The following are excerpts from President Bush's remarks last night:
AFTER SEPT. 11
Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America, and nothing will hold us back.
My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy. ... To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business. To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making tax relief permanent. To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe. And we must protect small-business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America.
Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess ... saddling our people with more than 6 billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. The American people deserve, and our economic future demands, a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.
As I've traveled the country, I've met many workers and small-business owners who have told me they are worried they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured are small-business employees and their families. In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies. We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them. These accounts give workers the security of insurance against major illness, the opportunity to save tax-free for routine health expenses and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs. And we will provide low-income Americans with better access to health care: In a new term, I will ensure every poor county in America has a community or rural health center.
In this time of change, government must take the side of working families. In a new term, we will change outdated labor laws to offer comp time and flex time.
Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership society, because ownership brings security and dignity and independence.
Thanks to our policies, homeownership in America is at an all-time high. Tonight we set a new goal: 7 million more affordable homes in the next 10 years so more American families will be able to open the door and say, "Welcome to my home."
In an ownership society, more people will own their health plans and have the confidence of owning a piece of their retirement. We will always keep the promise of Social Security for our older workers.
We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents and teachers and making sure that local people are in charge of their schools. By testing every child, we are identifying those who need help - and we're providing a record level of funding to get them that help.
In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor - and this year 90 percent of its students passed state tests in reading and math. The principal expresses the philosophy of his school this way: "We don't focus on what we can't do at this school; we focus on what we can do. We do whatever it takes to get kids across the finish line." This principal is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations, and that is the spirit of our education reform and the commitment of our country: ... We will leave no child behind.
My opponent's policies are dramatically different from ours. Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and health savings accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he now wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed doubling the child credit and opposed lowering income taxes for all who pay them. To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for - he's proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.