Remarks by the Vice President at the Luncheon for Congressman Jim Ryun in Topkea, Kansas
Capitol Plaza Hotel Manor Conference Center
12:20 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Well, that warm welcome is almost enough to make me want to run for office again. (Laughter.) Almost.
But I'm delighted to be here. And I want to thank Jim for the introduction. It's great to see Senator Brownback here today, along with some great Republican candidates including Chuck Ahner, who is running for Congress in the third district -- (applause) -- and, of course, Jim Barnett and Susan Wagel, our candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. (Applause.)
And it's always a pleasure to be in Kansas, especially when I can stand with a superb congressman like Jim Ryun. (Applause.) I came straight from Washington, this morning, and I'm honored to bring personal greetings to all of you from the President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
The President and I spend a good deal of time on the campaign trail these days as we're getting down to the closing time of the campaign. We're doing all we can to help Republicans across the country, and to make certain that voters have a clear sense of what's at stake in the election this year. There's no Senate race in your state this year, but as President of the Senate, I want you to know that Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback are doing a fantastic job for the people of Kansas. (Applause.)
Most people don't know it, but I'm actually paid by the Senate. And of course, my only job is as President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they got down to the end of the convention and decided they'd created the post of Vice President, but they hadn't given him anything to do, so they made him the presiding officer in the Senate. And that means that I get to go up and have lunch every Tuesday with the Senate Republicans. That's basically the extent of my duties, except every once in a while I get to cast a tie-breaking vote.
My predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, actually had floor privileges. He could go down into the well and participate in the debate, and then he did a couple of times and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) So I get a firsthand look at the congressional delegation, and of course, Jim Ryun is right at the top of the list.
I served 10 years in the House and have enormous respect for men who come back there and do what Jim has been able to do. I don't think there's any part of America that is better represented in Washington than the Second District of Kansas. (Applause.)
Jim goes to work every day looking out for your interests, your values, and your future. He's exactly the kind of man who belongs in public office. He's a person of common sense, of personal integrity and a deep commitment to the country. He's also one of the most thoroughly respected members of the House, and that respect is felt on both sides of the aisle. He doesn't compromise on principle, but he's always ready to work with both Democrats and Republicans for the good of the nation. Like Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole, and other great Kansans over the years, Jim Ryun remembers where he's from and he stays close to his roots. The House of Representatives would be a lot better place if we had more members like Jim Ryun, and I want to thank all of you for sending him to represent you in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Jim, of course, is an influential member of the Armed Services Committee, which is very important here in eastern Kansas. I know you take pride in the great military presence here, which includes Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, where we train officers of the United States Army. We appreciate everything they do for the nation. (Applause.) And especially in this challenging time for America, it's important to have members of Congress like Jim Ryun, who stand 100 percent behind the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)
These are times of incredible consequence for our country -- with difficult issues, with big debates, and with decisions that require not just toughness but wisdom. One of the most important issues on November 7th is taxes -- and when Americans go to the polls, they're going to have the clearest possible choice. The administration and the Republican Congress are pro-growth and pro-jobs. We believe the first principle of economic growth is for government to leave money in the hands of those who have earned it. (Applause.) The President has signed major tax relief in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. We reduced taxes for every American who pays income taxes. We doubled the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, created new incentives for small businesses to invest and expand and to create more jobs.
The Bush tax relief has left more than a trillion dollars in the hands of workers, investors, small businesses, and families. And they have used those resources to fuel more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. (Applause.)
And one of the key decisions we made was to reduce taxes on dividends and capital gains. These cuts were designed to lower the cost of capital, and to encourage businesses to expand and to hire new workers. They were passed in 2003. I should point out that when the matter came up in the Senate that year, the vote was 50 senators in favor, 50 senators opposed. Fortunately, the Constitution provides a remedy in such cases. (Laughter.) And I was there to break the tie. I don't deserve any special credit for it. It's not like I had options when I went up there that day. (Laughter.) But the fact is, every time I vote, our side wins. (Applause.)
Those tax reductions are doing exactly what we said they would do. Since August of '03, the United States has added more than 6.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the 25 nations of Europe combined. The economy continues to grow; last year alone it grew faster than Japan, twice as fast as France, three times as fast as Germany. President Bush's tax relief plan was right for America -- and it is working. (Applause.)
Our party has a clear record on taxes, and so do our opponents. When we first cut taxes in 2001, nearly 85 percent of House Democrats voted against it. When we cut taxes in 2003, nearly 95 percent of House Democrats voted against it. When we extended key tax cuts earlier this year, 90 percent of House Democrats voted against it. And each and every one of those times, the vast majority of Senate Democrats also voted no.
I notice that now, with only weeks to go before Election Day, the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, claims Democrats "love tax cuts." (Laughter.) That only invites another look at her party's record on taxes. It's plain to see, and it stretches back a long way. The last time they had control of Congress, back in 1993, they passed a massive tax increase. They'll do it again if they can; and they've already figured out a way to do it. Under current law, many of the Bush tax cuts have to be renewed by Congress or they will expire, and the old rates will kick back in. Recently the ranking Democrat on House Ways and Means, Charlie Rangel, said that he "cannot think of one" of our first term tax cuts that he would extend. If the Democrats take control of the House, Charlie Rangel will be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He would be in a position to block any legislation coming out of the committee. And if there's no tax legislation renewing the cuts and extending them, every tax rate will go back up to its old level; the marriage penalty will be back; the death tax will come back to life. The child credit will also drop back down from $1,000 to $500 per child. In other words, take the number of dependent children you receive the tax credit for. Multiply it by $500 dollars -- and that's the additional amount you'll be sending to Washington if we get a Congress with Charlie Rangel as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's all right. Don't hold back. (Laughter.)
That should raise the stakes of this election in the mind of every voter. If the Democrats take control, American families could face an immense tax increase, and the economy would sustain a major hit. As the President has said, this nation needs more than a temporary economic expansion, so we need more than temporary tax relief. For the sake of America's entrepreneurs, families, and communities, we need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- and we can do that with a new Republican Congress. (Applause.)
When the new Congress convenes in January, we're going to continue working on an agenda for growth and jobs, and a safe environment, and better access to health care. We believe our job is to solve big problems, not simply pass them on to the next generation. That's how we'll continue to do business. When vacancies arise on the federal courts, the President will keep appointing outstanding judges like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. (Applause.)
Above all, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to stay focused on our number one obligation: to protect and defend the people of the United States in this time of war. (Applause.)
After the attacks of 9/11, President Bush told the Congress and the country that we were in for a long struggle against enemies who regard the entire world as a battlefield. He said the fight would be a serious test of our patience and of our resolve as a nation. And he was exactly right. This is a hard fight, against enemies who wear no uniform, who organize in secret and who kill the innocent.
The terrorists want to seize control of a country in the Middle East, so they have a base for launching attacks against anyone who doesn't meet their demands. They have declared an intention to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries, and to cause mass death here in the United States.
To remove this danger to civilization we have to proceed on many fronts at the same time -- from law enforcement, to diplomacy, to intelligence and to military action, when necessary. And for the long term, we're promoting democracy and hope as alternatives to the ideologies of resentment and violence. We're committed to making a better day possible in the Middle East, so that our children and grandchildren will not have to live in a world with terror states that arm themselves with ever deadlier technologies. Te United States of America is a good country, a decent, idealistic, and a compassionate country. We're doing honorable work in a messy and a dangerous world. We're defended by heroes. And whether they serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the world, the brave Americans on duty in this war can be proud of their service for the rest of their lives. (Applause.)
The plot that was uncovered this summer in London is a stark reminder that the terrorists are still trying desperately to commit acts of violence against Americans. As long as that remains the case, we are a nation at war. And wars are not won on the defensive. Our country has gone more than five years now without another 9/11. This is not an accident. Nobody can guarantee that we won't be hit again, but America is safer today because we've conducted this war on the offensive, and because we've used every legitimate tool at our command to protect the American people.
In this election season, national security is at the top of the agenda, where it belongs. The President and I welcome the discussion, because every voter in the United States needs to know where we stand, as well as how the leaders of the Democratic Party view the global war on terror. The differences could hardly be more clear, and they have implications for the future security of the nation.
Let me give you three specific examples: After 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act. This measure has helped law enforcement. We've been able to break up terror cells, to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters in Texas, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia, New York, Oregon, and Florida. The Patriot Act was passed overwhelmingly in October of 2001, because in those early days of the crisis, the danger to America was still in plain view to everyone. But when it came up for renewal last year, Senate Democrats tried to block it by filibuster. Their floor leader, Harry Reid, boasted publicly that he had "killed" the Patriot Act -- those were his words. Fortunately he was wrong. Fortunately for the country he lost that battle -- but he might have won it if we had not had a Republican majority in the United States Senate.
A second example is the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- in which the President directed the National Security Agency to monitor international communications, one end of which we have reason to believe is related to al Qaeda, or to terrorist networks. The purpose is obvious: If people inside the United States are communicating with al Qaeda, they are talking to the enemy, and we need to know about it. Yet many leading Democrats have denounced the President for this program. Recently, when a bill to authorize the program came to the House floor, 177 Democrats -- 88 percent of all the Democrats in the House -- voted no.
A third example is the CIA program to detain and question terrorist operatives and leaders that we've captured, as well as to create military commissions to try captured terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 who killed 3,000 Americans. The best source of information and intelligence in the war on terror is the terrorists themselves -- and we have obtained from captured terrorists information that has helped us stop a number of attacks planned to take place inside this country. A few weeks ago, Congress voted on the future of this program. In the House, 162 Democrats -- about 80 percent of all House Democrats, voted no. In the Senate, 32 out of the 44 Democrats voted no. It appears their preference is no detention program and no military commissions.
Ladies and gentlemen, the key question before the voters on November 7th is whether or not this nation is serious about fighting the global war on terror. And there can be no doubt that George W. Bush is serious about fighting it -- and winning it. (Applause.)
Time and time again, we're seeing examples of Democratic Party leaders apparently having lost their perspective concerning the nature of the enemy we face, and the need to wage this fight aggressively. No sharper example can be found than the Democratic Party chairman himself, Howard Dean, who said the capture of Saddam Hussein did not make America any safer.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that such a party would turn its back on a man like Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Senator Lieberman was my opponent in 2000 -- Al Gore's running mate, a longtime senator, and one of the most loyal and distinguished Democrats of his generation. Joe is also an unapologetic supporter of the fight against terror. He voted to support military action in Iraq when most senators in both parties did the same -- and he's had the courage to stick by that vote even when things got tough. And now, for that reason alone, the Dean Democrats have purged Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Boo! (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Their choice, instead, is a candidate whose explicit goal is to give up the fight against the terrorists in Iraq -- never mind that Iraq is a fellow democracy; never mind that the Iraqi people and their elected leaders are counting on us. What these Democrats are pushing now is the very kind of retreat that has been tried and has failed in the past. It would be reckless and inconsistent with our values. It would betray our friends, and only heighten the danger to the United States. And it would mean that all the sacrifices of our military have been in vain. So the choice before the American people is becoming more clear every day. For the sake of our own security, this nation must reject any strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies. (Applause.)
The case of Joe Lieberman is a perfect illustration of the basic philosophical difference between the two parties in the year 2006. And it's a reminder that the elections on November 7th will have enormous consequences for this nation, one way or the other. In all the decisions that will come in the next two years, it's going to matter a great deal which party has the majority on the floor and the gavel in committee. And I don't need to tell you what kind of legislation would come to us by way of committee chairmen like Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, Barney Frank, or Jay Rockefeller. (Laughter.)
The stakes in this campaign are high, not just for the political parties but for the country. And that's what brings us all together today. We're here because of the principles we hold, the values we share, and the direction we believe is best for the nation. We have a great President living in the White House, and he deserves a Congress that works with him, not against him. (Applause.)
That makes the choice in the Second District of Kansas as clear as can be. Stand with Jim Ryun, as you have these last 10 years. He makes a difference for Kansas and for America, and the President and I look forward to working with him for many years to come.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:40 P.M. CDT
Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at the Luncheon for Congressman Jim Ryun in Topkea, Kansas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285909