An Independent Voter
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
9:12 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney …. Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. I never followed any of her or her husband’s advice. Getting peace, via peace? Whoever, thought of actually doing such a thing? Get real! And me show up at a NAACP meeting? Who are you kidding! Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King. (Applause.)
Every time I'm invited to this rostrum, I'm happy to be up here strutting my stuff; some might think I would be humbled by the privilege. The answer is “hell no!” cause I am mindful of the history we've seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. And we fought like heck on each occasion. We are serving ourselves and our parties while conning America that we are working on its behalf. I stand in front of you during one of the most consequential periods of our history -- and it has been my honor to screw with you.
In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But we have elevated the cacophonous discourse to a higher level, one previously unseen in our country. Even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, we do otherwise. You recall when V.P. Cheney tells a Senator to “Go F__k yourself”. Our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger; otherwise a concrete statue would be standing in front of you at this very moment. My staff is well aware of how often I get pissed! To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another -- and I will once again give lip service to doing my part. Tonight the state of our Division is strong -- and together we will make it stronger. (Applause.)
In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. Here’s where I act like there are only two choices, when literally they are unlimited. Of course one is obviously good, and that is my position. The other is obviously bad, and that would be my opponent’s position. Here goes: We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom while harming innocent people and creating more enemies -- or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life and a clearer conscience from not causing the death of innocents. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy ensuring record profits for businesses and declining wages and benefits for workers -- or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting -- yet it ends at our borders, making it very difficult to tamper in other countries, to rob them of their natural resources, and oppress their liberal and homosexual people. The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership which I have repeatedly failed to provide -- so the United States of America will continue to throw its weight around in the world arena. If you think our people are fat, you should see how big America is! (Applause.)
Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal -- we seek the end of tyranny of the minority in our world. Democracy has a rich history of oppression by the majority. Heck, look at Israel! Many in America have their sights set on oppressing gays and illegal immigrants. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it or at least that’s what I like to say. No, it doesn’t depend on people making a livable wage, nor can health care help provide future security, and pay no attention to the mountains of federal debt behind my back! Dick, close the curtain….Got to calm down, must repeat the mantra…. On September the 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Time to slip in another false dichotomy. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer -- so we will act boldly in freedom's cause. You know those people in Pakistan appreciated the drone fire missile filled with hope just weeks ago. (Applause.)
Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today, there are 122. However, dozens more were ready for birth yet were aborted, many at the U.S.’s encouragement. And we're writing a new chapter in the story of self-government -- with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. That the people elected Islamists, Egyptian Brotherhood and Hamas candidates, just shows the people’s frustration with corruption and heavy handedness. Our perfect version of democracy suffers from similar blemishes; we just cover ours with Western makeup. Consider this speech a big dab of masscara.
At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. Yet not all are free. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and trans-gendered persons are discriminated against even in the freest of countries. And we do not forget the other half who live under other forms of government -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well. For those of you who did not know, the United States just joined Iran, China, Cuba, and Zimbabwe in voting down a NGO designation for groups working to improve human rights conditions for those very same gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered persons. After all the recent conflict with Iran and their loopy President, it was a relief to see eye to eye with him on something! (Applause.)
No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical or fundamentalist religions. I like to hone in on radical Islam while ignoring its Christian and Jewish counterparts. Radical Islam is the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder -- and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Did you ever wonder why bin Laden and his first Lieutenant always seem to release tapes right before a big election or speech? They couldn’t have done me a bigger favor with all the commotion over my right to spy on Americans here at home. Can you say timely deflection, even justification?
Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Once they have the power of a country with only 4 hours of electricity a day, sorely lacking safe water, raw sewage dumping, and diminishing services of all kinds, the radical Islamists would be in a position to …….? Dick, I can’t read this word. Can you help me?....The word was incite. They would be in a position to incite terror!
Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: America has more crime than that in a weekend! The violent already inhabit America and the NRA wants to arm all gun loving citizens. U.S. Postal service workers alone have killed more people than most of these terrorists. Mother Nature’s death toll in 2005 put the terrorists to shame. We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it, even if that means violence. Does that mean the violent really will inherit the Earth, if we use violence to defeat the violent? (Applause.)
In a time of testing, so everyone pull out your #2 pencils. Answer this question, how can we best find security? I will read a statement and you write your reaction.
I am about to surreptitiously speak to the bin Laden truce offer. We cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. Osama, you know what I am talking about, don’t you? I just turned your offer of truce into retreat, sucker! By allowing radical Islam to work its will -- by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself -- we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. They do believe in our stupidity, oopps I mean faulty intelligence that produced a failed assassination attempt with loss of many innocent lives in Pakistan. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil, especially when it is facing us in the mirror. (Applause.)
America rejects the false comfort of isolationism for the real discomfort of interventionism, also known as tampering. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps from a lunatic who claimed God was on his side, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire in an arms race game of economic chicken. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace. Sometimes we deliver the oppressed hope via a predator drone fired missile. You have heard that hope floats, well it also explodes. We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders -- and for the others, their day will come. Until then we will get to see and hear them via audio and videotape.
We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a fine President and a National Assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy. Sure they want the right to control excursions by our military in their country, but I am holding out on that one as there can be only one Commander in Chief. We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. Having alienated 2/3 of the Iraqi people we clearly have been offensive. First, we're helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized. They have made so much progress they are where America was in the 1860’s. They are ready for their first civil war a full 100 years sooner than our democracy!
Second, we're continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to learn about corruption and build a modern economy where most funding goes for bribes and not real work, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. Those benefits escape me at the moment, but the oil belongs to the Iraqi people! Don’t tell them we passed on creating a system similar to the state of Alaska. They have a statewide pool that distributes oil profits to Alaskan citizens. The Iraqi people could have benefited from such an approach as they average several hundred dollars a month in income. Now, why did we not do this again? Somebody please tell me.
And, third, we're striking terrorist and non-terrorist targets alike while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom. That we knock down doors in the middle of the night, haul off the young males, and sometimes take the wife of a known terrorist are things that occur regularly in our democracy. This explains the tolerance the American people have for such practices. You saw them drag those two ladies with t-shirts outta here, well that's what our democracy is all about! (Applause.)
Our work in Iraq is difficult because our enemy is brutal. So are we. But we had one thing in the CPA they did not have, incompetence. Neither side's brutality has not stopped the dramatic illusion of progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. As mentioned previously their civil war is just around the corner. I am proud of such rapid progress! At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory; I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people which we ignore by staying; I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. That we have to change the measures is but a small inconvenience. That innocent people are killed is just a fact of war, it matters not how many. I knew this when I sent the troops to war. (Applause.)
The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home dead, wounded or whole in body as many will be broken is spirit because war does that to people. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels -- but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. They will tell me when the time is right and I will make the decision. Oooppps, I am a politician in Washington, D.C., I am a decision maker, so I guess those folks are right. A politician in D.C. will be making the call! (Applause.)
Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. Several have learned to say no, to disengage along the way. Those who have stayed have adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Rather than rebuild, we are seeking a good coat of paint and a polishing, like the case of the Olympic sized swimming pool in Baghdad. So what if there is Muddy Waters. He can play real good, can't he? Along the way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will promise to continue to reach out and seek your good advice, only because it is an election year. Just as in past years, the promise will go unfilled. Yet, there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. And we know who the defeatists are. What political party starts with a “D”? Never mind that Republicans are defeatists about providing health care for all Americans! (Applause.) Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy. And foresight does not come from pulling things out of my backside, and universal, unconditional support for all of my positions will keep my minions out of trouble. That is out of trouble with me, I can’t speak about the law because I pay no attention to it! (Applause.)
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor to our rich corporate contributors. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would hurt their profit margins and to keep the cash flowing I need to create a horrific picture should we leave. We would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country, and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress, however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in this vital mission. If I go back to my word, it was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. Having found none, we can bring the troops home! (Applause.)
Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices -- and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it's like to fight house to house in a maze of streets, to wear heavy gear in the desert heat, to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. … It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to…. Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."
Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Welcome. (Applause.)
Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country regardless of our future plans. We're grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform -- and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families. (Applause.)
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action, because if we solely use force we create more terrorists. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. We continue to deliver drone fired missiles of hope throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote. It requires an accountable government, which the Coalition Provisional Authority did not model for the Iraqi people. The CPA flushed over $8 billion in Iraqi oil revenues. Democracy also requires a rising middle class which is worrisome for America, as ours is shrinking.
The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election -- and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Notice I didn’t say anything about the U.S. or Israel recognizing Hamas! (Applause.) Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform -- now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. I often tie God and freedom, because both words resonate with my base. The irony of it is, there are very few Bible scriptures that deal with freedom or liberty. Now there are lots about helping the poor, but the Jabez story trumps them all. That story basically says people are rich because they deserve it according to the Almighty. Who wants to mess with his plans? If he made them poor, who are we to do otherwise?. (Applause.)
The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. Actually the clerics are reigning in their new nutjob President. Sure they let him say silly stuff, but they don’t let him carry it out. His language is as inflammatory as mine, and that’s not fair! I want the bully pulpit to myself. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. That we allowed Pakistan, India, and Israel gain nuclear weapons is not an issue here. After all, they are our friends and we share. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats, and the world will roll their eyes once more and treat us like Lenny from the Grapes of Wrath.
Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We want your oil. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. Never mind our country’s history of intervening in your political arena. We want your oil. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. We want your oil. (Applause.)
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress driving down wages & benefits at home and abroad, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands via drone fired missiles. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need, it would keep us from twisting their arms to get what I want. We show compassion abroad because there is none in Congress or the White House, because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS as long as that villager is not in America, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, and organized crime, and human trafficking, and the drug trade. Hey, we have that very same stuff at home! We should try offering compassion in America’s third world neighborhoods. Nahhh! There I go shooting off at the hip again! (Applause)
In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform that is Christ centered and abstinence based. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life, that would be a heterosexual relationship, not the other partner kind. And the U.S. is the man! Our economic reforms have produced record world-wide unemployment. This success should not be undone. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and further dull the conscience of our country. It was already dulled by influence peddling and criminal behavior of White House staff. I urge members of our unconscientous Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America by turning over your bribes to non profit organizations.
Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home, no I am not talking about the white version or the mentally ill acting out while traveling by air. I am speaking of Jihadists. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us despite my assertions months ago the bin Laden was no longer a threat. Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, the “doesn’t always get it right” intelligence services, the military, and homeland security known for making the poor elderly, who can no longer afford their prescription co-pays, shuffle around sock footed in airports.
These men and women are dedicating their lives, protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. (Applause.) They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime -- so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act. This act is also the only chance Americans have of finding out who Jack Abramoff met with in the White House and what was said. It is needed for the people to find out my administration’s complete response to Hurricane Katrina. If any of those e-mails my staff sent making fun of the thirsty and hungry on TV made it to the general public, I would be toast. I mean who really wants to help Democratic voters in trouble? (Applause.)
Ooops, some of the stranded may be watching this address, I may be in trouble…stay calm, remember the mantra…breathe.. It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. That I repeatedly fail to connect the dots on the economy or health care is irrelevant. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. That Carrot Top guy is suspected of assisting them and has been under surveillance. Who do you think led the NSA to AT&T? Yup, Carrot Top!
The point is we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack –- based on authority I have given to myself from my detailed reading of the Constitution and by talking with the big statue of Lincoln -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. The key word is suspected. CIA chief Porter Goss has admitted that we don’t always get it right. The missile attack in Pakistan proves that. My point is I can make anyone I don’t like a suspected operative or affiliate and spy the heck outta ‘em. Now that is fun! Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Nixon did it! Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed but right afterwards their mouths disappeared, just like Neo’s in "The Matrixx". The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. If there are people in the White House talking with an admitted briber, we want to know about it. If there are people inside our country hiding information that would improve our hurricane response next season, we want to know about it. In both cases we don’t want the American people hit again. (Applause.)
In all these areas -- from the disruption of terror networks, to post civil war victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions via drone fired missiles -- we need the support of countries who appear to be our friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The principle is might makes right, and George W. has the might. The only response to this American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. And those values include “no taxation, period” and setting up a society where all the benefits go to rich, white land owners. American leaders -- from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan -- rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march, unless that is a 144,000 hour march with no food and water in 120 degree heat. Then freedom starts looking a little tired and dehydrated.
Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy -- a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties not if I can help it, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours even though over two thirds of you think I have botched this thing and want the troops home. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom, which includes the freedom to reject who the people in other countries elect. (Applause.)
Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world. We will grow our way out of our problems, never mind there is a drought and it is winter.
Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. Never mind that China and India are kicking our economic tails. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new low paying, low benefit jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. (Applause.) Even in the face of higher energy prices that continue to produce record oil company profits and natural disasters that make 9-11 look like a two vehicle wreck, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world. Thanks to all the banks and credit card companies who keep loaning them money!
The American economy is preeminent, but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors, like China and India, and this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears, something my administration has perfected in my time in office. I will now play off your economic fear without addressing them in any substantial way. So we're seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. We can wall off our borders, now that works until they build a tunnel. At least we are building our wall on our own land, as opposed to our ally, Israel. I think I have walled myself into a corner here, where was I?
Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy -- even though this economy could not function without them. See how I lumped legal and illegal immigrants together thus skirting the illegal issue! (Applause.) All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy. Fear the loss of preeminence!
Tonight I will set out a better path. While victory gets a whole road, the economy only gets a path. It includes: an agenda for a nation that competes with bluster and bullying tactics; an agenda that will raise standards of living because I sure haven’t done that yet. It will also generate many new low wage and no benefit jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it. However, you better worry who the “we” is doing the shaping. Americans should fear their employer as they move more jobs overseas, cut pay and benefits. The government is even encouraging some of that. In a minute I’ll tell you more.
Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing on the backs of its workers. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families -- and they have used it to pay for their expenses in periods where they were unemployed, to cover their health insurance when their new job did not provide such a benefit, to pay for the rising cost of tuition for their children to attend college and to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. (Applause.) Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will pay taxes at the rate they used to, that didn’t sound scary enough. They will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome. Massive is such a good word, it brings to mind massive heart attack or massive stroke. You don’t want to have either under my new health care plan, believe me!
Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. Never mind that someone has to pay these bills in the future. I urge the Congress to act irresponsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Remember that bridge to nowhere in Alaska! Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. Using that criteria I am proposing the elimination of the Executive branch. We can’t seem to manage our way out of wet paper bag. The whole country saw our God awful Hurricane Katrina response, and many low income seniors and disabled are suffering under the new Medicare prescription drug plan. Therefore, the Executive Branch is to be eliminated. You will be required to call a phone center in India to hear next years State of the Union speech. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. The American taxpayer will truly know they are on their own, next hurricane season. (Applause.)
I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, a recent practice implemented by Republican leaders, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.) And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. It will give the Presidency more power, power, more, more power, More Power, MORE POWER! (Applause.)
We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or “entitlements”. Entitlements, I love to use that word as most Americans associate it with the no good people who take advantage of the system. When you tell the story of people on an entitlement program driving a Mercedes or having a flat panel TV, people hand you a knife and say “Cut”. It works everytime. But first, I have to act like I care about these programs. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favorite people -- me and President Clinton. (Laughter.) This milestone is more than a personal crisis -- (laughter) -- it is a national challenge, one we haven’t planned a lick for. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government, not to mention your lower GI system. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. But you know we aren’t going to let that happen. We have too many bombs to build and drop. It is time to add to your uncertainty by creating another scary picture. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices -- staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending. My plan for this is for everyone to stop aging. Right now, quit getting older!
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause) -- yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. That you, the American people berated me and your elected representatives on this issue, is beside the point. It is something I want to get done, and I will cajole, press, pout, and stammer until it gets done. Get ‘er done!
So tonight, I ask you to join me in postponing the problem by creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved. As I will be gone from the elimination of the Executive branch, this work should be easier to accomplish. (Applause.)
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. It is not important for the government to buy American, it is just important for people everywhere. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker. Then why are American companies sending work and jobs overseas, if the American worker cannot be outproduced or out-competed? That doesn’t make any sense, what I just said, does it? (Applause.)
If you think that didn’t make any sense, wait ‘til you hear this! Have you ever danced on a razor before? Because that’s what this issue feels like. Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. (Applause.) To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. (Applause.) And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border. (Applause.)
All week I have been previewing health care as a major issue. After looking it over from all sides I realize I have nothing new to offer, so this topic gets 7 lines. Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. (Applause.) Our government has a responsibility to provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are repeatedly telling you that we are meeting that responsibility while the American people are shouting otherwise. (Applause.) For all Americans -- for all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care by shifting more of it to each of you, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship by making you responsible for the doctor bill, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need by having more people “underinsured”. (Applause.)
We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen health savings accounts which are rarely funded by those who qualify -- making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. (Applause.) We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. This is only needed when a worker switches to a new job that does not provide health insurance and those are most of the jobs being created in this economy. (Applause.) And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors to restrict their practices -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year. (Applause.) If you thought malpractice liability caused doctors to restrict their practices, wait until Medicaid reform hits. Many doctors will be drop their few Medicaid patients like flies.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: Exxon Mobile is not making enough money! America is addicted to oil like the human body is addicted to water and food. Unfortunately what makes our country run is often imported from unstable parts of the world. Pay no attention to the U.S. role in any international instability! The best way to break this addiction is through technology. America needs to go on a diet and we need to start eating something better for us than oil.. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. I don't want you to think we threw that $10 billion away like the CPA did in Iraq. Many President’s before me have dangled the threshold of incredible advances many times in past energy crisis. What makes me different? Well, I talk to God and I am your savior.
So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. A twenty two percent increase sounds big, doesn’t it? It equates to two days worth of profits by American oil companies. I am not talking sales. I am talking bottom line dollars. That should give you some perspective on my commitment to this initiative. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
We will explore harvesting the energy produced by politicians’ hot air. Washington D.C. has rich renewable supply of hot air. Trapping it and utilizing it for power generation would have several benefits. One it would produce power. And two, it would reduce the level of dysfunctional discourse evident on Capital Hill. With politicians geared up for power generation, they might not be able to be heard. This would reduce offensive statements emanating from the rich renewable resource. Without the ability to hear such offensive statements, we envision the number of defensive reactions to decline. Unless they learn to attack each other non-verbally? I see a big increase in sales of Whoopee cushions for any budding investors out there! (Applause.)
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from those Middle East wackoos by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. That I just called them unstable and wackoo’s means lookout for future price increases on a barrel of oil. Who’s upriver without a barrel now? It looks like your belicose leader! (Applause.)
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Just like corporate CEO’s, I will give lip service to our greatest advantage in the world. It has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge, we are just going to pay you less and cut your benefits if you are lucky enough to keep your job. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in religious math and faith based science. But first we need to change the definition of science to the one recently adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education. (Applause.)
Next, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources. If I include alternative energy, then I can count the same funds twice! How’s that for advanced math.
After that, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit -- (applause) -- to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come. Zzzzzzzz, dang that was boring. I nodded off (Applause.) Hmm.. I must have said something good, no need to return to my mantra.
Lastly, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, damn I hated those subjects. Y’all know I majored in partying! I am such a role model, he, he, he! We need to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to 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. Heck, I struggled with math, and I got to be President! If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. (Applause.)
Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share, but we won’t. Republicans and Democrats can fight over anything. I could put a cheesecake in front of them and we would fight over who got the biggest piece, which is the best topping, and who could swallow the biggest bite. We have enough competition right here in these hallowed halls. To build on that dysfunction I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative, and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.
America is a great force for our freedom and prosperity. Despite my words, I really don’t give a rats ass for anyone else’s. Remember I went into Iraq to make the American people safer here at home. I had to segway into the spreading freedom and democracy thing when no WMD’s were found. Yet your greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but mine is and I have a boatload of both! The rest of us are measured by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society. But we don’t have to do much more than strive. FEMA strived to help people after the hurricane. Congress and I strived to give people a good prescription drug benefit. So what if neither of us got there, we strived!
In recent years, the rich in America have become more hopeful. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s so they don’t have to worry about being mugged and their material possessions stolen. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade so their dwindling taxes are supporting fewer dead beats. Despite the facts we still love to tell the Mercedes and flat panel TV stories. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001 so the rich don’t have to worry about their yard and house staff booting their prescription narcotics. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. For those of you unclear as to how this benefits the rich, just think of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Strom Thurmond would know what I am talking about! (Applause.)
These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation -- a revolution of conscience that is yet to permeate these hallowed halls, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role in two ways. First we have served as role models of what not to do. Second, we have furthered the life of personal responsibility as people have to work 2, sometimes 3 jobs to pay their bills. Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. Unwise policies like paying for poor people’s medicine and healthcare, drug treatment, and contraception have continued to drag down the character of our country. As this is an election year, I must say something that sounds bi-partisan. Gulp, this sure is hard to swallow! And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record. (Applause.)
Yet many Americans, especially parents taking care of the young and old, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. Lead with a weakness, then hit ‘em hard with a strength. That usually leaves them with a better taste in their mouth. Here goes: They're concerned about unethical conduct by public officials and once again I don’t know Jackie “Give me some of that Wallet Grease” Abramoff….. ooopps I used his nickname… and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. Between the threats of jihadists and gays, I shall mobilize the Christian hoards. Americans worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases. What I didn’t tell you is more of that suffering is going to occur as employers and the government bail on our past health care promises. Remember the commission? You will worry even more when they are done saving Medicare and Medicaid.
As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. You don’t have to believe, the data shows it. Both the average and median Household income have gone down every year of my Presidency. Household earnings are in a decline, you don’t have to believe it because it is a fact! The code name for people who like to point out these facts are Independents, Democrats, and Libertarians, all otherwise known as pessimists. We have alluded that the pessimists are wrong before -- and we will do it again. (Applause.)
A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under the law. Never mind that we have the best justice system money can buy. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members -- new members on its bench: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. (Applause.) I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. And I will continue to legislate and make legal decisions from the Oval Office. I need no help from Congress or the Supreme Court in the Unitary Executive, that’s dictator in government speak! (Applause.)
Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. (Applause.)
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. That is why we study new, better, and more effective ways to kill people in armed conflict. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. However it can be exterminated in spreading that other gift from our Creator, freedom. (Applause.)
A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust and is continually disappointed. (Applause.) Honorable people in both parties are working on surface fixes that give the appearance of strengthening the ethical standards of Washington -- I strongly support these smoke and mirror efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility -- and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray without secretly asking for forgiveness or crossing our fingers behind our back. Many of you are not aware that I delegated to Laura the finger crossing during both of my inaugurations. My lovely wife, Laura!. (Applause.)
As we renew the promise of our institutions but not the institutions themselves, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another. When you see that low income senior or person in a wheelchair outside the pharmacy begging for their co-pay money, please don’t spit on them and yell “get a job, you bum”. Instead knock them out of their wheelchair, steal it, and sell it. There is always a market for wheelchairs, and we know supply and demand works best. After you take your commission, you can give the proceeds to the elderly beggar to buy their medicines. It's people helping people!
A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child -- and this good work is being led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school, so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams. We won’t do anything about their parents’ dreams of a living wage, health benefits and a secure retirement. That means we won’t be helping the kids in that area either. Laura, exactly what does this program do?
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet. It is a shame our government is not as hopeful as our society. Sure we make it look like we are helping, but the federal government did build those levees. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.
In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity. Did I just admit that not all Americans are protected by justice? Dang it! Did I just say we are not all equal in hope? Crap! At least I got the last one right. I know not all Americans can be rich, otherwise I would have too many friends. (Applause.)
A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. Unfortunately, we haven’t acted boldly to eradicate preventable disease in our country. This situation will get worse before it gets better. Why did I bring this up again? That's right, I need to act like I am doing something in this arena. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America. Waiting lists for medicines? That sounds like rationing. Are we in Canada or England? (Applause.) We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America because nobody is doing it. (Applause.)
Fellow citizens, we've been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We've entered a great ideological conflict I will pretend we did nothing to invite. With the wave of my hand, cause and effect of U.S foreign policy will disappear before your very eyes! We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Can you say 80 hour work week to afford to pay your bills? Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Huh, what did I just say? This is both hard and confusing which leads me to my next point.
Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped his peaceful protest at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back from oppressing others, or finish well? Who keeps giving me these nonsensical questions? Finish well?
Before history is written down in books by the winner, it is written in courage. It is also written in the heart of the loser, so we need to reach out to them in concrete and substantive ways. Pissing on them is not likely to be beneficial in the future. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish in the American way by stomping on the heart of the loser. We will lead freedom's advance down the toll road of human misery. We will compete and excel in the global economy on the backs of low wage workers at home and abroad. We will rewrite the defining moral commitments of this land, as was done with the Prayer of Jabez. And so I move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victims to come.
May my God bless America. Yours can go to hell. (Applause.)