for Economic Stimulus
National Association of Manufacturers
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
October 31, 2001
11:13 A.M. EST
Thank you all. Welcome. Nice to see everybody. Thank you very much. I've just
finished icing down my arm. (Laughter.)
Today there's some news out on our economy, and it confirms that the events
of September the 11th really shocked the nation. It affected our work force,
and affected our business base. The Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter
People are having tough times in America. People are losing their jobs. And
I'm deeply concerned about that, and I know you are, as well. Consumer confidence
is down. After all, we're at war, and for the first time in our nation's history,
part of the battlefront is here at home.
Shipments, particularly in the manufacturing sector, declined dramatically in
recent months. And it's time for our government to act in a positive and constructive
way. The Congress needs to pass a stimulus package and get it to my desk before
the end of November.
I had breakfast today with the Speaker and Minority Leader, Majority Leader
Daschle and Senator Lott -- all five of us agreed that we need to work together
to get a package; that we've got to put aside political differences and act
swiftly and strongly on behalf of the American worker and the American business
person. And so my call to Congress is: Get to work and get something done. The
American people expect us to do just that. (Applause.)
I want to thank Paul O'Neill for being here. He is leading the charge on Capitol
Hill for a common-sense economic stimulus package. He brings a lot of experience
to the job. After all, he was a manufacturer at one time. He knows the struggles
that you go through. And, like me, he hurts with the workers who aren't finding
work these days.
And I appreciate Christie Todd being here, as well. One of the smartest things
I've done is to tap some of my former governor colleagues and ask them to come
to the government. I tapped a great one when I tapped Christie Todd Whitman.
She brings a lot of sense and a good view of our environmental policy. And the
American people are proud of the job she's doing, and so am I. Thank you for
both being here.
I also want to thank Tim very much for his friendship and his introduction.
I didn't realize you were quite so eloquent. (Laughter.) You must be taking
speech lessons. (Laughter.) I want to thank Don Wainwright, as well, and of
course, Jerry Jasinowski for his friendship and support.
I -- the American people know that we have acted quickly in terms of this attack
that has taken place, and we've done so on the domestic front in quick order.
Both Republicans and Democrats decided to spend a considerable sum of money
to address the country's needs.
We've allocated $55 billion, and it didn't take long to spend it, I might add.
A big chunk of that is going to go to make sure we defend our country, make
sure our Defense Department is bolstered during this war. A significant amount
of money went to help New York City recover, as it should. We want New York
City to be on her feet. It's an important symbol for the world that New York
City be strong and vibrant.
We spent a considerable amount of money for airplane security. My attitude was
that the most directly affected industry was the airline industry and, therefore,
we had to spend money to make sure the airlines survived, and make sure there
was loan money, and make sure that the consumer realized that the government
was acting in a positive way to bring security to our airports.
And the first act we took was to empower governors to say, bring your guard
to the gates. Put troops so that people will see a visible presence. And we
started to increase the air marshals. And Congress is now working on an airport
security bill, and I hope I am able to sign that pretty quickly, too.
But we are taking action. And we need to spend money on helping workers who
were -- lost their job as a result of the attack of September the 11th. I believe
we need to expend -- extend and expand that unemployment benefits to those workers.
And I know we need to expand what they call national emergency grants, which
will give governors the latitude to take federal monies, and apply that money
to workers -- special workers' needs, such as health care benefits, to make
sure that any laid off worker can have -- be able to pay the premiums of their
health care plans.
And so there will be -- there's more need. But I caution the Congress not to
overspend. The temptation is to fund everybody's good idea. And my attitude
is that our money ought to be focused and effective; the spending ought to be
focused. And we ought to ask the question, is this effective spending. We need
to make sure that when we spend there's a strategy and a reason.
And so I look forward to working with the appropriators to be responsible about
how we spend taxpayers' money, particularly as we run up to what I hope is a
recess around the Thanksgiving period. And we also ought to make sure that we
offset any spending with tax relief; that the way to have a balanced stimulus
package is to recognize we've spent a considerable amount of money up to date,
and we need to spend some more for our workers, but we ought to offset that
with tax relief. And I have laid out some ideas for Congress to consider.
One the one hand, we've got to make sure that we bolster consumer demand by
both accelerating the tax cuts that now exist, as well as providing rebates
for non-taxpayers, but who filed. In other words, there are some people who
didn't get rebates last year -- generally, low-income people -- that filed an
income tax return, but they didn't pay tax, and they ought to get a rebate.
And Congress ought to act as quickly as possible to get that money into people's
hands as quickly as possible to bolster demand.
And then we've got to make sure our tax relief encourages investment, encourages
the flow of capital. And therefore, I think we need to reform the alternative
minimum tax on corporate America, so corporate America doesn't have to get penalized
during times of declining earnings -- that doesn't make any sense to do that
-- as well as encourage investment in new plant and equipment.
The House has passed some elements of that plan, and the Senate needs to act.
And any differences we can work out in conference. But time is of the essence.
As I mentioned, the leadership is prepared to spend the time necessary to get
a good package out, and I'm grateful for that. And I hope the bill writers get
moving. That's what the American people expect.
I also want the Congress to know that there is more to helping our economy grow
than just tax relief, or just spending. And there's two items I want to briefly
touch on -- one is an energy plan. Our nation needs an energy plan -- an energy
plan that encourages conservation and encourages exploration. And I believe
we can do both in a responsible way.
And we need to modernize the infrastructure that develops energy from point
A to point B, from plant to consumer. We need to get after it. It is in our
national interest that we have an energy plan, one designed to make us less
reliant upon foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
And, as Tim mentioned, I need to have what's called trade promotion authority.
I need to be able to negotiate trade agreements with nations who want to trade
with America. The Congress can vote the trade agreement down if they don't like
it. But we need to be aggressive when it comes to opening up markets and taking
advantage of opportunities around the world.
This nation should not stand on the sidelines when it comes to free trade. We
must be confident. People who build walls around America aren't confident in
America. They're not confident in American workers; they're not confident in
American businesses. I'm confident in America's ability to compete. I want to
tear walls down. I want to make it easier for the world to trade in freedom.
I think it's good for American workers that we trade. I think it's good for
American business that we trade. And I know it's good for the spread of American
values if we trade freely around the world. (Applause.)
And so, I ask the Congress to be confident as we approach these big issues;
be confident in the ability of the American people; be confident in the ability
of the entrepreneur to succeed; be confident in our future of the country. And
that's exactly the way I feel.
This is a very unusual period in American history, obviously. We've never been
attacked like this before. We're still being attacked. Our heart goes out to
anybody who suffers in America. And so, we're bolstering our homeland defense.
We're disrupting and denying anybody who wants to harm the American people.
We spend hours tracking down every possible lead of somebody who would come
into this country or who might be burrowed in this country, trying to hurt any
American. And I'm proud of our law enforcement officials, who work nonstop,
around the clock, taking every single lead and pursuing it to its end.
Yesterday -- or a couple of days ago, I put the country on alert for a reason;
that, on the one hand, while we will go about our business of going to World
Series games or shopping or traveling to Washington, D.C., I want our law enforcement
officials to know we had some information that made it necessary for us to protect
the United States assets, to protect those areas that might be vulnerable. And
that's exactly what's taking place today.
And we're also fighting a war overseas, with the purpose of hunting down the
evildoers and bringing them to justice. And I'm patient and I'm focused, and
I will not yield. We must win. We have no other choice, for our children and
our grandchildren, that we bring any terrorist to justice and hold those nations
who harbor them -- which harbor them, or feed them, or clothe them to justice,
as well. And the United States will prevail. (Applause.)
People ask me about the economy. They say, are you worried? I say, I'm worried
any time anybody loses a job. But in the long term, I'm optimistic about the
U.S. economy. We've got good tax policy. We've got low interest rates. We've
got the best workers in the world. We've got an entrepreneurial spirit that
is infectious and strong, and alive and well. We are the best place to do business
in the entire globe. And that hadn't changed.
But I'm optimistic for another reason. I'm optimistic because the spirit of
this country is incredibly strong. This is a fabulous nation. The evil ones
thought they could affect the spirit of America, but it's had an opposite effect.
Our country is patient; our country is resolved; our country is united, regardless
of our religion, regardless of where we live, regardless of our political party.
We're united behind the fact that we must rise to this occasion. And rise we
will. We will plant that flag of freedom forever, by winning the war against
terrorism, by rallying our economy, and by keeping strong and adhering to the
values we hold so dear, starting with freedom. (Applause.)
I want to thank you all for letting me come by. Thank you for letting me come
by. (Laughter.) Keep working hard. Keep working hard. And may God continue to
bless America. (Applause.)