Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh
12:30 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Mercy. (Laughter.) That's a good way to start the week.
But I want to thank you, Tim, for your kind introduction, and the invitation to come to Pittsburgh. And it's great to be here this morning and to bring good wishes to all of your from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Of course, I've been to Pittsburgh and your fine city a great many times over the years. I especially remember our visits during last year's campaign. We fought hard in Pennsylvania, and although we fell a little short, the trend in the state is clear. President Bush and I received the most votes in Pennsylvania in any Republican ticket in history. (Applause.)
And the 18th District, you re-elected an outstanding congressman. And next year, with your help, Tim Murphy will win another term -- and so will United States Senator Rick Santorum. (Applause.)
As many of you know, I consider the House of Representatives to be my political home. I was the congressman from Wyoming for 10 years. Wyoming only has one congressman. (Laughter.) It was a small delegation, but it was quality. (Laughter.)
But I served there proudly. And the colleagues that I respected most during my service were the ones who took the job seriously, who did their homework, who made a positive contribution to the debate, and who kept in touch with the folks back home. And that's exactly the kind of congressman you've elected in Tim Murphy.
Tim arrived in Washington two-and-a-half-years ago now with a distinguished record as a health care provider, as an educator, as a small businessman, and a public servant. He's put that experience to good use and won the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Whether the issue is health care for families and seniors, or better public schools, jobs and transportation, or energy independence for America, Tim speaks with common sense and with the solid values of western Pennsylvania. It would be a better Congress if we had more members like Tim Murphy, and I want to thank you for sending him to Washington to work with all of us. (Applause.)
The President and I need Tim to help work with us to meet our priorities for the nation -- to keep the economy moving forward, to extend prosperity's reach into the lives of more Americans, and to protect this nation against those who wish to harm us.
As the President has said many times, we did not go to Washington simply to mark time, but rather to face challenges squarely, to act where action is required, and to solve problems instead of passing them on to future generations. That has been our approach since the day we arrived some four-and-a-half years ago.
When we took office, the nation's economy was sliding into recession. To get it growing again, we delivered tax relief four times in four years. We doubled the child tax credit, decreased the marriage penalty, and cut rates across the board. We gave small businesses strong incentives to save and to invest, and we phased out the death tax, so that families and farmers can leave behind more of what they earn for their families.
These were the right policies for a struggling economy -- and now we are seeing the results. Americans today have more money to spend, to save, and to invest, and they are using it to drive this economy forward. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Interest rates are low. Manufacturing activity is on the rise. Productivity is high. We've seen steady job gains for 25 straight months. Since May of '03, the economy has generated 3.7 million new jobs, and more Americans are working today than ever before in our history.
At the same time, federal revenues are increasing -- proving once again that lower taxes are an incentive for entrepreneurs to start businesses, to invest in equipment, and to hire new workers. By the current estimate, the deficit will be $94 billion less than previously projected just a few months ago -- keeping us well ahead of the pace we need to meet our goal of cutting the deficit in half over the next four years. (Applause.)
To keep the economy on track, we're going to continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. For the sake of long-term growth and job creation, we need to make tax relief permanent, and we need to practice spending restraint in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We'll also keep the economy strong by delivering regulatory relief, an energy strategy that makes America less dependent on foreign sources of energy, and legal reforms that spare honest entrepreneurs and businessmen from junk lawsuits. One of America's most important institutions is also in need of fundamental reform. The time has come to join together to save Social Security for our children and their grandchildren. (Applause.)
To build a stronger, better America for the next generation, all of us who serve the country have a duty to uphold the values that sustain our society -- limited government, personal responsibility, free enterprise, reverence for life, and equal justice under the law. And in this second term, President Bush will continue nominating federal judges who faithfully interpret the law, instead of legislating from the bench. (Applause.)
From the beginning, the President has nominated men and women who meet the highest standards of legal training, temperament, and judgment. He has kept this commitment once again in nominating a man of experience, wisdom, and character, Judge John Roberts, for the United States Supreme Court. (Applause.)
Judge Roberts is one of the most distinguished and talented lawyers in the country, and a worthy choice to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In the weeks ahead, Americans deserve, and Judge Roberts deserves, a process that is honest and bipartisan. And the Senate has a duty to give this nominee fair treatment, a fair hearing, and a fair up or down vote.
In this time of testing for our country, we understand that our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. We know that even though nearly four years have passed since 9/11, we have continuing, urgent duties. That morning in 2001 changed everything for our country, as we began fighting a new kind of war against determined enemies. The terrorists behind 9/11 have declared their intention to kill great numbers of innocent Americans, and they seek ever deadlier weapons to do so. This continuing threat demands a comprehensive, effective response -- to make this nation better able to respond to any future attacks, to reduce our vulnerability, and, above all, to hunt down the terrorists before they can hit us again.
The war on terror has a home front, and we have taken extraordinary measures to protect the American people and our homeland. Yet for all the increased security, we must realize -- as the 9/11 Commission put it -- that America is safer, but that we are not yet safe. The enemy is wounded, off-balance, and on the run -- yet still very active, still seeking recruits, still trying to hit us. Since 9/11 they have continued to kill not only in New York and Washington, but in Casablanca, Jakarta, Mombassa, Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid, Sharm el Sheikh and London. Killers who target innocent, unsuspecting men, women, and children during a morning rush hour, or fly passenger jets into buildings, are not the kind of people you can bring to the bargaining table and sit down for a reasonable exchange of ideas. The only option against these enemies is to find them, to fight them, and to defeat them. (Applause.)
In these last 46 months, we've been unrelenting in the effort to defend the freedom and the security of the American people. We continue to make progress on many fronts -- financial, legal, military, and others. We are dealing with a network that has had cells in countries all over the world, and bit by bit, by diplomacy and force, with our allies and partners we are acting to shrink the area in which terrorists can freely operate. Many countries have joined us in tracking the enemy, disrupting plots against America and our friends, destroying the training camps where terrorists trained, and closing off their access to funding. We've removed two brutal regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've persuaded another regime, Libya, to voluntarily abandon its weapons of mass destruction program to develop nuclear weapons. We have uncovered a sophisticated, large-scale network selling nuclear weapons technology on the black market, and we've shut that network down. The United States has acted decisively, and we've sent a clear message: We will not stand by and allow terrorists to find safe haven, or to gain control of weapons of mass murder. (Applause.)
There is still hard work ahead -- and the world is counting on the United States for leadership. We have no illusions about the difficulty of engaging enemies that dwell in the shadows and recognize neither the laws of warfare nor standards of morality. We cannot predict the length or the course of the war on terror. Yet we know with certainty that with good allies at our side, this great nation will persevere, and we will prevail. (Applause.)
Overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. In the broader Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuit of peace. Like other great duties in history, it will require decades of patient effort, and it will be resisted by those whose only hope for power is the spread of violence. Yet the direction of events is clear. Afghanistan has held the first free elections in the nation's 5,000-year history. In Iraq, voters turned out in incredible numbers and elected leaders who are now preparing the way for a new constitution and a representative government. The Palestinian people have chosen a new president and have new hopes for democracy and peace. The citizens of Ukraine have stood strongly for their democratic rights, and chosen a new leader for their country. In Lebanon, citizens have poured into the streets to demand freedom to determine a peaceful future for their own country as a fully independent member of the world community. We are seeing the power of freedom to change our world, and all who strive for freedom can know that the United States of America is on their side. (Applause.)
We know from history that the technology of warfare is always changing -- and in our time that technology is more deadly than ever. Yet our most basic military asset has not changed in the slightest. No matter how complicated war might be, it always comes down to the ones who man the aircraft and the ships, and who carry the rifles. The men and women of our armed forces reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America. As a former Secretary of Defense, I can assure you the cause of freedom has never been in better hands. (Applause.)
President Bush and I recognize that the American people have entrusted us with great responsibilities at an historic moment for our nation. We've set big goals. They're not always easy to achieve -- and if they were, somebody would have done them already. But it's more than worth the effort, so when future generations look back on our time, they will know that we met our moment with courage and clear thinking. And they will know that America became a better nation -- stronger, more prosperous, and more secure -- because George W. Bush was President of the United States. (Applause.)
We're going to continue making progress for the American people -- and in that work we couldn't ask for a better partner than Tim Murphy. Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we share, for sending Tim to Washington. The President and I look forward to working with him for a good many years to come.
Thank you very much.
END 12:45 P.M. EDT