George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Swearing-In Ceremony for Robert J. Portman as Director of the Office of Management and Budget

June 02, 2006

Please be seated. Good morning. Welcome to the White House. Today I'm pleased to witness the swearing-in of Rob Portman as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We welcome Rob's wife, Jane, as well as his brother, Wym, and other family members here with us today. I want to thank you all for supporting Rob.

As the OMB Director, Rob will not be racking up the frequent flyer miles that he did as America's Trade Representative. I think that's going to be a relief for Jane and his children. [Laughter]

I appreciate the Vice President being here. I want to thank Carlos Gutierrez for joining us as well, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce; John Walters, Office of National Drug Control Policy. Congressman Mike Turner, it's awfully kind for you to come back to witness the swearing-in of your friend. I appreciate the former Secretary, Don Evans, for being here as well.

The job of the OMB Director is one of the most important in our Federal Government. The OMB Director is a critical member of my Cabinet. He plays a vital role in every aspect of my administration's agenda, from securing the homeland to winning the war on terror to growing our economy and creating jobs.

For the past 3 years, these responsibilities have been carried out by a talented public servant, Josh Bolten. At my direction, Josh has pursued clear goals at OMB. He's worked to implement progrowth economic policies and ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely or not at all. He's improved the management of Federal programs so that when we do spend taxpayer money, they deliver real results for the American people. He's put us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.

Now that Josh is serving as my Chief of Staff, I've turned to another outstanding public servant to take up these important responsibilities, and that's Rob Portman. Rob has served for more than a decade in the United States Congress, where he was vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, and a member of the House leadership. In Congress, Rob earned a reputation as an effective legislator who worked with members of both political parties.

For the past year, Rob has served his country as United States Trade Representative. He worked tirelessly to open new markets for American exports and to ensure that American workers, farmers, and small businesses are treated fairly overseas. He's reenergized the Doha round trade talks at the World Trade Organization. He completed trade agreements with Bahrain, Oman, Peru, and Colombia and launched new trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Korea and Malaysia. His leadership was critical to the passage of the landmark Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement last summer.

Rob assumes his responsibilities as OMB Director at a really important time for our economy. This morning's economic report shows that America's national unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent because we added 75,000 jobs in the month of May. The American economy has now added jobs for 33 months in a row and has created more than 5.3 million new jobs. In the first quarter of 2006, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 5.3 percent— that's the fastest growth in 2 1/2 years. Productivity is high, and that is leading to higher wages and a higher standard of living for the American people. The American economy is powerful. It is productive, and it is prosperous, and we intend to keep it that way.

I've given Rob a clear agenda. We'll continue to pursue progrowth economic policies. The tax relief we delivered has helped set off the economic expansion that we're seeing today. And Rob will build on this success by working with Congress to maintain a progrowth, low-tax environment.

Tax relief is important to families, workers, and entrepreneurs, and it is also vital to our efforts to reduce the budget deficit. When I came to office, taxes were too high, our economy was headed into a recession, and tax revenues were on the decline. By cutting taxes, we've helped produce a strong economic recovery, and that economic growth is producing more tax revenues. In 2005, tax revenues grew by a record $274 billion, an increase of nearly 15 percent over the previous year. This year, the economy has continued to grow, and tax revenues are growing with it. These increased revenues are helping us to meet our goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.

To meet this goal, we must also control the Federal appetite for spending. Every year since I took office, we've slowed the growth of discretionary spending that's not related to the military or homeland security. My last two budgets have actually cut this kind of spending. And with Rob's leadership, we will continue to cut unnecessary spending and show respect for the taxpayers' money.

To cut unnecessary spending, I need the line-item veto. I've sent Congress a line-item veto proposal that has strong bipartisan support. And Rob will work with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill to get a bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.

Rob will also work with Congress to pass reforms that will help us reduce earmarks and wasteful spending in the Federal budget. Congress is now considering an emergency supplemental bill that can show the American people we're determined to be responsible with their money. I've set a clear limit on spending that I will accept in this legislation, and if this bill goes over that limit, I'll veto it.

In the long run, the biggest challenge to our Nation's budgetary health is entitlement spending on programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Entitlement programs are growing much faster than our ability to pay for them. To keep these programs solvent, we need to slow their growth to a level we can afford. It's not a cut. It's the difference between slowing your car down to the speed limit and putting your car in reverse. Every American family and business has to set priorities and live within a budget, and so should the United States Congress.

My administration is committed to fiscal discipline and economic growth, and these policies will have a strong champion in Rob Portman. As OMB Director, Rob now assumes one of the most important posts in Washington. I'm pleased that he's agreed to serve our country once again. I look forward to working with him to keep America's economy the envy of the world, to create jobs and opportunity for all our citizens, and deliver results for the American taxpayer.


NOTE: The President spoke at 11:05 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to former Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Director Portman.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Swearing-In Ceremony for Robert J. Portman as Director of the Office of Management and Budget Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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