Good Morning. 2002 Brought Great Challenges to America, and we had many successes
at home and abroad. In 2002, our economy was still recovering from the attacks
of September the 11th, 2001, and it was pulling out of a recession that began
before I took office.
Our government came together to pass an economic growth bill to jump-start the
economy. We extended unemployment benefits for workers who lost their jobs after
the terrorist attacks. Congress passed trade promotion authority, which gave
me a stronger hand to help America's farmers and businesses sell their products
abroad. And we worked together to enact a terrorism insurance legislation, so
our construction workers could get back on the job.
As a result of these actions, the United States economy is growing again. Our
nation learned of scandalous abuses by some corporate leaders, and so I signed
the most sweeping corporate reforms in more than a half a century. We are strictly
enforcing the laws against fraud and deception in corporate America because
workers and investors must have confidence in America's businesses and business
America in 2002 continued our efforts to confront the danger of terrorism. We
increased the security of our ports and coasts and airlines, and created a new
Department of Homeland Security. This department will unite dozens of federal
agencies behind a single mission: protecting the American people. I hope the
Senate will act quickly in the new session to confirm Governor Tom Ridge to
serve as America's first Secretary of Homeland Security.
In 2002, the war on terror that began with the liberation of Afghanistan continued
on many fronts. Working with our allies around the world, we captured top al
Qaeda leaders, destroyed terror training camps and froze millions of dollars
in terrorist assets.
In the new year, we will prosecute the war on terror with patience and focus
and determination. With the help of a broad coalition, we will make certain
that terrorists and their supporters are not safe in any cave or corner of the
The war on terror also requires us to confront the danger of catastrophic violence
posed by Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations Security
Council has unanimously affirmed that Saddam Hussein is a danger to his neighbors
and to the peace of the world. The burden now is on Iraq's dictator to disclose
and destroy his arsenal of weapons. If he refuses, then for the sake of peace,
the United States will lead a coalition to disarm the Iraqi regime and free
the Iraqi people.
Also in the new year, we will press on in the effort to turn our economic recovery
into sustained economic growth. This economy is strong and it can be stronger.
I will work with Congress on a jobs and growth package to add momentum to the
recovery and to put people back to work.
And one of my first priorities for the new Congress will be an extension of
unemployment benefits for Americans who need them. We will also work to ensure
that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care. We will
keep our commitment to America's seniors by working to reform and modernize
Medicare and include a prescription drug benefit to help seniors who are squeezed
by rising drug prices.
We will tackle the crisis of frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of health
care. We will continue to carry out the comprehensive education reforms I've
signed into law last January, so no child in America is left behind. My administration
will work to continue to remove barriers that hinder the good work of faith-based
and community groups. And we will work to reauthorize the historic welfare reform
law that has improved so many lives.
Our successes in the past year have prepared the way for great progress in 2003.
Working together, we can make America more prosperous and keep the peace in