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Advice from "beyond the echo chamber"REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENTOF THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY ADVISORY BOARDEast Room, The White HouseFebruary 6, THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Please have a seat. (Applause.) Good morning, everybody.AUDIENCE: Good morning.THE PRESIDENT: I have just had the opportunity to welcome the members of my Economic Recovery Advisory Board. And I'm grateful that I will have the counsel of these extraordinarily talented and experienced men and women in the challenging months to come. If there's anyone, anywhere, who doubts the need for wise counsel and bold and immediate action, just consider the very troubling news we received just this morning. Last month, another 600,000 Americans lost their jobs. That is the single worst month of job loss in 35 years. The Department of Labor also adjusted their job loss numbers for 2008 upwards, and now report that we've lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began.That's 3.6 million Americans who wake up every day wondering how they are going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and provide for their children. That's 3.6 million Americans who need our help.I'm sure that at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, members of the Senate are ing these same numbers this morning. And I hope they share my sense of urgency and draw the same, unmistakable conclusion: The situation could not be more serious. These numbers demand action. It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay, or politics as usual, while millions of Americans are being put out of work. Now is the time for Congress to act. It's time to pass an Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to get our economy moving.This is not some abstract debate. It is an urgent and growing crisis that can only be fully understood through the unseen stories that lie underneath each and every one of those 600,000 jobs that were lost this month. Somewhere in America a small business has shut its doors; somewhere in America a family has said goodbye to their home; somewhere in America a young parent has lost their livelihood -- and they don't know what's going to take its place. These Americans are counting on us, all of us in Washington. We have to remember that we're here to work for them. And if we drag our feet and fail to act, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe. We'll continue to get devastating job reports like today's -- month after month, year after year. It's very important to understand that, although we had a terrible year with respect to jobs last year, the problem is accelerating, not decelerating. It's getting worse, not getting better. Almost half of the jobs that were lost have been lost just in the last couple of months. These aren't my assessments -- these are the assessments of independent economists. If we don't do anything, millions more jobs will be lost. More families will lose their homes. More Americans will go without health care. We'll continue to send our children to crumbling schools, and be crippled by our dependence on foreign oil. That's the result of inaction. And it's not acceptable to the American people.02/61903Ronald ReaganRemarks on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)]We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance. The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor." I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him. Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken. There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had aly seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots' Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was sping through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The ed States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here y to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. Twenty million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the ed States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are y to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the ed States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we're with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died. Thank you very much, and God bless you all.200806/41140REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE FISCAL YEAR 2010 BUDGET Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Room 350February 26, 9:55 A.M. ESTTHE PRESIDENT: Before I begin, I have some good news to report. Starting today, the recently unemployed will benefit from a COBRA subsidy that will make health care affordable. At a time when health care is too often too expensive for the unemployed, this critical step will help 7 million Americans who've lost their jobs keep their health care. That's 7 million Americans who will have one less thing to worry about when they go to sleep at night. Equally important, it prevents a further downward spiral in our economy by ensuring that these families don't fall further behind because of mounting health care bills. And it is a direct result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I signed into law the other week -- a recovery plan that has only just begun to yield benefits for the American people. But while we must add to our deficits in the short term to provide immediate relief to families and get our economy moving, it is only by restoring fiscal discipline over the long run that we can produce sustained growth and shared prosperity. And that is precisely the purpose of the budget I'm submitting to Congress today.In keeping with my commitment to make our government more open and transparent, this budget is an honest accounting of where we are and where we intend to go. For too long, our budget has not told the whole truth about how precious tax dollars are spent. Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets, either. We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up -- because that's how we'll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead. And there are some hard choices that lie ahead.Just as a family has to make hard choices about where to spend and where to save, so do we, as a government. You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation. Today, we have to focus on foundations. Having inherited a trillion-dollar deficit that will take a long time for us to close, we need to focus on what we need to move the economy forward, not on what's nice to have. That's why, on Monday, I held a fiscal summit to come up with a plan to put us on a more sustainable path. And that is why, as we develop a full budget that will come out this spring, we're going to go through our books page by page, line by line, to eliminate waste and inefficiency. This is a process that will take some time, but in the last 30 days alone, we have aly identified trillion in deficit reductions that will help us cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term.For example, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is saving nearly million with reforms to modernize programs and streamline bureaucracy. Interior Secretary Salazar will save nearly 0 million by stopping wasteful payments to clean up abandoned coal mines that just happen to have aly been cleaned up. Education Secretary Duncan is set to save tens of millions dollars more by cutting an ineffective mentoring program for students, a program whose mission is being carried out by 100 other programs in 13 other agencies.We've targeted almost billion in savings by cracking down on overpayments of benefits and tax loopholes -- that is money going to businesses and people to which they are simply not entitled.This is just the beginning of the cuts we're going to make. No part of my budget will be free from scrutiny or untouched by reform. We will end no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq and end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas. And we'll save billions of dollars by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while giving a middle-class tax cut to 95 percent of hardworking families. But we'll also have to do something more -- we will, each and every one of us, have to compromise on certain things we care about, but which we simply cannot afford right now. That's a sacrifice we're going to have to make.Now, I know that this will not always sit well with the special interests and their lobbyists here in Washington, who think our budget and tax system is just fine as it is. No wonder -- it works for them. I don't think that we can continue on our current course. I work for the American people, and I'm determined to bring the change that the people voted for last November. And that means cutting what we don't need to pay for what we do.Now, what I won't do -- as I mentioned at the Joint Session speech a couple of days ago -- what I won't do is sacrifice investments that will make America stronger, more competitive, and more prosperous in the 21st century; investments that have been neglected for too long. These investments must be America's priorities and that's what they will be when I sign this budget into law. Because our future depends on our ability to break free from oil that's controlled by foreign dictators, we need to make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. That's why we'll be working with Congress on legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy. And to support this effort, we'll invest billion a year for 10 years to develop technologies like wind power and solar power, and to build more efficient cars and trucks right here in America. It's an investment that will put people back to work, make our nation more secure, and help us meet our obligation as good stewards of the Earth we all inhabit.Because of crushing health care costs and the fact that they drag down our economy, bankrupt our families, and represent the fastest-growing part of our budget, we must make it a priority to give every single American quality, affordable health care. That's why this budget builds on what we have aly done over the last month to expand coverage for millions more children, to computerize health records to cut waste and reduce medical errors, which save, by the way, not only tax dollars, but lives.With this budget, we are making a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. It's a step that will not only make families healthier and companies more competitive, but over the long term it will also help us bring down our deficit. And because countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow, we must make excellence the hallmark of an American education. That's why this budget supports the historic investment in education we made as part of the recovery plan by matching new resources with new reform. We want to create incentives for better teacher performance and pathways for advancement. We want to reward success in the classroom. And we'll invest in innovative initiatives that will help schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps, preparing students for the high-paying jobs of tomorrow -- but also helping them fulfill their God-given potential.These must be the priorities reflected in our budget. For in the end, a budget is more than simply numbers on a page. It is a measure of how well we are living up to our obligations to ourselves and one another. It is a test for our commitment to making America what it was always meant to be -- a place where all things are possible for all people. That is a commitment we are making in this, my first budget, and it is a commitment I will work every day to uphold in the months and years ahead.I want to thank all of you for being here, but I also want to give a special thanks to Peter Orszag, Rob Nabors. They have been working tirelessly in getting this budget prepared, getting it out in a timely fashion. They're going to be doing more work in the weeks to come. And I am absolutely confident that as messy as this process can sometimes be, that we are going to be able to produce a budget that delivers for the American people.All right. Thank you.02/63307+H[To@B!oR9^m,2]g-5GUi*POBThe -- The lesson history teaches is this: If you believe you are safe, you are at risk. If you do not see this killer stalking your children, look again. There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place left in America that is safe. Until we genuinely embrace this message, we are a nation at risk.Tonight, HIV marches resolutely toward AIDS in more than a million American homes, littering its pathway with the bodies of the young -- young men, young women, young parents, and young children. One of the families is mine. If it is true that HIV inevitably turns to AIDS, then my children will inevitably turn to orphans. My family has been a rock of support.My 84-year-old father, who has pursued the healing of the nations, will not accept the premise that he cannot heal his daughter. My mother refuses to be broken. She still calls at midnight to tell wonderful jokes that make me laugh. Sisters and friends, and my brother Phillip, whose birthday is today, all have helped carry me over the hardest places. I am blessed, richly and deeply blessed, to have such a family.5Vu@]4.,#KJw)am,.Ip+_i*PQtPu]d(JKn7XBwj#l].@C#2rnX9NL#y|Y^4166706Remarks by the President and the Vice PresidentTo the national governors associationState Dining RoomTHE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat.First of all, thanks for not breaking anything last night. (Laughter.) Thank you also for waiting until I had left before you started the Congo line. I don't know whether Rendell was responsible for that -- (laughter) -- but I hear it was quite a spectacle. Michelle and I just had a wonderful time last night and I hope all of you enjoyed it. It was a great kick-off of what we hope will be an atmosphere here in the White House that is welcoming and that reminds everybody that this is the people's house. We are just temporary occupants. This is a place that belongs to the American people and we want to make sure that everybody understands it's open.Almost three months ago, we came together in Philadelphia to listen to one another, to share ideas, and to try to push some of our ideology rigidity aside to formulate a recovery plan that would bring some relief to your states and to the American people.And I want to thank so many of you who were active throughout this process to get the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act done. I don't want to single out too many folks, but Governor Rendell, Governor Douglas, worked tirelessly. We had people like Governor Patrick and Governor Schweitzer, Schwarzenegger, Crist, who were out there consistently promoting the plan. And as a consequence we got this passed through Congress in record time.Because of what we did together, this plan will save or create at least 3.5 million jobs in every state across the country. It will keep your police officers on the beat, your firefighters on the job, your teachers in the classroom. It will provide expanded unemployment insurance and protect health care for your residents who have been laid off. And beginning April 1st, it will put more money back into the pockets of 95 percent of your working families.So this plan will ensure that you don't need to make cuts to essential services that Americans rely on now more than ever. And to show you we're serious about putting this recovery plan into action swiftly, I'm announcing today that this Wednesday, our administration will begin distributing more than billion in federal assistance under the Recovery Act to help you cover the costs of your Medicaid programs -- I know something that is going to be of great relief to many of you.That means that by the time most of you get home; money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their health care coverage. (Applause.) Children with asthma will be able to breathe easier, seniors won't need to fear losing their doctors, and pregnant women with limited means won't have to worry about the health of their babies. So let me be clear, though: This is not a blank check. I know you've heard this repeatedly over the last few days, but I want to reiterate it: These funds are intended to go directly towards helping struggling Americans keep their health coverage, we want to make sure that's what's happening and we're going to work with you closely to make sure that this money is spent the way it's supposed to.We will get the rest of this plan moving to put Americans to work doing the work America needs done, making an immediate impact while laying the foundation for our lasting growth and prosperity.These are the steps we're taking to help you turn this crisis into opportunity and pave the way for future prosperity. But I know that many of you, rather than wait for Washington, have aly made your states. You are innovators and much of the work that you've done has aly made a lasting impact and change in people's lives. Instead of debating the existence of climate change, governors like the seven of you of you working together in the western climate initiative, and the 10 of you who are working together on the regional greenhouse gas initiative are leading the way in environmental and energy policy. Instead of waiting around for the jobs of the future, governors like Governor Gregoire and Governor Granholm have sparked the creation of cutting-edge companies and tens of thousands of new green jobs. And instead of passing the buck on accountability and efficiency, governors like Martin O'Malley and Governor Kaine, have revolutionized performance management systems, showing the American people precisely how their governments are working for them.The point that I made yesterday, or last night, is something that I want to reiterate, though. You shouldn't be succeeding despite Washington; you should be succeeding with a hand from Washington, and that's what we intend to give you in this administration. In return, we'll expect a lot from you as the hard work of making the recovery plan's promise a reality begins.And that's why I'm announcing today that I'm asking my Vice President, Joe Biden, to oversee our administration's implementation efforts. Beginning this week, Joe will meet regularly with key members of my Cabinet to make sure our efforts are not just swift, but also efficient and effective. Joe is also going to work closely with you, our nation's governors, as well as our mayors and everyone else involved in this effort, to keep things on track. And the fact that I'm asking my Vice President to personally lead this effort shows how important it is for our country and our future to get this right, and I thank him for his willingness to take on this critical task. (Applause.)02/63041

President Bush Meets with U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Discusses Trade   THE PRESIDENT: Gracias. Thank you. Siéntese. Gracias mi amigo, David. Thank you for having me back yet again to speak. This is an opportunity de practicar mi Espantilde;ol -- (laughter) -- of course, a lot of people say I ought to be spending more time practicing my English. (Laughter.) But I'm thrilled to be with you. (Applause.)  I really love the entrepreneurial spirit in all communities. And it's evident in the Latino community. As you know, I'm blessed to be a Texan and I got to see firsthand, as governor, the unbelievable initiative and drive of Hispanics who lived in my state. And it's the same thing all across the country. And so part of the purpose for me to come is to thank you for your helping others realize the blessings of owning a small business; thanks for creating jobs; thanks for setting good examples; and thanks for being my friend.  David, as you know, I've been to the Hispanic Chamber, I think this is my third time -- but I know a lot of you personally. And this may be my farewell address to the Hispanic Chamber as President, but it's certainly not going to be my farewell to you as a friend. (Applause.)  I thank not only David, but Augie Martinez. I thank the directors of the Hispanic Chamber. I thank my old buddy, Hector Barreto, who is here with us. (Applause.) Michael Barrera, thank you both -- appreciate you, Miguel. (Applause.)  And then there are members of my Cabinet have come because today I'm going to discuss with you a very serious issue, an issue that matters a lot to your future and the future of this country. And so I welcome Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. (Applause.) Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson. (Applause.) Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. (Applause.) Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. (Applause.) Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor, is with us. (Applause.) Susan Schwab, of the USTR, Trade Representative is with us. (Applause.) This is not a Cabinet meeting. (Laughter.)  These are people who are here to put an exclamation point on the subject I'm going to discuss with you today. So I thank you all for coming. I appreciate your time.  I also want to welcome Carolina Barco, who is the Ambassador from Colombia. (Applause.) And other members of the Diplomatic Corps that have joined us.(%bk%)  A lot has changed since I first spoke to this group. I had to face some very difficult spending decisions and I've had to conduct sensitive diplomacy. That's called planning for a wedding. (Laughter.) La boda -- (laughter) -- de mi nintilde;ita. (Laughter.)  I really appreciate the fact that we work together. I just want to review a couple of issues that have made a difference. First of all, we worked together to launch a period of sustained economic growth. I remember meeting with some right after the attacks and we were wondering whether or not our economy could withstand a terrorist attack -- after all, a recession was in place just as I came into office, then the terrorists attacked, then we had corporate scandals.  And a lot of folks were wondering whether or not this economy would be resilient enough to withstand those pressures. And it turns out it was. And I want to thank you very much for supporting the tax cuts plans that had good effect on small businesses all across the ed States during that period of time. I think when people take a look back at this moment in our economic history, they'll recognize tax cuts work. They have made a difference.  And this is what we're doing again. We've entered another period of difficult times. I am confident in the long term for the ed States' economy. I know we're resilient. I know we're entrepreneurial. I know we'll withstand these times. I want to thank you for supporting the economic stimulus package that we passed, which provides strong incentives for small businesses to expand and will put money into the pockets of the people who earned it.  Secretary Paulson has assured me -- he's a "can-do" guy -- that the checks will be coming into the mail in the second week of May. The other thing I do want to assure you of is that if Congress tries to raise taxes, I'm going to veto it. We don't need tax increases. (Applause.)  I appreciate your strong support on No Child Left Behind. We agreed that a system that just simply moves children through without measuring is inexcusable. You recognized early that many Latino kids were denied, you know, the great promise of America because they didn't get the good education that we expect. And so we confronted this business about giving up on kids early. We demand accountability. We spent more money, but in return for the increased money, we expect schools to measure and we expect schools to correct problems early, before it's too late.(%bk%)  No Child Left Behind is working. We've measured 4th grade -- Hispanic 4th graders have set new records when it comes to ing and math. So rather than weakening No Child Left Behind, the ed States Congress needs to strengthen No Child Left Behind for the sake of all our children. And I want to thank you for your support. (Applause.)  A federal contracting process is open to more small and minority-owned businesses, thanks to our SBA guys who have been running the show, Steve and Hector. And we'll continue that practice of making sure that there's fairness when it comes to federal contracting.  I appreciate your support on immigration law. (Applause.) I'm sorry that -- you know, I'm disappointed that Congress missed a good opportunity to uphold our values and uphold our laws at the same time. And I'm confident that the day will come when a President signs an immigration bill that secures our borders, respect our laws, and treats people with dignity. (Applause.)  And now I want to discuss trade with you. It's a sensitive subject in America, and it's an important subject. As business leaders, you understand that breaking down barriers to trade and investment creates opportunities for our workers, for American workers, and employees, and employers, and consumers. Trade adds to our prosperity, but as importantly, it adds to the prosperity our trading partners. We want people who are interested in our goods and services to do well economically. We believe that the world benefits when prosperity is abundant throughout the world.  Trade also serves a broader strategic purpose. When we enter into free trade agreements, we reinforce commitments to democracy, and transparency, and rule of law. By promoting a future of freedom and progress and hope, we create an alternative vision to those of the terrorists and extremists who prey on societies trapped in poverty and despair. In other words, trade helps democracies flourish; it helps enhance prosperity. And that helps us in our national security concerns.  My administration has made expanding trade a high priority. When I took office, America had free trade agreements in force with just three nations. Isn't that interesting? Just three countries. Today we have agreements in force with 14, and Congress recently approved another one with Perú. Three more agreements are on Congress' agenda this year: Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. All three are important, and the agreement with Colombia is especially urgent.(%bk%)  For more than a year, my administration has worked with both parties in Congress to seek a path to bring this agreement up for approval. We continue to stand y to negotiate a bipartisan way forward. But time is running out, and we must not allow delay to turn into inaction. The Colombia agreement is pivotal to America's national security and economic interests right now, and it is too important to be held up by politics. There needs to be a vote on Colombia this year. (Applause.)  And that means that members of the Congress must be y to move forward with the agreement when they return from the Easter recess. Members of both parties should work with this administration to bring legislation to implement the Colombia agreement to the floor for approval, and they need to get the job done, and get a bill to my desk.   And I'll tell you why -- because this agreement with Colombia will advance our national security and economic interests, in these ways: Colombia is one of our closest allies in the Western Hemisphere. Under the leadership of President Uribe, Colombia has been a strong and capable partner, a strong and effective partner in fighting drugs and crime and terror. Colombia has also strengthened its democracy, reformed its economy. It has spoken out against anti-Americanism. This government has made hard choices that deserves the admiration and the gratitude of the ed States. (Applause.)  These actions have required courage, and they've come with costs. As we speak, Colombia is under assault from a terrorist network known as the FARC, which aims to overthrow Colombia's democracy and aims to impose a Marxist vision on the country. The FARC pursues this objective through bombing, hostage-taking and assassination, much of it funded by drug trafficking. Since 2003 -- since 2003 -- attacks by the FARC have killed or injured more than 1,500 civilians. Last summer the FARC executed 11 Colombian lawmakers after holding them captive for five years. And the FARC continues to use jungle camps to hold hundreds of kidnapped victims, including three U.S. citizens.(%bk%)  President Uribe has waged an aggressive campaign against FARC terrorists, who do not respect national sovereignty or borders. Earlier this month, Colombian forces killed one of FARC's most senior leaders -- a man believed to be responsible for trafficking cocaine and murdering hundreds of people.  And the response to all this action reveals the challenges that Colombia faces. The President of Venezuela praised the terrorist leader as a "good revolutionary," and ordered his troops to the Colombian border. This is the latest step in a disturbing pattern of provocative behavior by the regime in Caracas. It has also called for FARC terrorists to be recognized as a legitimate army, and senior regime officials have met with FARC leaders in Venezuela.  As it tries to expand its influence in Latin America, the regime claims to promote social justice. In truth, its agenda amounts to little more than empty promises and a thirst for power. It has squandered its oil wealth in an effort to promote its hostile, anti-American vision. And it has left its own citizens to face food shortages while it threatens its neighbors.  The stakes are high in South America. As the recent standoff in the Andes shows, the region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support democratic leaders like President Uribe. I've made my choice. I'm standing with courageous leadership that believes in freedom and peace. (Applause.) And I believe when the American people hear the facts, they will make their choice and stand with a person who loves liberty and freedom.  And there is no clearer sign of our support than a free trade agreement. This agreement would help President Uribe show his people that democracy leads to tangible benefits. This agreement would help create new jobs in Colombia, which would make it harder to recruit people to violence and terrorism and drug trafficking. The agreement would signal to the region that America's commitment to free markets and free people is unshakable.(%bk%)  And now it calls on Congress to decide -- to decide whether this agreement will take effect. People across the hemisphere are watching. They are waiting to see what Congress will do. Some members of Congress have raised concerns over the situation in Colombia.  Again and again, President Uribe has responded decisively. He's responded to concerns about violence by demobilizing tens of thousands of paramilitary fighters. He's responded to concerns about attacks on trade unionists by stepping up funding for prosecutions, establishing an independent prosecutors unit, and creating a special program to protect labor activists. He's responded to concerns over labor and environmental standards by revising the free trade agreement to include some of the most rigorous protections of any agreement in history.  As one Democratic House member put it, it's impossible for someone to go to Colombia and not be impressed with the strides they have made. Ladies and gentlemen, if this isn't enough to earn America's support, then what is? If Congress were to reject the agreement with Colombia, we would validate antagonists in Latin America, who would say that the America cannot be trusted to stand by its friends. We would cripple our influence in the region, and make other nations less likely to cooperate with us in the future. We would betray one of our closest friends in our own backyard.  In the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, "If the U.S. turns its back on its friends in Colombia, this will set back our cause far more than any Latin America dictator could hope to achieve." Congress needs to listen to those wise words as they consider this important bill. Members of both parties should come together, members of both parties should demonstrate their support for freedom in our hemisphere, and members of both parties should prove the -- approve the Colombian free trade agreement. (Applause.)  These strategic benefits are not the only reason for Congress to approve our trade agreement with Colombia. The agreement will also bring economic gains for both countries. Today virtually all exports from Colombia enter into the ed States duty-free, but U.S. exports to Colombia face tariffs up to 35 percent. Now think about that: Goods coming from Colombia to us enter our country virtually duty-free, and yet goods going from the ed States to Colombia are taxed.(%bk%)  Now, doesn't it make sense to pass an agreement that says the Colombians will treat us the way we treat them? If you're a farmer or interested in exporting construction equipment or aircraft and auto parts, or medical and scientific equipment, your goods will now go into Colombia duty-free, which means you're more likely to be able to sell your goods into Colombia. And if you're working for one of those companies, it means you're more likely to be able to keep your job.  I can't understand a mentality that doesn't recognize that causing America to be treated equally is not [sic] in our interests. It is in our interests. Every day that Congress goes without approving this agreement is a day that our businesses, large and small, become less competitive. It's missed opportunity.  This agreement is especially important during a difficult period for our economy. Listen, last year exports accounted for more than 40 percent of growth. Doesn't it make sense to open up markets, to continue to grow our economy with good exports? I think it does, and this is an opportunity for the ed States Congress to send a clear message that they are concerned, like I'm concerned, about the state of our economy. They, like me, want to provide opportunities for our producers and our workers to be able to find new markets and expanded markets for U.S. goods and services.  This agreement will also benefit Colombia. It will give Colombian exporters the certainty that comes with permanent access. This will help stimulate investment and economic growth and higher standards of living for families in Colombia. And it will make it clear to the Colombian people we're partners in prosperity and we're partners in peace. (Applause.)  The time is coming when members will get their vote, yes or no. My administration is committed to working this agreement hard on the floor of the Congress. I firmly believe it is in our interests that this be passed. It's not in our political interests -- we ought to just put politics aside and focus on what's best for the ed States of America. And what is best for our country is to get this agreement approved soon. (Applause.)  Congress also ought to approve the other two trade agreements on their agenda after they approve this one. Congress needs to approve the trade agreement with Panama, which will open up U.S. access to one of the fastest-growing economies in Central America and support a key democratic partner. Congress also needs to approve the free trade agreement with South Korea, which has the potential to boost U.S. exports by more than billion while strengthening a key ally.(%bk%)  As Congress moves forward these agreements, we will continue to press for an ambitious, successful Doha Round at the WTO. We're prepared to lead to ensure Doha reaches a successful conclusion. We understand the role of the ed States. We're not going to shirk our duty to lead. But we're not going to make unilateral concessions either. We want negotiations to come from -- as a result of meaningful contributions by all folks. That's how you reach a successful round.  And so we challenged our trading partners to help forge a deal that opens up global trade flows and creates new opportunities for developed and developing nations alike. Our view is, the time for debating Doha is over. Now is the time for leaders to make tough choices that will allow these negotiations to advance.  Look, I know a lot of folks are worried about trade. There's neighbors worrying about neighbors losing jobs. People say, well, trade causes us to lose jobs. And I fully understand that. Sometimes trade causes people to lose jobs; sometimes the fact that technology hasn't advanced as rapidly or the productivity of workers isn't as good as it should be has caused people to lose jobs.  But nevertheless, there is that concern. And so my question to the American people is, what's the best way to respond? One option is to stop trade, erect barriers, try to wall ourselves off from the world. The costs of isolationist policies and protectionist policies would far exceed any possible benefit. Closing off our markets would drive up prices for American families, making it harder for people to sell goods in our country; would deny families choices that they've been used to. We want our consumers to have choices when they walk into markets. The more choices available, the better it is for a consumer. The more competition it is for a product, the less likely it is the price will rise.  The other nations would retaliate, by the way, if they saw the ed States throwing up barriers. And that would push jobs overseas faster. It could hurt millions of Americans who go to work each morning, who work for companies that rely upon exports, or companies that rely upon foreign capital as their base of operations.(%bk%)  You know, some have called for a "timeout" from trade. I guess that's probably popular with the focus group. You know, they toss out the word "timeout" from trade -- it's got this kind of catchy little title to it. In the 21st century, a timeout from trade would be a timeout from growth, a timeout from jobs, and a timeout from good results. And retreating from the opportunities of the global economy would be a reckless mistake that our country cannot afford.  And there's a better answer -- and one of them shows faith in the American workers. Instead of trying to stand against the growth of global trade, instead of granting other people access to markets that we ourselves could have, instead of squandering an opportunity, why don't we help educate people? Why don't we provide educational opportunities so workers will have the skills necessary to fill the high-paying jobs of the 21st century? (Applause.)  One reason I mentioned No Child Left Behind, this program has got to start early, and it is. We're setting high standards and measuring, and correcting problems early, before it's too late. But there's more we can do. We provided more than a billion dollars for new initiatives to educate and prepare workers for the jobs of the 21st century. Yesterday Secretary Chao announced more than 0 million in new community-based job training grants. In other words, we're focusing money to help people get the skills necessary to fill the jobs that are available in America. And when you get education, you're a more productive worker, which means you're going to get paid more money. That's what that means.  These grants support community college programs -- I'm a big supporter of community colleges -- that provide training for jobs in high-growth fields. And that's our strategy. Now, the word you'll hear attached to that is trade adjustment assistance. That's another program aimed at helping people get the skills necessary to find work. We support it. We support reforming and reauthorizing the vital program as a key component of trade policy. And I look forward to working with Congress to sign a good bill that I can sign into law.(%bk%)  These agreements that I've talked about deserve support from both sides of the aisle. Today I want to make a direct appeal to the members of the Democratic Party. From Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton, Democrats have a long history of supporting trade. Opening markets has been a history and a cornerstone of Democratic policy. President Clinton said, when he signed legislation to implement NAFTA 14 years ago, "We're on the verge of a global economic expansion that is sparked by the fact that the ed States at this critical moment decided we would compete and not retreat." I fully support those strong words, those confident words, those optimistic words about America's ability to compete in the world. Thanks in part to the market-opening set in motion by the President, trade between the ed States, Mexico and Canada has more than tripled since 1993.  I know there's a lot of criticism of NAFTA, but I will tell you this: I grew up in Texas, I remember what the border was like. And I would ask people to go down to that border today and see the benefits, the mutual benefits, of what trade has meant for people who, on both sides of the border, for years grew up in abject poverty. We may have some south Texans here today, and if you're old enough, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The transformation has been remarkable because both sides have benefited. Both sides have realized the blessings of trade, as has Canada. All three of our economies, by the way, since that agreement was signed, have grown by more than 50 percent. More than 25 million new jobs have been created in the ed States. The unemployment rate is lower than in previous decades. Workers, farmers, entrepreneurs have seen real improvements in their daily lives, including many Hispanic-owned businesses on both sides of the border.  Listen, NAFTA has worked. People shouldn't back away from NAFTA. It's been a positive development for a lot of people. And if you're worried about people coming to our country to find jobs, there's no better way to help somebody stay home than for there to be prosperity in their neighborhood. I'm convinced most people don't want to try to sneak into America to work. I'm convinced most people would rather have a job close to their -- close to where they live. And trade helps increase prosperity. It's mutually beneficial for Canada, the ed States and America -- I mean, Mexico.(%bk%)  Now, look, I understand supporting free trade agreements is not politically easy. There are a lot of special interest groups that are willing to spend a lot of money to make somebody's life miserable when it comes to supporting free trade agreements. But I believe leadership requires people rising above this empty, hollow political rhetoric. If you're committed to multilateral diplomacy, you cannot support unilateral withdrawal from trade agreements. (Applause.) If you're worried -- if you are worried about America's image in the world, it makes no sense to disappoint the nations that are counting on us most. If you care about lifting developing nations out of poverty, you cannot deny them access to the world's greatest engine of economic growth. If you're truly optimistic about our country's future, there's no reason to wall our nation off from the opportunities of the world.  I appreciate your efforts in these matters. I feel strongly that trade is in our national interests. I know it's in your personal interests if you're business people. Of course, as you prosper, people are more likely to find work. After all, 70 percent of the new jobs in America are created by small business owners, just like those present here.  I believe Congress will do the right thing. When it's all said and done, they'll take a hard look at the facts. They will take a look at the consequences of rejecting a trade agreement with our close ally. They'll take a good look at the consequences of sending the wrong message to the false populists of the region. They'll take a simple logical look at how this can benefit our farmers and small business owners and employers.  Thanks for helping us work the issue. Thanks for giving me a chance to come and speak to you. May God bless you, and may God bless our country. (Applause.) 200806/40958

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