Saddam Hussein. As part of our coalition's efforts to build a stable and secure Iraq, we are working to rebuild Iraq's schools, to get the teachers back to work and to make sure Iraqi children have the supplies they need. Six months ago, nearly all of Iraq's schools were closed, and many primary schools lacked electrical wiring and plumbing and windows. Today, all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools in the country. Earlier this year we said we would rehabilitate 1,000 schools by the time school started. This month, just days before the first day of class, our coalition and our Iraqi partners had refurbished over 1,500 schools. Under Saddam, textbooks were so rare, six students had to share each one. So we're working with UNESCO to print 5 million revised and modern textbooks free of Baathist propaganda, and to distribute them to Iraqi students. By the end of the school year, there will be enough textbooks for each Iraqi student. And, for the first time in years, they will get to read the work of great Iraqi writers and poets -- much of it banned by Saddam's regime. We have assembled more than a million school supply kits, including pencils and calculators and note pads for Iraqi schoolchildren. We have distributed tens of thousands of student desks and teacher chairs and chalkboards. And to assure the health of students, we have delivered over 22 million vaccinations for Iraqi children. In many cases, American soldiers have intervened personally to make sure Iraqi schools get the supplies they need. Army First Lieutenant Kyle Barden, of Charlotte, North Carolina, wanted supplies for the 11 schools in Laylan, Iraq. In response to Kyle's request for help, North Carolina school children, doctors, businesses and others have donated thousands of dollars to buy notebooks and pencils and colored pens. Army Major Gregg Softy, of the First Armored Division, sent an email to friends about Iraq schools. The response was overwhelming, Hundreds of packages were shipped, and a website was established to encourage other Americans to contribute. All of our efforts to improve Iraqi education ultimately served the cause of security and peace. We want young Iraqis to learn skills and to grow and hope, instead of being fed a steady diet of propaganda and hatred. We're making progress, but there is still much work to do. The request I made to Congress for Iraqi reconstruction includes funds for additional health and training projects. I urge Congress to pass my budget request soon, so this vital work can proceed. Our efforts will help Iraq reclaims its proud heritage of learning, and bring it into the family of nations. An elderly man in Umm Qasr, recently tried an Internet connection for the first time. He was stunned by the speed with which he could read newspapers from across the world. He said, "Our society has been cut off from the world and now we are reconnected." As Iraq rejoins the world, it will demonstrate the power of freedom and hope to overcome hatred and resentment. And this transformation will make our nation more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Six months ago this week, the statue of Saddam Hussein came down in the center of Baghdad, and Iraq began the transition from tyranny to self-government. The goal of our coalition is to help the Iraqi people build a stable, just and prosperous country that poses no threat to America or the world. To reach that goal, we are following a clear strategy. First, coalition forces in Iraq are actively pursuing the terrorists and Saddam holdouts who desperately oppose freedom for the Iraqi people. Secondly, we are committed to expanding international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of Iraq. And third, we are working closely with Iraqi leaders as they prepare to draft a constitution, establish institutions of a civil society, and move toward free elections. As part of this strategy, we're helping Iraqis to rebuild their economy after a long era of corruption and misrule. For three decades, Iraq's economy served the interest only of its dictator and his regime. Saddam Hussein built palaces and monuments to himself, while Iraq's infrastructure crumbled. He built up a massive war machine while neglecting the basic needs of his own people. Now that the dictator is gone, we and our coalition partners are helping Iraqis to lay the foundation of a free economy. This coming week, the Iraqi economy will reach an important milestone with the introduction of a new currency. The new Iraqi dinar notes will bear the images of Iraq's proud heritage, and not the face of a hated dictator. For more than a decade, different areas of Iraq have used two different versions of the dinar, and many of those notes were counterfeit, diminishing the value of those that were genuine. The new dinar will be used throughout Iraq, thereby unifying the economy and the country. The new currency will have special features that will make it difficult to counterfeit. Following World War II, it took three years to institute a new currency in West Germany. In Iraq, it has taken only six months. And the new currency symbolizes Iraq's reviving economy. Iraq has a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and since the liberation of that country, thousands of new businesses have been launched. Busy markets are operating in villages across the country. Store shelves are filled with goods from clothing and linens to air-conditioners and satellite dishes. Free commerce is returning to the ancient region that invented banking. With our assistance, Iraqis are building the roads and ports and railways necessary for commerce. We have helped to establish an independent Iraqi central bank. Working with the Iraqi Governing Council, we are establishing a new system that allows foreign investors to confidently invest capital in Iraq's future. And we have helped restore Iraq's oil production capacity to nearly two million barrels a day, the benefits of which are flowing directly to the Iraqi people. Iraq is making progress. As the Mayor of Kirkuk, Abdul Rahman Mustafa, recently said, "Our economic potential has barely been tapped." We must help Iraq to meet that potential. The request I have made to Congress for Iraqi reconstruction includes support for important health and training projects. Under our strategy, Iraq will have employment centers to help people find jobs. We intend to establish computer training and English language instruction and vocational programs to help Iraqis participate fully in the global economy. I urge Congress to pass my budget request soon so this vital work can proceed. Americans are providing this help not only because our hearts are good, but because our vision is clear. A stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression. And a free Iraq will be an example of freedom's power throughout the Middle East. Free nations are peaceful nations. By promoting freedom and hope in other lands, we remove direct threats to the American people. Our actions in Iraq will increase our safety for years to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend in Iraq, 750 Iraqi citizens completed their military training and became the first battalion of the new Iraqi army. For decades, Iraq's army served the interests of a dictator. Today a new army is serving the Iraqi people. And less than a year from now, Iraq will have a 40,000-member military force, trained and dedicated to protecting their fellow citizens. Our coalition is helping to train and equip Iraq's new army, so that Iraqis can take over border protection and other security duties as soon as possible. Soldiers in the new battalion join more than 80,000 other Iraqis who are defending their country's security. Iraq now has a Civil Defense Corps of nearly 2,500, a border guard force of 4,700, and a facility protection service of over 12,000. And more than half of the Iraqis under arms are police officers, instructed by professionals like New York City's outstanding former police chief, Bernard Kerik. Iraq's neighbor, Jordan, has announced that it will help Iraq train additional police officers. For three decades, the police in Iraq were the feared enforcers of a dictatorship. Now Iraq's new police are enforcing the just laws of an emerging democracy. Already the Iraqi police are assuming greater responsibility, and greater risks. This week, Iraqi officers aided a series of joint raids by American troops, leading to the arrest of more than 50 suspected criminals and terrorists. We're on the offensive against the desperate holdouts and Saddam loyalists who oppose progress in Iraq. The free nation we are helping to build will be free of them. The United States is standing with the Iraqi people as they move toward self-government. My wartime funding request to Congress includes more than $5 billion to help the people of Iraq take responsibility for their own security. These funds will be used to prepare the Iraqi army, to train public safety and emergency personnel, and to establish a fair and effective judicial system. Greater security is essential to Iraq's future. A secure Iraq will protect the nation's schools, and the hospitals that are opening, and the roads that are being built, and the water and power facilities we are repairing. Across Iraq, our coalition is turning over responsibility to the future leaders of that country. Those leaders include women. Just this weekend, a conference is being held at the University of Babylon to affirm the vital role of women in the Iraqi society. The transition to self-government is a complicated process, because it takes time to build trust and hope after decades of oppression and fear. Yet we are making steady progress, and we will keep our promise to fully return Iraq's government to Iraq's people as soon as possible. The men and women of our coalition have shown bravery and skill and compassion in Iraq. And they know their mission. They know that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities. Our forces know that a secure and sovereign Iraq will be a setback for terrorists, and an inspiration to all who dream of freedom in the Middle East. And the world can be certain, this essential mission in the war on terror will be completed. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier this week, I spoke to the United Nations -- which has become, like our country, a target of terrorism. In the past month, terrorists have made two bombing attacks on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing Iraqi citizens, U.N. officials, and international aid workers. On Tuesday, I conveyed the sympathy of our country for the losses of the U.N., and the gratitude of our country for the relief efforts of the U.N. in Iraq. I also expressed America's determination to fight and win the war on terror -- for the safety of our own people and for the benefit of all mankind. The world is safer today because, in Afghanistan, our broad coalition destroyed the training camps of terrorists and removed the brutal regime that sponsored terror. The world is safer today because we continue to hunt down al Qaeda and its terrorist allies, and have captured or killed nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders and key facilitators. The world is safer today because, in Iraq, our coalition ended a regime that cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. And for the safety of the people of Iraq and of all free nations, our forces are now conducting a systematic campaign to defeat holdouts of the old regime and other terrorists who have joined them. In the struggle between terrorist killers and peaceful nations, there is no neutral ground. All nations must join in confronting this threat where it arises -- before the terrorists can inflict even greater harm and suffering. And all nations should stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build a future based on freedom and democracy. Our coalition is helping the Iraqi people to build a secure, hopeful, and self-governing nation which will stand as an example of freedom to all the Middle East. We are rebuilding more than a thousand schools, supplying and reopening hospitals, rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation facilities, bridges and airports. We are training Iraqi police, border guards, and a new army, so that the Iraqi people can assume full responsibility for their own security. Iraq now has its own Governing Council, has appointed interim government ministries, and is moving toward elections. Iraq's new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires -- and also the courage. Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. America is providing that help to Iraq, and all nations of goodwill should do their part, as well. Our goal is a free Iraq, where the Iraqi people are responsible for their own affairs. We want Iraq's governmental institutions to be strong, and to stand the test of time. So I called on the United Nations to take up vital responsibilities in this effort. America is now working with friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution which will expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections. Many U.N. members -- from the Philippines to Poland and now Germany -- have expressed their commitment to helping build a democratic and stable Iraq. The stakes in Iraq are high, for the Middle East and beyond. If freedom and progress falter in the Middle East, that region will continue to export violence that takes lives in America and around the world. If democracy and tolerance and peace advance in that region, it will undermine the bitterness and resentment that feed terrorism. The terrorists understand this -- so they have chosen to fight against order and liberty in Iraq. They must, and they will, be defeated. And I am confident that more nations will rally to the side of the Iraqi people and help them to build a free and peaceful nation. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Every day, millions of Americans put in long hours building businesses of their own. Their hard work strengthens the economy, creates most of the new jobs in America, and supplies the innovation that drives our future prosperity. As we mark National Small Business Week, our nation honors the enterprise and hard work of small business owners and employees. Small businesses are a key to upward mobility, particularly for women and minorities. There are over 3 million minority-owned small businesses across America, and that number is rising. And women-owned businesses now employ more than 9 million Americans. For the sake of all small businesses and our entire economy, my administration is pursuing an aggressive pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. The tax relief I have signed since I took office will save 25 million small business owners an average of more than $2,800 this year. Income tax relief is particularly helpful for business owners who pay their business taxes at their individual income tax rates. We have reduced the burden of unnecessary regulation on small businesses, and we have passed much needed incentives for investment and new equipment, which will help our small businesses grow and create high-paying jobs. These policies are working. A recent survey of small businesses shows rising optimism among owners, evidence of improving sales, and more plans to invest and hire new workers. This is good news for our communities and good news for people looking for work. Still, there is more to be done. I have proposed a six-point plan to create jobs, strengthen small businesses and build employer confidence. First, people are more likely to find work if we can control health care costs. We can help by allowing small businesses to band together and pool their risks so they have the bargaining power of big companies. Also, I have proposed reasonable limits on the lawsuits that are raising health care costs for everyone. Second, we need to address the broader problems of frivolous litigation. We need effective legal reforms that will make sure that settlement money from class actions and other litigation goes to those harmed, and not to trial lawyers. Third, we need a sound national energy policy. Growing businesses depend on affordable and reliable supplies of energy and a modern electrical grid, so that we can avoid crippling blackouts. I submitted an energy bill to the Congress two years ago, and it's time for Congress to pass it so I can sign it into law. Fourth, we must continue to reduce the burden of needless regulation on employers. My administration's policy is to make sure every proposed regulation does not place an undue burden on the small businesses of America. Fifth, we are encouraging trade by opening markets for our goods and services. When the rules are fair and enforced and the playing field is level, our workers, farmers, ranchers and small business owners can compete with anybody in the world. Sixth, we need to make sure tax relief is permanent. Businesses and families need to have the confidence that all the benefits of tax relief will not disappear in coming years. And small business owners, ranchers, farmers want the death tax buried for good. Over the past two years, Americans have been tested at home and abroad, but our confidence and optimism have never wavered. We are defending the peace of the world. We are building the prosperity of our country. And we are turning loose the great energy and enterprise of one of the nation's great strengths, the drive and determination of our entrepreneurs. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Two years ago this week, America suffered a brutal attack. We will never forget the burning towers and the smoke over Arlington Cemetery, and the passengers who rushed the hijackers. Yet history asks for more than memory. On September the 11th, 2001, we began a war on global terror that continues to this hour. In the decades before that terrible day, the terrorists conducted a series of bolder and bolder attacks in the Middle East and beyond. They became convinced that free nations were decadent and weak, and would never offer a sustained and serious response. They now know otherwise. Together with a coalition of nations, we have struck back against terror worldwide, capturing and killing terrorists, and breaking cells and freezing assets. In Afghanistan we removed the Taliban regime that harbored al Qaeda. In Iraq, we defeated a regime that sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, and defied the United Nations Security Council for 12 years. We have helped to liberate people from oppression and fear. Today, with our help, the people of Iraq are working to create a free, functioning and prosperous society. The terrorists know that if these efforts are successful, their ideology of hate will suffer a grave defeat. So they are attacking our forces, international aid workers, and innocent civilians. Their goal is to drive us out of Iraq before our work is done. They are mistaken, and they will fail. We will do what is necessary to win this victory in the war on terror. We are following a clear strategy with three objectives: Destroy the terrorists, enlist international support for a free Iraq, and quickly transfer authority to the Iraqi people. Through a series of ongoing operations, our military is taking direct action against Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists. One major effort underway right now, called Operation Longstreet, is seeking and finding our enemies wherever they hide and plot. Already, this operation has yielded hundreds of detainees and seized hundreds of weapons, and we will remain on the offensive against the terrorists. We are expanding international cooperation in rebuilding Iraq. Today in Geneva, Secretary of State Powell is meeting with Secretary General of the United Nations and representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council. They are discussing ideas for a new resolution to encourage wider participation in this vital task. And we're moving forward on a specific plan to return sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people. We have created a governing council made up of Iraqi citizens. The council has selected a committee that is developing a process through which Iraqis will draft a new constitution for their country. Day to day operations of many government tasks have been turned over to ministers appointed by the Governing Council. And when a constitution has been drafted and ratified by the Iraqi people, Iraq will enjoy free and fair elections, and the coalition will yield its remaining authority to a free and sovereign Iraqi government. We have a strategy in Iraq and a mission. We will fight and defeat the terrorists there, so we don't have to face them in America. And we will help transform Iraq into an example of progress and democracy and freedom that can inspire change and hope throughout the Middle East. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This month, as students across the nation are starting a new school year, parents, teachers and principals are starting to notice a difference in America's schools. The No Child Left Behind Act that I signed into law last year is raising standards for student achievement, giving parents more information and more choices, requiring more accountability from schools, and funding education at record levels. The premise of the No Child Left Behind Act is simple: all children can learn, and the only way to make sure our children are learning is to measure their progress with tests. So the No Child Left Behind Act requires regular testing in the basics of reading and math for every child in every school, starting in the third grade. And the law sets a clear goal for American education: every child, in every school, must perform at grade level in reading and math, which are the keys to all learning. To meet this goal, all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have designed accountability plans that have been approved by the Department of Education and are now being put into effect in America's schools. School districts across America are now providing parents with lists of outside tutors who can give extra help at no cost to low income children in under-performing schools. Those parents also have the option of transferring a son or a daughter out of a school that is not doing the job to a better public school or charter school. And soon every community in America will have report cards on every local public school, so citizens can measure progress and push for reform. While we're demanding excellence from schools, we're also giving them extra resources to succeed. Since this new law went into effect, 40 states have received a total of nearly $1.3 billion in grant money, to support scientifically-based reading instruction in kindergarten through the third grade. My budget for next year includes more than $1.1 billion for effective reading programs, four times the amount we were spending on these programs when I took office. And overall federal spending for elementary and secondary education is higher than ever before. My budget for next year boosts education funding to $53.1 billion, an increase of nearly $11 billion since I took office. Schools are getting the federal resources and help they need to improve, and parents are getting the information and options they need to support reform. And we're just beginning. This new school year will be a year of challenges and hard work and great progress. And through it all we will keep in mind the focus of all our efforts -- our children, who deserve an education worthy of this great nation. Together we will make sure that every child learns and no child is left behind. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On this Labor Day weekend, Americans pay tribute to the spirit of hard work and enterprise that has always made this nation strong. Every day, our workers go to factories and offices and farms and produce the world's finest goods and services. Their creativity and energy are the greatest advantage of the American economy. Worker productivity accelerated last year at the fastest rate in more than a half century. This higher productivity means our workers receive higher wages, our nation's exports get a competitive boost in world markets and our economic recovery gains momentum at a crucial time. The Jobs and Growth Act I signed in May ensures that workers enjoy more of the benefits of their work through more take-home pay. Tax relief was based on the conviction that workers are entitled to keep more of their hard-earned wages. That belief, after all, is why America celebrates Labor Day and not tax day. For America's families, tax relief has come at just the right time. For a family of four with a household income of $40,000, tax relief passed over the last two-and-a-half years means they get to keep nearly $2,000 more of their own money. Millions of families this past month received checks for up to $400 per child because we increased the child tax credit. This tax relief, more than $13 billion worth, means that America's workers can save, invest and make purchases they have been putting off. Many moms and dads are using their extra income to take care of back-to-school expenses. As consumer spending rises, manufacturers are seeing more new orders for their goods. Low interest rates mean businesses have better balance sheets, and families have saved billions of dollars by refinancing their homes. These are the signs of a reviving economy. Now we must build on this progress and make sure that the economy creates enough new jobs for American workers. Next week I will travel to Ohio, Missouri and Indiana to talk about my agenda for job creation across America. As part of this agenda, our nation needs a comprehensive energy plan, so that our businesses and homes can rely on a steady and affordable supply of energy. The recent blackout in the Northeast shows how important reliable energy is to the American economy and demonstrates the need to take action on good energy policy. So when members of Congress return from the summer recess, I will again ask them to pass a sound energy bill as soon as possible. America needs legal reform, because junk lawsuits can destroy a business and they're making health care coverage less affordable for employers and workers. And Congress must restrain government spending so that we can bring the deficit down by half within the next five years. We must negotiate trade agreements with other nations. My administration will be vigilant in making sure our agreements are followed by all our trading partners. With free trade and a level playing field, American workers can successfully compete with any workers in the world. This long weekend is a well-deserved reward for the millions of men and women who make this economy go. I wish all Americans a happy and restful Labor Day. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier this week, terrorists struck the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. The U.N. personnel and Iraqi citizens killed in the bombings were engaged in a purely humanitarian mission. Men and women in the building were working on reconstruction, medical care for Iraqis, and the distribution of food. Among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. representative for Iraq -- a good man serving an important cause. On the same day, a terrorist in Jerusalem murdered 20 innocent people riding a bus, including five Americans. The killer had concealed under his clothing a bomb filled with metal fragments, designed to kill and injure the greatest number of people possible. Among the 110 people hurt were 40 children. These two bombings reveal, once again, the nature of the terrorists, and why they must be defeated. In their malicious view of the world, no one is innocent. Relief workers and infants alike are targeted for murder. Terrorism may use religion as a disguise, but terrorism violates every religion and every standard of decency and morality. The terrorists have declared war on every free nation and all our citizens. Their goals are clear. They want more governments to resemble the oppressive Taliban that once ruled Afghanistan. Terrorists commit atrocities because they want the civilized world to flinch and retreat so they can impose their totalitarian vision. There will be no flinching in this war on terror, and there will be no retreat. From Afghanistan to Iraq, to the Philippines and elsewhere, we are waging a campaign against the terrorists and their allies, wherever they gather, wherever they plan, and wherever they act. This campaign requires sacrifice, determination and resolve, and we will see it through. Iraq is an essential front in this war. Now we're fighting terrorists and remnants of that regime who have everything to lose from the advance of freedom in the heart of the Middle East. In most of Iraq, there is steady movement toward reconstruction and a stable, self-governing society. This progress makes the remaining terrorists even more desperate and willing to lash out against symbols of order and hope, like coalition forces and U.N. personnel. The world will not be intimidated. A violent few will not determine the future of Iraq, and there will be no return to the days of Saddam Hussein's torture chambers and mass graves. Working with Iraqis, coalition forces are on the offensive against these killers. Aided by increasing flow of intelligence from ordinary Iraqis, we are stepping up raids, seizing enemy weapons, and capturing enemy leaders. The United States, the United Nations, and the civilized world will continue to stand with the people of Iraq as they reclaim their nation and their future. We're determined, as well, not to let murderers decide the future of the Middle East. A Palestinian state will never be built on a foundation of violence. The hopes of that state and the security of Israel both depend on an unrelenting campaign against terror waged by all parties in the region. In the Middle East, true peace has deadly enemies. Yet America will be a consistent friend of every leader who works for peace by actively opposing violence. All nations of the world face a challenge and a choice. In continued acts of murder and destruction, terrorists are testing our will, hoping we will weaken and withdraw. Yet across the world, they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. Whatever the hardships, we will persevere. We will continue this war on terror until all the killers are brought to justice. And we will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I traveled to Arizona and California to see some of America's forests and parks, and to talk about my commitment to good stewardship of these natural treasures. On Monday, I visited the Coronado National Forest in Arizona, where wildfires recently consumed thousands of acres of forest and destroyed hundreds of homes. Nearby, I also saw forests that remained largely intact, thanks to wise forest management policy. Fire professionals and forest and park rangers agree, by thinning overgrown forests, we will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire and restore the health of forest ecosystems. That is the purpose of my Healthy Forest Initiative. We're cutting through bureaucratic red tape to complete urgently needed forest-thinning projects. We are speeding up environmental assessments and consultations required by current law. And we're expediting the administrative appeals process to resolve disputes more quickly. By the end of this fiscal year in September, we will have treated more than 2.6 million acres of overgrowth, more than twice the acreage that was treated in the year 2000. Under current law, however, litigation often delays projects, while some 190 million acres of forest remain at high risk of dangerous fires, and nearby communities remain vulnerable. So I'm asking Congress to reform the review process for forest projects. The Healthy Forest Restoration Act would make forest health a high priority when courts are forced to resolve disputes, and it would place reasonable time limits on the litigation process after the public has had an opportunity to comment, and a decision has been made. For the health of America's forests, and for the safety and economic vitality of our communities, the Congress must complete work on this bill. The House has passed the legislation and now the Senate must act. As we protect America's forests, we must also preserve the beauty of America's nearly 80 million acres of national park land. On Friday, I visited the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Southern California. It is one of America's 388 national park areas, including historic sites, and battlefields, recreation areas, monuments, and shores. Every one of them is a point of pride for the nation and for local communities. Yet in the past not all of these sites have been given the attention they require. Some of our national park areas are not in good condition. And for many years, government did not even have the basic information about which places were most in need of repair or restoration. To meet this challenge, I pledge to spend $4.9 billion, over five years, on needed work and maintenance in our national park areas. With the support of Congress, we're keeping that commitment. In the first two years of my administration, Congress provided nearly $1.8 billion for park maintenance and roads. And my request for the next three budgets will bring total funding for park maintenance and roads to more than $5 billion over five years. With this funding, we've already undertaken approximately 900 park maintenance projects. This year, the Park Service is working on 500 more projects. And nearly 400 more are planned for next year. As we attend to needed repairs, we're also putting in place a new system of inventory and assessment to assure that America's parks stay in good condition. We have set a new course for our national parks, with better management and renewed investment in the care and protection. After all, the parks belong to the people. I look forward to traveling next week to Oregon and Washington state, and I will be carrying the same message: Our system of national parks and forests is a trust given to every generation of Americans. By practicing good management and being faithful stewards of the land, our generation can show that we're worthy of that trust. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Friday of this week was the 100th day since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. For America and our coalition partners, these have been 100 days of steady progress and decisive action against the last hold-outs of the former regime. And for the people of Iraq, this has been a period like none other in the country's history, a time of change and rising hopes after decades of tyranny. Every day we are working to make Iraq more secure. Coalition forces remain on the offensive against the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent order and stability. More and more Iraqis are coming forward with specific information as to the whereabouts of these violent thugs, enabling us to carry out raids to round them up and seize stockpiles of weapons. We are working with Iraqis to establish a new Iraqi army and a new civil defense corps. In the city of Baghdad, 6,000 Iraqi police are patrolling the streets and protecting citizens. More than 20,000 more police are on duty in other towns and cities across Iraq. Every day, Iraq is making progress in rebuilding its economy. In Baghdad, the banks have opened, and other banks will open across the country in the coming months. This fall, new bank notes will be issued, replacing the old ones bearing the former dictator's image. And Iraq's energy industry is once again serving the interests of the Iraqi people. More than a million barrels of crude oil and over 2 million gallons of gasoline are being produced daily. Every day, Iraq draws closer to the free and functioning society its people were long denied. We're recovering hundreds of millions of dollars from the old regime and are using those funds to pay civil servants. Teachers, health care workers, police and others performing essential services are also receiving salaries from our coalition. In fact, teacher pay is four times higher than under the old regime. Life is returning to normal for the Iraqi people -- hospitals and universities have opened, and in many places, water and other utility services are reaching pre-war levels. Across Iraq, nearly all schoolchildren have completed their exams. And for the first time in many years, a free press is at work in Iraq. Across that country today, more than 150 newspapers are publishing regularly. Most important of all, the Iraqi people are taking daily steps toward democratic government. The Iraqi Governing Council, whose 25 members represent all of that diverse country, is meeting regularly, naming ministers and drawing up a budget for the country. Soon, representatives of the people will begin drafting a new constitution and free elections will follow. At the local level, all major Iraqi cities and most towns have municipal councils. Freedom is taking hold in that country, as people gain confidence that the former regime is never coming back. One hundred days is not enough time to undue the terrible legacy of Saddam Hussein. There is difficult and dangerous work ahead that requires time and patience. Yet, all Americans can be proud of what our military and provisional authorities have achieved in Iraq. Our country and the nations of the Middle East are now safer. We're keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region. This long-term undertaking is vital to peace in that region and to the security of the United States. Our coalition and the people of Iraq have made remarkable progress in a short time, and we will complete the great work we have begun. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, we received some encouraging news on the economy. The nation's economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter. Manufacturers are receiving more orders and their inventories need to be replenished, home builders are busy meeting near-record demand, and retailers report that consumers are buying more goods. Many economists expect that growth will accelerate in the coming months. Yet this week's employment report also shows that many Americans who want to work are still having trouble finding a job. My administration is acting to promote faster growth to encourage the creation of new jobs. The key to job growth is higher demand for goods and services. With higher demand, businesses are more likely to hire new employees. The best way to promote growth and job creation is to leave more money in the pockets of households and small businesses, instead of taxing it away. So we lowered income tax rates, cut taxes on dividends and capital gains, reduced the marriage penalty and increased the child tax credit. This week, the checks for up to $400 per child started arriving in the mailboxes of American families. That money will help American families move the economy forward. We have also taken action to help small businesses, who are the job creators of America. We increased tax incentives for equipment purchases, giving small businesses an additional reason to invest. More orders for machinery and equipment means more jobs. And more business investment can lead to greater worker productivity, which helps raise worker wages. We are starting to see results from our actions. My administration's economists believe that if we had not passed tax relief, our unemployment rate would have been nearly one percentage point higher, and as many as 1.5 million Americans would not have the jobs they have today. This week, three members of my Cabinet -- Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao -- visited business owners and their workers in the Midwest. They received reports that the economy is picking up. Last month I met with Mike Gendich, who owns a part-making company in Michigan called Metalmite. Mike's customers are keeping him busier than he has been in three years, giving him reason to hire three new workers. Tax relief has given him reason to invest in new equipment, to keep those workers productive. In Mike's words, tax relief, "can be the difference between making an investment or not." When small business owners like Mike make new investments, that can also be the difference between someone finding work or not. Tax relief is one part of my aggressive, pro-growth agenda for America's economy. We're negotiating free trade agreements with countries to create new markets for products made in America. Congress needs to pass a sound energy bill to ensure our nation has reliable, affordable supplies of energy. And Congress needs to let small businesses join together to purchase affordable health insurance for their employees. We need legal reform to stop the frivolous lawsuits that are a drag on our economy. We have pushed Congress to make the child credit refundable for lower-income families. And we're working to control spending in Washington, D.C., so that government spending does not rise any faster than the average household budget is expected to grow this year. America's economy has challenges, and I will not be satisfied until every American looking for work can find a job. By steady, persistent action, we are preparing the way for vigorous growth and more jobs. I have confidence in our economic future, because I have confidence in the people whose effort and creativity make this economy run -- the workers and the entrepreneurs of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend marks the 13th anniversary of the Americans With Disability Act, one of the great compassionate acts of American government. Since becoming law, the ADA has helped to improve the quality of life for more than 50,000 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities. As a result, it is easier today for people with disabilities to find a job, to enter public buildings, and to live more independently in their communities. These are all welcome changes in American life. Many citizens have dedicated themselves to serving the interest of persons with disabilities, and some of them are here with me at the White House. I am joined by members of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation. The men and women on this committee include people with disabilities, as well as parents, teachers, health care workers, and advocates. They recently voted to change the committee's name to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. And I was pleased to sign an executive order instituting that change. There is much more we can do to assure that Americans with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect. In 2001, I announced the New Freedom Initiative, to further promote the full participation of people with disabilities in all areas of society. As part of the New Freedom Initiative we're giving states funding to help people with disabilities commute to work, or purchase equipment that allows them to work from home. We are promoting home ownership for people with disabilities, and educating builders about the need for more accessible rental housing. We are working with Congress to provide record levels of funding for special education programs, and to make sure the money is used to provide the most help to the most children. And we are making government websites more accessible to people with disabilities so that they can more easily find information about services and programs of the federal government. We're also focused on providing better care to people with mental illness. I'm committed to making sure people get the treatment and support they need and don't fall through the cracks. My administration continues to work with states to ensure full implementation of the Supreme Court's Olnstead decision. That decision rightly mandates that individuals with disabilities who can receive support and treatment in a community setting should be given an opportunity to live close to their families and friends whenever possible. People with disabilities now have more freedom to do productive work and live independent lives. We're making good progress toward ensuring that persons with disabilities know the American Dream is meant for them. With changes in old ways of thinking, the development of new technologies, and the federal government's firm commitment to equality, more and more people with disabilities continue to become full participants in the American life. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Next week, the United States Treasury will begin printing and mailing more than 25 million child tax credit checks, putting over $12 billion back into the hands of American families. These rebates are the result of the Jobs and Growth Act I recently signed into law, which increases the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000 per child. And because this new law reduced income tax rates, businesses earlier this month lowered tax withholding for worker paychecks. Now, those workers and their families have a lighter tax bill and more take-home pay. With the child tax credit rebates and the lower tax rates taking effect, America's families will have more of their own money to make purchases, pay their bills, save for their children's education and invest in a new home or business. There are hopeful signs that our actions are contributing to economic growth. Individual investors are showing greater confidence, leading to a significant rise in the stock market. And thanks to our efforts to reduce taxes on stock dividends, dozens of major companies have announced plans to either increase their existing dividend payout, or pay dividends for the first time, putting billions of dollars in cash into shareholder's pockets. Earlier this week, I met with leading private economists, who see a faster rate of economic growth in the coming year-and-a-half. The U.S. housing market is robust, strengthened by low mortgage rates and rising after-tax incomes. Inflation is low, retail sales have been rising, and productivity growth, the most important indicator of economic strength, remains high. My administration remains focused on faster economic growth that will translate into more jobs. Now that Americans can keep more of what they earn, we can expect to see rising demand for goods and services. And as demand increases, companies will need more workers to meet it. We will continue to take action on a broad agenda for more growth and jobs. We are pressing the Senate to join the House of Representatives in passing an energy bill to assure stable and affordable energy supplies. And we're pressing the Senate on litigation reform, so small businesses and manufacturers can focus on creating jobs instead of fighting frivolous lawsuits. I'm asking both houses of Congress to create re-employment accounts for those seeking jobs, so they can pay for job training and child care and other costs of finding work. Faster economic growth will bring the added benefit of higher revenues for our government. And those new revenues, combined with spending discipline in Washington, D.C., are the surest way to bring down the deficit. My budget for fiscal year 2004 calls for a modest increase in discretionary spending of only 4 percent, or about the same increase as the average American household budget. I urge Congress to make spending discipline a priority, so that we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years. Government does not create prosperity. Government can, however, create the conditions that make prosperity possible. The Jobs and Growth Act of 2003 was based on the fundamental faith in the energy and creativity of the American people. With hard work and daily determination, entrepreneurs and workers are moving this economy forward. The American economy is headed in the right direction, and we can be confident of better days ahead. Thank you.

Good morning. This week the United States Congress passed historic legislation to strengthen and modernize Medicare. Under the House and Senate bills, American seniors would, for the first time in Medicare's 38-year history, receive prescription drug coverage. We're taking action because Medicare has not kept up with the advances of modern medicine. The program was designed in the 1960s, a time when hospital stays were common and drug therapies were rare. Now, drugs and other treatments can reduce hospital stays while dramatically improving the quality of care. Because Medicare does not provide coverage to pay for these drugs, many seniors have to pay for prescriptions out of pocket, which often forces them to make the difficult choice of paying for medicine or meeting other expenses. In January I submitted to Congress a framework for Medicare reform that insisted on giving seniors access to prescription drug coverage and offering more choices under Medicare. The centerpiece of this approach is choice. Seniors should be able to choose the health care plans that suit their needs. When health care plans compete for their business, seniors will have better, more affordable options for their health coverage. Members of Congress and other federal employees already have the ability to choose among health care plans. If choice is good enough for lawmakers, it is good enough for America's seniors. I'm pleased to see that Congress has accepted the principle of choice for seniors. Under the provisions of both the House and Senate bills, seniors who want to stay in the current Medicare system will have that option, plus a new prescription drug benefit. Seniors who want enhanced benefits, such as coverage for preventative care and a cap on out-of-pocket costs, will have that choice, as well. Seniors who like the affordablity of managed care plans will be able to enroll in such plans. And low-income seniors will receive extra help so that all seniors will have the ability to choose a Medicare option that includes prescription drug benefits. My framework for Medicare reform also called for immediate help to seniors through a prescription drug discount card. And I'm pleased that both the House and Senate bills would make a discount card available to seniors. The card would help senior citizens by reducing their prescription drug costs, beginning early next year and continuing until the new prescription drug program under Medicare takes full effect in 2006. The Congress must now pass a final bill that makes the Medicare system work better for America's seniors. This is an issue of vital importance to senior citizens all across our country. They have waited years for a modern Medicare system and they should not have to wait any longer. Earlier this month in Chicago I met Gene Preston and his wife Dorothy. They spend about $300 a month on prescription drugs and they do not have prescription drug coverage. Gene says, "Everything is going up in price. Before, we could save a couple of bucks at the end of the month. But right now we're just holding even, if not going below even." When Congress completes its work, seniors like Gene and Dorothy Preston can look forward to better health care coverage and relief from the rising cost of prescription drugs. I appreciate the hard work of members of Congress who have set aside partisan differences to do what is best for the American people. I urge members to seize this opportunity to achieve a great and compassionate goal. I urge them to finish the job of strengthening and modernizing Medicare, so that I can sign this crucial reform into law. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Ten weeks have passed since the fall of the Iraqi regime. Since that time, our work in Iraq has focused on two goals. First, we are working to make Iraq secure for its citizens and our military. Second, we are working to improve the lives of the Iraqi people after three decades of tyranny and oppression. Making Iraq secure is vitally important for both Iraqi citizens and our own forces. The men and women of our military face a continuing risk of danger and sacrifice in Iraq. Dangerous pockets of the old regime remain loyal to it and they, along with their terrorist allies, are behind deadly attacks designed to kill and intimidate coalition forces and innocent Iraqis. Our military is acting decisively against these threats. In Operation Peninsula Strike and Operation Desert Scorpion, our forces have targeted Baath party loyalists and terrorist organizations. In Baghdad, more than 28,000 American combat forces and military police are enforcing the law and arresting criminals. We are also training Iraqis to begin policing their own cities. As we establish order and justice in Iraq, we also continue to pursue Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Military and intelligence officials are interviewing scientists with knowledge of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and are poring over hundreds of thousands of documents. For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to hide his weapons from the world. And in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned. Yet all who know the dictator's history agree that he possessed chemical and biological weapons and that he used chemical weapons in the past. The intelligence services of many nations concluded that he had illegal weapons and the regime refused to provide evidence they had been destroyed. We are determined to discover the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes. To date, the United States has provided Iraq with more than $700 million in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. This month the World Food Program is distributing food rations to about 25 million Iraqis. America and our partners are also repairing water treatment plants to provide more clean water. Each week, through our efforts, more electricity is made available to more people throughout the country. And after years of neglect, Iraq's 4.2 million children under the age of five are receiving vaccinations against diseases such as polio, measles and tuberculosis. Iraq's long-term success also depends on economic development. Our administrator in Iraq has announced a $100 million fund to pay Iraqis to repair buildings and utilities. Billions of dollars taken from Iraqis by a corrupt regime have been recovered and will be spent on reconstruction projects. Iraq is already in the process of selling oil on world markets, which will bring in much needed revenue to help the Iraqi people. This week the port at Umm Qasar opened to commercial traffic, and Baghdad International Airport is expected to reopen next month. For the first time in over a decade, Iraq will soon be open to the world. And the influence of progress in Iraq will be felt throughout the Middle East. Over time, a free government in Iraq will demonstrate that liberty can flourish in that region. American service-members continue to risk their lives to ensure the liberation of Iraq. I'm grateful for their service, and so are the Iraqi people. Many Iraqis are experiencing the jobs and responsibilities of freedom for the first time in their lives. And they are unafraid. As one Iraqi man said, "We are ready to rebuild our country." For the people of free Iraq, the road ahead holds great challenges. Yet at every turn, they will have friendship and support from the United States of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. June 14th is Flag Day, which commemorates the date in 1777 when the Continental Congress officially made the Stars and Stripes the symbol of America. The founders declared that the 13 stars gracing the original flag represented "a new constellation," just as America represented new hope and new light for mankind. Over the past 226 years, our flag has been a symbol of freedom wherever it flies. It inspires hope in people suffering under tyranny or terror. It welcomes immigrants from every land searching for a better life. And it rallies our nation in times of conflict and crisis. Whenever the flag is raised, Americans are reminded of our unity in the great cause of liberty and justice for all. Our nation's flag is hung proudly in homes an schools, honored in parades and stadiums, flown on the field of battle, and folded at the graves of heroes. When Francis Scott Key saw the Stars and Stripes flying over Fort McHenry in 1814, he knew that liberty would persevere. That same faith was affirmed by Marines who planted the flag at Iwo Jima, and by the heroes of 9/11, who raised and saluted the flag at Ground Zero. By showing respect for our flag, we show reverence for the ideals that guide our nation. And we show appreciation for the men and women who have served and sacrificed in defense of those ideals -- from the early patriots of the Continental Congress to the members of our military defending freedom around the world today. This weekend, in communities across the nation, Americans will have the opportunity to honor the flag, and to thank the men and women who serve our country in uniform. As they continue to fight the war on terror in lands far from home, our troops rely on the support of their fellow citizens. I urge all Americans to participate in Flag Day celebrations honoring American armed forces and recognizing our veterans. Our nation is strengthened every time a citizen steps forward to serve a cause greater than self-interest. And each of us can serve and strengthen America by reaching out to neighbors in need. There are so many ways to improve the lives of fellow Americans -- by answering the call to feed the hungry, or caring for the elderly, or teaching a child to read, or joining with neighbors to support the police, fire fighters and medics who respond to emergencies. Every action you take will strengthen the bonds of community that unite all Americans, and extend the promise of American life to another citizen. Between now and the 4th of July, Americans will reflect often on the foundations of our freedom. Our country's founding generation established liberty and justice on this continent more than two centuries ago, and every generation is expected to protect and defend those ideals. Our duty as Americans is to serve our country, to defend the cause of liberty, and to extend the realm of freedom across the earth. Our generation can proudly say that we are answering that call. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, the House and Senate are working on one of the most important issues facing Congress: improving Medicare to offer prescription drug coverage to American seniors. And on Wednesday, I will travel to Chicago and talk about our responsibility to give seniors more choices and better benefits, including help with the rising costs of prescription drugs. We have a tremendous opportunity to reform Medicare and help our seniors. The budget I proposed, and which the Congress passed, provides $400 billion in additional funds over the next 10 years to strengthen and improve Medicare -- so we have the resources to make reform work. We're also seeing a growing consensus -- in both houses of Congress and both parties -- that our seniors need a strengthened Medicare system that includes prescription drug coverage. The time is right to make progress. Our nation has made a binding commitment to bring affordable health care to our seniors. We must honor that commitment by making sure Medicare stays current with the needs of today's seniors. When Medicare was launched 38 years ago, medicine focused on surgery and hospital stays -- and that is mainly what Medicare covers. Today, doctors routinely treat their patients with prescription drugs, preventive care, and ground-breaking medical devices -- but Medicare coverage has not kept pace with these changes. Our goal is to give seniors the best, most innovative care. This will require a strong, up-to-date Medicare system that relies on innovation and competition, not bureaucratic rules and regulations. My views on Medicare are clear. First, those who like the Medicare system as it is should be able to stay just where they are, and also receive prescription drug benefits. Second, those who want more coverage for preventive care and other benefits should be able to choose from multiple health plans under an enhanced Medicare program. This option would be similar to the health care coverage available to every federal employee. If that coverage is good enough for members of Congress and federal employees, it is good for our seniors. Third, seniors who want the benefits of managed care plans -- including prescription drug coverage -- should be able to choose from a range of plans that best fit their personal needs. And, fourth, we must provide extra help for low-income seniors, so that all seniors will have the ability to choose the Medicare option that serves them best -- and every senior will have the option of a prescription drug benefit. In a Medicare system that reflects these principles, every senior in America would enjoy better benefits than they do today. And they would continue to benefit from the most important strength of American medicine: the ability to choose your own doctor. We want seniors and doctors -- not government bureaucrats -- to be in charge of the important health care decisions. Members of Congress are working hard on this issue, and I encourage their efforts. I also urge Americans to make their voices heard. If we work together, Congress will pass a strong Medicare bill -- and our seniors will finally get the prescription drug benefits and choices they need and deserve. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend I am beginning a journey to Europe and the Middle East. My first stop is Poland, the home of a proud people who have known both the horror of tyranny and the hope of liberty. On a visit to Warsaw two years ago, I affirmed our nation's commitment to a united Europe, bound to America by close ties of history, commerce and friendship. Today we are striving for a world in which men and women can live in freedom and peace, instead of in fear and chaos, and every civilized nation has a stake in the outcome. Poland and America are proud members of NATO, and our military alliance must be prepared to meet the challenges of our time. Our common security requires European governments to invest in modern military capabilities so our forces can move quickly with a precision that can strike the guilty and spare the innocent. NATO must show resolve and foresight to act beyond Europe, and it has begun to do so. NATO has agreed to lead security forces in Afghanistan and to support Polish allies in Iraq. A strong NATO alliance, with a broad vision of its role, will serve our security and the cause of peace. In the last 20 months, the world has seen the determination of our nation, and many others, to fight the forces of terror. Yet armed force is always a last resort, and Americans know that terrorism is not defeated by military power alone. We believe that the ultimate answer to hatred is hope. The ideology of terrorism takes hold in an atmosphere of resentment and despair. And so we help men and women around the world to build lives of purpose and dignity. In Africa and elsewhere, America is committed to a comprehensive, $15-billion effort to prevent and treat AIDS and provide humane care for its victims. I urge our partners in Europe to make a similar commitment, so we can work together in turning the tide against AIDS in Africa. My administration has proposed an emergency famine fund, so we can rush help to countries where the first signs of famine appear. The nations of Europe can greatly help in this effort with emergency funds of their own. I urge European governments to reconsider policies that discourage African farmers from using safe biotechnology to feed their own people. I have also proposed a 50-percent increase in America's core development assistance to help spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. This aid will go where it will do the most good -- not to corrupt elites, but to nations with leaders that respect the rule of law, invest in the health and education of their people, and encourage economic freedom. If European governments will adopt these same standards, we can work side-by-side in providing the kind of development aid that helps transform entire societies. America and Europe are called to advance the cause of freedom and peace. Next week in the Middle East, I will meet with the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers, and other leaders in the region. The work ahead will require difficult decisions and leadership, but there is no other choice. No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation and killing and mourning. For peace to prevail, terrorism must end. All concerned must shake off the old arguments and the old ways and act in the cause of peace. And I will do all I can to help the parties reach and agreement and to see that agreement is enforced. This is America's agenda in the world. From the defeat of terror, to the alleviation of disease and hunger, to the spread of human liberty, we welcome and we need the help, advice and wisdom of friends and allies. When Europe and America are united, no problem and no enemy can stand against us. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. May 17th is Armed Forces Day, when America honors the men and women who serve in every branch of the service. Here in the Oval Office, I'm joined by some distinguished Americans, eight members of the military who fought bravely during the battle of Iraq. All of them were wounded in battle and are recovering from their injuries. All of them have earned the respect and the gratitude of our nation. Americans are proud of every man and woman who has faced the risks of war in the cause of freedom. Many still face dangerous duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as they provide order and stability in liberated countries. Many are fighting on other fronts in the war against terror, and some brave Americans have given their lives to protect our country and to keep the peace. Our whole nation honors their memory, and our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones they left behind. The world has seen the tremendous capabilities of the United States military. With fine allies at their side, American soldiers and sailors, airmen, and Marines used advanced technology to gain historic victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unmanned Predator aircraft carried out bombing missions deep behind enemy lines, keeping more of our pilots out of harm's way. Satellites high above the Earth, at any time of day or night, provided detailed images of individual targets and whole battlefields. At least two-thirds of the bombs used by coalition forces in Iraq were precision-guided by lasers or global-positioning satellites, compared with just 13 percent of the bombs we used in the 1991 Gulf War. For all the contributions of technology, however, the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan were won by the skill and courage of well-trained, highly motivated men and women. In the recent fighting, Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. Pilots flew through blinding sandstorms, soldiers and Marines ran into the fact of gunfire, at times ignoring their own injuries to save wounded comrades. Special Operations forces conducted daring raids to seize airfields and missile launch sites. Every branch of the service worked in united purpose, and displayed the highest standards of professionalism and honor. With the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have removed allies of al Qaeda, cut off sources of terrorist funding, and made certain that no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein's regime. These two battles were important victories in the larger war on terror. Yet the terrorist attacks this week in Saudi Arabia, which killed innocent civilians from more than half a dozen countries, including our own, provide a stark reminder that the war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government is taking unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And from Pakistan to the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers. So far, nearly one-half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured or killed. And we will remain on the hunt until they are all brought to justice. This nation accepts the responsibilities of keeping the peace. And the best way to keep the peace is to make sure that our military remains second to none. On this Armed Forces Day, we are grateful to all who serve and sacrifice as members of the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marines. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week with a vote in the House of Representatives, Congress took a positive step towards passage of my jobs and growth proposal. The plan I submitted would create more than a million jobs by the end of next year through immediate tax relief for American families and businesses. Since I sent my plan to Congress in January, the need for action the economy has become even more urgent. The unemployment rate last month reached 6 percent as many employers continue to hold back on the kinds of investments that lead to new jobs. The bill that passed the House of Representatives this week includes all the elements of my plan: cuts in income tax rates, this year; reduction of the marriage penalty; an increase in the child credit from $600 to $1,000; an increase in the expensing provision for small business investment in new equipment; and action to reduce the double-taxation of dividend income. These reforms would bring immediate help throughout our economy. They would leave more money in the hands of families who need it to make purchases and to pay the bills. And this tax relief would give employers greater incentives and resources to invest in new equipment. The result will be more jobs, and that is our goal. We are also making progress on passing tax relief in the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee has approved legislation that includes important aspects of my proposal. I urge the Senate to complete its work next week so the House and Senate can work out their different versions and get a tax relief bill to my desk as soon as possible. This week's progress demonstrates that both houses of Congress and both political parties agree that tax relief will help this economy. Now the discussion is about how much tax relief the American people need and deserve. We need at least $550 billion in tax relief over the next decade, big enough to make a real difference in the paychecks of American workers, big enough to help entrepreneurs create more jobs, and big enough to give our economy the boost it needs. This past week, I met a small business owner named Luke Brindley. Luke and his family started their Virginia business less than two years ago with five employees. And now they're up to 25. Here's what Luke says, any break we get encourages us to hire more people and buy more equipment. Next week, I will travel to New Mexico, Nebraska and Indiana to address the nation's hardworking, small business owners, families and investors. My message to them will be simple: the surest way to grow this economy and create jobs is to leave more money in the hands of the people who earn it. I urge every citizen to participate in this important debate and to make your voice heard. Explain to your local representative or your senators what tax relief would mean to your family and your business, and please tell the members of Congress why our economy needs that relief now. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: their mission is complete and major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Our coalition is now engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. The United States and our allies have prevailed. Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision, speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before. From distance bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division or strike a single building or bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground in one of the swiftest mass advances of heavy arms in history. The world has seen the might of the American armed forces. In this victory, America received valuable help from our allies. This weekend, I am hosting Australian Prime Minister John Howard at my ranch in Crawford, Texas. Prime Minister Howard has been a strong ally in the war on terror, and Australian forces have played an important role in the liberation of Iraq. Australian Special Forces entered Iraq with their American and British counterparts at the very beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They helped to secure sites in western Iraq that could have been used to launch scud missiles. And they disrupted Iraqi troop movements and command posts, paving the way for Army and Marine units making their way to Baghdad. Australia FA-18 fighters carried out deep bombing runs in Iraq. The Australian Navy worked with British forces to take control of the Faw Peninsula. Australian Navy divers cleared mines in the port of Umm Qasr, opening sea lanes to deliver humanitarian assistance. And Australian transport planes delivered emergency supplies and equipment for Iraqi hospitals. All told, about 2,000 Australian service members contributed to the destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime and the liberation of the Iraqi people. All Australians can be justly proud of the superb performance of Australian's air, naval and Special Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. America is deeply grateful for their important contributions. Our coalition still has much work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons at hundreds of locations. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools for the people. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy is hard, and will take time -- but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done, then we will leave -- and we will leave behind a free Iraq. The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that still goes on. al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist networks still operate in many nations. And we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend our homeland and, more importantly, we will continue to hunt the enemy down before he can strike. No act of terrorists will change our purpose or weaken our resolve or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As America continues to fight and win the war on terror, our government is also focused on another national priority, growing our economy and creating jobs. America's economy has been through a lot. We experienced the shock of a terrorist attack; we have endured a recession; we had to deal with some major corporate scandals; we faced the uncertainty of war; and we have seen a slowdown in the global economy, which weakens demand for American goods and services. In spite of all of this, the American economy is growing, and growing faster than most of the industrialized world. There are great strengths in this economy. Lower interest rates have helped more Americans buy their own homes. Gas and other energy prices are coming down, and consumers are getting the savings immediately. Inflation is low, and America's families are seeing their incomes on the rise. The entrepreneurial spirit is healthy in America, as small businessmen and women put their ideas and dreams into action every day. And America's greatest economic strength is the pride, the skill, and the productivity of American workers. Yet, we know that America's economy is not meeting its full potential. We know our economy can grow faster and create new jobs at a faster rate. We also know that the right policies in Washington can unleash the great strengths of this economy, and create the conditions for growth and prosperity. On Monday, members of Congress return from recess, and they will face some important decisions on the future of our economy. I have proposed a series of specific measures to create jobs by removing obstacles to economic growth. My jobs and growth plan would reduce tax rates for everyone who pays income tax, provide relief for families and small businesses, and help millions of seniors in retirement by eliminating the double taxation of dividends. With a robust package of at least $550 billion in across- the-board tax relief, we will help create more than a million new jobs by the end of 2004. Some members of Congress support tax relief, but say my proposal is too big. Since they already agree that tax relief creates jobs, it doesn't make sense to provide less tax relief and, therefore, create fewer jobs. I believe we should enact more tax relief, so that we can create more jobs, and more Americans can find work and provide for their families. Americans understand the need for action. This week in Ohio, I met Mike Kovach, whose business is in Youngstown, Ohio. Mike started and runs a growing company, wants to hire new people, and would benefit from lower taxes. Mike says, "Anytime you can improve the bottom line of mainstream business, it's good for the city, it's good for the state, and it's great for the nation. It all trickles up, instead of trickling down." I urge Congress to listen to the common sense of people like Mike Kovach. He and tens of millions of Americans like him need our help in building the prosperity of our country. Tax relief is good for families, and good for our entire economy. The jobs and growth plan I have proposed is fair; it is responsible; it is urgent. And Congress should pass it in full. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend, families across America will come together to celebrate Easter, and continue the observance of Passover. This holy season reminds us of the value of freedom, and the power of a love stronger than death. This year, Easter and Passover have special meaning for the families of our men and women in uniform who feel so intensely the absence of their loved ones during these days. More than 250,000 American troops are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom to protect our security and to free an oppressed people. Their families await their safe return, and our grateful nation remembers them in prayer. Our whole nation has also shared in the happiness of learning that seven American prisoners of war were rescued in Northern Iraq earlier this week and are now safe. Thanks to the courage of our Marines and the help of Iraqis, their families have even more reason to celebrate this weekend. After hearing the good news, the parents of rescued helicopter pilot Ronald Young, Jr. of Georgia, thanked people from across America and as far away as Australia and Japan for their cards and flowers and prayers. Kaye Young, Ronald's mother, said, "You can't believe the blessings that have come out of this. Even as sad as we were, as upset as we were to think that he was being held, there have been so many blessings." Mrs. Young continued, "All over this country, people cared so much about us and about our son." As a nation, we continue to pray for all who serve in our military and those who remain in harm's way. We also pray for those who have lost people they love in this war. I have met with some of these grieving families, and I have seen their sorrow and their strength. Corporal Henry Brown, a 22-year-old soldier from Natchez, Mississippi, was lost in battle earlier this month. After the news arrived, his best friend, Frank Woods, Jr., said this about Henry: "He believed God was working through him and he was part of the plan. I guess part of the plan now is God calling his soldier home." America mourns those who have been called home, and we pray that their families will find God's comfort and God's grace. His purposes are not always clear to us, yet this season brings a promise: that good can come out of evil, that hope can arise from despair, and that all our grief will someday turn to joy, a joy that can never be taken away. Laura and I wish you all a happy Easter and a blessed Passover. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Over the last several days, the world has watched as the regime of Saddam Hussein began passing into history. We will always remember the first images of a nation released from decades of tyranny and fear. The conflict continues in Iraq, and our military may still face hard fighting. Yet the statues of the dictator and all the works of his terror regime are falling away. From the beginning and to this very hour, members of the American and coalition forces have conducted themselves with all the skill and honor we expect of them. Our enemies have seen their valor. The people of Iraq are seeing their compassion as our military provides food, water and medical treatment to all in need, including captured Iraqi soldiers. As Army Master Sergeant Howard Kutcher, of Delaware, said of his service in the Middle East, "I am not here to conquer. I am here to help." In one city, American soldiers encountered a crowd of Iraqi citizens who thought our troops were about to storm a nearby mosque. Just then, Lt. Colonel Chris Hughes ordered his men to get down on one knee and point their weapons to the ground. This gesture of respect helped defuse a dangerous situation and made our peaceful intentions clear. Coalition forces have also come upon scenes that explain why fear runs so deep among the Iraqi people. In Baghdad on Tuesday, U.S. Marines helped to free more than 100 children who, according to one report, had been jailed for refusing to join the dictator's Baath Party Youth Organization. Malnourished and wearing rags, the children were overjoyed to see their parents and our liberating forces. In the words of Lt. Colonel Fred Padilla, Commander of the 1st Battalion 5th Marines, "The children just streamed out of the gates and their parents just started to embrace us." "Hundreds of kids," he said, "were swarming us and kissing us." As Saddam's regime of fear is brought to an end, the people of Iraq are revealing the true hopes they have always held. It should surprise no one that Iraqis, like all people, resent oppression and welcome their own freedom. It should surprise no one that in every nation and every culture, the human heart desires the same good things: dignity, liberty, and a chance to build a better life. As people throughout Iraq celebrate the arrival of freedom, America celebrates with them. We know that freedom is the gift of God to all mankind, and we rejoice when others can share it. On Wednesday in central Baghdad, one of the Iraqi men who took a sledgehammer to the pedestal of the giant statue of Saddam had this to say, "I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living." Millions of Iraqis feel the same as their country is finally returned to them. The nightmare of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq is ending. Soon, the good and gifted people of Iraq will be free to choose their leaders who respect their rights and reflect their character. In all that is to come, they will have the goodwill of the entire world. And they will have the friendship of the people of the United States. Thanks for listening.

Good morning. American and coalition forces are steadily advancing against the regime of Saddam Hussein. With each new village they liberate, our forces are learning more about the atrocities of that regime, and the deep fear the dictator has instilled in the Iraqi people. Yet no crime of this dying regime will divert us from our mission. We will not stop until Iraq is free. This week, coalition forces have been clearing southern cities and towns of Saddam's death squads and enforcers. Our Special Forces and Army paratroopers, working with Kurdish militia, have opened a northern front against the enemy. In the town of Najaf, members of our 101st Airborne Division have been welcomed as liberators. At An-Nasiriyah, Marines continue to eliminate the enemy while other Army and Marine units have closed in on Baghdad. From the skies above, coalition aircraft and cruise missiles are removing hundreds of military targets from the map. As the vise tightens on the Iraqi regime, some of our enemies have chosen to fill their final days with acts of cowardice and murder. In combat, Saddam's thugs shield themselves with women and children. They have killed Iraqi citizens who welcome coalition troops, and they have forced other Iraqis into battle by threatening to torture or kill their families. They have executed prisoners of war, waged attacks under the white flag of truce, and concealed combat forces in civilian neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and mosques. In this war, the Iraqi regime is terrorizing its own citizens, doing everything possible to maximize Iraqi civilian casualties, and then to exploit the deaths they have caused for propaganda. These are war criminals, and they'll be treated as war criminals. In stark contrast, the citizens of Iraq are coming to know what kind of people we have sent to liberate them. American forces and our allies are treating innocent civilians with kindness and showing proper respect to the soldiers who surrender. The people of the United States are proud of the honorable conduct of our military. And I am proud to lead such brave and decent Americans. In recent days, we have also brought food and water and medicine to the Iraqi people. We're delivering emergency rations to the hungry. Right now, cargo ships are bound for Iraq, carrying wheat from Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas -- enough to feed 4.5 million Iraqis for one month. Additional food, supplied by the World Food Program, is moving by truck convoy across the Turkish border into northern Iraq. We are bringing aid to the long suffering people of Iraq, and we are bringing something more: we are bringing hope. One Iraqi, when the coalition troops arrived, described the emotions of his village: They were waiting for you, he said, and all the people believe that America and Britain have come to liberate them, not to conquer. Village by village, city by city, liberation is coming. The people of Iraq have my pledge: Our fighting forces will press on until their oppressors are gone and their whole country is free. By our actions in this war, we serve a great and just cause. Free nations will not sit and wait, leaving enemies free to plot another September the 11th -- this time, perhaps, with chemical, biological, or nuclear terror. We'll remove weapons of mass destruction from the hands of mass murderers. And by defending our own security, we are ridding the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on earth. The United States and our allies pledged to act if the dictator did not disarm. The regime in Iraq is now learning that we keep our word. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I welcomed Prime Minister Tony Blair to Camp David, where we discussed the progress being made in the war to disarm Iraq, end the dictatorship, and liberate the Iraqi people. Thanks to our fighting forces, the regime that once terrorized all of Iraq now controls a small portion of that country. American and coalition troops have continued a steady advance, and are now less than 50 miles from Baghdad. In recent days, we have cleared mines from the water and taken control of a key port city, to allow humanitarian aid to begin flowing into the country. We have secured more than 600 oil wells and have begun putting out the few oil well fires set by the enemy. Our efforts to protect the wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people are paying off. And we have prevented the dictator from launching missiles from key sites in western Iraq. We are now fighting the most desperate units of the dictator's army. The fighting is fierce and we do not know its duration, yet we know the outcome of this battle: The Iraqi regime will be disarmed and removed from power. Iraq will be free. In the last week the world has seen firsthand the cruel nature of a dying regime. In areas still under its control, the regime continues its rule by terror. Prisoners of war have been brutalized and executed. Iraqis who refuse to fight for the regime are being murdered. An Iraqi woman was hanged for waving at coalition troops. Some in the Iraqi military have pretended to surrender, then opened fire on coalition forces that showed them mercy. Given the nature of this regime, we expect such war crimes, but we will not excuse them. War criminals will be hunted relentlessly and judged severely. In the last week, the world has also seen the nature of the young men and women who fight on our behalf. They are showing kindness and respect to the Iraqi people. They are going to extraordinary lengths to spare the lives of the innocent. Our forces are delivering food and water to grateful Iraqi citizens in Safwan and Umm Qasr. The contrast could not be greater between the honorable conduct of our liberating force and the criminal acts of the enemy. Every atrocity has confirmed the justice and urgency of our cause. Against this enemy, we will accept no outcome but complete and final victory. To meet this objective, we must give our armed services the support and resources they require. I have asked Congress for a nearly $75 billion wartime supplemental appropriations bill. This funding would provide fuel for ships, aircraft, and tanks, supplies for our troops in the theater of operations, and new high-tech munitions to replace the ones we have used in the war. The supplemental would also provide funds to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq, and to help protect the American homeland in this time of high alert. I hope the Congress will act quickly to pass this essential measure. The people who serve in the military are giving their best to this country. We have the responsibility to give them our full support as they fight for the liberty of an oppressed people, for the security of the United States, and for the peace of the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. American and coalition forces have begun a concerted campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein. In this war, our coalition is broad, more than 40 countries from across the globe. "/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary March 22, 2003 President Discusses Beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom President's Radio Address Audio THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. American and coalition forces have begun a concerted campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein. In this war, our coalition is broad, more than 40 countries from across the globe. Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people. The future of peace and the hopes of the Iraqi people now depend on our fighting forces in the Middle East. They are conducting themselves in the highest traditions of the American military. They are doing their job with skill and bravery, and with the finest of allies beside them. At every stage of this conflict the world will see both the power of our military, and the honorable and decent spirit of the men and women who serve. In this conflict, American and coalition forces face enemies who have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality. Iraqi officials have placed troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for the dictator's army. I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable, and free country will require our sustained commitment. Yet, whatever is required of us, we will carry out all the duties we have accepted. Across America this weekend, the families of our military are praying that our men and women will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are praying with them for the safety of their loved ones and for the protection of all the innocent. Our entire nation appreciates the sacrifices made by military families, and many citizens who live near military families are showing their support in practical ways, such as by helping with child care, or home repairs. All families with loved ones serving in this war can know this: Our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done. Our nation entered this conflict reluctantly, yet with a clear and firm purpose. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. This will not be a campaign of half-measures. It is a fight for the security of our nation and the peace of the world, and we will accept no outcome but victory. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend marks a bitter anniversary for the people of Iraq. Fifteen years ago, Saddam Hussein's regime ordered a chemical weapons attack on a village in Iraq called Halabja. With that single order, the regime killed thousands of Iraq's Kurdish citizens. Whole families died while trying to flee clouds of nerve and mustard agents descending from the sky. Many who managed to survive still suffer from cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases, miscarriages, and severe birth defects among their children. The chemical attack on Halabja -- just one of 40 targeted at Iraq's own people -- provided a glimpse of the crimes Saddam Hussein is willing to commit, and the kind of threat he now presents to the entire world. He is among history's cruelest dictators, and he is arming himself with the world's most terrible weapons. Recognizing this threat, the United Nations Security Council demanded that Saddam Hussein give up all his weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Gulf War 12 years ago. The Security Council has repeated this demand numerous times and warned that Iraq faces serious consequences if it fails to comply. Iraq has responded with defiance, delay and deception. The United States, Great Britain and Spain continue to work with fellow members of the U.N. Security Council to confront this common danger. We have seen far too many instances in the past decade -- from Bosnia, to Rwanda, to Kosovo -- where the failure of the Security Council to act decisively has led to tragedy. And we must recognize that some threats are so grave -- and their potential consequences so terrible -- that they must be removed, even if it requires military force. As diplomatic efforts continue, we must never lose sight of the basic facts about the regime of Baghdad. We know from recent history that Saddam Hussein is a reckless dictator who has twice invaded his neighbors without provocation -- wars that led to death and suffering on a massive scale. We know from human rights groups that dissidents in Iraq are tortured, imprisoned and sometimes just disappear; their hands, feet and tongues are cut off; their eyes are gouged out; and female relatives are raped in their presence. As the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, said this week, "We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq." We know from prior weapons inspections that Saddam has failed to account for vast quantities of biological and chemical agents, including mustard agent, botulinum toxin and sarin, capable of killing millions of people. We know the Iraqi regime finances and sponsors terror. And we know the regime has plans to place innocent people around military installations to act as human shields. There is little reason to hope that Saddam Hussein will disarm. If force is required to disarm him, the American people can know that our armed forces have been given every tool and every resource to achieve victory. The people of Iraq can know that every effort will be made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule. And plans are in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies, in the event of hostilities. Crucial days lie ahead for the free nations of the world. Governments are now showing whether their stated commitments to liberty and security are words alone -- or convictions they're prepared to act upon. And for the government of the United States and the coalition we lead, there is no doubt: we will confront a growing danger, to protect ourselves, to remove a patron and protector of terror, and to keep the peace of the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. America is determined to enforce the demands of the United Nations Security Council by confronting the grave and growing danger of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. This dictator will not be allowed to intimidate and blackmail the civilized world, or to supply his terrible weapons to terrorist groups, who would not hesitate to use them against us. The safety of the American people depends on ending this threat. But America's cause is always larger than America's security. We also stand for the advance of freedom and opportunity and hope. The lives and freedom of the Iraqi people matter little to Saddam Hussein, but they matter greatly to us. Saddam Hussein has a long history of brutal crimes, especially in time of war -- even against his own citizens. If conflict comes, he could target civilians or place them inside military facilities. He could encourage ethnic violence. He could destroy natural resources. Or, worst of all, he could use his weapons of mass destruction. In order to minimize the suffering of Iraq's people, the United States and our coalition partners stand ready to provide vital help. We will deliver medicine to the sick, and make sure that Iraq's 55,000 food distribution sites, operating with supplies from the oil-for-food program, are stocked and open as soon a possible. We are stockpiling relief supplies, such as blankets and water containers, for one million people. We are moving into place nearly three million emergency rations to feed the hungry. The United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and to such groups as the World Food Program and UNICEF, so they will be ready to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people. We will also lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons. We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores, or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will seek to protect Iraq's natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime, and ensure they are used for the benefit of Iraq's own people. The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected. Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own. We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before -- in the peace that followed World War II. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies; we left constitutions and parliaments. We did not leave behind permanent foes; we found new friends and allies. There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. They were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They, too, are mistaken. The nation of Iraq -- with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people -- is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. Yet the security of our nation and the hopes of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Last week the national terrorist threat level was raised to "high." This is primarily a signal to federal, state and local law enforcement to take additional precautions and increase security measures against potential terrorist attacks. Raising the threat level also informs the general public to be more alert to their surroundings and prepared for possible emergencies in the event of an attack. Americans should go about their lives. And for those seeking specific guidance on how to be more vigilant, I encourage you to visit the Department of Homeland Security website at DHS.gov. These recent threats are a stark reminder that our country remains engaged in a war on terror. Our enemies are still determined to attack America, and there is no such thing as perfect security against a hidden network of killers. Yet, I assure you that our government at every level is responding to this threat, working to track down every lead and standing watch 24 hours a day against terrorism. This past week, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge issued strategic plans to protect our critical infrastructure. These plans will guide local officials in securing our nation's dams and power plants, electrical goods, computer networks and communication systems. Our effort to safeguard the homeland includes tighter security at the borders and ports of entry. We have posted more than 50,000 newly trained federal screeners at airports. We have begun inoculating troops and first responders against small pox. We are deploying the nation's first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack. And we are moving to better coordinate the efforts of law enforcement. This week at FBI Headquarters, I spoke to some of the fine men and women who are leading our anti-terrorism efforts in law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense are working together as never before to assemble and analyze the threat information so we can act before our enemies can strike us. We are gathering the best information possible, and using it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect our citizens. Throughout the country, joint terrorism task forces are bringing together federal, state and local officials to fight terrorism. The FBI is expanding its terrorist identification system, so that 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies will be able to identify known or suspected terrorists almost immediately. Local police will be able to access federal terrorist information from their squad cars to determine whether individuals they have pulled over or detained have terrorist links. I've also asked Congress to fill a critical need in our defense against bioterror by committing almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like small pox, anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola and plague. Our nation is preparing for a variety of threats we hope never will arrive. Many of these dangers are unfamiliar and unsettling. Yet the best way to fight these dangers is to anticipate them, and act against them with focus and determination. This vigilance is a fundamental responsibility of your government, and we are fulfilling that duty in every way we can. In the fight against terror, the American people are resolute. We will persevere, and we will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell briefed the United Nations Security Council on Iraq's illegal weapons program, its attempts to hide those weapons, and its links to terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime's violations of Security Council Resolutions are evident, they are dangerous to America and the world, and they continue to this hour. The regime has never accounted for a vast arsenal of deadly, biological and chemical weapons. To the contrary, the regime is pursuing an elaborate campaign to conceal its weapons materials and to hide or intimidate key experts and scientists. This effort of deception is directed from the highest levels of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein, his son, Iraq's vice president and the very official responsible for cooperating with inspectors. The Iraqi regime has actively and secretly attempted to obtain equipment needed to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Firsthand witnesses have informed us that Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents -- equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery. The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It has never accounted for thousands of bombs and shells capable of delivering chemical weapons. It is actively pursuing components for prohibited ballistic missiles. And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have. One of the greatest dangers we face is that weapons of mass destruction might be passed to terrorists who would not hesitate to use those weapons. Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad. This is the situation as we find it -- 12 years after Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm and more than 90 days after the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. Saddam Hussein was required to make a full declaration of his weapons programs. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the disarmament of his regime. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was given a final chance. He is throwing away that chance. Having made its demands, the Security Council must not back down when those demands are defied and mocked by a dictator. The United States would welcome and support a new resolution making clear that the Security Council stands behinds its previous demands. Yet, resolutions mean little without resolve. And the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, will take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier this week I reported to the American people on the state of our union. I asked Congress to join me in meeting the great challenges that confront our nation with the courage and resolve our times require. Working together, we'll strengthen our economy and lay the foundation for sustained growth so that every person who wants to work can find a job. We will modernize Medicare to make sure that seniors can choose the coverage that fits them best, including coverage for prescription drugs. We will reform America's medical liability system to cut down on excessive lawsuits that are driving up the cost of health care. We will make America less dependant on foreign sources of energy by speeding up development of pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will renew the hope of welfare reform and support the faith-based and community groups who bring hope and healing to children who need mentors and men and women who struggle with drug addiction. The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. Across the world, we are meeting the threat of terrorism to make the world safer, and confronting the grave dangers posed by outlaw regimes. At the same time, America can also make this world better by bringing the merciful powers of modern medicine to people in great need. Today in Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus, including 3 million children under the age of 15. To meet this growing crisis, I am proposing the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This comprehensive plan will prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS. Facilities across Africa will have the medicine to treat AIDS because it will be purchased with funds provided by the United States. I'm asking the Congress to commit $15 billion to fight AIDS overseas for the next five years, beginning with $2 billion in 2004. This plan, coupled with our ongoing efforts, will nearly triple our current annual spending on the global fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Our efforts to combat AIDS in Africa are made more difficult by severe food shortage sweeping that continent, a crisis that affects up to 30 million people in Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa, particularly Ethiopia. Hunger, sickness and grief have left people across the continent even more vulnerable to the effects of AIDS. Across the earth, America is feeding the hungry. More than 60 percent of international emergency food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States. Building on this commitment, my budget for 2004 calls for more than $1 billion dollars to meet emergency food needs worldwide. Today, I announced a new proposal for a $200 million famine fund to bring immediate assistance to Africa and other regions facing starvation. Money from the fund will be available to purchase food supplies directly, or to support farmers in food production. We will encourage friends around the world to set up similar funds and leverage our combined resources to provide the most help to famine-stricken lands. Through all our efforts to fight disease and hunger, we can spare people in many nations from untold suffering, and Africa especially. Millions are facing great affliction, but with our help, they will not face it alone. America has a special calling to come to their aid and we will do so with the compassion and generosity that have always defined the United States. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming Tuesday I will deliver the State of the Union address to Congress and the American people. Our nation faces many great challenges all at once. We will meet all of them with courage and steady purpose. In 2003, we must work to strengthen our economy; improve access to affordable, high quality health care for all our seniors; encourage compassion at home and abroad; and defend our nation against the threats of a new era. The war on terror is an ongoing priority for our nation. We will take every measure that is necessary to protect the American people from terrorist groups and outlaw regimes. The world depends on America's strength and purpose, and we will meet our responsibilities for peace. Today, I want to speak to you about a few key domestic priorities. When I address Congress, I will urge them to pass my plan to strengthen our economy and help more Americans find jobs. The tax relief already planned for later in this decade should be made effective this year, including income tax reduction, marriage penalty relief, and an increase in the child tax credit. When Congress acts, I will direct the Treasury to return this money to taxpayers right away, which will provide immediate help to our economy. We can also lay the foundation for future prosperity by encouraging investment and helping Americans to prepare for the new jobs a growing economy will bring. I will ask Congress to eliminate the unfair double taxation of dividends and raise the deduction limit for small businesses that invest in new machinery and equipment. And to help unemployed workers find a job as soon as possible, I propose new re-employment accounts. These accounts will assist with the cost of finding work, including training and child care and moving expenses, and provide a cash bonus to workers who find a job quickly. Strengthening and improving Medicare is also a priority for my administration in the coming year. I will urge Congress to join me in keeping our commitment to America's seniors by working to modernize Medicare, and include a prescription drug benefit to help seniors who are squeezed by rising drug prices. As a prosperous nation, we have an obligation to help Americans who are struggling to build better lives for themselves. So I will propose new initiatives to bring the work of faith-based and community groups to the needs of our fellow citizens. All of these priorities will be reflected in the budget I submit to Congress in early February. As we fund important priorities, however, we must also practice spending discipline in Washington. Spending restraint is important to economic growth and job creation. And it is critical to reducing the deficit caused by war and national emergency and recession. Under my budget, discretionary federal spending will rise by 4 percent, about the same as the increase in family incomes. Government should not grow faster than workers' paychecks. Government should follow the example of American families by setting priorities and staying with them. In this session of Congress, we must work to make our nation safer, more prosperous and more compassionate. I look forward to working with the Republicans and Democrats in this important year for America and the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will consider my proposals to speed up economic growth and generate new jobs for American workers. Part of that plan is designed to help America's small businesses, in particular, which create millions of jobs each year and account for about half the nation's economic output."/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 18, 2003 President's Radio Address Audio THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will consider my proposals to speed up economic growth and generate new jobs for American workers. Part of that plan is designed to help America's small businesses, in particular, which create millions of jobs each year and account for about half the nation's economic output. Small business owners represent the enterprise of the whole nation and the diverse talents of our people. Nearly 40 percent of small firms are owned by women. Close to 15 percent of America's small business owners come from minority groups, and the trend of minority ownership is accelerating. These minority- owned firms, more than 3 million strong, provide opportunities and give life to local economies across America. To help small business, government should not try to manage the economy from Washington. Government's role is to create an environment in which employers succeed and hire new people. My jobs and growth plan will help in several specific ways. I am proposing tax relief for everyone who pays federal income taxes. Two years ago, Congress approved income tax reductions that will not go into full effect until 2006. My plan would make these reductions effective immediately, to boost the economy in the short-term and help insure long-term growth. If tax relief is good enough for Americans three years from now, it is even more necessary today, when our recovery is not as strong as it should be. Small businesses stand to gain a great deal from this measure. After all, more than two-thirds of taxpayers who pay the highest marginal tax rates are small business owners who include their profits when they file their individual tax returns with the IRS. All together, the tax relief I propose will give 23 million small business owners an average tax cut of $2,042 this year. And I'm asking Congress to make those reductions permanent, so that America's entrepreneurs can plan for the future, add more employees and invest in our economy. I will also ask Congress to raise the amount of money small businesses can deduct from their taxes for investment in new equipment, such as machinery and computers. Right now, the maximum deduction is $25,000. We should triple that amount to $75,000, and adjust it for inflation. This reform would give small businesses a further incentive to make the investments on which our economy depends. Our commitment to small businesses will take other forms, as well. We will streamline business regulations and make sure that the concerns of small businesses are heard in Washington. I'm also urging Congress to enact legal reform to curtail the frivolous lawsuits that impose unfair costs on businesses and their customers. And I will continue to seek a permanent end to the death tax, so that America's small business owners can pass along their life's work to the next generation. America's economy can thrive only when our small businesses thrive. My growth and jobs proposal will encourage America's entrepreneurs and help to reward their efforts. By reducing taxes, encouraging investment and removing obstacles to growth, we will create a platform for future prosperity, so that small business can flourish, and every American who seeks work can find a job. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As a new Congress convenes, we must take steps to speed up the economic recovery and to strengthen public confidence in the integrity of American corporations. This week in Chicago, I announced my growth and jobs plan, specific proposals to help workers, employers and investors across America. For unemployed Americans whose benefits expired on December 28th, I asked Congress to act to extend those benefits. Congress did so quickly, and I signed the extension of unemployment benefits into law this week. For Americans who face the greatest difficulty finding work, I propose special re-employment accounts. These accounts will provide up to $3,000 to help pay for training, moving expenses, or other costs of finding a job. For all income taxpayers, I propose speeding up the tax cuts already approved by Congress, because Americans need that relief today. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty between now and 2009, we should do it now. Instead of waiting until 2008 to move more taxpayers from the 15 percent bracket to the 10 percent bracket, we should make that change now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to $1,000 by 2010, we should raise it now. When these changes are made, 92 million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 more of their own money. And for America's 84 million investors, and those who will become investors, I propose eliminating the double taxation on stock dividends. Double taxation is unfair and bad for our economy. It falls especially hard on seniors, many of whom rely on dividends for a steady source of income in their retirement. Abolishing double taxation of dividends will leave nearly 35 million Americans with more of their own money to spend and invest, which will promote savings and return as much as $20 billion this year to the private economy. Overall, my tax cut proposals will add nearly $59 billion to the economy in 2003 alone. Our government is also acting to restore investor confidence in the integrity and honesty of corporate America. In response to the abuses of some corporations, we passed serious reforms, and we will vigorously enforce them. Our Corporate Fraud Task Force has obtained convictions or guilty pleas in over 50 cases. More than 160 defendants have been charged with criminal or civil wrongdoing. And 130 new corporate fraud investigations have been launched. In my budget for the coming year, I will also propose major increases in funding for the prosecutors of corporate crime. My 2004 budget funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission will be 73 percent higher than 2002 levels. This will allow the agency to hire hundreds of new accountants, lawyers and examiners. I'm also requesting an extra $25 million for the Department of Justice to expand corporate fraud investigations. This will allow the department to create 118 new positions in the FBI, including 56 agents. In addition, 94 new people will be hired to serve in the U.S. attorneys' offices and legal divisions across the nation. The SEC and Justice Department are the referees of corporate conduct. Under my budget, they will have every resource they need to enforce the laws that punish fraud and protect investors. I ask the Congress to support these enforcement measures, and to pass my growth and jobs plan as soon as possible. Our country has made great progress in restoring investor confidence, and putting the recession behind us. We cannot be satisfied, however, until every corporate wrongdoer is held to account, and every part of our economy is strong, and every person who wants to work can find a job. Thanks for listening.

Good morning. One year ago this month, our country set a bold new course in public education. With the No Child Left Behind Act, America began a promising era in our public schools, an era of local control, high standards, and accountability that will produce better results for America's students. "/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 4, 2003 President's Radio Address Audio THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. One year ago this month, our country set a bold new course in public education. With the No Child Left Behind Act, America began a promising era in our public schools, an era of local control, high standards, and accountability that will produce better results for America's students. Under the new law, key choices about education spending will be made at the local level by parents and teachers and principals who know the children best. Government cannot and must not try to run the nation's schools from Washington, D.C. Yet, the federal government has an important role. We are providing far more money than ever before to help states and local school districts, more than $22 billion in this school year alone. Over the last two years, we have increased federal spending by 40 percent and, in return, we are insisting that schools use that money wisely. States must set new and higher goals for every student, to ensure that students are learning the basics of reading and math. The law also requires that schools regularly test students, share the results with parents and show how the results in each school compare with others. My budget provides more than enough money for states to test every student, every year, in grades three through eight. Testing is the only way to know which students are learning and which students need extra help so we can give them help before they fall further behind. For parents with children in persistently failing schools, the law provides hopeful options. Those parents can choose to send their children to better public schools or receive funding to pay for after-school tutoring or other academic help. No parent will have to settle year after year for schools that do not teach and will not change. Instead of getting excuses, parents will now get choices. Across America, states and school districts are working hard to implement these reforms. They are developing accountability plans and beginning innovative tutoring plans. The path to real reform and better results is not easy, but it is essential. The priorities of last year's reforms will also be reflected in the budget I will submit to Congress this year. Too many students and lower income families fall behind early, resulting in a terrible gap in test scores between these students and their more fortunate peers. To help close this achievement gap, I will ask Congress to approve an additional $1 billion, a total of $12.3 billion, for the Title I program in the 2004 budget. This would be the highest funding level ever for Title I, which serves our neediest students. Our reforms will not be complete until every child in America has an equal chance to succeed in school and rise in the world. For every child, education begins with strong reading skills. With the Reading First program, we have set a national goal to make sure that every child in America is reading by the third grade. To move toward that goal, I will request more than $1.1 billion for federal reading programs in next year's budget, an increase of $75 million over last year's budget request. This investment will go only to support programs with proven results in teaching children to read. The No Child Left Behind Act was a victory of bipartisan cooperation. By this law, we affirmed our basic faith in the wisdom of parents and communities, and our fundamental belief in the promise of every child. The work of reform is well begun and we are determined to continue that effort until every school in America is a place of learning and achievement. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As families across the nation gather to celebrate Christmas, Laura and I want to extend our best wishes for the holidays. We hope that this Christmas will be a time of happiness in your home, and a time of peace in the world. In this season, we celebrate with our families and deeply miss love ones who are no longer with us. Thousands of families in our nation are still grieving over the terrible losses that came to them last year on September the 11th. We have not forgotten their loss and we continue to pray for their comfort. The Christmas season brings a deeper concern for fellow citizens in need. Our country is prosperous, yet we must also remember there are pockets of despair in America. Some men and women are facing the struggles of illness and old age with no one to help them or pray with them. Other Americans fight against terrible addictions. Some young men have no family but a gang. Some teenage moms are abandoned and alone. And some children wonder if anybody loves them. We all share a responsibility to help, both through our government and through individual acts of compassion. In this season of giving, I hope all Americans will look for opportunities to donate and volunteer where the need is greatest. By reaching out to a neighbor in need, we make our country a more just and generous place. Our entire nation is also thinking at this time of year of the men and women in the military, many of whom will spend Christmas at posts and bases far from home. They stand between Americans and grave danger. They serve in the cause of peace and freedom. They wear the uniform proudly, and we are so proud of them. I have met with these idealistic young men and women across America and around the world. I know the sacrifices they make. And in every place they serve, they can know that they have the love of their families and the gratitude of their nation. At this time of year, we appreciate all the blessings that fill our lives, especially the great blessing that came on a holy night in Bethlehem. The Christmas story speaks to every generation. It is the story of a quiet birth in a little town on the margins of an indifferent empire. Yet that single event set the direction of history and still changes millions of lives. For over two millennia, Christmas has carried the message that God is with us, and because he is with us we can always live in hope. The world we live in is very different from the world of ancient Bethlehem. Our need for that hope is still unchanged. In all the challenges and dangers of our day, we still seek the promise of peace on Earth. Thank you for listening and merry Christmas.

Good morning. This week I introduced new members of my economic team. For the Secretary of the Treasury, I have submitted the name of John Snow, a respected business leader and economist who shares my commitment to faster growth and more new jobs for American workers. I have nominated Bill Donaldson to serve as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to vigorously enforce the laws against corporate corruption. And here at the White House, Steve Friedman will be the Director of the National Economic Council, giving me daily advice on our economy. These leaders will assume their duties at an important moment for our economy. There are many good signs. Inflation is firmly under control, which means food, clothing, and other necessities are more affordable. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, helping more Americans become homeowners. And growth has returned to the American economy. Yet we also face specific challenges that could slow the recovery and limit future growth. Many Americans have very little money left over after taxes. Some struggle under a weight of debt that makes it difficult to save for retirement. Investor confidence needs to be strengthened in practical ways. And the nation's rate of unemployment is now 6 percent, and significantly higher in some parts of America. We will not rest until every person in America who wants to work can find a job. The new Congress that convenes next month will have a responsibility to address these challenges, and I will be making specific proposals to increase the momentum of economic recovery through a growth and jobs package. The last Congress also left behind some unfinished business. The House and Senate passed different bills extending unemployment benefits. However, no final bill was sent to me extending unemployment benefits for about 750,000 Americans whose benefits will expire on December 28th. These Americans rely on their unemployment benefits to pay for the mortgage or rent, food, and other critical bills. They need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down. I have shared these concerns with leaders of the House and the Senate and they understand the need for early action. When our legislators return to the Capitol, I ask them to make the extension of unemployment benefits a first order of business. And the benefits they approve should be retroactive, so that people who lose their benefits this month will be paid in full. I've also directed the Department of Labor to work with the states to minimize any delay in helping these Americans once Congress has acted and extended these benefits. I look forward to working with members of both parties in the new Congress on our economic challenges. We must help our fellow citizens who have lost their jobs. And we must create an environment in which businesses, especially small businesses, can grow and generate the new jobs our country needs. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend is the deadline for the Iraqi regime to fully disclose to the U.N. Security Council all of its weapons of mass destruction. Disarming that regime is a central commitment of the war on terror. We must, and we will, prevent terrorist groups and outlaw regimes from threatening the American people with catastrophic harm."/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 7, 2002 Radio Address by the President to the Nation Audio THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend is the deadline for the Iraqi regime to fully disclose to the U.N. Security Council all of its weapons of mass destruction. Disarming that regime is a central commitment of the war on terror. We must, and we will, prevent terrorist groups and outlaw regimes from threatening the American people with catastrophic harm. Saddam Hussein has been under a duty to disarm for more than a decade. Yet he has consistently and systematically violated that obligation and undermined U.N. inspections. And he only admitted to a massive biological weapons program after being confronted with the evidence. Now the U.N. Security Council and the United States have told Saddam Hussein, the game is over. Saddam Hussein will fully disarm himself of weapons of mass destruction, and if he does not, America will lead a coalition to disarm him. As the new inspections process proceeds, the United States will be making only one judgment: Has Saddam Hussein changed his behavior of the last 11 years and decided to cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not? Inspections will work only if Iraq complies fully and in good faith. Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible weapons hidden in a vast country. The responsibility of inspectors is simply to confirm evidence of voluntary and total disarmament. Saddam Hussein has the responsibility to provide that evidence, as directed, and in full. The world expects more than Iraq's cooperation with inspectors. The world expects and requires Iraq's complete, willing and prompt disarmament. It is not enough for Iraq to merely open doors for inspectors. Compliance means bringing all requested information and evidence out into full view, to show that Iraq has abandoned the deceptions of the last decade. Any act of delay or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance, and has rejected the path of peace. Thus far we are not seeing the fundamental shift in practice and attitude that the world is demanding. Iraq's letters to the U.N. regarding inspections show that their attitude is grudging and conditional. And in recent days, Iraq has fired on American and British pilots enforcing the U.N.'s no-fly zone. Iraq is now required by the United Nations to provide a full and accurate declaration of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. We will judge the declaration's honesty and completeness only after we have thoroughly examined it, and that will take some time. The declaration must be credible and accurate and complete, or the Iraqi dictator will have demonstrated to the world once again that he has chosen not to change his behavior. Americans seek peace in the world. War is the last option for confronting threats. Yet the temporary peace of denial and looking away from danger would only be a prelude to a broader war and greater horror. America will confront gathering dangers early. By showing our resolve today, we are building a future of peace. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week all across America we gather with the people we love to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Each family has its own traditions, yet we are united as a nation in setting aside a day of gratitude. We are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy, grateful for the loved ones who give meaning to our lives, and grateful for the many gifts of this prosperous land. On Thanksgiving we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come not from the hand of man, but from Almighty God. The blessings we have received take on special meaning in this time of challenge for our country. Over the last year millions of Americans have found renewed appreciation for our liberty and for the men and women who serve in its defense. We have held our family and our friends closer, spending more time together, and letting them know we love them. Taking time to count our own blessings reminds us that many people struggle every day -- men, women, and children facing hunger, homelessness, illness, addiction, or despair. These are not strangers. They are fellow Americans needing comfort, love, and compassion. I ask all Americans to consider how you can give someone in need a reason to be thankful in this holiday season and throughout the year. It's easy to get started and to have an immediate impact. Volunteering your time at a soup kitchen, teaching a child to read, visiting a patient in the hospital, or taking a meal to an elderly neighbor or a shut-in are all simple acts of compassion that can brighten someone's life. Every act of love and generosity, however small it may seem, is significant. Every time you reach out to a neighbor in need you touch a life, you improve your community, and you strengthen our nation. Earlier this year I created the USA Freedom Corps office in the White House to harness the power of millions of acts of charity, compassion, and love to make America a better place. I hope you'll consider joining the armies of compassion, and dedicating time and energy and service to others. I'm so proud of the millions of Americans who have answered the call to service, enriching the lives of others with acts of kindness. It is a testament to the good heart and the giving spirit of the American people. There's no better time than this season of Thanksgiving to renew our commitment to helping those in need. The USA Freedom Corp website -- USAFreedomCorp.gov -- is a wonderful place to get started. This resource offers valuable information about service opportunities in your home town, across America, an around the world. You can also get information by calling 1-877-USA-CORPS. Take the time to find out how you can help your fellow Americans and make this holiday season a season of service. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for listening.

Good morning. I'm speaking to you from Europe where, this week, I am meeting with NATO allies and friends to discuss terrorism and other threats to our shared security. It has also been an important week at home on Capitol Hill. After two years of achievements, which included tax relief and education reform, the last days of this session of Congress brought additional historic progress. Soon after I return from Europe, I will sign several important new laws to help secure the homeland and create jobs. Republicans and Democrats approved a department of homeland security that will unite dozens of federal agencies and nearly 170,000 federal workers behind a single, overriding mission, keeping Americans safe. This new department will coordinate our response to any future emergency. It will help us know who's coming into our country and who's going out. This new department will bring together the best intelligence information about our vulnerabilities to terrorist attack so that we can act quickly to protect America. I appreciate the Congress listening to my concerns and retaining the authority of the President to put the right people in the right place at the right time in defense of our country. Congress also acted to protect the nation's ports and coasts by passing port security legislation. With this law, we will add port security agents, restrict access to sensitive areas and require ships to provide more information about the cargo, crew and passengers they carry. These measures will help keep terrorists and their weapons out of America. In addition, Congress passed terrorism insurance legislation to help protect our economy from any future terrorist attack. This new important law will lower insurance premiums and get many real estate and construction projects that had been put on hold moving again, creating thousands of hard-hat jobs. On my trip this week here in Europe, I'm consulting with our friends and NATO allies about the new threats to freedom that we face together. Today, the United States is joined by more than 90 nations in a global coalition against terrorism, sharing intelligence, cutting off terrorist finance and pursuing the terrorists where they plot and train. The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq, whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands. We must not and will not permit either terrorists or tyrants to blackmail freedom-loving nations. Our NATO allies are making important contributions. Sixteen NATO countries have sent military forces to the fight against terror in Afghanistan and, at this week's summit, NATO committed to build a new military response force with strong, ready forces that are prepared to deploy on short notice wherever they are needed. NATO members also voted to invite seven of Europe's newest democracies to join our alliance. The addition of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia will increase NATO's military strength. These nations will also bring greater clarity to NATO's purposes because they know, from the hard experience of the 20th century, that threats to freedom must be opposed, not ignored or appeased. This week, we saw the historic expansion of NATO and historic progress by Congress. Both will make America more secure. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This was a productive week in the war against terror, both at home and abroad. Congress returned to Washington with renewed energy and a commitment to make progress on key issues. Members of the House and Senate reached a crucial agreement to create a new department of homeland security. With Congress' vote on the final legislation, America will have a single agency with the full-time duty of protecting our people against attack. This new department will focus and unify responsibilities that are now spread among dozens of government agencies. The Customs Service, the INS, the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration and many others will report to the new secretary of homeland security. The department will significantly improve our ability to protect our borders, our coasts, and our communities. It will pool together the best intelligence information and coordinate our response. The new department will help develop the technology America needs to detect and defeat chemical, biological, and nuclear threats. And under the agreement reached this week, I will have the authority and flexibility to move people and resources to where they are needed without bureaucratic rules and lengthy labor negotiations. This compromise is the result of months of hard work and negotiation, and it will take additional time to put the agreement into place. The threat of terror will be with us for years to come, and we remain resolved to see this conflict through to its end. In the department of homeland security, we'll have good people, well-organized and well-equipped, working day and night to oppose the serious dangers of our time. Now that we have reached broad agreement on a homeland security bill, I look forward to signing it into law as soon as possible. We're committed to defending the nation. Yet wars are not won on the defensive. The best way to keep America safe from terrorism is to go after terrorists where they plan and hide. And that work goes on around the world. The United States is working with more than 90 countries to disrupt and defeat terror networks. So far we have frozen more than $113 million in terrorist assets, denying them the means to finance their murder. We've cracked down on charities that were exploiting American compassion to fund terrorists. We have captured and interrogated thousands of terrorists, while others have met their fate in caves and mountains in Afghanistan. We've deployed troops to train forces in the Philippines and Yemen, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and other nations where terrorists have gathered. We're sending a clear message to the enemies of freedom, no terrorist will escape the patient justice of America. To win the war on terror, we're also opposing the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of outlaw regimes. This week, the dictator of Iraq told the U.N. he would give weapons inspectors unrestricted access to his country. We've heard such pledges before and they have been uniformly betrayed. America and the world are now watching Saddam Hussein closely. Any act of defiance or delay will indicate that he is taking the path of deception once again, and this time the consequences would be severe. Our goal is not merely the return of inspectors to Iraq; our goal is the disarmament of Iraq. The dictator of Iraq will give up his weapons of mass destruction, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm him. Our war against terrorists and their supporters is advancing on all fronts. We're moving aggressively to protect our people and to oppose a great threat to the peace of the world. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This was an important week for our country and for the world. The United Nations Security Council voted for a resolution requiring the Iraqi regime to declare and destroy all weapons of mass destruction or face the consequences. Here at home, our citizens voted in an election I believe will strengthen our ability to get things done for the American people. With the United Nations Security Council resolution passed yesterday, the world has now come together to say that the outlaw regime in Iraq will not be permitted to build or possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. That is the judgment of the United Nations Security Council. That is the judgment of the United States Congress. And my administration will see to it that the world's judgment is enforced. The resolution presents the Iraqi regime with a test, a final test. Iraq must now, without delay or negotiations, give up its weapons of mass destruction, welcome full inspections and fundamentally change the approach it has taken for more than a decade. The regime must allow immediate and unrestricted access to every site, every document and every person identified by inspectors. Iraq can be certain that the old game of cheat-and-retreat, tolerated at other times, will no longer be tolerated. Any act of delay or defiance will be an additional breach of Iraq's international obligations, and a clear signal that the Iraqi regime has once again abandoned the path of voluntary compliance. If Iraq fails to fully comply with the U.N. resolution, the United States, in coalition with other nations, will disarm Saddam Hussein. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are strongly supporting our war against terror. As the current Congress returns to Washington this week, I hope we can act in the same spirit of unity to complete some unfinished business. The single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill is to create a unified Department of Homeland Security that will vastly improve our ability to protect our borders, our coasts and our communities. The Senate must pass a bill that will strengthen our ability to protect the American people and preserve the authority every President since John Kennedy has had to act in the interests of national security. Congress needs to send me a bill I can sign before it adjourns this year. We also have a responsibility to strengthen the economy so that people can find jobs. One immediate thing Congress can do to help put people to work is to pass legislation so that construction projects can get insurance against terrorism at a reasonable price. This will spur construction and create thousands of good hard-hat jobs that are now on hold, because projects without insurance cannot be built. Congress must also show fiscal discipline, as it passes the appropriations bills. At a time when we're at war, at a time when we need to strengthen our economy, Congress must control wasteful spending while funding the nation's priorities. American workers deserve action on these important economic issues. Our economy has come out of a recession and it's growing. But I'm not satisfied, because I know we can do better. I want the economy to grow at a faster and stronger pace, so more Americans can find jobs. So I will work with our new Congress to pass a growth and jobs package early next year. Our nation has important challenges ahead, at home and abroad. And we're determined to build the security and prosperity of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The federal courts play a central role in American justice -- protecting the innocent, punishing the guilty and upholding the rule of law. Yet, our federal courts today are in crisis. The judicial confirmation process does not work as it should. Nominees are too often mistreated. Votes are delayed, hearings are denied and dozens of federal judgeships sit empty, endangering the quality of justice in America. Since coming into office, I have sent to the Senate 32 nominees for the federal courts of appeals. These nominees are men and women with experience, intelligence, character and bipartisan home-state support. They represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet the Senate has confirmed only 14 of these 32 nominees. As of this week, 15 of my appeals court nominees will have been forced to wait over a year for a hearing, which is more than under the previous nine Presidents combined. There is no good reason why any nominee should endure a year, a year and a half, or more, without the courtesy of an up-or-down floor vote. Whatever the explanation, we clearly have a poisoned atmosphere in which well-qualified nominees are neither voted up nor voted down -- they're just left in limbo. If this situation persists and judicial vacancies go unfulfilled, the federal courts will be unable to act in a timely manner to enforce the criminal laws, the environmental laws and the civil right laws that affect the lives of every American. The judicial crisis is the result of a broken system, and we have a duty to repair it. I want to work with the Senate to fashion a new approach to filling federal court vacancies -- a bipartisan approach that would apply now and in the future. This week, I have offered four proposals to break the logjam in Washington and bring the federal courts to full strength. First, I call on federal judges to notify the President of their intention to retire at least a year in advance, whenever possible. Because the nomination and confirmation of a federal judge is a lengthy process, judges who retire without advance notice can unintentionally create a judicial vacancy for many months. Second, I propose that Presidents submit a nomination to the Senate within 180 days of receiving notice of a federal court vacancy or intended retirement. This will continue, but speed up, the process of obtaining recommendations and evaluations from home state senators and others, while leaving ample time for Presidents to choose nominees of the highest quality. Third, I called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to commit to holding a hearing within 90 days of receiving a nomination. A firm deadline is the best way to ensure that judicial nominees are promptly considered. And 90 days is more than enough time for the committee to conduct necessary research before holding a hearing, as Democrat senators have recognized in the past. Finally, I called on the full Senate to commit to an up-or-down floor vote on each nominee no later than 180 days after the nomination is submitted. This is a very generous period of time that will allow all senators to evaluate nominees and have their votes counted. My proposals are fair to all parties and would apply regardless of who is President or which party controls the Senate. The current state of affairs is not merely another round of political wrangling. It is a disturbing failure to meet a responsibility under the Constitution, and it is harming the administration of justice in America. Our country deserves better, the process can work better and we can make it better. The Constitution has given us a shared duty, and we must meet that duty together. Thank you for listening.

America's health care system has advantages no other nation can match, but also challenges we cannot ignore. The quality of American medicine is excellent, yet too many Americans live in communities lacking good clinics and basic health care; others are forced to wait for new medical devices that are delayed in an overburdened approval process. And the high cost of prescription drugs is placing a heavy financial burden on many Americans, especially our seniors. This week, we are taking steps to address all of these problems. Today, I have signed legislation that will expand the number of community health centers across the country. Community health centers are America's health care safety net, providing prenatal care, checkups and preventative treatments to anyone who walks in the door. They serve more than a million people, mainly in remote areas or in inner-city neighborhoods, places where too many people do not have the access to the quality health care they deserve. I have set a goal of creating 1,200 new and expanded community health centers by the year 2006. The bill I signed today will help my administration achieve this goal. If Congress funds my budget request for these important health centers, we can help an additional 1 million Americans get health care in 2003, and 4 million more by 2006. Also today, I'm signing legislation that provides faster access to safe and effective medical devices. Each year American companies are creating new technologies to save and improve lives, technologies like coronary stints and increasingly sophisticated pacemakers, which have helped reduce the death rate from heart disease by 35 percent since 1980. Medical devices are often very complex and require careful testing before they're approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But the FDA is overwhelmed by the volume of new technologies, making delays more frequent, and undermining the quality of device reviews. Under the new law, we're going to speed up and improve the approval process. Companies that manufacture medical devices will be required to pay a reasonable fee to the FDA, so the FDA can afford more expert staff to conduct thorough reviews within reasonable time limits. The entire nation will benefit from a faster approval of lifesaving innovations. Earlier this week, I also announced action to bring lower cost generic drugs to market more quickly. Right now, some brand name drug companies are using legal maneuvers to delay the approval of generic drugs, sometimes for years. We're setting new limits on those delays. By reducing the public's wait for quality generic drugs, we will reduce the cost of prescriptions in this country by more than $3 billion each year. These savings will help employer health plans, state Medicaid programs, and seniors who buy medicines on their own. On health care reform, we still have much work ahead of us. I applaud the House of Representatives for passing a prescription drug benefit for seniors, and for its efforts to fix the nation's badly broken medical liability system, which is driving up the cost of medicine and driving good doctors out of the profession. I'm disappointed that the Senate has failed to act on these important reforms. With these reforms, and the actions we have taken this week, we will bring the benefits of our health care system into the lives of more Americans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. I want to discuss with you steps we are taking to help strengthen the retirement security of America's workers. More than 40 million Americans save for retirement through 401(k) accounts, making regular contributions and building economic security over a lifetime. A 401(k) provides a chance to invest in the long-term growth of the American economy and an opportunity to build wealth and independence. Today's workers own more then $1.5 trillion in assets through their 401(k)s. Younger workers have an average of about $10,000 in their accounts, while workers near retirement hold closer to $100,000 in their 401(k)s. This is real money for real workers and we must do all we can to help make sure it's there for them when they retire. Turbulence in the financial markets reminds us that every investment carries some risk. Yet American workers also have rights which must be respected and enforced. I've made five common-sense proposals to help protect the retirement savings of American workers. First, every worker should get 30 days advance notice before any blackout period -- the time when they cannot sell, buy or borrow from their 401(k)s. Second, corporate executives should have to follow the same rules that every other employee must follow during blackout periods. If you can't sell on the shop floor, you should not be able to sell on the top floor. Third, workers should be able to sell their company stock after holding it for three years so that no one's nest egg is tied up in the stock of a single company. Fourth, investors should receive better information, including quarterly -- not just yearly -- reports on how their 401(k)s are performing. And, fifth, workers should have access to professional investment advice so they can make more informed decisions about their savings. The United States Congress has passed only two of these proposals -- giving workers advance notice of blackout periods and holding executives to the same rules as their employees. I signed these reforms into law. On Monday my administration is implementing that law with tough new rules to require that companies give their workers 30 days notice before any blackout period. Under the new rule, employees will have time to buy or sell stock or borrow from their accounts before the accounts are temporarily frozen. This important protection will help ensure that workers don't get stuck in a bad investment simply because their employers block them from accessing their own accounts. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also working on a new rule to prevent corporate executives from selling off their own holdings of company stock when employees are kept from doing so. Corporate executives will no longer be able to sell off their company's declining stock while employees are left holding the bag. Both of these rules will take effect early next year and give workers greater protections against corporate fraud or abuse. These rules are a step forward in protecting the rights of investors. More steps are needed. My three additional proposals -- allowing more diversity in 401(k) accounts, and more frequent account updates, and advice for workers -- have already passed in the House. But after six months, the Senate has not acted. For the sake of American workers who are concerned about their retirement security I urge the Senate to pass the rest of my proposals into law. People who work hard and save for the future deserve every protection we can give them. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, both the House and Senate passed strong bipartisan measures authorizing the use of force in Iraq if it becomes necessary. Our country and our Congress are now united in purpose. America is speaking with one voice: Iraq must disarm and comply with all existing U.N. resolutions, or it will be forced to comply. Confronting Iraq is an urgent matter of national security. America's economic security, especially the creation of good jobs is also an urgent matter, requiring presidential and congressional action. For that reason, I acted on Tuesday to reopen our Pacific Coast ports which had been shut down for more than a week due to a labor dispute. The crisis in the western ports was costing our economy up to a billion dollars a day in lost business and lost jobs, hurting truckers and rail operators who transport goods across America; workers on assembly lines; cashiers in retail stores; and manufacturers and farmers who sell across the world. And auto plant in Fremont, California was forced to shut down its assembly line for two days, keeping about 5,100 employees off the job after it ran out of parts. A company that manufactures televisions and VCRs had to stop production and lay off 150 workers in Vancouver, Washington. Produce from America's farms was stuck on docks, unable to be sold overseas. Retailers across the country were worried about having enough merchandise for the holiday season. The American people have been working hard to bring our economy back from recession. We simply cannot afford to have hundreds of billions of dollars a year in potential manufacturing and agricultural trade sitting idle. The action I took this week will help keep our economy moving and allow labor and management more time to resolve their differences. I expect the port operators and worker representatives to bargain in good faith and reach a final agreement as quickly as possible. Reopening the ports got people back to work. Another important step in putting America's hard hats back on the job is passing a terrorism insurance bill. Congress is close to a final agreement. And I look forward to signing this good piece of legislation, if and when it gets to my desk. After September the 11th, many insurance companies stopped covering builders and real estate owners against the risk of terrorist attack. The lack of terrorism insurance has hurt the growth of this economy and cost American job. The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more then $15 billion in real estate transactions. And more than 300,000 carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, and electricians and laborers and other building professionals who could have good paying jobs have been out of work. The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more than $15 billion in real estate transactions. The $15 billion worth of delay has cost 300,000 jobs -- jobs to carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, plumbers and other hardworking Americans. This terrorism insurance legislation will cost us nothing if we experience no further attacks. Yet it will mean thousands of new jobs for America's hard-hats and billions in new investment. And if we do face another attack, we'll be able to compensate victims quickly and limit the economic damage to America. This week leaders of Congress put partisan differences aside to confront a grave danger to our country. Clearly, we're able to get things done in Washington when we focus on getting results, rather than scoring political points. For the good of the economy, for the good of workers who needs jobs, senators should again put politics aside and take one last step to reach a final agreement on terrorism insurance. Congress is still in session next week. There's still time to reach an agreement. Our workers have waited a year. It's past time for Congress to finish the job. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week leaders of the Congress agreed on a strong bipartisan resolution authorizing the use of force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and to defend the peace. Now both the House and the Senate will have an important debate and an historic vote. Speaker Hastert and Leader Gephardt and Leader Lott did tremendous work in building bipartisan support on this vital issue. The danger to America from the Iraqi regime is grave and growing. The regime is guilty of beginning two wars. It has a horrible history of striking without warning. In defiance of pledges to the United Nations, Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. Saddam Hussein has used these weapons of death against innocent Iraqi people, and we have every reason to believe he will use them again. Iraq has longstanding ties to terrorist groups, which are capable of and willing to deliver weapons of mass death. And Iraq is ruled by perhaps the world's most brutal dictator who has already committed genocide with chemical weapons, ordered the torture of children, and instituted the systematic rape of the wives and daughters of his political opponents. We cannot leave the future of peace and the security of America in the hands of this cruel and dangerous man. This dictator must be disarmed. And all the United Nations resolutions against his brutality and support for terrorism must be enforced. The United States does not desire military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and we will never seek war unless it is essential to security and justice. We hope that Iraq complies with the world's demands. If, however, the Iraqi regime persists in its defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable. Delay, indecision, and inaction are not options for America, because they could lead to massive and sudden horror. Should force be required to bring Saddam to account, the United States will work with other nations to help the Iraqi people rebuild and form a just government. We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They are the daily victims of Saddam Hussein's oppression, and they will be the first to benefit when the world's demands are met. American security, the safety of our friends, and the values of our country lead us to confront this gathering threat. By supporting the resolution now before them, members of Congress will send a clear message to Saddam: His only choice is to fully comply with the demands of the world. And the time for that choice is limited. Supporting this resolution will also show the resolve of the United States, and will help spur the United Nations to act. I urge Americans to call their members of Congress to make sure your voice is heard. The decision before Congress cannot be more consequential. I'm confident that members of both political parties will choose wisely. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Thursday, I met with Democratic and Republican members of Congress to discuss the threat posed by the Iraqi regime. The security of our country is the commitment of both political parties, and the responsibility of both the President and the Congress. We are united in our determination to confront this urgent threat to America. We're moving toward a strong resolution authorizing the use of force, if necessary, to defend our national security interests against the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. And by passing this resolution we will send a clear message to the world community and to the Iraqi regime the demands of the United Nations Security Council must be followed: the Iraqi dictator must be disarmed. These requirements will be met, or they will be enforced. The danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year. Iraq has already used weapons of mass death against another country and against its own citizens. The Iraqi regime practices the rape of women as a method of intimidation, and the torture of dissenters and their children. And for more than a decade, that regime has answered Security Council resolutions with defiance and bad faith and deception. We know that the Iraqi regime is led by a dangerous and brutal man. We know he is actively seeking the destructive technologies to match his hatred. And we know that he must be stopped. The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them -- and when they have fully materialized, it may be too late to protect ourselves and our allies. By then, the Iraqi dictator will have had the means to terrorize and dominate the region, and each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX nerve gas or someday a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group. We refuse to live in this future of fear. We are determined to build a future of security and peace for ourselves and for the world. The members of Congress from both political parties with whom I met this week are committed to American leadership for the good of all nations. The resolution we are producing will be an instrument of that leadership. I appreciate the spirit in which members of Congress are considering this vital issue. We're making progress, we are nearing agreement, and soon we will speak with one voice. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In the past week, U.S. officials in Pakistan took custody of five al Qaeda members, including a key strategist for the September the 11th attacks. And here in America, federal agents arrested six men suspected of having trained at al Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan. These arrests remind us that we are engaged in a new kind of war, fought on many fronts, including the home front. The arrests also remind us that the enemy is still at large, threatening our safety and security. Defeating terrorism requires constant vigilance and preparation by our citizens and by our government. One way for the Congress to protect the American people is to pass legislation creating a new department of homeland security. This new department must have a single, overriding responsibility, to coordinate our homeland defense efforts, which are now scattered across the government. After less than a week of debate, the House of Representatives passed a good bill, a bill that gives me the flexibility to confront emerging threats quickly and effectively. Yet after three weeks of debate, the Senate has still not passed a bill I can sign. The legislation the Senate is debating is deeply flawed. The Senate bill would force the new department to fight against terror threats with one hand tied behind its back. The department of homeland security must be able to move people and resources quickly, to respond to threats immediately, without being forced to comply with a thick book of bureaucratic rules. Yet the current Senate approach keeps in place a cumbersome process that can take five months to hire a needed employee, and 18 months to fire someone who is not doing his job. In the war on terror, this is time we do not have. Even worse, the Senate bill would weaken my existing authority to prohibit collective bargaining when national security is at stake. Every President since Jimmy Carter has had this very narrow authority throughout the government, and I need this authority in the war on terror. As Democrat Senator Zell Miller said, the daunting task of securing this country is almost incomprehensible. Let's not make it more difficult by tying this President's hands and the hands of every President who comes after him. In an effort to break the logjam in the Senate, Senator Miller and Republican Senator Phil Gramm have taken the lead in crafting a bipartisan alternative to the current flawed Senate bill. I commend them, and support their approach. Their proposal would provide the new secretary of homeland security much of the flexibility he needs to move people and resources to meet new threats. It will protect every employee of the new department against illegal discrimination, and build a culture in which federal employees know they are keeping their fellow citizens safe through their service to America. I ask you to call your senators and to urge them to vote for this bipartisan alternative. Senators Miller and Gramm, along with Senator Fred Thompson, have made great progress in putting the national interest ahead of partisan interest. I'm confident that every Senator, Republican and Democrat, wants to do what is best for America. Creating a new department of homeland security will make America stronger and safer. It is time for the Senate to act. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today I'm meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about the growing danger posed by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and the unique opportunity the U.N. Security Council has to confront it. I appreciate the Prime Minister's public support for effective international action to deal with this danger. The Italian Prime Minister joins other concerned world leaders who have called on the world to act. Among them, Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, Prime Minister Aznar of Spain, President Kwasniewski of Poland. These leaders have reached the same conclusion I have -- that Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself. He has broken every pledge he made to the United Nations and the world since his invasion of Kuwait was rolled back in 1991. Sixteen times the United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions designed to ensure that Iraq does not pose a threat to international peace and security. Saddam Hussein has violated every one of these 16 resolutions -- not once, but many times. Saddam Hussein's regime continues to support terrorist groups and to oppress its civilian population. It refuses to account for missing Gulf War personnel, or to end illicit trade outside the U.N.'s oil-for-food program. And although the regime agreed in 1991 to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, it has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge. Today this regime likely maintains stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, and is improving and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical and biological weapons. Today Saddam Hussein has the scientists and infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program, and has illicitly sought to purchase the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should his regime acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. The former head of the U.N. team investigating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, Richard Butler, reached this conclusion after years of experience: "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction." By supporting terrorist groups, repressing its own people and pursuing weapons of mass destruction in defiance of a decade of U.N. resolutions, Saddam Hussein's regime has proven itself a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take. Saddam Hussein's defiance has confronted the United Nations with a difficult and defining moment: Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purposes of its founding, or will it be irrelevant? As the United Nations prepares an effective response to Iraq's defense, I also welcome next week's congressional hearings on the threats Saddam Hussein's brutal regime poses to our country and the entire world. Congress must make it unmistakably clear that when it comes to confronting the growing danger posed by Iraq's efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction, the status quo is totally unacceptable. The issue is straightforward: We must choose between a world of fear, or a world of progress. We must stand up for our security and for the demands of human dignity. By heritage and choice, the United States will make that stand. The world community must do so, as well. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Next week, our nation will pause to honor and remember the lives lost on September the 11th. We must also remember a central lesson of the tragedy: our homeland is vulnerable to attack, and we must do everything in our power to protect it. We protect our country by relentlessly pursuing terrorists across the Earth; assessing and anticipating our vulnerabilities, and acting quickly to address those vulnerabilities and prevent attacks. America needs a single department of government dedicated to the task of protecting our people. Right now, responsibilities for homeland security are scattered across dozens of departments in Washington. By ending duplication and overlap, we will spend less on overhead and more on protecting America. And we must give the Department of Homeland Security every tool it needs to succeed. One essential tool this new department needs is the flexibility to respond to terrorist threats that can arise or change overnight. The Department of Homeland Security must be able to move people and resources quickly, without being forced to comply with a thick book of bureaucratic rules. For example, we have three agencies working to safeguard our borders: the INS, the Customs Service, and the Border Patrol. They all have different cultures and different strategies, but should be working together in a streamlined effort. Other federal agencies dealing with national security already have this flexibility -- the FBI and the CIA and the new Transportation Security Administration. It seems like to me if it's good enough for these agencies, it should be good enough for the new Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the new Secretary of Homeland Security needs the authority to transfer some funds, limited funds, among government accounts in response to terrorist threats. This requirement is nothing new; such authority is presently available to numerous agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy. The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would ensure the flexibility and authority needed for the Department of Homeland Security to effectively carry out its mission. The legislation now in the Senate would not. The Senate bill would not allow the new Secretary of Homeland Security to shift resources or streamline functions in response to a terrorist threat without a time-consuming approval process. And the legislation would keep in place a process that can take up to 18 months just to fire an employee. The Senate bill also provides no transfer authority for the Secretary of Homeland Security. Under the Senate bill, the Secretary would have to ask the President to submit a supplemental budget request to Congress, and then wait for Congress to act every time new terrorist threats presented a need for additional funding. In this war on terror, this is time we simply do not have. Even worse, the Senate bill would weaken the President's well-established authority to prohibit collective bargaining when a national security interest demands it. Every President since Jimmy Carter has used this authority, and a time of war is not time to limit a President's ability to act in the interests of national security. Senators need to understand I will not accept a homeland security bill that puts special interests in Washington ahead of the security of the American people. I will not accept a homeland security bill that ties the hands of this administration or future administrations in defending our nation against terrorist attacks. America has been engaged in this war for nearly a year, and we've made real progress. Yet more work remains. A new Department of Homeland Security will help us to protect our country, but only if it has the tools to get the job done. I urge the Senate to follow the House's lead and pass legislation that gives the department the flexibility and the authority it needs to protect the American people. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In all of the trials we have faced this past year, countless acts of generosity and sacrifice have revealed the good heart of our nation. Time and time again, our country has shown the strength of its character by responding to acts of evil with acts of good. And in coming weeks, I ask all citizens to answer the call to help those in need, and make this month a September of Service. I created USA Freedom Corps, a single organization, to encourage and assist Americans in finding service opportunities both locally and around the globe; to harness and put to good use the service and idealism we saw after the attacks of September the 11th. In addition, I called on all Americans to enlist in the armies of compassion and dedicate at least 4,000 hours in service to their communities, our country, and to the world. The response to the call to service has been strong. VolunteerMatch, a group that matches volunteers to charities on the USA Freedom Corps web page, reports that referrals have increased by more than 70 percent over last year. Requests for Peace Corps volunteer applications have increased 40 percent over the same period last year. Online AmeriCorps applications are up by 95 percent since January. And more than 48,000 individuals have signed up on line to participate in the newly created Citizens Corps program. The response we have seen is more than numbers, though. It is a reminder that when people help each other, our entire nation benefits. As I have traveled across the country, I have met with volunteers who have set an example with their uplifting acts of service -- volunteers like Maxine Phipps, a 95-year-old Iowan who mentors and tutors local children through an online book club. She uses her computer skills as she and her students read and discuss books about the importance of citizenship. Or Star Wallin, a college freshman from Mississippi who founded Project CARE in 1999. Project CARE is an organization that has impacted so many lives through activities such as matching elementary school students with high school mentors; collecting food, clothing, and furniture for impoverished families; and helping to refurbish the grounds of local public schools. I hope the work of these individuals and that of volunteers all across the country inspires others, especially our young people. Young people have the energy and determination to do important work, and volunteer service can teach them valuable lessons about responsibility, community, and selflessness at an early age. I urge our teachers and schools to begin service projects and activities in September, and to make this new school year the start of a lifelong habit of service to others. In an effort to assist educators and students in getting started, we've developed a new guidebook, CD-ROM, and web site called Students in Service to America. These resources offer valuable information about planning service activities and working with community groups. More than 130,000 public and private elementary and secondary home schools and after-school programs throughout the country will receive these materials in September. In addition, we will encourage AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers to recruit more young people for service opportunities, and to work closely with schools and community organizations to support in-school and after-school programs. Through these efforts, young people will learn how important service is to our nation, and how to get started today. As September the 11th approaches, difficult memories of planes and buildings will resurface. But so will images of brave individuals coming to the aid of neighbors in need. That spirit of courage and selflessness has shown the world why our nation is the greatest force for good in history. I urge all Americans to honor the memory of those lost by serving others. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. While visiting the west coast this week, I saw the destructive effects of one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. The catastrophic blazes we have seen this summer, and which I saw firsthand in Oregon, threaten the safety of forest communities and firefighters; destroy homes, businesses, farms and critical wildlife habitat; and leave behind long-last environmental damage. I join all Americans in thanking the brave firefighters for their service. As we work to put out the fires and bring relief to their victims, we also have a responsibility to prevent the devastation that can be caused by future fires. For too long, America's fire prevention strategy has been shortsighted. Forest policies have not focused on thinning, the clearing of the forest floor of built-up brush and densely packed trees that create the fuel for extremely large fires like those experienced this year. This hands-off approach to forest management has been devastating to our environment, and it can take more than a century for forests to recover from these fires. One forest ranger said of this year's fire season, "In the next few years to come, it won't be the exception, it will be norm because of how we have managed our forests." We need a different approach. People who fight fires and study forests agree that we must strengthen the health of our forests through a combination of thinning and quickly restoring areas damaged by fires. By actively managing our forests in this way, we'll help our environment by reducing the number of acres of forest land that catastrophic fires burn each year. On Thursday, I announced important new steps to restore the health of America's forests and help prevent the kind of devastating fires we have seen this year. We will guard against excessive red tape and endless litigation that stand in the way of sensible forest management decisions. I have directed Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the process of thinning on public lands. And I urge Congress to pass legislation that will ensure that vital forest restoration projects are not tied up in courts forever. Some members of Congress have already gotten important forest reform passed for their states because they know it is the fastest and most effective way to get forests thinned. We should pass this important reform to help protect all of America's forests. My administration will work with Congress to deliver on the unfulfilled promises of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. The plan was crafted to protect wildlife habitat and recreational areas, while employing more than 100,000 people through sustainable timber harvesting in a small portion of the forests. My proposals will reduce the threat of wildfires that have destroyed people's homes and livelihoods. They will restore the health of America's forests, provide greater safety to our citizens and protect our environment for generations to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, I hosted an economic forum at Baylor University in Texas. Participants shared their concerns about the economic challenges we face, and their ideas for making the economy stronger."/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary August 17, 2002 Radio Address by the President to the Nation Audio THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, I hosted an economic forum at Baylor University in Texas. Participants shared their concerns about the economic challenges we face, and their ideas for making the economy stronger. A common theme among many panelists was that we must leave every dollar we can in the hands of the people who have earned it. We must be disciplined with our taxpayers' money, which requires Congress to focus on funding our nation's priorities. Winning the war on terror is our top priority. The men and women fighting the war must have every tool and all the training they need to fight and win. That is why my budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in a generation. And that is why I urge the Congress to pass a final defense appropriations bill as soon as they return to Washington. Keeping our homeland secure is another high priority. My budget would nearly double funding for homeland security to almost $38 billion -- money to train and equip firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel; money for the Coast Guard, to protect our ports and coasts; money to keep our water treatment plants and nuclear facilities safe. A few weeks ago, Congress passed an emergency funding bill that provides more than $13 billion in immediate funding for the war on terror, more than $4 billion for homeland security, and completes our $20 billion commitment to the people of New York. I was pleased to sign it. But Congress also sent along more than $5 billion in extra spending I did not ask for. Some of that $5 billion I have endorsed and will work to secure, but a lot of that money has nothing to do with a national emergency. Those who wrote the bill designed it so either I have to spend all the money, or none of it. At the economic forum on Tuesday, I made my position clear: I will spend none of the $5 billion. We must remember the lessons of the past. In the 1960s, increased spending required by war was not balanced by slower spending in the rest of the government. As a result, in the 1970s we faced unemployment and growing deficits and spiraling inflation. We cannot go down the path of soaring budget deficits. We must meet our defense and homeland security needs, and hold the line on other spending. My budget raises defense spending by more than 14 percent. It nearly doubles homeland security funding. In all other areas, it increases spending by two percent. Many families are living with raises like that, and so should the government. The House of Representatives has done well by staying within these limits. Unfortunately, the Senate has not even passed a budget framework, and so far it has been ignoring fiscal discipline. I requested $2.4 billion for public housing; the bill moving through the Senate includes $300 million more. I requested $2.2 billion for agricultural research; again, the Senate wants to spend $300 million more. I requested $3.1 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Senate wants to spend $200 million more. And these levels could go higher. I challenge Congress to respect the taxpayers and show restraint with their money. It is very important they do so in order for our economy to continue to grow. If Congress will not show spending restraint, I will enforce spending restraint. For the good of our economy, for the good of the people who pay taxes, my administration will spend what is truly needed, and not a dollar more. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Tuesday, I will host an economic forum at Baylor University, in Texas, to meet with people on the front lines of the American economy. Small business owners, working people, investors, corporate leaders, economists, farmers and government policy makers are coming together to discuss where our economy stands, the impact of the policies we have put in place, and the steps we are taking as we move forward. After a recession that was beginning as I took office, the terrorist attacks of September the 11th and the corporate scandals that have recently come to light, the American economy faces challenges. Yet, the great strengths of America are more than equal to its challenges. American workers are productive, American entrepreneurs are visionary, and we are acting to reach the full potential of our economy. These efforts began last year with a tax cut that boosted our economy at just the right time, and continues to put more money into the hands of consumers. I have just signed into law Trade Promotion Authority, which I will use to open foreign markets to American goods, creating high paying jobs at home. I worked with Congress to enact new laws designed to keep corporate executives and auditors honest, and to punish those who are not. And we are actively investigating, arresting and prosecuting corporate wrongdoers. And this week, hundreds of companies will submit signed statements to the SEC, either verifying that their financial records are accurate, or letting investors know if there are any problems. Yet, there is more we must do: more to promote long-term growth and create jobs in our economy; more to enforce budget discipline in Congress, so we can focus on urgent priorities like the war on terror; more to guarantee pension security and improve access to affordable health care; more to educate every child for economic and personal success. At next week's economic forum, we will discuss all these topics. Economists will provide their latest ideas and analysis of the economic recovery. But I'm also eager to hear from Americans from all walks of life, who are working hard to make ends meet during these uncertain economic times. And I expect I will get a wide variety of suggestions on strengthening the economy. Let me tell you about some of the Americans participating in this forum. Xavier Teixido, a restaurant owner from Delaware, he immigrated to this country from Paraguay when he was two years old, and worked his way up in the restaurant business. He was recently elected Chairman of the Board of the National Restaurant Association. Maria Sobrino is another entrepreneur who will attend the forum. In 1982, she brought her mother's traditional Mexican desserts to the U.S. market. Twenty years later, she owns a successful food production company in Southern California. Mr. Teixido and Mrs. Sobrino will tell us about the obstacles small business owners face, and offer opinions about how the federal government can help small businesses thrive and create more jobs. Robert Landon and Jimmie Morgan will also join us at the forum. Robert is a driver for UPS down in Waco, and a member of the Teamsters. Jimmie works for Boeing in Wichita, Kansas, and he has held a number of jobs in the company, from factory worker to management. Robert and Jimmie know that more trade means more jobs, and they want to be sure our nation continues to open foreign markets to American goods. With the help of Xavier Teixido, Maria Sobrino, Robert Landon, Jimmie Morgan and other participants, the economic forum will generate ideas to strengthen our economy, and make workers and investors more secure. I look forward to participating in the discussions and sharing our findings with the American people. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. We've had a month of accomplishment in Washington. Congress acted on several important proposals to strengthen our national security and our homeland security and our economic security. Republicans and Democrats worked in a spirit of unity and purpose that I hope to see more of in the fall. I requested more money for our military and for our homeland security, and Congress provided crucial funding to continue military operations, to train and equip medics, police officers and firefighters around America, and to support the Coast Guard operations that protect our ports and coasts. I proposed tough new standards for corporate executives and accountants, and increased penalties for fraud and abuse. Congress responded with strong corporate accountability reforms, which I signed into law on Tuesday. And we are rigorously enforcing the laws against corporate crimes with new arrests just this week. For nearly a year and a half, I've been pressing Congress for trade promotion authority so I can aggressively push for open trade with other nations. This week, the Senate followed the lead of the House by giving me that authority, which I will sign into law next week. Expanded trade will mean more business for America's farmers and ranchers and manufacturers, better buys for American consumers, and good jobs for America's workers. Together, we made significant progress on national priorities. Yet, when Congress returns from its summer recess, important work remains. In march, I urged Congress in a time of war to pass the defense budget first. After four months, the House and the Senate have acted on their own bills -- but they have not sent me a final bill that works out their differences. When the Congress returns in September, its first priority should be to complete the defense budget so our military can plan for, and pay for, the war on terror and all the missions that lie ahead. The Senate should also act quickly to pass a bill authorizing the new Department of Homeland Security, which it failed to do before the recess. This department will consolidate dozens of federal agencies charged with protecting our homeland, giving them one main focus: protecting the American people. And when we create this department, the new Secretary of Homeland Security will need the freedom and flexibility to respond to threats by getting the right people into the right jobs at the right time -- without a lot of bureaucratic hurdles. The Senate must understand that the protection of our homeland is much more important than the narrow politics of special interests. Congress should also act to strengthen the economic security of all Americans. The Senate must pass reforms to protect workers' savings and investments; and reform Medicare to include prescription drug benefits. Both Houses must reach a consensus on final terrorism insurance legislation, to spur building projects and create construction jobs. And they must agree on a comprehensive energy bill that will increase production and promote conservation and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. And as we work to strengthen America's economy, we must remember Americans who are struggling. The Senate should follow the House's lead and pass welfare reform that encourages work and promotes strong families. And they should pass legislation to promote the vital work of private and religious charities, and helping disadvantaged children and people struggling with addiction, the homeless and many others. I know in the fall of an election year the tendency is to focus more on scoring political points than on making progress. I hope the Congress will reject this approach. In the last month we've proven how much we can get done when everyone in Washington works together on behalf of the American people. Come September, I look forward to working with the Republicans and Democrats to build on that progress. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As Congress approaches the August recess, it must take decisive steps to provide economic security to the American people, to demand high ethical standards from corporate leaders, to promote economic growth and job creation, and to curb its appetite for excessive spending. We must promote economic security by enforcing high ethical standards for American businesses. Unethical business practices by corporate leaders amount to theft and fraud. These practices are unacceptable, and we are fighting them with active prosecutions and tough enforcement by the SEC. We will defend the rights and interests of every American worker and shareholder, and we will not accept anything less than complete honesty. The House and Senate have both passed strong corporate accountability bills that toughen penalties and provide transparency and hold corporate executives accountable for their behavior. I am confident that the differences between the House and Senate approaches can be bridged. Some in Congress have predicted that it will take two months for the House and Senate to send a bill to my desk. There is no good reason for the legislative process to take that long. I call again on Congress to pass a bill before the August recess. It's time to act decisively to bring a new era of integrity to American business. We must also increase economic security for American workers through expanded trade. For over a year now, the United States Congress has debated trade promotion authority. This week, I met with members of the House and Senate to urge them to resolve their differences and approve a bill. If Congress waits, less markets will be open to American goods, and less jobs will be created for American workers. To promote our economic security, we also need to act on a terrorism insurance bill. Until Congress sends a bill to my desk, some buildings will not be able to get coverage against terrorist attacks and many new buildings will not be built at all. Commercial development is stalling and workers are missing out on these jobs. This year alone, the lack of terrorism insurance has killed or delayed more than $8 billion in commercial property financing. Congress should pass a terrorism insurance bill without unnecessary measures that increase frivolous litigation. Finally, we must promote economic security by enforcing fiscal restraint. Congress must control its enormous appetite for excessive spending so we can meet our national priorities and return to a budget surplus without undermining our economy. Unless Congress controls its spending, we will face a decade of deficits. I will insist on and, if necessary, I will enforce discipline in federal spending. This is a crucial moment for the American economy. The economic fundamentals are strong. Inflation and interest rates are low. Productivity is increasing and the economy is expanding, which creates more jobs. While the economy is growing stronger, confidence in our free enterprise system is being tested. Unethical business conduct that began in the boom of the 1990s is being uncovered. Investors have lost money. Some in retirement have lost security. Workers have lost jobs, and the trust of the American people has been betrayed. As we face these economic challenges, my administration will do everything in its power to ensure business integrity and long-term growth. We must act quickly and aggressively on a variety of fronts to increase the economic security of the American people, and I ask the Congress to join me in this urgent task. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Congress came back to Washington this week and they have a lot of work ahead of them before the August vacation. I urge the Congress to join me in acting to achieve three big goals: We need to win the war, we need to protect our homeland, and we must strengthen our economy. Winning the war and protecting the homeland require a sustained national commitment. More than 100 days ago, I asked Congress to pass emergency funding to equip our armed forces and strengthen security at our airports. The Department of Defense and the new Transportation Security Administration are still waiting for the money. Without prompt congressional action, our military will need to start cannibalizing spare parts to keep equipment running. The Transportation Security Administration will have to suspend the purchase and installation of up to 1,100 bomb detection systems, and the FAA may have to furlough up to 35,000 air traffic employees. Congress must fund our troops while they're fighting a war. And Congress must provide funds to continue improving security at our airports. Congress also must pass the Defense appropriations for next year's budget. The House has acted, the Senate must act. Our nation is at war, and our budget priorities and actions need to reflect that reality. Congress should send the Defense bill to my desk by the end of this month. These bills are critical, yet quick action on them does not and should not preclude simultaneous progress on other legislation. Creating more jobs and strengthening our economy are an urgent part of our agenda. Congress can act to create jobs by giving me trade promotion authority, which will allow me to open up foreign markets to American goods and create better American jobs. For the sake of long-term growth and job creation, I ask Congress to make last year's tax reductions permanent and I ask Congress to work with me to pass a terrorism insurance bill, to give companies the security they need to expand and create jobs through new building projects. Perhaps the greatest need for our economy at this moment is restoring confidence in the integrity of the American business leaders. Nearly every week brings news of greater productivity or strong consumer spending, but also a discovery of fraud and scandal, problems long in the making and now coming to light. This week, I announced new steps my administration is taking to crack down on corporate fraud. I proposed doubling jail time for financial fraud. I am creating a new task force at the Justice Department to aggressively investigate corporate crime. I'm requesting an additional $100 million to give the SEC the manpower and the technology it needs to better enforce the law. This year, the SEC has acted to bar 71 officers and directors from ever again serving as a director of a public company. All of these measures are in addition to the comprehensive plans I announced and the House passed to protect worker pensions and to make CEOs more accountable. As part of this crackdown, I support the creation of a strong, independent board that will provide effective oversight of the accounting profession. This board would have the ability to monitor, investigate and enforce high ethical principles by punishing individual offenders. My administration is working with congressional leaders in both parties to pass legislation that will protect workers and shareholders and investors. I am pleased that the Senate approved several of my new proposals this week. The Senate, the House and my administration will not stop working until a final bill is passed. Strengthening the economy and protecting the homeland and fighting the war on terror are critical issues that demand prompt attention. I urge the Congress to act on all these issues before they adjourn for their August recess. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, Americans are celebrating the 226th anniversary of our independence. On the 4th of July, we count our blessings, and there are so many to count. We are thankful for the families that share our life in this land of liberty. We're thankful for the opportunities given to us every day in this country. And we are thankful for our freedom, the freedom declared by the founding fathers, defended by many generations and granted to each one of us by Almighty God. Americans know that our country did not come about by chance. Our nation was first designed as a colony, serving an empire and answering to a king. The founders had other things in mind. In the summer of 1776, they declared that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. All Americans can draw a straight line from the free lives we lead today to that one moment when the world changed forever. From that day in 1776, freedom has had a home and a defender. Unlike any other country, America came into the world with a message for mankind, that all are created equal and all are meant to be free. There is no American race, there's only an American creed. We believe in the dignity and rights of every person. We believe in equal justice, limited government and the rule of law, personal responsibility and tolerance toward others. This creed of freedom and equality has lifted the lives of millions of Americans, of citizens by birth and citizens by choice. This creed draws our friends to us, sets our enemies against us, and always inspires the best that is in us. In this 226th year of our independence, we have seen that American patriotism is still a living faith. We love our country, only more when she is threatened. America is the most diverse nation on earth. Yet, in a moment we discovered again that we are a single people, we share the same allegiance, we live under the same flag -- and when you strike one American, you strike us all. More than ever in the lifetimes of most Americans, our flag stands for a true united country. We've been united in our grief and we are united in our resolve to protect our people and defeat the enemies of freedom. At this hour, more than 60,000 American troops are deployed around the world in the war against terror. Many of you have family members serving in the military -- wherever they are stationed, this nation is depending on them and you can be proud of them. America's service men and women and our veterans know better than anyone that our love for country is shown in works. That spirit of service is alive and strong in America today. As we fight a war abroad, at home, Americans are answering the call of service, giving their time and energy to causes greater than self-interest. This nation is confronting a terrible evil, and we are overcoming evil with good. Today, as much as ever before, America bears the hopes of the world. Yet, from the day of our founding, America's own great hope has never been in ourselves alone. The founders humbly sought the wisdom and the blessing of Divine Providence. May we always live by that same trust, and may God continue to watch over the United States of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, we learned of another deeply troubling accounting scandal at a major American corporation. Reports allege that the company hid nearly $4 billion in expenses, and reported profits when it may have actually lost more than a billion dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission immediately filed suit against the company to preserve documents, so that a complete and thorough investigation can take place, and to ensure that the company cannot give massive payments to executives during the investigation. Despite recent abuses of the public's trust, our economy remains fundamentally sound and strong, and the vast majority of businesspeople are living by the rules. Yet, confidence is the cornerstone of our economic system, so a few bad actors can tarnish our entire free enterprise system. We must have rules and laws that restore faith in the integrity of American business. The government will fully investigate reports of corporate fraud, and hold the guilty parties accountable for misleading shareholders and employees. Executives who commit fraud will face financial penalties, and, when they are guilty of criminal wrongdoing, they will face jail time. In March, I unveiled a ten-point plan designed to enhance the economic security of Americans by providing better information to investors, making corporate officers more accountable, and delivering a stronger, more independent auditing system. Among other measures, the plan would give the Securities and Exchange Commission two critical tools to hold corporate officers accountable. First, corporate officers who personally benefit from false accounting statements should lose all the money gained by their fraud. An executive whose salary or bonus is tied to his company's performance makes more money when the company has done well. That is fair when all of the accounting is done above board. Yet, when bad accounting practices make the company appear to be more successful than it actually is, corporate executives should lose their phony profits gained at the expense of employees and stockholders. Second, corporate leaders who violate the public's trust should never be given that trust again. The Securities and Exchange Commission should be able to punish corporate leaders who clearly abuse their powers by banning them from ever serving again as officers or directors of publicly held corporations. Since my call for action, the Securities and Exchange Commission has sought to take away the profits of senior executives from four different companies, and in this year the SEC has sought to bar 54 officers and directors. On Thursday, the SEC ordered the CEOs and CFOs of the 1,000 largest public companies to certify that the financial information they submitted in the last year was fair and accurate. In addition to bringing a new measure of accountability to American businesses, my administration is committed to protecting the retirement savings of American workers. The plan I unveiled in February would give workers greater freedom to diversify and manage their own retirement funds. It would ensure that corporate executives are held to the same restrictions as workers during blackout periods, when employees are prohibited from trading in their accounts. It would give workers quarterly information about their investments. And it would expand workers' access to investment advice. These measures should give American workers confidence that their investments will not fall prey to unethical executives. America is ushering in a new era of responsibility, and that ethic of responsibility must extend to America's boardrooms. I want every American to know that the vast majority of businesspeople are honest individuals who do right by the employees and their shareholders. The unethical actions of a few should not be allowed to call into question our whole free enterprise system. No violation of the public's trust will be tolerated. The federal government will be vigilant in prosecuting wrongdoers to ensure that investors and workers maintain the highest confidence in American business. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Earlier today, the First Lady and I joined the White House staff for the inaugural President's Fitness Challenge Run and Walk. Every participant took important steps on the road to better health, and runners and walkers volunteered to perform community service or to contribute to charities. The Fitness Challenge is part of a larger initiative I launched this week to help Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives. And the good news is this: when it comes to your health, even little steps can make a big difference. If just 10 percent of adults began walking regularly, Americans could save $5.6 billion in costs related to heart disease. And research suggests that we can reduce cancer deaths by one-third simply by changing our diets and getting more exercise. The title of our new health and fitness initiative says it all: Healthier US. It is based on four guideposts to good health. First, be physically active every day. Second, develop good eating habits. Third, take advantage of preventative screenings. Fourth, don't smoke, don't do drugs, and don't drink excessively. These four simple measures will help all Americans get healthier and stronger. First, be physically active every day. A report released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that almost 40 percent of adults get no leisure time physical activity. This lack of activity can lead to poor health and higher health care costs. Americans who are obese spend approximately 36 percent more on health care services than the general population. They spend 77 percent more on medications. Here are some simple suggestions to help Americans get active. Walking 30 minutes a day can improve your health. Playing a game in the backyard will help parents and children get fit and spend some quality time with each other. And regularly hiking through a park can add years to your life. This weekend, the federal government is waiving all entrance fees to national parks and other federal lands, so you can exercise while exploring America's natural beauty. Exercise is a daily part of my life, and I urge all Americans to make it an important part of your lives. Second, eat a nutritious diet. That means eating fruits and vegetables and cutting back on fatty foods. If you try your best to achieve these goals, you will be on the road to healthier living, and you'll have a lot more energy for your 30-minute walk. Third, get preventative screenings, simple tests that can tell you if you're prone to developing certain diseases such as diabetes and cancer and heart disease. By acting on that information, you can help prevent a potentially life-threatening illness. Fourth, cut out tobacco, drugs, and excessive drinking. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in America. Drug and alcohol abuse destroys lives and families and communities. Avoiding tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol can save your life. This initiative is part of my administration's ongoing commitment to raising awareness about the benefits of exercise and healthy choices. Our message is simple, but important. The doctors in America should talk to your patients about the value of exercise and healthy eating. Parents should make sure your children get plenty of exercise and good nutrition, and make smart decisions. By making minor changes to our lives, we will build a healthier and stronger America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Owning a home lies at the heart of the American dream. A home is a foundation for families and a source of stability for communities. It serves as the foundation of many Americans' financial security. Yet today, while nearly three-quarters of all white Americans own their homes, less than half of all African Americans and Hispanic Americans are homeowners. We must begin to close this homeownership gap by dismantling the barriers that prevent minorities from owning a piece of the American dream. The single greatest hurdle to first time homeownership is a high down payment requirement that can put a home out of reach. So my administration is proposing the American Dream Down Payment Fund. When a low-income family is qualified to buy a home, but comes up short on the down payment, the American Dream Down Payment Fund will help provide the needed funds. We estimate that this fund will open the door to homeownership for 40,000 low-income families annually. A second obstacle to minority homeownership is a lack of affordable housing. To encourage the production of single-family homes for sale in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce, my administration is proposing a single-family affordable housing credit. Over the next five years, this will provide developers nearly $2.4 billion in tax credits for building affordable single-family housing in distressed areas. These credits will make 200,000 new homes available over its first five years to low-income purchasers. A third major obstacle to minority homeownership is the complexity and difficulty of the purchasing process. So we're stepping up our efforts to better educate first-time home buyers. Consumers need to know their rights and responsibilities as home buyers. Education is the best protection for families against abusive and unscrupulous lenders. Financial education and housing counseling can help protect home buyers against abuses, greatly improve the loan terms they are offered, and help families get through tough times with their homes intact. Through these important initiatives, we can help thousands of American families live the kinds of lives they had once only dreamed about. But government action isn't enough. We need to energize and engage the private sector, as well. That is why I have challenged the real estate industry leaders to join with the government, with non-profit organizations, and with private sector financial institutions in a major nationwide effort to increase minority homeownership. My approach to broadening homeownership focuses on empowering people to help themselves, and to help one another. These important initiatives will accomplish their purpose because Americans, working together and taking responsibility for one another, will make this great country even greater. The strength of America lies in the honor and the character and goodwill of its people. When we tap into that strength, we discover there is no problem that cannot be solved in this wonderful land of liberty. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Medicare is one of the most important and compassionate programs in American history. It provides medical care to the elderly and people with disabilities. It is a source of security and dignity for tens of millions of Americans. The health of America's senior citizens is one of America's most sacred obligations, and it is a commitment my administration will fully honor. Yet we need to do more to fulfill Medicare's promise. Seniors should have affordable coverage choices that meet their needs. But Medicare does not do that. Many seniors need prescription drug coverage. Medicare does not provide it. And because Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, seniors often pay the highest prices for drugs out of their own pockets, forcing too many of our seniors to chose between paying for pills or paying their bills. Medicare is an essential program, but it has not kept pace with the advances in medicine. The Medicare program is costly for seniors and too often does not provide the choices that our seniors need, and our seniors want. So Medicare must be strengthened, and it must be improved. Congress is working hard to pass legislation that will help many seniors with their drug costs, and guarantee all senior citizens prescription drug coverage. I strongly support these efforts. At the same time, I am working for a Medicare endorsed drug card, that will allow seniors to get lower prices from drug manufactures right away. And I'm working for temporary assistance with drug costs for seniors with limited incomes, even before the full prescription drug benefit becomes available a few years from now. Medicare also needs to give every senior affordable, up-to- date health insurance options. Right now, more than 5 million Medicare members have access to valuable, modern health insurance benefits and prescription drug coverage in Medicare plus Choice plans. These improved benefits, along with innovative treatments, probably saved Joe Hotin's life. Mr. Hotin served in the Navy in World War II. He joined his Medicare plus Choice in 1995. Because his health plan covers annual checkups, Joe's doctor caught a spot and got it treated before it turned into life threatening cancer. Many of these treatments and programs that can save and improve lives, and reduce health care costs, are only available through Medicare's private plans. Unfortunately, millions of Medicare members do not have the option to choose these benefits. The federal government has long provided reliable coverage choices to all its employees. But current law prevents private health plans from giving Medicare enrollees the same choices. As a result, over 100 private plans have left Medicare, and millions of seniors have lost the valuable additional benefits that private plans provide. We must act now to provide every Medicare member with more choices and more savings. Medicare needs a fair system of competition, a system that encourages additional benefits and options for better care at lower cost. Medicare is crucial to elderly Americans. I urge members of both parties to work together to protect and improve Medicare, and to maintain our moral commitment to millions of Americans. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Next week, the United States House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a welfare reform plan that will touch the lives of millions of Americans. The last time Congress reformed welfare, in 1996, it put millions of Americans on the path to better lives."/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary May 11, 2002 Radio Address by the President to the Nation Listen to the President's Remarks THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Next week, the United States House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a welfare reform plan that will touch the lives of millions of Americans. The last time Congress reformed welfare, in 1996, it put millions of Americans on the path to better lives. Because of work requirements and time limited benefits, welfare caseloads have dropped by more than half. Today, 5.4 million fewer people live in poverty, including 2.8 million fewer children than in 1996. Yet, the real success of welfare reform is not found in the number of caseloads that have been cut, but in the number of lives that have been changed. I've traveled all across our nations and I've met people whose lives have been improved because of welfare reform. I have heard inspiring stories of hope and dignity and hard work and personal achievement. Yet, there are still millions of Americans trapped in dependence, without jobs and the dignity they bring. And now Congress must take the next necessary steps in welfare reform. Compassionate welfare reform should encourage strong families. Strong marriages and stable families are good for children. So stable families should be a central aim of welfare policy. Under my plan, up to $300 million per year will be available to states to support good private and public programs that counsel willing couples on building a healthy respect for marriage. Compassionate welfare reform must allow states greater flexibility in spending welfare money. Today, confusing and conflicting regulations are keeping people from getting help. My proposal would give states the freedom to redesign how federal programs operate in their states. This will allow states to be more innovative in providing better job training, housing and nutrition programs, and better child care services to low income families. Most of all, compassionate welfare reform must encourage more and more Americans to find the independence of a job. Today, states on average must require work of only 5 percent of adults getting welfare. I am proposing that every state be required within five years to have 70 percent of welfare recipients working or being trained to work at at least 40 hours a week. These work requirements must be applied carefully and compassionately. Because many on welfare need new skills, my plan allows states to combine work with up to two days each week of education and job training. Our proposal allows for three months in full-time drug rehabilitation or job training. And adolescent mothers can meet their work requirements by attending high school. A work requirement is not a penalty. It is the pathway to independence and self-respect. For former welfare recipients, this path has led to a new and better life. When I was in North Carolina earlier this year, I met Ella Currence, a mother of four, who was on welfare for seven years. She knew change would be difficult. But she also knew change was best. Ella began participating in the state's Work First program. She has been working for the last five years, and she put her life in order. Ella says, "you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it." This is the spirit and confidence encouraged by work. Everyone in America benefits from compassionate welfare reform. Former welfare recipients gain new hope and know the independence and dignity of an honest day's work. As our recovery continues, business will need more motivated and trained workers. Good welfare reform laws can break dependency and help the American economy. My administration has worked closely with Congress in writing the new welfare legislation. It's an excellent bill that will provide hope and promise, dignity and opportunity to millions of Americans. I urge the House to pass it, and the Senate to then act on it. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Sunday is Cinco de Mayo, a day that commemorates the Mexican people's great victory at the Battle of Puebla, a battle for freedom fought against overwhelming odds. That victory continues to inspire liberty-loving people across the globe. It reminds us that the cost of freedom is always high, but it is never too high. Brave and determined people, committed to a great cause, can do great good. That was true 140 years ago, and it remains true today. Just before September the 11th, I welcomed my good friend, President Vicente Fox, to the White House as the guest of honor at my first state dinner. When he arrived I said this: The United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico. In the past eight months, our relationship has grown even stronger. The people of Mexico stand with the American people in the war on terror. This is a decisive decade in the history of liberty -- and the United States is grateful we can count on Mexico's strong support. America's relationship with Mexico is built on common values and shared culture. We both value families and communities -- the places where character is formed and traditions are passed from one generation to the next. Americans appreciate the strong faith of the Mexican people -- a faith that provides hope and inspiration and unity even in the darkest times. People on both sides of the Rio Grande value independence and freedom, and opportunity -- the ability to work hard to achieve your dreams and become successful as a result. By their strong values and their determination to create a better life for themselves and their children, immigrants from Mexico enrich American life. My close relationship with President Fox reflects the close relationship between our nations. It is built on the solid ground of respect and trust and friendship. President Fox is a great Mexican patriot, a man of honest talk and convictions, who is passionately concerned for his people's welfare. We are both deeply committed to helping the entire American familia achieve prosperity and live in peace. Mexico and America share a continent, and we are dedicated to common goals. We are working together to create a "smart border" -- one that will speed the safe flow of people and commerce, but protect our two nations from terrorism and crime. We are working together on a Partnership for Prosperity, to better focus the creativity and resources of the private sector on the critical task of development. We are working together to address the important and challenging immigration issues between our countries. And I've asked our Congress to pass an extension of Section 245(i) of our immigration law to let families stay together while they become permanent residents. We're working together to improve conditions for people living along the border. And we're working together to create an entire hemisphere that lives in liberty and trades in freedom. Our two nations will succeed together because our futures are bound to each other. Geography made us neighbors, but our shared values and rich cultures have made us the closest of friends. May God bless the people of Mexico, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, Americans had some good news about strong growth in our economy, yet we cannot be content or complacent. Job creation and business investment are still not what they should be. We want short-term recovery to become long-term expansion. And one of the best ways to encourage high-paying jobs and long-term growth is expanded trade. I'm pleased that the United States Senate is set to begin an important debate on trade legislation that will help American workers and farmers and consumers. I have traveled around the country and seen the value of trade, and foreign leaders have told me how trade will strengthen security and economic growth in our hemisphere. The benefits of greater trade are beyond dispute. During the 1990s, U.S. exporters generated about one-quarter of our economic growth through the sale of American goods abroad. Trade boosts our productivity and creates higher-paying jobs. The latest global trade agreement and NAFTA have improved the average standard of living for an American family of four by up to $2,000 a year. Now is the time to build on this record of success. The Senate should pass the pending trade legislation without delay. Trade promotion authority would give me the flexibility to negotiate with other countries to open their markets and get the best deals for American producers and workers. Congress would still have the final up or down vote on any trade agreement. The previous five Presidents have had this authority; it expired eight years ago. And, since then, America has sacrificed its traditional leadership role in trade. For two decades, trade promotion authority was a bipartisan commitment. It was a commitment because it represented our national interest in expanded foreign markets. More than 150 trade agreements exist throughout the world. The European Union is party to 31 of them, and Mexico to 10. The United States is party to just three. Passage of the TPA will give America's entrepreneurs and workers and farmers and ranchers a fair shot at the markets of the world. The Andean Trade Preference Act is a good example of how trade can also help increase the security of America. Over the past 10 years, this law has given the four Andean nations more access to our markets, which they report has created 140,000 jobs. The law has also helped provide an economic alternative to the production of drugs. We need to renew and expand the Andean Trade Preference Act as soon as possible. If we fail to act before May 16th, 90 days worth of import duties will come due, raising prices for American consumers and hampering the region's economic development. I recognize that some American workers may face adjustment challenges as a result of trade. I support helping these workers by reauthorizing and improving trade adjustment assistance programs that will give workers impacted by trade new skills, help them find new jobs quickly, and provide them with financial assistance. Nearly five months have passed since the House of Representatives approved trade promotion authority and the Andean trade legislation. Every day we go without expanding trade is another day of missed opportunities to strengthen our economy. The Senate must act and affirm America's trade leadership in a bipartisan manner. We cannot let this initiative fall victim to partisan politics. Our trading partners are waiting for us. American workers are depending on us. And America cannot afford further delay. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week Secretary of State Colin Powell returned from the Middle East and reported on his intensive and productive meetings. In this region, we are confronting hatred that is centuries old, and disputes that have lingered for decades. Yet, America has a vision for peace, and by calling all the leaders of the Middle East to their responsibilities, Secretary Powell made progress toward peace. To defuse the current crisis the Palestinian Authority must act on its words of condemnation against terror. Israel must continue its withdrawals. All Arab nations must confront terror in their own region. All parties must stop funding or inciting terror, and must state clearly that a murderer is not a martyr; he or she is just a murderer. All parties must realize that the only long-term solution is for two states -- Israel and Palestine -- to live side by side in security and peace. This will require hard choices and real leadership by Israelis and Palestinians, and their Arab neighbors. The time is now for all of us to make the choice for peace. America will continue to work toward this vision of peace in the Middle East, and America continues to press forward in our war against global terror. We will use every available tool to tighten the noose around the terrorists and their supporters. And when it comes to the threat of terror, the only path to safety is the path of action. In the days just after September the 11th, I told the American people our war against terrorism would be a different war, fought on many fronts. And we are making progress on many fronts. Yesterday the United States and the world's other leading industrialized nations blocked the financial assets of another 10 terrorists and terrorist organizations. This joint action among close allies is an important step in choking off the financial pipeline that pays for terrorist training and attacks. A total of 161 nations around the world have joined together to block more than $100 million of suspected terrorist assets. The United States also continues to work with our friends and allies around the world to round up individual terrorists, such as Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda leader captured in Pakistan. From Spain to Singapore, our partners are breaking up terrorist cells and disrupting their plans. Altogether, more than 1,600 terrorists and their supporters have been arrested or detained in 95 foreign nations. In Afghanistan, the United States and its partners are pressing forward with a military campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban. More than a dozen of our NATO allies are contributing forces to this fight. Right now, hundreds of Royal Marines from Great Britain are leading an operation to clear and seal off regions where our enemies are trying to regroup to commit murder and mayhem, and to undermine Afghanistan's efforts to build a lasting peace. And we're working with nations such as Yemen, the Philippines and Georgia that seek our help in training and equipping their military forces to fight terror in some of the world's distant corners. We're making progress. Yet nothing about this war will be quick or easy. We face dangers and sacrifices ahead. America is ready; the morale of our military is high; the will of our people is strong. We are determined, we are steadfast, and we will continue for as long as it takes, until the mission is done. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Monday is tax day and this year, tax day will be different. This year, your tax rates are lower and you will keep more of your hard-earned money to spend or save, as you see fit. Last year, I signed a tax relief bill that will continue to reduce federal taxes by more than a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. "/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary April 13, 2002 President's Radio Address Listen to the President's Remarks THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Monday is tax day and this year, tax day will be different. This year, your tax rates are lower and you will keep more of your hard-earned money to spend or save, as you see fit. Last year, I signed a tax relief bill that will continue to reduce federal taxes by more than a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Relief began almost immediately. Single taxpayers received checks for up to $300. Single parent taxpayers received up to $500. And married couples received up to $600. By now, American taxpayers have already benefitted from $57 billion in tax relief. Yet, when it comes to tax relief, once is not enough. So the best news is that tax relief is continuing this year. The child credit was increased to $600 and made available to lower income Americans. For a single mom with two kids making $18,000, this one change alone provides $800 in tax relief. We're beginning a new low 10 percent bracket this year. We're making it easier for low income workers to take their first steps up the ladder of opportunity. And, starting this year, you will be able to save more of your money tax free, whether in an education savings account, an IRA, or a 401(k). Tax relief helps the working people of our country with more money to provide for their families and pay their bills. And perhaps the best news of all is that even more relief is on the way for many years to come. The tax bill will continue to increase the child credit up to $1,000 per child by the year 2010. The marriage tax will be reduced. And the unfair death tax will be completely abolished. Millions of successful small businesses that pay on the personal income tax schedule will find their taxes are going down. And when the tax cut is fully phased in, 43 million married couples will see their taxes reduced on average by over $1,700 per year. Thirty-eight million families with children will receive an annual tax cut of almost $1,500 to help pay for education, child care, or other expenses. Eleven million single mothers will be able to keep an average of $770 more of their income each year to care for their children. Thirteen million seniors will see their taxes reduced on average by more than $900. And 3.9 million Americans will have their income tax liability completely eliminated. Next week, the House will take up legislation to make this tax relief permanent. And I urge Congress to pass this vital measure. Tax relief is a crucial part of my administration's overall economic growth agenda, to create more high-paying jobs. Like our balanced energy plan and our determination to knock down trade barriers, tax relief will help you achieve the economic security you need to realize your dreams. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend, Laura and I are hosting the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his family, at our ranch in Crawford, Texas. America has no better ally in our war against terrorism than Great Britain. Six months ago, when the United States launched military strikes against al Qaeda training camps and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, British forces were right by our side. And the success of Operation Enduring Freedom owes much to the strong support from allies like Great Britain. Yet, the war against terrorism is far from over. It will continue in Afghanistan and beyond. The world has been brutally reminded these past two weeks of the price exacted by terror. Prime Minister Blair and I will spend much of our time this weekend discussing the tragic outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Across the world, people are grieving for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost their lives. When an 18 year old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the process kills a 17 year old Israeli girl, the future, itself, is dying -- the future of the Palestinian people and the future of the Israeli people. The United States is strongly committed to finding a just settlement in the Middle East. That settlement must lead to two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. This goal can never be realized through terrorism. It can only be realized through a political process. Arab governments, the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people must recognize that suicide bombings are jeopardizing the very possibility of an independent Palestinian state. This week, I called upon the Palestinian leadership to order an immediate and effective cease-fire, and a crackdown on terrorist networks. Israel, too, faces hard choices. America will always be a committed friend of Israel, and we recognize Israel's right to defend itself against terror. Yet, to lay the foundations of future peace, I've asked Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian controlled areas and begin withdrawing from those cities it has recently occupied. Next week, Secretary of State Powell will travel to the Middle East to seek broad international support for these principles, and to work toward a cease-fire that will lead to a political settlement. I have no illusions about the difficulty of this mission. Yet, our determination is strong. We'll work closely with nations in the region and with close allies, such as Great Britain, to end this conflict and to begin an era of peace. This could be a hopeful moment in the Middle East. A number of Arab leaders have endorsed a proposal that brings them closer than ever to recognizing Israel's right to exist. The United States is on record supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state. And Israel has recognized the goal of a Palestinian state. I believe the region could write a new story of democracy and development and trade, and join the progress of our times. Yet, progress requires an atmosphere of peace, and peace requires acts of leadership, not acts of terror. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Almost seven months have passed since the attack on our country, and the shock and sadness of that day are still with us. For many, the grief and sense of loss will never fully pass, and they are in our thoughts, especially in this holy season. The entire world is reminded again this week of the hope that lives and endures forever. For Jews and Christians, this is a time of joy and renewal. Passover celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from oppression by the hand of a faithful God. And tomorrow, Easter Sunday, many Christians will celebrate a hope that overcomes even death. These holy days represent some of the most profound hopes of humanity, which are shared in many traditions. We feel our reliance on the Creator who made us. We place our sorrows and cares before Him, seeking God's mercy. We ask forgiveness for our failures, seeking the renewal He can bring. Americans practice different faiths in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. And many good people practice no faith at all. For those who observe Easter and Passover, faith brings confidence that failure is never final, and suffering is temporary, and the pains of the Earth will be overcome. We can be confident, too, that evil may be present and it may be strong, but it will not prevail. On September the 11th, a terrible evil was done to our country. America and the civilized world are now joined together in a great struggle against enemies who have no regard for innocent life. Grave challenges and dangers face us in this war. We cannot predict every turn ahead of us. Yet in this season, we are assured that history is of moral design. Justice and cruelty have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. His purposes are often defied, but never defeated. I hope that this holy season will bring renewal of faith to those who seek it, and comfort to those who need it. And to all who observe these special days, I wish you a joyful Easter and a blessed Passover. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week I'm traveling in Latin America, visiting three strong American allies -- Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador -- to reaffirm the central importance I place on American relations with the rest of our hemisphere. "/> For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary March 23, 2002 Radio Address by the President to the Nation Listen to the President's Remarks THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I'm traveling in Latin America, visiting three strong American allies -- Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador -- to reaffirm the central importance I place on American relations with the rest of our hemisphere. Our country's future is closely tied to the success and security of our closest neighbors. Problems like drug trade and poverty produce terrible consequences for all our countries. And prosperity in our hemisphere will produce profound benefits for all our countries. The United States is strongly committed to helping build an entire hemisphere that lives in liberty and trades in freedom. The NAFTA trade agreement is a model for the world. NAFTA has created jobs and lifted lives, in Mexico and Canada and the United States. During NAFTA's first seven years, 15 million jobs were created in the United States. Our trade with Mexico now averages more than $650 million a day. And that's why our border is one of the busiest in the world, and keeping trade and traffic moving freely is essential to America and American jobs. Yet, we must also prevent our terrorist enemies from using the openness of our society against us. Even our welcoming country must be able to shut its doors to terrorists and drugs and weapons at our own borders. So America, working closely with Canada and Mexico, has set a goal: We are working for a common border that is open to commerce and legitimate travel, and closed to drug trafficking and terror. We want to speed the movement of legal goods and people across the border, and stop the illegal movement of goods and people. And we will use the most up-to-date technology to achieve this goal. This week, I saw some of that technology at work on a visit to a border near El Paso, Texas. X ray machines are being used to thoroughly screen cargo more efficiently than ever before. During my visit to Mexico, President Fox and I announced an agreement to move toward a "Smart Border" between our countries. Through close cooperation and advanced technology, we'll make our shared border more open and more secure. We'll work with the Mexican government to identify individuals who pose threats to North America before they arrive here. We will share technology to inspect traffic on cross-border rail lines and at major ports of entry. We will make sure that people with legitimate business, who travel regularly across the border, can cross easily -- so border authorities can focus on greater risks. And we will share information more quickly and efficiently with our Mexican friends. America's border with Mexico is a region of tremendous economic vitality, and that must not change. Both our nations benefit from close ties of family and culture and commerce. Our new approach to strengthened border security will preserve that openness, and increase the safety of our country. America will defend ourselves against new threats, at the same time that we build closer relationships with our neighbors. Thank you all for listening.

Good morning. In one week, boys and girls in Afghanistan will start a new school year. For many girls, this will be the first time in their young lives that they will have set foot in a classroom. Under the Taliban regime, educating women was a criminal act. Under the new government of a liberated Afghanistan, educating all children is a national priority. And America, along with its coalition partners, is actively helping in that effort. When Afghan children begin their classes they will find that the United States has already sent more than 4 million textbooks to their country. The textbooks are written in the Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari. And before the end of the year we'll have sent almost 10 million of them to the children of Afghanistan. These textbooks will teach tolerance and respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry. And they will be accompanied by blackboards, teacher's kits and other school supplies. America's children have been extremely generous in helping the children of Afghanistan. Through America's Fund for Afghan Children, they have raised more than $4.5 million, much of which is used for school supplies like notebooks and pencils, paper and crayons, soccer balls and jump ropes. The United States will also be funding 20 teams of teacher trainers to conduct training sessions with thousands of Afghan educators. In helping the Afghan people rebuild their country we have placed a central focus on education, and for a good reason. Education is the pathway to progress, particularly for women. Educated women tend to be healthier than those who are not well-educated. And the same is true of their families. Babies born to educated women are more likely to be immunized, better nourished, and survive their first year of life. Educated women encourage their children to be educated, as well. And nations whose women are educated are more competitive, more prosperous and more advanced than nations where the education of women is forbidden or ignored. We still have a lot of work to do in Afghanistan. The brave men and women of the American military continue to fight al Qaeda forces that are trying to regroup and would like nothing more than to strike America again. And even as we fight terror, American compassion is providing an alternative to bitterness, resentment and hatred. The United States has helped Afghanistan avert mass starvation. We're repairing its roads and bridges. We're rebuilding its health clinics and schools. And in one week, with textbooks in hand, the young girls of Afghanistan will begin school. This will be a remarkable moment in the history of Afghanistan, and a proud moment for the people of America. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This coming week, I will be highlighting measures to help America's public schools carry out the education reforms we enacted in Washington earlier this year. Our education reforms require accountability and results, and give schools greater resources to achieve them. Parents will have more information about the performance of their local schools and more say in how their children are educated. The No Child Left Behind Act is historic, ushering in a new era of accountability and education, but a lot of hard work is still ahead. The effectiveness of all education reform eventually comes down to a good teacher in a classroom. And America's teachers are eager to put higher standards into action and we must give them the tools to succeed. My administration has set a great goal for our public schools: a quality teacher in every classroom. We can achieve this in two ways: by attracting capable men and women into the teaching profession, and providing teachers the training and support they deserve. Over the next decade, America will need more than 2 million new teachers. The budget I have signed into law for 2002 includes nearly $3 billion for teacher training, recruiting and hiring, an increase of more than 35 percent over the last year's budget. We proposed to expand programs that recruit new math, science and special education teachers by forgiving part of their college loans in exchange for a commitment to teach in poor neighborhoods for at least five years. We should open up the teaching profession, allowing people who have achieved in other fields -- including veterans and parents with grown children -- to share their learning and experience. And we must upgrade the teaching colleges, where many teachers receive their training, the topic of a conference that will be hosted by our First Lady on Tuesday. Today, only 36 percent of teachers themselves say they feel very well prepared for their jobs, so we'll focus on teacher training efforts where the need is greatest, in early childhood education, special education, math, science and reading instruction. Through my administration's Reading First program, we are placing a new emphasis on the most basic of skills and many of our teachers will need training in the best and proven methods of reading instruction. Because learning only takes place in an atmosphere of order, we want our teachers to be in control of their classrooms. So we're protecting teachers from the threat of frivolous lawsuits that often result from enforcing reasonable discipline. Because committed teachers often buy school supplies for their students out of their own pockets, the budget I have proposed includes a tax deduction to cover some of those costs. And because I strongly believe in local control of education, I'll implement new flexibility for school districts. They'll be able to use federal funds where the local need is greatest to reduce class sizes or improve teacher training or to increase teacher pay. In our new era of education reform we're asking a lot of our teachers, and we owe them something in return. We must treat them as the professionals they are. We must give them our respect and support. Teachers are among the most important people in our children's lives and a good teacher can literally make a lifelong difference. I have confidence in the education reforms we enacted because I have confidence in the teachers who will carry them out. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today I'm flying west, across the Pacific, to visit Japan, South Korea and China. The people of Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing touched all our hearts in the days after September 11, with moving displays of sympathy and support in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Today, all three nations are supporting our fight against terrorism. I look forward to discussing our progress in ridding the world of this great threat to civilization, and we'll discuss our work to build a better world beyond terror -- a world of greater opportunity and more open trade, stronger security and more individual freedom. I will speak to the Japanese Parliament and thank Japan for five decades of friendship. Our great alliance has helped make possible the remarkable economic success of the Pacific region, which creates so much opportunity and so many jobs for Americans. Today, Japan is in the midst of economic uncertainty and transition. But I have great confidence in Japan's future and in the unlimited potential of its people. And I'm confident that Japan will make the bold reforms needed to restore growth and opportunity, which will benefit the people of both our nations. I will visit South Korea and travel to the Demilitarized Zone, one of the most dangerous places on Earth, where barbed wire marks a line dividing freedom and oppression. I will visit with American servicemen and women who defend this frontier and provide stability on the Korean Peninsula. The people of South Korea have built a vibrant democracy and Asia's third largest economy. The people of the South are now reaching out to the North in a spirit of friendship and reconciliation. I support these efforts. Yet I will remind the world that America will not allow North Korea and other dangerous regimes to threaten freedom with weapons of mass destruction. In China, I look forward to seeing again, firsthand, the remarkable changes that are taking place as China opens to the world. America welcomes China's recent entry into the World Trade Organization, which will encourage American trade with China, and encourage economic freedom and the rule of law in China, itself. I look forward to talking to the Chinese about their commitment to open up their markets to U.S. agricultural products. I'm also looking forward to meeting with Chinese students, because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the America I know -- an America with strong values of family, community, faith and freedom. And I will express my hopes that as China moves forward, it, too, will embrace the universal demands of human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, and the rights and value of every life. The flight across the northern Pacific is a long one. But in our spirit of friendship and cooperation, the nations of the northern Pacific are drawing every closer. All around this great ocean we see good friends -- Canada and Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan. And they will find in America a nation that is determined and patient and committed to the great cause of building a world that is more peaceful, more secure, and more prosperous. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. In my State of the Union address, I committed our nation to three great goals: To win the war, to secure our homeland, and to defeat the recession. In recent days, we have heard some encouraging reports on our progress and our work to defeat the recession. But many workers have lost their jobs and their retirement savings when their companies went bankrupt. Employees who have worked hard and saved all their lives should not have to risk losing everything if their company fails. So my administration is proposing important safeguards to our pension laws to protect the retirement savings of workers. First, we want to give workers greater freedom to diversify their retirement portfolios. Many companies require their workers to hold company shares long after their workers wish to sell, even when the company's shares are dramatically dropping in value. I propose that workers be permitted to sell company-contributed shares in their retirement account and diversify after they have participated in a 401(k) for three years. Next, we need to make sure that companies have a single standard for their executives and their employees. It is unfair for workers to be denied the ability to sell stock when executives are free to sell their stock. Right now, though, companies can create what are called blackouts, when they switch the management of their retirement accounts from one investment firm to another. During the switch, employees don't have access to their 401(k)s and can't buy or sell. These blackouts usually happen because the company is looking for better service for its employees. But when employees can't sell, executives shouldn't be able to sell, either. So I am proposing that company executives be prohibited from selling any and all of their stock during these blackout periods. Third, workers should be informed in advance that a blackout period is coming. Under my administration's reforms, workers must be given 30 days' notice before employers make any changes that would stop them from selling their stock. Fourth, companies will be put on notice when employees are blacked out, company executives with power over 401(k)s will be held accountable for treating their workers' assets as carefully as they treat their own. Fifth, workers should have the benefit of solid, independent investment advice. Right now, the law deters companies from providing employees with sound advice, such as information about the benefits of diversification. And that doesn't make sense. We need to encourage companies to provide workers good advice, not punish them for doing so. And, finally, employers should be required to provide regular information to their workers about the current value of their accounts and their right to sell and diversify. Right now, employers need to give an accounting to workers only once a year. We're going to tell them they must do so every three months. These measures will be a major benefit for American workers and for America's employers. Our country's employers welcome the highest standards of conduct, because high standards are good for business and good for America. I thank you for listening.

Good morning. On Monday, communities across America will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Laura will visit Atlanta to commemorate the day in Dr. King's home town. I will welcome Dr. King's family to the White House. This year's observance is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Dr. King, and honor the principles for which he lived and died. Americans can proudly say that we have overcome the institutionalized bigotry that Dr. King fought. Now our challenge is to make sure that every child has a fair chance to succeed in life. That is why education is the great civil rights issue of our time. So my administration worked with Republicans and Democrats to enact into law the most far-reaching educational reform in a generation. We are insisting on high standards for all our children. We're putting a new emphasis on reading as the first step toward achievement. We're offering teachers new training, and states and localities new flexibility. And we're going to measure and test how everyone is doing in our new accountability system, so we can get help to children before it is too late. We have a special obligation to disadvantaged children to close the achievement gap in our nation. In my next budget, I will propose an increase of $1 billion for the federal program that aids disadvantaged schoolchildren. That's on top of the 18-percent increase in last year's budget. In fact, federal spending on Title I will increase just about as much in the first two years of my administration as it did in all the previous eight years combined. I hope Congress will approve this request. At the same time as we fund Title I, we're giving extra help to children with special needs. The federal program for special needs children was established by the law known as IDEA, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. My 2003 budget requests an additional $1 billion for IDEA, as well -- an important increase. But we want these new dollars to carry to special education the same spirit of reform and accountability we have brought to other education programs. This reform effort began Tuesday, when Education Secretary Rod Paige convened the first meeting of the new presidential commission on excellence in special education. This distinguished and diverse group, chaired by former Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad, has a clear mission -- to propose reforms that will make special education an integral part of an education system that expects all children to reach their full potential. We must have high expectations for children who are more difficult to teach or who have fallen behind. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would accept no less than an equal concern for every child in America, and neither will my administration. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. We have entered a busy season here in Washington. Soon, Congress will be back in session. I will go to the Capitol to report on the state of our union and I will present a budget that sets the priorities of our government for fiscal year 2003. Our highest priorities are clear to all. We must give our military every tool and weapon it needs to prevail in the war against terror. We must strengthen our country's defenses against further attack, with a comprehensive program of homeland security. And we must get our country's economy growing and creating jobs once again. The economy is a concern for all Americans, especially for those out of work. These Americans need extra help. My economic plan proposes an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have lost their jobs and direct assistance to protect their health insurance. My plan is based on the simple truth that people out of work need an unemployment check; but what they need even more is a steady paycheck. So I have joined with Republicans and Democrats in proposing concrete steps to create more jobs and help spur more growth in the economy. The House passed this plan. The Senate needs to act on it. Difficult economic times brings hardship to many other Americans, as well: single moms or disadvantaged young people trying to get into the work force. My budget seeks to help them, too, by adding resources to vital programs that have proven their value. One of our government's most effective services is the Women, Infants and Children program, which counsels mothers on nutrition and health care for their children. In my budget for the coming fiscal year, I will propose an increase of $364 million for the WIC program. This will be enough to serve nearly 8 million women and children each month. Another vital program is the Job Corp, which provides employment training to more than 72,000 disadvantaged young Americans. In my budget, I will ask Congress for an additional $73 million to expand the good work of the Job Corp. This will help to pay for new residential training centers. We will also secure high school accreditation for Job Corps training so that more young people can have the advantage of a high school diploma. These are some of the elements of the budget I will be sending to Congress. My budget focuses on the pressing needs of our country and on the basic needs of our citizens. I am committed to building a strong economy that spreads its benefits to everyone. This goal reaches beyond politics or party, and I'm confident that Congress will join me in the work ahead. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The events of September the 11th left America sadder and stronger, and they clarified some important goals for our country. We have a war to wage and a recession to fight. Defending our country and strengthening our economy are great priorities for 2002. We must be determined and we must keep our focus. This Saturday, I'm traveling in Oregon and California, talking with people who have been hit hard by the economic downturn. When I return to Washington on Monday, I will be meeting with my economic advisors and other officials to discuss the latest economic data and work for a quick recovery for our economy. My administration has offered our ideas for creating new jobs. I've proposed speeding up the tax reductions Congress passed last year, because the faster tax rates come down, the faster our economy will grow. I have proposed tax refunds for lower and moderate income families, to put money in the hands of people with kids to support and bills to pay. I have proposed reforming the alternative minimum tax so employers and entrepreneurs no longer see their taxes rise as their profits shrink. In tough times, we need to encourage entrepreneurship and small business growth, not punish it. I've proposed better tax treatment for employers and entrepreneurs who invest in new equipment, which will help the hardworking people who use the equipment and those who manufacture the equipment. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that these ideas could save at least 300,000 threatened jobs. I'm also calling on Congress to act immediately to help the unemployed workers. I've proposed extending unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, and I've supported tax credits to protect the health insurance of workers who've been laid off. But we can't stop there. It is important to help workers who've lost their jobs. It is even more important to help workers find new jobs. In tough times, people need a unemployment check; but what they want is a paycheck. Americans want the independence of a job, and the satisfaction of providing for their families themselves. A job is more than a source of income; it is a source of dignity. I made my proposals to create new jobs and help dislocated workers on October the 4th, three months and 943,000 lost jobs ago. The House of Representatives accepted my proposals. But the Senate Democratic leadership would not even schedule a vote. Some in the Senate seem to think we can afford to do nothing, that the economy will get better on its own, sooner or later. I say that if your job is in danger or you have a loved one out of work, you want that recovery sooner, not later. We need a plan to lengthen unemployment benefits, we need a plan to shorten the recession. The Senate should act on both. America's workers cannot afford more delay. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Two thousand and one has been a year that Americans will always remember. We suffered great loss, and we found a new unity. We were attacked, and we responded swiftly. We have seen the strength of America in countless acts of kindness, compassion and courage. This year ends with progress on the battlefield and accomplishment at home. The men and women of our military have successfully fought a new kind of war. They applied new tactics and new technology to rout a new kind of enemy. The lessons we learn in Afghanistan will guide our military to the future, and make our country stronger and more secure. On the home front, we're strengthening our defenses against terrorist attack, while upholding our constitutional liberties. Our airways are more secure, and we are standing on alert. And here in Washington, we have built a record of achievement. We've set out clear priorities of tax relief and education reform, and we achieved them. Strengthening a troubled economy was one of my first priorities. So we passed the biggest tax reduction in a generation. And on January 1st, the next round of tax relief takes effect. As of January 1st, the marginal tax rate for moderate-income taxpayers falls to 10 percent. Tax credits to encourage businesses to provide day care will expand. And the adoption tax credit will increase to $10,000. Yet, we cannot stop here. I was disappointed by the failure of the Senate to act on my proposals to help laid off workers and to stimulate job creation. I outlined these proposals in October, more than 800,000 lost jobs ago. My ideas passed the House of Representatives. And according to the Council of Economic Advisors, they could save 300,000 endangered jobs. But the Senate would not schedule them for a vote. I hope that we can resolve in the new year and put politics aside and get the job done for the American people. Education was another top priority, and we passed the boldest reform of the federal education program in nearly four decades. We raised standards, put a new emphasis on reading, protected local control, and made sure that our schools teach all of our children. These are real achievements, and we must do more. We must have quick action on other issues that passed the House of Representatives, but languished in the Senate. I'm counting on the Senate to take up my proposals to assure America's energy independence, to stimulate our economy and create jobs, to adopt a solid patients' bill of rights, to mobilize faith-based institutions for a new era of effective compassion, and to enhance our ability to negotiate favorable trade agreements for the United States. We have work to do to strengthen Social Security and put Medicare on sound footing for the future. Above all, this coming year will require our sustained commitment to the war against terrorism. We cannot know how long this struggle will last. But it can end only one way: in victory for America and the cause of freedom. We look back on 2001 with sadness and with pride. We must look forward with determination and with resolve. Thank you so much for listening, and Happy New Year to you all.

Good morning, and merry Christmas. During this time of conflict and challenge, Christmas is a day on which we celebrate hope and joy; when our thoughts turn to justice and compassion, and to a Prince of Peace born long ago. This is a day on which we give thanks for the wonder of God's love, for the blessings we have received, and for the families we love. And this year all of these things seem particularly important. Charles Dickens wrote that Christmas is a time when abundance rejoices and want is keenly felt. This Christmas finds many facing hurt and loss, especially the families of terror victims and of our young men killed in battle. America grieves with you, and we hope you'll especially find the comfort and hope of Christmas. Laura and I send our good wishes to all the families in America that have come together in celebration. We're especially grateful to all the men and women of our military, many of whom are today separated from their loved ones because they're serving our country. Even in this time of war, we pray for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, and we continue to ask God's blessings on the United States. Merry Christmas, and happy New Year.

Good morning. As too many Americans know firsthand, the economy began to slow early last year, and terrorism has hit us hard. Many workers have lost jobs and others are seeing their hours cut. The American people want action to improve our economy, and so do I. More than two months, and more than 700,000 lost jobs ago, I proposed an economic security package to help workers who have been laid off, and to take action to create jobs and promote long-term economic growth. The House of Representatives quickly responded, passing its own legislation to help jump-start the economy. The Senate has failed to act. And while the Senate has failed to do its work, more and more Americans have been thrown out of work. To break the logjam in the Senate, I reached out this week to moderate Democrats and Republicans to build a consensus that gave both parties some of what they want, and most important, will give our economy the boost it needs. This bipartisan package will give workers who have lost a job since the recession began last March an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. It will also help unemployed workers keep their health insurance, and will give governors greater resources and more flexibility to assist those in need. These new bipartisan measures help working families who are struggling to make ends meet, giving up to $600 cash refund to low-income families who don't earn enough to pay income tax, but still pay part of their income in payroll taxes. And this plan helps middle class families, couples earning approximately $60,000, and individuals earning $40,000, by speeding up planned tax relief for them, as well. This installment of tax relief was scheduled for 2004. Under this new idea, many middle class families will see a rise in their take-home pay in just a couple of weeks. And finally, this agreement will create jobs. Among other steps, it gives employers incentives to invest in new equipment right away. It lowers the tax rate for 10 million small businesses and entrepreneurs, making it easier for them to expand and grow and hire new workers. It focuses on other policies that will also increase investment and produce new jobs. This economic growth package is urgently needed. Today, the federal government's Council of Economic Advisors released a report that estimates the bipartisan agreement reached this week can save 300,000 American jobs that might otherwise be lost if we fail to act. Democrats and Republicans set aside partisan politics to arrive at this agreement. They want to get something done for America's workers. We believe this agreement has enough votes to be approved by the United States Senate, and I'm ready to sign it into law. But first the Senate Leader must schedule a vote. On behalf of the American workers and our American economy, I call on the leadership of the Senate to bring this bipartisan economic recovery plan to a vote, to bring help to unemployed workers and a crucial boost to our economy. The holidays are upon us and time is running out. While some in Washington are looking for reasons not to act, many in Congress in both parties want to find a way to get the job done. America's workers are counting on us. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, the official announcement came that our economy has been in recession since March. And unfortunately, to a lot of Americans, that news comes as no surprise. Many have lost jobs, or seen their hours cut. Many have seen friends or family laid off. The long economic expansion that started 10 years ago, in 1991, began to slow last year. Many economists warned me when I took office that a recession was beginning. So we took quick action. We passed the biggest tax cut in a generation, and we imposed some much needed discipline on federal spending. And by the end of the summer, we could see signs that the economy was responding. But the terrorist attacks of September the 11th hit our economy hard. They hurt our airlines and hotels and restaurants, and undermined consumer and business confidence. Now we need to act boldly to protect America's economic security. There are two immediate priorities for America's recovery. We must bring quick help to those who need it most, and we must restore our economy's growth. It's the holiday season. It's a time to reach out to Americans who are hurting, to help them put food on the table and to keep a roof over their heads. I've offered a plan to provide immediate assistance to those who have lost their jobs in the wake of the terrorist attack. My plan extends unemployment compensation by 13 weeks in the states hardest hit by terrorism. My plan helps states offer Medicaid to uninsured workers in need, and their families. And my plan offers emergency grants to states to help displaced workers get job training and find new work, and continue their health insurance -- practical help in a difficult time. And I'm working with congressional leaders on more ideas to help Americans who have lost their jobs. In the long run, the right answer to unemployment is to create more jobs. I have proposed a package of job-creating measures. I've asked Congress for tax relief for low-and moderate-income people to put more money into the hands of consumers, and to put people to work making things that consumers want. I have proposed we lower taxes on employers who buy new equipment to expand their business, and hire more people. We should reform our tax laws so that employers don't pay more taxes as their profits shrink. And I propose we speed up the income tax cuts Congress passed in the spring, so that people can keep more of their own money to spend or pay their debts. I asked for this job creation package on October the 5th. The House of Representatives responded swiftly. Yet I'm still waiting for a bill to sign. And, more importantly, so are more than 415,000 Americans who have lost their jobs since then. You know, after September the 11th, my administration and the Congress made a conscious decision to show the terrorists we could work together. We had an obligation to show that democracy works. We've done that. And now we need to do it again by helping dislocated workers and spurring economic growth. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Thanksgiving this year comes 72 days after a terrible national shock, an act of evil that caused, and continues to cause, so much suffering. Yet, the evil the terrorists intended has resulted in good they never expected. And this holiday season, Americans have much to be thankful for. We're thankful for the character of our fellow citizens who are flying flags and donating to charity and comforting those who grieve. Americans have aided the families of victims, and the starving children of Afghanistan, half a world away. This country has a good and generous heart. We're thankful for the decency of the American people who have stood for the American tradition of tolerance and religious liberty -- a tradition that has welcomed and protected generations of immigrants from every faith and background. We are thankful for new heroes -- police officers and firefighters and emergency workers, who have renewed our respect for public service and provided lasting lessons in courage. We're thankful for the men and women of our military, who are defending our lives and liberty with such skill, honor and success. We're thankful, this year even more intensely, for our lives and our families, and the love of those around us. Americans are remembering what really matters -- holding our children more closely, giving them more time. And we're thankful to God, who turned suffering into strength, and grief into grace. Offering thanks in the midst of tragedy is an American tradition, perhaps because, in times of testing, our dependence on God is so clear. The Pilgrims gave thanks even after the many deaths of a bitter winter. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed days of national thanksgiving even during a bloody Civil War. Lincoln asked God to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as it may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility. We pray for this goal, and we work for it. In America, blessings are meant to be shared, and out Thanksgiving is revealed in concern for others. At this season, Laura and I hope you'll find ways to reach out and share your blessings and talents in your own communities -- tutor or mentor a child; volunteer in a hospital; support our troops by becoming active in the USO; comfort those who feel afraid; show your kindness to a Muslim neighbor; help someone in need of shelter, or food, or words of hope; and continue to pray for America. We will face difficult times ahead. The fight we have begun will not be quickly or easily finished. Our enemies hide and plot in many nations. They are devious and ruthless. Yet we are confident in the justice of our cause. We will fight for as long as it takes, and we will prevail. May God grant us patience, resolve, and wisdom in all that is to come. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for listening.

Good morning. It's been a week of international progress in the war against terror. On Wednesday, our friends and allies around the world joined the U.S. Treasury to freeze the assets of two terrorist supporting financial networks, one known as Al Barakaat and the other as Al Taqwa. We are taking aggressive measures to starve terrorists of their funding. Throughout the week I have been meeting at the White House with world leaders who support our cause. At the beginning of the week, I spoke via satellite to leaders of new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Earlier today, I addressed leaders from around the world at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. To every leader, I have delivered a consistent message: all civilized nations are threatened by terrorism, and all civilized nations have a responsibility to join in fighting it. The United States is grateful for the words of sympathy we have received from nations around the world since September the 11th. Now the time for words has passed. And now the time for action has arrived. Some actions are already required by international law. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted soon after the September the 11th attack, every nation must crack down on terrorist financing. Every nation that possesses useful intelligence about terrorism must share it. Every nation must close down terrorist camps inside its boarders. Every nation must deny weapons to terrorists. These obligations are binding on every country, and many nations are meeting those obligations. Yet, we expect even more of the countries that wish to be counted as members of the global coalition against terror. We expect nations to oppose all terrorists, not just some of them. No political cause can justify the deliberate murder of civilians. There is no such thing as a good terrorist. Any government that tries to pick and choose its terrorist friends will be regarded by us as a supporter of terrorism. We expect nations to speak the truth about terror. They shouldn't encourage malicious lies and outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th. No government should promote the propaganda of terrorists. We expect nations not to misuse the war against terror as an excuse to persecute ethnic and religious minorities in any country. When avenues for peaceful dissent are closed, the temptation to speak through violence grows. We expect nations to encourage development by expanding trade, investing in education and combatting AIDS and other infectious diseases around the world. In our struggle against hateful groups that exploit poverty and despair, we must offer an alternative of opportunity and hope. These are some of the steps I've described today at the United Nations. For all nations, they will require effort. For some nations, they will require courage. Yet, the cost of inaction is far higher. The only alternative to victory is a future of terror. So we will fight for victory. We are determined to defend ourselves, and defend our children from lawless violence. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As all Americans know, recent weeks have brought a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country: deadly anthrax spores sent through the U.S. Mail. There's no precedent for this type of biological attack, and I'm proud of the way our law enforcement officers, our health care and postal workers and the American people are responding in the face of this new threat. At this point in our investigation, we have identified several different letters that contained anthrax spores. Among them were the letters mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Capitol Hill, NBC News in New York and the New York Post newspaper. Four Americans have died as a result of these acts of terrorism. At least 13 others have developed forms of anthrax disease, either in the lungs, or less severely, on the skin. Public health officials have acted quickly to distribute antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to anthrax. When anthrax exposure is caught early, preventative treatment is effective. Anthrax can be treated with many antibiotics, and several pharmaceutical companies have offered medicine at reduced prices. The government is swiftly testing post offices and other sites for anthrax spores, and is closing them where potential threats to health are detected. We are working to protect people based on the best information available. And as we deal with this new threat, we are learning new information every day. Originally, experts believed the anthrax spores could not escape from sealed envelopes. We now know differently, because of cases where postal workers were exposed even though the envelopes they processed were not opened. Anthrax apparently can be transferred from one letter to another, or from a letter to mail sorting equipment. But anthrax is not contagious, so it does not spread from human to human, the way a cold or a flu can. Anthrax can be killed by sterilization, and the Postal Service is purchasing sterilizing equipment to be installed across the country. More than 30 billion pieces of mail have moved through the Postal Service since September the 11th, so we believe the odds of any one piece of mail being tainted are very low. But still, people should take appropriate precautions: look carefully at your mail before opening it, tell your doctor if you believe you may have been exposed to anthrax. An excellent summary of the symptoms of this disease can be found on the web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov. Remember, doctors warn that you can put your health at risk by taking antibiotics when you don't need them, so use antibiotics only after consulting a health care professional. If you see anything suspicious, or have useful information, please contact law enforcement authorities. The Postal Service and the FBI have offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the anthrax terrorists. And those who believe this is an opportunity for a prank should know that sending false alarms is a serious criminal offense. At least 20 individuals have already been arrested for anthrax hoaxes, and we will pursue anyone who tries to frighten their fellow Americans in this cruel way. We do not yet know who sent the anthrax -- whether it was the same terrorists who committed the attacks on September the 11th, or whether it was the -- other international or domestic terrorists. We do know that anyone who would try to infect other people with anthrax is guilty of an act of terror. We will solve these crimes, and we will punish those responsible. As we learn more about these anthrax attacks, the government will share the confirmed and credible information we have with you. I'm proud of our citizens' calm and reasoned response to this ongoing terrorist attack. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. I'm pleased to report that our nation continues to take important steps in the war against terrorism. Next week, the House of Representatives will be voting on an airline security bill that Congressman Don Young has introduced. It was modeled after proposals I made last month. Under the Young bill, the federal government will assume complete control of airport security and screening. It also greatly expands the Federal Air Marshal program, and provides substantial new funding for secure cockpits and other security measures aboard airplanes. There's a critical difference between the Young bill and the bill the Senate passed a few weeks ago. My approach gives the government the flexibility it needs to assemble a skilled and disciplined screening work force. The Senate bill mandates that all passenger and baggage screeners be federal workers in all circumstances. While that bill is well-intended, the best approach will be one that provides flexibility. The Young bill allows the use of private contractors operating under tough federal standards on background checks with federal law enforcement at every gate to promote better screening services, and ensure that security managers can move aggressively to discipline or fire employees who fail to live up to the rigorous new standards. The Young bill is the quickest, most effective way to increase aviation security. And time is of the essence. I urge Congress to move quickly on this vital legislation, as it did this week in passing new legislation to fight terrorism. The bill I signed yesterday gives intelligence and law enforcement officials additional tools they need to hunt and capture and punish terrorists. Our enemies operate by highly sophisticated methods and technologies, using the latest means of communication and the new weapon of bioterrorism. When earlier laws were written, some of these methods did not even exist. The new law recognizes the realities and dangers posed by the modern terrorist. It will help us to prosecute terrorist organizations -- and also to detect them before they strike. Since 11th of September, the men and women of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been relentless in their work. In return for their exceptional service, these public servants deserve our full support, and every means of help that we can provide. Intelligence operations and criminal investigations have often had to operate on separate tracks. The new law will make it easier for all agencies to share vital information about terrorist activity. Surveillance of communications is another essential method of law enforcement. But for a long time, we have been working under laws written in the era of rotary telephones. Under the new law, officials may conduct court-ordered surveillance of all modern forms of communication used by terrorists. In recent years, some investigations have been hindered by limits on the reach of federal search warrants. Officials had to get a new warrant for each new district and investigation covered, even when involving the same suspect. As of now, warrants are valid across districts and across state lines. And, finally, the new legislation greatly enhances the penalties that will fall on terrorists or anyone who helps them. Federal law now provides harsh penalties for possession of biological weapons. It is now easier to seize the assets of groups or individuals involved in terrorism. Government has greater ability to deport known terrorists and their supporters. And the statute of limitations on terrorist acts have been lengthened, along with prison sentences, for terrorist crimes. These measures were enacted with broad support in both parties. They reflect a firm resolve to uphold and respect the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, while dealing swiftly and severely with terrorists. Now comes the duty of carrying them out. And I can assure all Americans that these important new statutes will be enforced to the full. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week, we opened some important new fronts in the war on terror. We're taking the war to the enemy and we are strengthening our defenses here at home. In last weeks' radio address, I warned that time was running out for the Taliban to turn over the terrorists they shelter. They did not listen, and they are paying a price. On Sunday, American and British forces launched strikes at terrorist camps and Taliban military targets in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform are performing as they always do, with skill and courage. And they have achieved the goals of the first phase of our campaign. We have disrupted the terrorist network inside Afghanistan. We have weakened the Taliban's military. And we have crippled the Taliban's air defenses. American forces dominate the skies over Afghanistan and we will use that dominance to make sure terrorists can no longer freely use Afghanistan as a base of operations. This campaign will not be completed in one attack. Our enemy prefers to attack the helpless. He hides from our soldiers. But we're making a determined effort to take away his hiding places. The best defense against terrorism is a strong offensive against terrorists. That work continues. At the same time, we are taking further action to strengthen our protections against terrorism here at home. This week, I signed an executive order creating a new Office of Homeland Security. The Office is headed by a skilled and tested leader, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Governor Ridge is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. He's an effective executive and he knows what we're up against, because his own state was one of the three where Americans died on September the 11th. Governor Ridge is charged with coordinating a comprehensive national effort to protect our country against terrorism, to frustrate terrorists' plans, to help protect vulnerable points, and to prepare our response to potential threats. Tom Ridge will report directly to me, and he will have the full support of our entire government. I understand that many Americans are feeling uneasy. But all Americans should be assured: We are taking strong precautions, we are vigilant, we are determined, the country is alert, and the great power of the American nation will be felt. Our nation is grateful to so many Americans who are rallying to our cause and preparing for the struggle ahead: FBI agents, intelligence officers, emergency response workers, public health authorities, state and local officials, our diplomats abroad, law enforcement teams who safeguard our security at home, and soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who defend us so far away. Many others are asking: What can I do? Americans already contribute to the war on terror by their patience and patriotism, by their resolve and generosity. Yet, I have one more task, one especially for America's children. I urge you to show the best of America, by directly helping the children of Afghanistan who are suffering from the oppression and misrule of their own government. Many are malnourished, many are starving. Put a dollar in an envelope. Mark it, "America's Fund for Afghan Children," and send it here to the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, 20509-1600. Working with the American Red Cross, we will get that money to Afghan children in need. This is something the children of America can do for the children of Afghanistan, even as we oppose the brutal Taliban regime. We will oppose their evil with firm justice, and we will answer their hatred with compassion for the Afghan people. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Today I want to update Americans on our global campaign against terror. The United States is presenting a clear choice to every nation: Stand with the civilized world, or stand with the terrorists. And for those nations that stand with the terrorists, there will be a heavy price. America is determined to oppose the state sponsors of terror. Yet we are equally determined to respect and help the men and women those regimes oppress. Our enemy is not the Arab world. Many friendly Arab governments are, themselves, the targets of extremist terror. Our enemy is not Islam, a good and peace-loving faith, that brings direction and comfort to over one billion people, including millions of Americans. And our enemy is not the people of any nation, even when their leaders harbor terrorists. Our enemy is the terrorists themselves, and the regimes that shelter and sustain them. Afghanistan is a case in point. Its Taliban regime has made that nation into a sanctuary and training ground for international terrorists -- terrorists who have killed innocent citizens of many nations, including our own. The Taliban promotes terror abroad, and practices terror against its people, oppressing women and persecuting all who dissent. The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations. Full warning has been given, and time is running out. The Afghan people, however, are the victims of oppression, famine and misrule. Many refugees from that unfortunate nation are on the move, and sadly, many Afghans are on the verge of starvation. America respects the Afghan people, their long tradition and their proud independence. And we will help them in this time of confusion and crisis in their country. America has long been the largest source of food and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. This week I announced an additional $320 million in aid to the Afghan people, to those within Afghanistan and those who have fled across borders. Despite efforts by the Taliban to disrupt these critical aid shipments, we will deliver food and seeds, vaccines and medicines by truck, and even by draft animals. Conditions permitting, we will bring help directly to the people of Afghanistan by air drops. This aid will help Afghans make it through the upcoming winter. For the longer-term, I urge Congress to make funds available so that one day the United States can contribute, along with other friends of Afghanistan, to the reconstruction and development of that troubled nation. Helping people in great need is a central part of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, as well as many other faiths. It is also a central part of the American tradition. Even as we fight evil regimes we are generous to the people they oppress. Following World War II, America fed and rebuilt Japan and Germany, and their people became some of our closest friends in the world. In the struggle ahead, we will act in accordance with American ideals. We're offering help and friendship to the Afghan people. It is their Taliban rulers, and the terrorists they harbor, who have much to fear. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. I want to report to you on the progress being made on many fronts in our war against terrorism. This is a different kind of war, which we will wage aggressively and methodically to disrupt and destroy terrorist activity. In recent days, many members of our military have left their homes and families and begun moving into a place for missions to come. Thousands of Reservists have been called to active duty. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardmen are being deployed to points around the globe, ready to answer when their country calls. Our military families have accepted many hardships, and our nation is grateful for their willing service. The men and women of the Armed Forces are united in their dedication to freedom and they will make us proud in the struggle against terrorism. International cooperation is gaining momentum. This week, I met with the Prime Ministers of two of America's closest friends: Canada and Japan. Other countries, from Russia to Indonesia, are giving strong support as the war against terrorism moves forward. America is grateful to the nations that have cut off diplomatic ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which is sheltering terrorists. The United States respects the people of Afghanistan and we are their largest provider of humanitarian aid. But we condemn the Taliban, and welcome the support of other nations in isolating that regime. We have also launched a strike against the financial foundation of the global terror network. Our goal is to deny terrorists the money they need to carry our their plans. We began by identifying 27 terrorist organizations, terrorist leaders and foreign businesses and charities that support or front for terrorism. We froze whatever assets they had here in the United States, and we blocked them from doing business with people, companies or banks in our country. Many governments and financial institutions around the world are joining in this effort to starve terrorists of funding. This week I visited the headquarters at the FBI and the CIA. Their agents and analysts have been on the case around the clock, uncovering and pursuing the enemy. In the long campaign ahead, they will need our continued support, and every necessary tool to do their work. I'm asking Congress for new law enforcement authority, to better track the communications of terrorists, and to detain suspected terrorists until the moment they are deported. I will also seek more funding and better technology for our country's intelligence community. This week, we also took strong steps to improve security on planes and in airports, and to restore confidence in air travel. We're providing airlines with federal grants to make cockpits more secure through measures including fortified doors and stronger locks. And we're dramatically increasing the number of federal air marshals on our planes. Americans will have the confidence of knowing that fully equipped officers of the law are flying with them in far greater numbers. I'm also working with Congress to put federal law enforcement in charge of all bag and passenger screening at our airports. Standards will be tougher and enforced by highly trained professionals who know exactly what they're looking for. To enhance safety immediately, I've asked governors to place National Guardsmen at security checkpoints in airports. As all these actions make clear, our war on terror will be much broader than the battlefields and beachheads of the past. This war will be fought wherever terrorists hide, or run, or plan. Some victories will be won outside of public view, in tragedies avoided and threats eliminated. Other victories will be clear to all. Our weapons are military and diplomatic, financial and legal. And in this struggle, our greatest advantages are the patience and resolve of the American people. We did not seek this conflict, but we will win it. America will act deliberately and decisively, and the cause of freedom will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. The terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11th targeted our economy, as well as our people. They brought down a symbol of American prosperity, but they could not touch its source. Our country's wealth is not contained in glass and steel, it is found in the skill and hard work and entrepreneurship of our people; and those are as strong today as they were two weeks ago. Our economy has had a shock. Many workers lost their jobs this week, especially in the airline and hospitality industries, in restaurants and in tourism, as companies struggle to remain afloat. I applaud those companies who are making extra efforts to avoid laying off workers even during difficult times. Many Americans have also seen the value of their stocks decline. Yet, for all these challenges, the American economy is fundamentally strong. We have the best-educated, most productive work force in the world. Our factories produce more goods, and a broader variety of goods, than any country in the world. Our scientists continue to push forward the frontiers of technology and science, and our entrepreneurs continue to invent new ways to bring these advances to market. This is why people from around the world invest in America. We have taken action to address our year-long economic slowdown. Tax rebate checks continue to arrive in Americans' mailboxes. The $40 billion in tax relief these rebates represent will nearly double next year to over $70 billion in tax relief, with more in each of the next 10 years, as the child credit gets bigger, tax rates come down, and the marriage penalty relief kicks in. You can look forward to an improved business climate in America in the years ahead. The Federal Reserve has done its job of keeping our financial system strong and stable, cutting interest rates in half in the last eight months. Energy prices have remained steady. In fact, they are lower now than they were in the spring. And members of Congress are working together, regardless of party, in the best American spirit, to help get our economy moving again. The administration and congressional leaders of both parties have agreed to deliver emergency aid to keep our airlines flying. This will help the airlines maintain short-term stability as they work toward long-term viability for the benefit of all the workers and companies that depend on air travel. And, as well, we can assure the American traveler we are working hard to make sure that a tough new security program is implemented in our airports and our airplanes. I appreciate so very much working with Congress to assure the safety of the travelers in America. I'm also working with Congress to strengthen our broader economy and to get Americans back to work. Both parties in both Houses of Congress are united in our determination to use the fundamental strength of our economy to meet our immediate economic challenges. I'm deeply grateful to Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Gephardt, to Majority Leader Senator Tom Daschle, and Senator Trent Lott, for their helpful advice and for their constant support, and for their extraordinary service to our country in a difficult time. I want to thank America for the outpouring of support. I want to thank America for their strong will. And I want to remind the people of America, we're still the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, and no terrorist will ever be able to decide our fate. May God bless you all, and thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend I am engaged in extensive sessions with members of my National Security Council, as we plan a comprehensive assault on terrorism. This will be a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy. This is a conflict without battlefields or beachheads, a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible. Yet, they are mistaken. They will be exposed, and they will discover what others in the past have learned: Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction. Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them. We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism. And we are determined to see this conflict through. Americans of every faith and background are committed to this goal. Yesterday I visited the site of the destruction in New York City and saw an amazing spirit of sacrifice and patriotism and defiance. I met with rescuers who have worked past exhaustion, who cheered for our country and the great cause we have entered. In Washington, D.C., the political parties and both Houses of Congress have shown a remarkable unity, and I'm deeply grateful. A terrorist attack designed to tear us apart has instead bound us together as a nation. Over the past few days, we have learned much about American courage -- the courage of firefighters and police officers who suffered so great a loss, the courage of passengers aboard United 93 who may well have fought with the hijackers and saved many lives on the ground. Now we honor those who died, and prepare to respond to these attacks on our nation. I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective. We have much do to, and much to ask of the American people. You will be asked for your patience; for, the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve; for, the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long. In the past week, we have seen the American people at their very best everywhere in America. Citizens have come together to pray, to give blood, to fly our country's flag. Americans are coming together to share their grief and gain strength from one another. Great tragedy has come to us, and we are meeting it with the best that is in our country, with courage and concern for others. Because this is America. This is who we are. This is what our enemies hate and have attacked. And this is why we will prevail. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This weekend in Washington, my wife, Laura, is hosting the first National Book Festival, continuing a tradition she began as First Lady of Texas. With visiting authors and special events, the Book Festival will highlight the importance of reading and libraries in our national life. A few days later, she and I will host the White House Assembly on Reading at the Library of Congress. We will bring together scholars and educators committed to the cause of teaching every child to read. As a former teacher, herself, the First Lady is a passionate advocate for reading. She and I and my entire administration believe that teaching every child to read is critical to making sure every child has the opportunity to realize the American Dream. Reading is, after all, the most basic educational skill, and the most basic obligation of any school is to teach reading. Yet earlier this year, tests showed the almost two-thirds of African American children in the 4th grade cannot read at a basic level, and reading performance overall is basically unimproved over the past 10 years. The ability to read is what turns a child into a student. When this skill is not taught, a child has not failed the system, the system has failed the child. And that child is often put on a path to frustration and broken confidence. The methods we use to teach reading are critically important. First, we will have diagnostic tests to identify early reading problems in grades K through 3. Second, we will correct those problems with intervention to give children the best possible help. Third, we will support reading instruction based on sound research, with a central role for phonics. And we'll make sure that every teacher is well-trained in these proven methods. All of this can serve an important goal I have set for our country, to ensure that every child is able to read by the end of 3rd grade. Meeting this goal requires not only encouragement to our schools, but resources, and my budget provides them. Altogether I have asked Congress to triple the amount of federal money available for reading programs across America. We must also bring accountability and high standards to every public school. At the heart of my education reforms is a confident belief that every child can learn if given the chance. When our expectations are high, America's children will rise to meet them. I have agreed with the Congress that we must increase education spending. But some, for whom the increases this year may not be enough, are threatening to stall these much needed reforms. That is a tactic of the past in Washington that has neither worked for our country, nor, more sadly, for our children. After many years of debate, the American people are counting on us to deliver on our promise of reform for the public schools. Both the House and the Senate have passed good bills that hold schools accountable and expect results. The hardest work is behind us. We have a chance now to pass education reform based on good principles. When the Congress sends me that bill I will sign it, and I urge the Congress to send it quickly. Thanks for listening.

Good morning. On Monday, Americans will celebrate Labor Day. It's a day to salute the most productive person on earth -- the American worker. Whether you work on a farm, in an office or on a factory floor; whether you design computer chips, build houses or teach school; whether you're just starting out or whether you built your own company from nothing -- your nation thanks you for your labor. American productivity has risen so high because Americans work hard and because they work smart. When Congress recognized the Labor Day holiday in 1894, most of this country's jobs demanded only a strong back and willing hands. Today, good jobs demand math skills, technical knowledge and fluent reading. The progress of our economy and the future of our children starts in the classroom. And that's why education must be our nation's highest priority. At this time of year, many of our children have already returned to school and others are about to return. Congress, too, is returning from its summer recess, and it left behind some unfinished business: my education reform plan. Different versions of this plan have passed the House and the Senate. Congress should now produce a single bill that incorporates the strong reforms I have proposed. It is vital that this bill uphold clear standards, require regular testing and provide real accountability. Our children need the help my education plan will provide: a new commitment to reading and early intervention to catch those who fall behind. Our educators need to get ready for the new accountability era that's coming to our schools. The more swiftly Congress acts, the more time educators will have to prepare. If Congress delays to play political games, they put another generation of students at risk. The education reform bill I support offers new resources to schools. In return, it calls for improvements in math and reading, proven by testing from every school in America. Higher standards will lead to higher quality education, yet, meeting those standards will require careful planning in local districts. Every day counts, and the sooner we start, the better. We want to start adopting reforms this school year so they can be up and running by the beginning of next school year. We've made good progress, now we must finish the job. There is always something exciting about the new school year -- the eager faces, the new books and shoes, scrubbed hallways. It's a new start and a new opportunity. That's true for students, it's true for teachers, and it's true for Congress. I'm looking forward to welcoming Congress back to Washington and back to work. Together we can make this a year of accomplishment. I challenge the Congress: send me a good education reform bill to sign, and send it quickly, so that our children will return next year to schools that prepare them for good jobs through many Labor Days to come. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Congress will shortly return to Washington to make its final spending decisions for 2002. A new budget report, released this past week, shows that despite the economic slowdown that began in the third quarter of last year, the federal budget is strong, healthy and in balance. In fact, the 2002 budget surplus will be the second biggest surplus in American history. The report also shows we are funding our nation's priorities, meeting our commitments to Social Security and Medicare, reducing taxes and still retiring record amounts of debt. This is a great achievement, and it happened because Congress worked with me this spring to agree to a responsible total level of spending. Congress also worked with me to cut income taxes for the first time in a generation -- the right policy at exactly the right time to boost our sagging economy. The faster our economy grows, the stronger the federal budget will be. The greatest threat to our budget outlook is the danger that Congress will be tempted this fall to break its earlier commitments by spending too much. The old way in Washington is to believe that the more you spend, the more you care. What mattered was the size of the line in the budget, not the effect of that line on real people's lives. My administration takes a new approach. We want to spend your hard-earned money as carefully as you do. And when we spend the people's money, we insist on results. Today, my Office of Management and Budget is releasing a report identifying 14 long-neglected management problems in the federal government, and offering specific solutions to fix them. For example, the United States government is the world's single largest purchaser of computers and other technologies for gathering and using information. In 2002, we will spend $45 billion on information technology. That's more than we've budgeted for highways and roads. Yet so far, and unlike private sector companies, this large investment has not cut the government's cost or improved people's lives in any way we can measure. Another example: the General Accounting Office has, year after year, found that the federal student aid programs are run in ways that make them vulnerable to fraud and waste. And year after year, virtually nothing has been done to make sure that federal aid intended for needy students goes only to the needy. With the help of congressional leaders like Senator Fred Thompson, we are going to take on these problems, and others like them, with a focused, targeted reform agenda. We'll introduce greater competition into government and make government more attentive to citizens. Americans demand top-quality service from the private sector. They should get the same top-quality service from their government. I've asked Cabinet secretaries and agency heads to name a chief operating officer, who will be held accountable for the performance of that agency. These officers will make up the President's Management Council, to build a leadership team that listens, learns and innovates. Taxpayers work hard to earn the money they send the government. Government should work equally hard to ensure that the money is spent wisely. I will work with Congress to build a government that is responsive to the people's needs, and responsible with our people's money. Thank you very much for listening.

Good morning. This month in my travels around the country, I am talking about values that make communities strong and our nation unique. One of those essential American values is compassion. A little more than a week ago I visited a Habitat For Humanity building site, where volunteers were helping a family find the dignity of owning a home. Every community offers its own examples of service -- shelters for battered women and children; crisis/pregnancy centers; treatment for drug addiction; care for the homeless; hope for those in prison, and their families. The groups behind these caring efforts have advantages government social programs often can't match -- the idealism of volunteers, and intimate knowledge of the communities they serve, and values stronger than the problems they face. A compassionate government should find ways to support their good works. Unfortunately, government often treats charities and community groups as rivals instead of partners. And this week came some new evidence. Soon after I took office I instructed my Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives to examine federal rules and regulations for discrimination against community and faith-based groups. Five Cabinet agencies now have issued their findings. Their report, entitled, "Unlevel Playing Field," documents a government bias against faith and community-based organizations, a bias that exists even when constitutional concerns about church and state have been addressed. Government administrators restrict religious groups from even applying for funding simply because they are religious. They place artificial limits on what programs and how much funding faith-based groups can apply for. In some cases, they restrict civil rights these faith-based and community-based groups enjoy under federal law. This is wrong. Next Wednesday will mark the fifth anniversary of a bipartisan charitable choice legislation. This law says faith-based organizations should be able to compete for some contracts to provide social services. But even this limited charitable choice law has been almost entirely ignored by many federal administrators. They've done little to help or require state and local governments to involve faith-based providers, as the law requires. I've appointed advocates in five Cabinet agencies to end this bias, and soon. My Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives is also working closely with groups to help them know their civil rights, know how to effectively apply for funds so their good works can be expanded. We must also broaden charitable choice to more social service areas, removing barriers of discrimination against the participation of faith and community groups. By doing so, we will welcome them to more fully confront the poverty and hopelessness that remain in America. The House of Representatives took a key step in leveling the playing field by passing my faith-based and community initiative, which broadens charitable choice and encourages charitable giving. I applaud the bipartisan House vote and urge the Senate to pass that legislation, with the leadership from Senators Joe Lieberman and Rick Santorum. The needs are real. The time to act is as soon as Congress returns to work after Labor Day. If you agree, let your senator know if you see him or her during the congressional recess. Faith-based and community groups cannot replace the work of government, but with government's help, they can serve many more people. And my administration is committed to providing that help. Compassion is one of the values that builds communities of character, because every community of character must be a community of service. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week in Washington we made dramatic progress on health care. And today I want to extend that progress one step further. On Wednesday, I shook hands with Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia, agreeing to strong patient protection legislation. Representative Norwood is the chief congressional champion of that issue. And, together, we broke six years of legislative gridlock. The next day, the House of Representatives, based on our agreement, passed a good bill to give patients the care they deserve without encouraging frivolous lawsuits. The legislation protects every patient in all 50 states when a health plan wrongly denies or delays needed care. Patients are guaranteed a quick independent review of their case, and new federal remedies to hold their health plans accountable. They get a strong new set of rights in our health care system without driving up the cost of health insurance and discouraging employers from offering coverage. This legislation is welcome news for patients. And I want to continue this momentum. Today, I'm announcing a new initiative to expand health insurance for the uninsured by making the Medicaid program more accessible. Medicaid is designed to provide low-income Americans with medical insurance. It has a noble purpose and some serious challenges. Medicaid spending is rising dramatically. But the number of low-income Americans without insurance remains high. Clearly, this important program needs reform. Yet, states have great difficulty reforming their Medicaid programs because of complex and cumbersome federal requirements. It is hard for states -- much too hard -- to navigate the confusing and inconsistent federal approval process. Today we are changing that. My administration will adopt new rules that empower states to propose reforms tailored to the needs of their citizens. We will act on proposals quickly without making states wait for months or years for an answer. In return for this flexibility, we will ask the states to help ensure that their programs broaden coverage for low-income Americans. When states are free to try new approaches, the results are encouraging. Just a few months ago, New York state, led by George Pataki, asked for and got permission to try a new idea to cover more people with the same dollars. As a result, as many as 619,000 more New Yorkers will soon have health insurance. In our new system, we will inform states in advance of the criteria for responsible Medicaid reform. If they meet those conditions, the federal government stands ready to help expand health insurance coverage to those who need it most -- no uncertainty, and no run-around. The goals of Medicaid are too important to get bogged down in a bureaucracy. My administration cares about results, about getting Americans broader and better medical coverage. And on issues from Medicaid to patient protection, we are seeing results for the American people. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This past week, our country marked the 11th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I'm proud that it was my father who signed that landmark legislation into law. And all Americans can take pride in the changes the ADA has brought into the lives of millions of citizens with disabilities. Because of that law, Americans with disabilities have gained greater access to public places. They have more options in choosing their homes, using public transportation, traveling and staying in hotels. Many have joined the work force, thanks to reasonable accommodations made by their employers. This has made our country a fairer society, more considerate and welcoming to all our citizens. As people with disabilities find more opportunities to use their gifts and talents, we also become a stronger, more productive nation. Some barriers remain, however. And as long as they stand, our work is unfinished. In February, I announced a plan called the New Freedom Initiative to expand even further the opportunities available to people with disabilities. This initiative will help more Americans with disabilities enter the work force by improving transportation, or making it easier to work from home. It will encourage private companies to develop new assistive technologies, like computer monitors for people with visual impairments, infrared pointers for people who cannot use their hands to operate a keyboard, and lighter wheelchairs to increase mobility. And my New Freedom Initiative will help community groups, churches, synagogues, mosques and civic organizations to improve access for people with disabilities. Many of these groups are trying their best to meet the requirements of ADA, and we will help them. We must also work to ensure that people with disabilities are not arbitrarily isolated or kept apart. I recently signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to work with state and local authorities to allow people with disabilities to move out of institutions and into community settings. I've also instructed the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to fully enforce Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that no one is unjustifiably institutionalized. My administration is also committed to requiring all federal agencies to make sure that their Internet sites are more accessible for people with disabilities, both inside and outside the government. We have made significant progress in advancing the New Freedom Initiative. But some of these reforms will require the Congress to provide the resources we need to fully implement the New Freedom Initiative and fulfill the promise of ADA. All of these efforts will build on the progress we have made as a society since the Americans With Disabilities Act became law. During the last 11 years, we have opened the doors of opportunity to millions of people with disabilities; and, together, we can ensure that everyone with a disability enjoys the respect that all citizens deserve. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. As you hear this, I am in Genoa, Italy, at an important meeting of the world's most industrialized nations and Russia. Our focus this year is on the poor and struggling nations of the world and what prosperous democracies can do to help them build a better future. This cause is the priority of the United States' foreign policy. We're a wealthy nation with responsibilities to help others. It is also in our best interest to do so, because we benefit when we have strong and stable partners around the world who trade with us and help keep the peace. Our discussions here in Europe are centered on some great goals. We want to spread the benefits of free trade as far and as wide as possible. Free trade is the only proven path out of poverty for developing nations. And when nations are shut off from the world, their people pay a steep price. Despite trade's proven track record for lifting the lives of the poor, some still oppose it. They seek to deny the poor and developing countries their best hope for escaping poverty. Legitimate concerns about labor standards, economic dislocation and the environment should be addressed, and will be. But the developing countries have no need for protectionist policies that would condemn them to permanent poverty. Yet, trade alone is not enough. Wealthy nations must also work in true partnership with developing countries to help them overcome obstacles to their development, such as illiteracy, disease and unsustainable debt. This is compassionate conservatism at an international level, and it is the responsibility that comes with freedom and prosperity. To advance literacy in the developing world, I have proposed that the United States increase funding for our international education assistance programs by nearly 20 percent. And we will lead a new effort to improve basic education and teacher training in Africa. We've proposed that the World Bank and other development banks increase the share of their funding devoted to education, and to tie the support more directly to clear measurable results. And we have proposed that up to half of all the funds provided by development banks to the poorest countries be provided as grants rather than loans for education, health and human needs. Today, many poor nations are benefitting from efforts to relieve them of the crippling burden of massive debt. But debt relief is ultimately a short-term fix. My proposal doesn't merely drop the debt, it helps stop the debt. A final item of business at our Genoa summit is to launch a new global fund to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The U.S. contributes nearly $1 billion a year annually to international efforts to combat AIDS and infectious diseases, and we stand ready to contribute more to the global fund as it demonstrates its success. This is a time of great opportunity. What some call globalization is in fact the triumph of human liberty across national borders. We have today the chance to prove that freedom can work not just in the new world or old world, but in the whole world. Our great challenge is to include all the world's poor in an expanding circle of development throughout all the Americas and all of Asia and all of Africa. Such a world will enjoy greater freedom and prosperity, and is far more likely to be at peace. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. This week in Washington, we have turned our attention to the goal of better health care for all Americans. I have asked Congress to send me a strong patients' bill of rights; one that provides immediate access to specialists, and an immediate appeal to a panel of doctors when an HMO denies care. I hope to sign a bill that gets people help when they need it, not a bill adding hundreds of dollars to the high premiums they already pay. I am also asking Congress to join me in modernizing and strengthening Medicare. All of us, young and old, have a stake in the outcome of this discussion. From its beginning 36 years ago, Medicare has represented a basic binding commitment to our seniors. That commitment will always stand. And as medicine advances and the needs of our seniors change, Medicare must advance and improve as well. The most pressing challenge is the lack of coverage for prescription drugs. To begin solving this problem, I am proposing a new national drug discount program for seniors. This is a straightforward, nonbureaucratic program which can be in place by January. Everyone in Medicare will be eligible for a drug discount card, costing no more than $1 or $2 per month. Present this card at a participating pharmacy, and you will receive a substantial discount -- at least 10 percent. It's as simple as that, and it's convenient as well. This program will provide immediate help to seniors without destabilizing Medicare's finances. Yet, my prescription drug plan is only a first step. We need broader reform to bring Medicare into the 21st century. We need to expand coverage, improve services, strengthen Medicare financing and give seniors more control over the health care they receive. And as Congress takes up legislation, they should be guided by some basic principles. First, for everyone in retirement or near retirement, any changes in their Medicare coverage should be up to them. No senior should have to accept something different if they like the Medicare program they're on just the way it is. First, for everyone in retirement or near retirement, any changes in their Medicare coverage should be up to them. No senior should have to accept something different if they like Medicare just the way it is. Second, all seniors should be offered a range of new Medicare plans, both government and private. Every plan offered to seniors should have at least the same benefits as the government plan. And all plans must offer prescription drug coverage. Third, everyone enrolled in Medicare should have the power to choose which plan works best for him or her. The plans will compete with each other, forcing them to offer better service, extra benefits and lower premiums. Fourth, reform must provide special help to seniors with low incomes and unusually high medical costs. We must put caps on the amount any senior can be asked to pay in a year. And since the reformed Medicare will cover prescription drugs, low-income seniors will no longer have to pay for costly Medigap insurance. And, finally, we must strengthen Medicare's finances and make sure that the benefits promised to our seniors will be always there. Medicine in America is constantly improving. And Medicare must improve at the same pace. By these principles, we can assure that Medicare will always offer seniors the care they need with the quality they deserve. Thank you very much for listening.

Good morning. My second working day as President, I sent to Congress the boldest plan to improve our public schools in a generation -- a plan to raise educational standards for every child and to require new accountability from every school. This reform gives our public schools greater resources and insists on proven results in return -- not just for some of our children, but for all of them. The plan has now passed both Houses of Congress with strong margins and broad bipartisan support. We stand on the verge of dramatic improvements for America's public schools. We're increasing funding for public schools and insisting on results. We are maximizing local control to give governors, school boards and local people more say in their schools. And we are giving parents unprecedented new choices to help their children get a quality education. Yet, all of this will happen only when Congress joins with me to take the final, crucial step of resolving differences between the House and the Senate versions and sending an education reform bill to my desk. Across America, governors are waiting to work with their legislatures to implement reform. Local school boards are eager to put the new flexibility my plan offers into action. We are ready to provide teachers with the best research on the science of reading this very fall. We need to act quickly, because states and schools must make decisions on how to use their new flexibility and live up to their new responsibility. We have come so far; we're almost there. And we must finish the job. Completing the work of education reform is a final exam for Congress before they go home in August for summer vacation and before America's children go back to school. The differences between the education reform bills that passed with large majorities in both House and Senate are small. Both bills call for strong accountability. The Senate bill gives states more flexibility. The House bill is more fiscally responsible and focuses federal dollars where they will do the most good. With prompt action this month, our public schools can begin to implement the first of the education reforms this fall, with guidance to help teachers use the latest research to teach all our children to read. This is summer vacation for our children, and it can be a season of accomplishment for our nation's leaders. I urge the Congress to act swiftly on my education reform plan. Thank you for listening.

Good morning. Here in Washington, we are nearing some important decisions on the health of Americans. Congress will soon vote on a patients' bill of rights, to help patients get the treatment they deserve without delay or legal haggling. I want that bill to be strong and effective. A woman should be able to visit her gynecologist, and parents their children's pediatrician, without going through a gatekeeper. A person should be able to see a specialist when he or she needs one, and to get emergency treatment at the nearest emergency room. If an HMO denies the treatment you need, then you should have the right to an immediate, impartial appeal to a panel of doctors. If the panel rules in your favor, you should receive your treatment, period. If the HMO ignores the findings, you should be able to go to court. The system should not favor HMOs, and it should not favor trial lawyers. It should favor patients, with quick action to make sure they get the treatment they need. Today I want to address another kind of protection that is needed in these times of accelerating medical progress. Just a few months ago, scientists completed the mapping of the human genome. With this information comes enormous possibilities for doing good. Through a better understanding of the genetic codes, scientists might one day be able to cure and prevent countless diseases. As with any other power, however, this knowledge of the code of life has the potential to be abused. Employers could be tempted to deny a job based on a person's genetic profile. Insurance companies might use that information to deny an application for coverage, or charge excessive premiums. Genetic discrimination is unfair to workers and their families. It is unjustified -- among other reasons, because it involves little more than medical speculation. A genetic predisposition toward cancer or heart disease does not mean the condition will develop. To deny employment or insurance to a healthy person based only on a predisposition violates our country's belief in equal treatment and individual merit. In the past, other forms of discrimination have been used to withhold rights and opportunities that belong to all Americans. Just as we have addressed discrimination based on race, gender and age, we must now prevent discrimination based on genetic information. My administration is working now to shape the legislation that will make genetic discrimination illegal. I look forward to working with members of Congress to pass a law that is fair, reasonable, and consistent with existing discrimination statutes. We will all gain much from the continuing advances in genetic science. But those advances should never come at the cost of basic fairness and equality under law. Thank you for listening. Fact Sheet

Thank you, Laura. Many Americans believe that their father is the finest man they have ever known. That's certainly true in my case. My dad provided me with life's greatest gift: unconditional love. And he still makes sure all his children know how much he loves us. Fathers are so important in the lives of children. They provide love and encouragement, they are the object of a young child's admiration, and they provide their sons and daughters with an example of what it means to be a good man. When fathers are absent, children are often lost to a world of hopelessness and hardship. Our laws should promote responsible fatherhood. And so our Administration strongly supports community-based fatherhood programs. We are taking steps to make adoption more affordable. And for innocent children who are born into fractured families, we provide support for mentoring programs. Ultimately, fatherhood is a deeply personal calling. Our own children are given to our care, and they depend on our love. Every parent knows that raising a child is among the most hopeful and affirming experiences a human being will ever know. So many of my generation had the same experience I did. When we held our children for the first time, we found ourselves. We found a world of duty and love that changed our lives. And since that day, "Dad" has been the important title I have ever held or will ever hold. Laura and I wish all the fathers listening a Happy Father's Day. So many of you provide to your children daily care and guidance, nurture and protection, discipline and love, and it's making a world of difference. On behalf of them, we want to express our appreciation. Thank you for listening.