FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
Remarks in "Focus
on Health Care" Event
September 13, 2004 • Muskegon, MI
Listen, thank you all for coming. Thanks
for coming. Please be seated. So Hoekstra said, get over
here. (Applause.) He said, come to Muskegon. I said, okay,
see if you can get some people to show up. (Applause.)
Listen, thanks for coming. I'm here asking for the vote.
(Applause.) I'm here to tell you I have a reason to ask
for the vote. And we're going to do it a little differently
today. I'm going to talk to some of our fellow citizens
about health care, that's what I really want to spend some
time on. I'm also going to talk about making America a
safer place, making the world a safer place. (Applause.)
Before we get started on issues that matter to the future
of everybody in this country, there's an issue that matters
to me, and that is, I hope I can also count on your help
in order to win this election. (Applause.) That means registering
people to vote. (Applause.) Step one is to remind your
friends and neighbors that we have an obligation in a free
society to participate. So anybody who is 18 years old
who hasn't registered -- register. You have an obligation.
And step two is once we register people to vote, is to
get them to vote. And step three is when you get them headed
into the polls, remind them America will be a safer place,
a stronger place and a better place when you put Dick Cheney
and me back into office. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Perhaps the most -- I'm
ready for four more years, and perhaps the most important
reason to give us four more years is so that Laura will
be First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) So I said,
will you marry me? She said, fine. She was a public school
librarian in Texas. She said, yes, I'll marry you -- just
so long as I don't have to give any political speeches.
(Laughter.) Well, fortunately, that's a promise she didn't
hold me to. People got to see her in New York City. She
gave a fabulous speech. (Applause.) And the reason why
is because she's a genuine, kind, compassionate person
who is a great mom, a great wife. I love her dearly. And
she sends her very best. (Applause.) She's out campaigning
I want to thank my friend, Peter Hoekstra. He is a solid
citizen and a very fine member of the United States Congress.
(Applause.) He is -- and Diane, thanks for coming -- he
is a highly respected member of Congress. He is now going
to be in charge of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
I look forward to working with him to strengthen our intelligence-gathering
capabilities so that we can do as good a job as possible
about protecting our fellow citizens. Peter understands
that the world changed on September the 11th. He understands
we have a solemn duty in America to do everything we can
to protect you. And I look forward to working with you,
Pete. It's a great honor that you've been selected. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the grassroots activists. Those are
the unsung heroes who put up the signs and make the phone
calls and do all the hard work. I want to thank you for
what you have done; I want to thank you for what you're
going to do --(laughter) -- over the next couple of weeks.
You know, there's just no doubt in my mind that, with your
help, we're going to carry Michigan and win the country.
Listen, most people in America agree with my philosophy
that the role of government is to help people realize their
dreams, not to try to run their lives. The role of government
is to say, what can we do to help you, not tell you what
to do. And that's the fundamental difference of opinion
in this campaign.
One of the things I'm going to spend a lot of time talking
about in this race is that I understand the world we live
in has changed. And the fundamental systems of government
must change with a changing world. People say, what do
you mean? Well, think about the work force. When our dads
and granddads were in the work force, they generally were
working for one company, one career, had one pension plan,
one health care plan. Today, the work force has changed.
A lot of people have more than one job and more than one
career. In other words, people are changing. Life is moving
The other most massive change in the work force has been
women. Women who used to stay at home are now not only
working inside the house, are working outside the house.
And, yet, the government systems haven't reflected this
change. The pension plans were designed for yesterday.
They need to be designed for tomorrow. If you're a senior
citizen, you don't have to worry about Social Security.
If you're a baby boomer, you don't have to worry about
Social Security. And by the way, you'll hear the same rhetoric
you hear every campaign, believe me, you know. Oh, don't
worry, they're going to take away your Social Security
check. It is the most tired, pathetic way to campaign for
the presidency. So you don't have to worry about that.
And baby boomers are fine. We're in good shape, you know.
The people who aren't in good shape are the children and
grandchildren in this country, because there's a lot fewer
payer-inners than there are recipients when it comes to
Social Security checks. I think we need to think differently
for young folks when it comes to pension plans, and by
that I mean younger folks ought to be able to take some
of their own taxes and set aside a personal savings account.
When you hear me talk about changing systems to help people,
this is a -- this will help people when they have their
own personal savings accounts which will enable them to
actually receive Social Security benefits.
The worker training programs were designed for yesterday.
They need to be designed for tomorrow. That's why I'm such
a big backer in community colleges. That's why I believe
we ought to promote a lifetime of learning for workers.
The jobs change in America. Sometimes the skill sets don't
change with them. In order to make sure people can work
and realize their dreams, the job training programs must
adjust to a changing economy.
We're going to talk about health care. It needs to be
changed and modernized. It needs to reflect the world in
which we live.
The tax code needs to be changed. (Applause.) It's complicated
-- it's a complicated mess, is what it is. Americans spend
about 6 billion hours filling out the taxes. That's a lot
of time and a lot of headache. The tax code is full of
special interest loopholes. In a second term I'm going
to work with both Republicans and Democrats to simplify
the tax code, to make it more fair. This will not only
help our economy grow, it'll help the American worker,
it'll help the American family. So we're going to simplify
the tax code. (Applause.)
What I'm telling you is, I recognize the changing world
in which we live, and the proper role of the government
is to change the systems of government that were designed
for yesterday, so that they reflect tomorrow. In order
to make sure -- by the way, one of the biggest changes
we have in America is the fact that our workers are more
productive than ever. There have been high productivity
increases, and that's great for the country. People say,
what do you mean by productivity increases? It means you've
gone from a shovel to a -- you know, to a mechanized digger,
or from a manual typewriter to a computer, that's what
it means, when you come more productive.
And, yet, a more productive work force requires our economy
to have sustained growth in order for people to find work.
If the same worker can -- if one worker can double the
output of the past, it means the economy has to grow faster
in order to make sure people can find work, if they're
not working. That's what that means. And, therefore, I
put out a plan to make sure the economy that we have today
is even stronger tomorrow.
Now, when you're out gathering the vote, remind people
we've been through a lot. Think about what this economy
has been through. When we got in there, the market had
already been declining for about five months. In other
words, there was something fragile about the economy. And
then we had a recession. The first three-quarters of my
presidency were declared recession because economic growth
was negative. In other words, we checked in to serve the
American people, and the next thing we know is we've got
a recession handed to us. And then we had some corporate
scandals, and that affected the psychology of the country.
Make no mistake about it: When somebody doesn't tell the
truth in the corporate world, it affects economic growth.
There should be no question in anybody's mind today that
we will not tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America.
And then September the 11th came and it hurt us. I'm going
to talk a little bit later on what it meant, in terms of
working to secure the homeland. There's some interesting
-- not "interesting," really important lessons
from that day.
But they estimate we lost a million jobs in the three
months after September the 11th. And, yet, if you think
about it, we've overcome those obstacles. This economy
of ours is strong, and it's getting stronger. (Applause.)
And the fundamental question -- I mean, the national unemployment
rate is 5.4 percent. That's lower than the average of the
1970s, 1980s and 1990s. (Applause.) Now, there are pockets
in your state where the recovery is lagging behind the
national average, I understand that. But that means we
ought to put good policies in place and keep them in place,
as opposed to resorting to the old, tired, you know, government
So I want to talk to you about how we're going to keep
the economy growing. And one of the key aspects is to make
sure the health care system works. Before we get to the
health care system, let me -- here are some ideas that
the American people need to hear. In order to make sure
the job base expands in America, we need an energy policy
that makes us less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
(Applause.) I mean, it's going to be hard to sustain economic
growth if we stay hooked. And we need to modernize our
electricity grid, as well. I submitted a plan to the United
States Congress over two years ago, and it's stuck. It's
a plan that encourages conservation. It's a plan that recognizes
technology is going to change much of the energy debate.
In other words, hopefully within a decade, people will
be driving hydrogen-powered automobiles. That makes sense.
You know, we've got great research being done on clean
coal technology, so we can use an available resource. We
want people -- and one of -- I think a great opportunity
for America is that someday they're going to walk in and
say, here's the crop report, Mr. President, we're growing
more corn than ever, and now were less dependent on foreign
sources of energy. We ought to be using ethanol and biodiesel
as ways to -- as ways to diversify our energy supply. (Applause.)
I think we ought to be using technology to expand and
advance nuclear power. We ought to be wise about how we
diversify our energy supplies and encourage energy conservation.
In order to keep this economy growing, we put forth a plan
that Congress must pass in order to make us less dependent
on foreign sources of energy.
In order to make sure the economy grows, we've got to
continue to open up markets. There's a lot of farmers in
this part of the world, the farm economy is strong here
-- strong in Michigan and it's strong around the world.
One of the reasons why is because we're selling U.S. product
in other markets -- that's one of the reasons why. Ask
your corn growers, ask the people who are growing soy beans
what it's like to be able to sell product grown here in
Michigan, or elsewhere in America, overseas. And, listen,
we've opened up our markets and it's good for you we have.
Here's the way the economy works: If you've got more choices
to choose from, you're likely to get the product you want
at a better price and higher quality. That's how it works.
My message to places like China is, you treat us the way
we treat you -- because we can compete with anybody, anytime,
anywhere, so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)
One of the reasons we overcame the obstacles, one of the
reasons this economy is growing is because of well-timed
tax cuts. I mean, when you've got more money in your pocket,
it means that your going to demand an additional good or
a service. And when you demand an additional good or a
service, somebody is going to have to produce it. And when
somebody produces it, it means somebody is more likely
to find work.
One of the central tenets of that tax relief was, we're
helping our small business owners. Do you realize 90 percent
of the small business owners in America pay individual
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good, well, there you are. Then you understand
what tax relief means. (Laughter and applause.) When you
give -- 70 percent of the new jobs in America are created
by small businesses, and when you provide tax relief for
small businesses, it means our economy is growing. That's
what's happening here in America. (Applause.)
And so here's the thing, we've got to do something about
these frivolous lawsuits that are making it hard for small
businesses to stay in business. (Applause.) We've got to
reduce regulations on small businesses so they're able
to hire. And we must not raise taxes. In order to keep
this economy growing, in order to make sure that jobs are
available -- not only this year, but in the out years --
we've got to keep your taxes low. And that's an issue in
this campaign. It's an issue.
I'm running against a fellow who has proposed over $2
trillion of new federal spending. That's a lot. And so
they said, well, how are you going to pay for it? He said,
oh, don't worry, I'm just going to tax the rich. Now, let
me -- a couple of things wrong with that. One is, you can't
tax the rich enough to pay for over $2 trillion of new
money. In other words, there's the tax gap. Guess who's
going to get stuck? Yes. Don't worry, we're not going to
let him stick you, because we're going to win. (Applause.)
Hold on a second. A couple of other things. Thank you
all. We've got a lot of work to do here, though. (Laughter.)
I appreciate the cheering.
Secondly, if you run up the top two brackets on the individual
income taxes, you're taxing about a million small businesses,
is what you're doing. Now, why in the heck would you want
to tax small businesses just as this economy is beginning
to grow? If 70 percent of the new jobs are -- in America,
are created by small businesses, why would you want to
tax the job creators? You wouldn't.
Thirdly, you've heard the rhetoric, right, tax the rich?
We've heard that before. The rich hire accountants and
lawyers for a reason. (Laughter.) And you get stuck with
the bill. Raising taxes is wrong right now for this economy,
and we're not going to let him get away with it. We are
going to win. (Applause.) Taxes is a big issue in this
campaign. I intend to make it an issue all across the country.
Let me talk about health care. We're going to talk about
health care now. And I've asked some folks to come and
explain to you some of the reasons why our policy makes
sense. You've probably already heard enough from me already
for one day.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, that's good. I'm just looking
for a little affirmation. (Laughter.) If that's the case,
I'm just getting wound up. (Applause.)
I have a practical common-sense plan to make health care
available and affordable, and that's important; a practical
way to make sure health care is available and affordable,
and a way to make sure good doctors keep practicing medicine.
I believe health care decisions should be made by doctors
and patient, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We have a difference of opinion in this campaign. I'm running
against a fellow who has got a massive, complicated blueprint
to have our government take over the decision-making in
THE PRESIDENT: His plan, if you listen carefully to what
he says, would have bureaucrats become the decision-makers,
and that would be wrong for America. As well, today, there's
a independent study, which has been released, which says
that his plan would cost the taxpayers $1.5 trillion in
new government spending. Not only is his plan going to
increase the power of bureaucrats in your lives, but he
can't pay for it unless he raises your taxes.
Today, we're going to talk about a difference of opinion.
It starts with -- you know, what would you expect from
a Senator from Massachusetts? (Laughter and applause.)
That's what you would expect -- a government take-over
of health care with an enormous price tag. We're going
to talk about a way to make sure health care is available
and affordable, and start with Medicare. You might remember
the old Medicare debates. They were called, "Mediscare," because
people wouldn't dare talk about changing them. I believe
we have a duty to our seniors. I believe we have a moral
obligation to make sure health care is available and affordable
to our seniors. (Applause.)
Look, I went up to Washington to fix problems. You know,
I said, if I'm fortunate enough to win -- this is what
I said in 2000 -- I'm going up to address problems, not
pass them on to future generations and future Presidents.
My style is to say, here's a problem, let's come together
to fix it. We had a problem in Medicare. And the problem
was that medicine was modernizing and Medicare wasn't.
People say, what do you mean by that? Well, Medicare would
pay for, you know, $100,000, say, for heart surgery, but
wouldn't pay for the prescription drugs to prevent the
heart surgery from being needed in the first place. That
didn't make any sense. (Applause.) It didn't make any sense
for our seniors, it didn't make any sense for the taxpayers.
And so we modernized Medicare. Listen, seniors should
get a prescription drug card today, it will help you with
your cost of drugs. Starting in 2005, we'll have preventative
care and screenings for our seniors as a part of Medicare.
(Applause.) That makes sense. You hear me say I've got
a commonsense, practical plan -- it's practical to have
seniors tested early so we can diagnose problems before
it's too late. It's practical for seniors to be given preventative
screening in Medicare, and in 2006, prescription drugs
will be available for senior citizens in Medicare. We have
strengthened Medicare, and it's good for our seniors we
have done so. (Applause.)
To make health care available and affordable, we've got
to do something about the junk lawsuits that are running
up the cost of medicine. (Applause.) And those junk lawsuits
are running good docs out of practice. If the goal is an
available and affordable health care, we've got to do something
about lawsuits. Make no mistake about it, these lawsuits
are running up your cost of medicine. You ask small business
owners, you ask docs what it's like to practice in a litigious
society -- that means there's a lot of lawsuits. (Laughter.)
I'm not even a lawyer and I know the word "litigious." (Laughter
And so -- people say, well, that was a local issue. No,
it's not a local issue when the cost of medicine is skyrocketing
or the cost of health care is skyrocketing because of the
defensive medicine being practiced by docs, so if they
get sued they're able to have a good case in the courthouse.
And it costs the taxpayers about $28 billion a year for
docs to practice medicine defensively.
And, therefore, I went to Congress and said, this is a
national problem, it requires a national solution. We need
medical liability reform. Of course, it's stuck in the
United States Senate. It came out of the House, and I want
to thank Pete for his support. It's stuck in the Senate
because the trial lawyers are powerful, they are a powerful
special interest, they stand in the way of good medical
liability reform. This a big difference in this campaign.
I like to remind people you can't be pro-doctor or pro-patient
and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. You have to choose.
My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket.
(Applause.) I made my choice: I'm standing with the docs
and patients; I am for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)
There's more to do to make health care available and affordable.
We've got to modernize the health care information. I believe
that within the next 10 years we can have electronic health
records, with safeguards for your privacy, which will cut
down on the administrative costs of health. We can save
a lot of money by using technology to modernize health
In order to make sure that health care is available, we
need to expand the government insurance program for children.
In other words, it exists, but many children are not using
it. We've got a billion dollars available in the budget
to encourage families to take advantage of government-sponsored
health care for children, for low-income children. It makes
sense to make sure that the programs are fully utilized
in every aspect of our -- in every corner of our country.
In order to make sure health care is available, we need
to expand community health centers. Tom Lufkin is with
us, we're about to talk about community health centers.
(Applause.) I made a promise, by the way, when I was running.
I said, these things make sense for low-income Americans,
to have a place to get preventative care; it's better that
they get care in a community center, rather than an emergency
room in a hospital. I think it's good use of taxpayer's
money to expand these, and we're doing it, we're fulfilling
the promise I made in the 2000 campaign. (Applause.) I
made a further pledge: I think every poor county in America
community health center.
Tell us what they are, Tom. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate that. Thanks. See, I believe
government ought to help people who can't help themselves.
And the idea is to help people so they can help themselves
-- but there are some who just can't, some who are stuck,
some who are poor. In the land of plenty, there are pockets
of poverty, we've got to understand that. And the idea
is to make sure that preventative health care is available
through community health centers.
I want to thank you for your compassion. An interesting
point he said was these health centers spawn other acts
of generosity in communities -- people see that they're
up and available, and other people who have got good hearts,
who want to love their neighbor like they'd like to be
loved themselves step up and participate in helping those
who hurt, in helping those who need help.
And so one way to make sure health care is available is
to expand community health centers throughout the country.
And that's what we're doing. I want to thank you for coming,
Another way to make sure health care is affordable and
available is to help small businesses with health care.
Now, here's the problem for small businesses: they go out
and bid in the current system and they don't have a significant
pool of people to spread risk. That's the problem. They're
in the midst of trying to provide health care in their
businesses and they go out and try to get a bid for health
care, and they're kind of a little, stand-alone entity.
Now, big companies are able to pool risk because of their
size. We believe in order to make sure health care is available
and affordable, that little companies ought to be able
to bind -- be bound together, share risk, so they can get
the same discounts that big companies get. (Applause.)
David. David Pray. I was looking for you, and finally
found you. (Laughter.) Tell us what you do.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Good, that's a good sign, isn't it? Upbeat
guy. Small company, how many employees?
MR. PRAY: We have 10 employees.
THE PRESIDENT: Ten, that's small. That's the definition
of a small business. And so he was telling me aboard Air
Force One there that he has some problems with health care.
MR. PRAY: Well, we've been -- through Associated Builders
and Contractors, we have been in a state-wide pool for
quite some time. And for a lot of years, we enjoyed about
a 10 to 15 percent cost advantage over being -- over going
out and finding single, affordable policies elsewhere.
THE PRESIDENT: So they got a plan here in Michigan where
you can pool together. It's a nice concept. However?
MR. PRAY: However, last year, the state of Michigan passed
legislation called Small Group Health Care Reform which,
instead of now being able to pool the risk over 400 member
companies, premiums are now calculated based on claims
history. So we don't have the advantage of pooling anymore.
And the immediate effect for our company was a 29 percent
increase in our premiums. And bear in mind that we, as
a company, feel a duty to provide the medical and dental
care, not only for the employee, himself, but for his dependents.
We fund 100 percent of that cost.
THE PRESIDENT: So here's what we're talking about. Listen,
this guy's a responsible guy, you know. He says, I've got
a duty as a employer of people to do the best I can do.
The problem is the system is so designed that he can't
really do his job because he is unable to pool risk. See,
the more people you have in the risk pool, the lower the
cost of health insurance. That's just how it works.
And so what we're suggesting is, is that David be able
to combine with companies, not only in Michigan, but nationwide.
I mean, why shouldn't a guy building commercial construction
in Texas not be able to put his employees in the same pool
as David? The reason why is because the health systems
were designed for the past. The current health care system
is stuck in the past, as far as I'm concerned.
A national plan -- in other words, people being able to
bind together nationally would mean that a lot of mandates
that now affect the cost of health care would not be --
would not be imposed upon these small businesses, and it
means that more people could bind together. People resist
this because they like the system the way it is. What we're
interested in is, we don't like the way it is. We're interested
in change. Government must be willing to change with the
times. Association health plans mean we're willing to change
with the times to help small employers be able to provide
good health insurance for their workers. (Applause.)
Another way -- as you can see, I've got a strategy to
make sure health care is available and affordable without
the federal government making the decisions for you. See,
we've said, we're going to take care of those who can't
help themselves, we're going to make sure small businesses
are able to afford insurance, just like big businesses
can do, and now, I want to talk about a very interesting
idea called health savings accounts. This is a different
approach to health care, which will mean that the patient
and doctor are essential to the decision-making process,
and helps us hold down the cost of health care. Health
savings accounts are an innovative idea that became the
law of the land as a result of the Medicare bill I signed.
And I want -- I want some people to describe. Matt, are
you willing to describe what it means?
MR. VENEMA: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, don't worry about all the cameras.
MR. VENEMA: All right, all right. I'll try to forget about
THE PRESIDENT: First, start with the name of the company
and why you're even involved.
MR. VENEMA: The name of our company is All-Flo Plumbing,
LLC. We're a plumbing contractor in the Grand Rapids and
West Michigan region. We were struggling under the burden
of our health care.
THE PRESIDENT: How many people, sorry?
MR. VENEMA: Fourteen employees, 12 full-time.
THE PRESIDENT: Small business, thousands of small businesses
just like his all over the world, all over the country,
all over America. (Applause.) The heart and soul of the
American economy are these small business owners. Sorry.
Giving you time to warm up. (Laughter.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a minute. Sorry. You've got to
make sure the people understand what we're talking about.
A lot of times, you use initials in government. (Laughter.)
HSA. Okay, here it is.
So you buy a high deductible --
MR. VENEMA: High deductible health policy.
THE PRESIDENT: -- health policy to cover for major medical
MR. VENEMA: Correct. Correct.
THE PRESIDENT: So, for example, if you're a family --
I've said, this company, he'll tell you what his is, I
think it's a zero --
MR. VENEMA: Pardon me?
THE PRESIDENT: What is your deductible in your --
MR. VENEMA: It's $3,500 for a family plan.
THE PRESIDENT: So above $3,500, the insurance company
will take care of the costs.
MR. VENEMA: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: And then so what happens between zero and
MR. VENEMA: As the employer, we took most of the portion
of our savings and funded the HSA plans for each individual
THE PRESIDENT: So the company is now putting in the money
to cover routine medical expenses from zero to $3,500.
They're able to put it in tax-free, they're able to rollover
the money tax-free, and they're able to take the money
out of the HSA tax-free.
MR. VENEMA: Yes, it's a nice benefit for the individual
employee. If they happen to have a good health situation,
they get a tax-free savings account. If something goes
wrong, they're still covered. And my wife and I gave this
a good test run last year because we had a premature baby,
and $20,000 in health bills at the hospital, and it worked
like a charm. So we're very happy with this plan.
THE PRESIDENT: Let's make sure we understand here. This
is -- we're trying to simplify what sounds like a complex
issue. And zero to $3,500, you pay -- "you" being
the company and the employee, depending upon the arrangement.
Now, if you spend $2,000 in the year, $1,500 of that $3,500
that's in your account rolls over for the next year. And
that's your money. And it's tax-free, it rolls over. So
you build up a health savings account over time. (Applause.)
Now, think about a system, by the way that provides an
incentive for you to make good choices with your life.
If you save that money by -- because you're healthier,
that may cause you to go out and walk 20 minutes a day.
No fooling. In other words, the system all of a sudden
says, you're in charge. You, the employee, or, you, the
patient, you're in
charge of your decisions, as opposed to somebody far away
making decisions whether or not you deserve this or not
through your insurance plan, you're the person in charge.
And there's a tax incentive for you to make right decisions.
All right, any savings?
MR. VENEMA: Yes, actually when we switched over, the premium
savings have been phenomenal. Our total group expenditure
right now for health insurance, including what we contribute
to everyone's HSAs, is $38,500 a year, approximately. If
we were still under our previous conventional plan, it
would be about $81,000 a year. So we're talking about a
52 percent savings for our group. And we've been very excited
about that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: These work. I'm telling you, they work.
They make a lot of sense. (Applause.) Health care is more
affordable under health savings accounts, and health care
is more manageable because the decision-making is between
the patient and the doc. And it's really important for
people to understand that. This stands in contrast to a
system where the federal government is going to say, oh,
here's what's going to happen here. We're going to move
people from private health insurance to expanded Medicaid,
for example. You don't want the government making decisions
on your behalf when it comes to health care. And this is
one of the fundamental philosophical differences in this
campaign, is who do you trust? We trust the people. My
opponent trusts the government to make decisions when it
comes to health care.
Now, we've got another man here who knows something about
it. Jim, tell us what's -- welcome.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: It's an interesting twist. (Laughter.)
You're not the first person in America, by the way -- (laughter
an applause.) Go ahead. Would you care to clarify why you
were mad at me? (Laughter.)
MR. GLUPKER: I can do that --
THE PRESIDENT: -- a fellow like me, sitting here.
MR. GLUPKER: I'm just a little disappointed that it wasn't
available to me 30 and 35 years ago, when I was a young
family, you know? Because then that account would have
a lot more in it than it does today.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, see, explain to people -- you've got
an account up and running. And you've used it?
MR. GLUPKER: I've used it, and the interesting thing is,
when we changed over --
THE PRESIDENT: They work for the same company, by the
MR. GLUPKER: Yes. We were able to keep our same doctors,
which was interesting. And the other thing is, because
it's our money, when we go shopping for prescription drugs
and stuff, we shop, because why pay $100 for that prescription
when you can go down the street and only pay $80?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. See, that's a very interesting point,
isn't it? There is a marketplace in America if consumers
are empowered to have choice. That's what we're talking
about here. We go shop. The old system, when the government
is involved, they don't shop. They dictate. Here, consumers
shop. It's your money. You're in charge of your money.
In this case, the company puts a lot of money in there
that you call your own money. It's part of the -- it's
part of how they make sure the labor relations are good
inside this little company, is they contribute to the health
savings account. And he's out shopping.
People ask me about prescription drugs a lot. Let me --
a couple of points I want to talk to you about. And one
-- one way to make sure that prescription drug costs are
reasonable is to encourage people to go into the marketplace
and to provide more information to people so that they're
not necessarily buying a brand drug when the generic is
available. Generics are a lot cheaper than brand drugs,
but nevertheless, they do the same thing.
Secondly, we've got to move generic drugs quicker to the
market. That's important for us to do, and we've got plans
to do so. (Applause.) As a matter of fact, the Medicare
bill helps do that. There's a lot of stalling tactics sometimes
in the industry, where they say, we've got a new add-on
that needs to be -- need to extend the protection period
for our brand drug. Well, we're cutting through all that.
We're saying, here's a reasonable period of time for you
to recoup your investment, and generics are going to move
I'm asked a lot about importation of drugs. It's an interesting
idea. But, remember, my job is to protect you as best I
can. That's the role of the government. And what we don't
want to do is have a system where it sounds like a pharmaceutical
may be coming in from Canada, but, in fact, it is manufactured
in another country. I suspect the consumers of this country,
while it sounds good that these may be able to help us
on price of drugs if they come in from Canada -- before
I'll allow that to happen, I'm going to make sure that
you're safe. Because all you need to do is get a batch
of drugs manufactured elsewhere that sounds like they're
legitimate, and get sick, and then you're going to be wondering,
where were the people, why weren't they doing their jobs
of protecting consumer safety? And so I'm interested in
knowing whether or not we can make sure you're safe. That's
a duty we have in the federal government. (Applause.)
Seems like to me, the best way to make sure that drug
costs are reasonable is encourage the consumer to be a
pricer in the market and to speed up generics. They say
we'll save $35 billion over 10 years by speeding up the
generic drugs to the marketplace -- what we're doing.
Anyway, I hope you've got a better sense of where I intend
to take health care. It's a practical way to make sure
health care is available and affordable. (Applause.)
And it's a comprehensive plan. We've thought through this
very carefully. It's commonsensical. In other words, it
makes sense to do it this way, because the alternative
is, in my solemn judgment, not right for the American people.
Having the federal government run your business and health
care is -- would be -- would be costly, it would lead to
rationing of health care, it would mean that you're not
in charge of your decisions -- which is the exact opposite
philosophy we hold.
Now, let me talk to you about making America a safer place,
and the world a safer place. A couple of things I want
to share with you. One, it's important never to forget
the lessons of September the 11th, and I'm not going to
forget them. I'm not going to forget them.
The first lesson is, the enemy we face is cold-blooded
and they have no conscience; that you cannot negotiate
with these people, in other words. You cannot hope for
the best from them. You cannot hope they'll change their
ways. See, these are people who profess, you know, Islam
-- they've hijacked Islam and they've substituted the peaceful
nature of Islam with an ideology of hate. And they used
terrorism as a tool to shake our will, to shake the conscience
of the free world. And so the only way to deal with them
is to stay on the offense, is to chase them down overseas
so we don't have to face them here at home, and we will.
And it's important -- okay, if you'll all hold on -- thank
you. I've got a little more work to do, though. Got some
things on my mind --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, we'll have a chance to do a little "four
more year" thing in a minute. (Laughter.) I've got
to tell you what's on my mind. I want you to know I have
a reason for running again. I've got a plan to make this
world a safer place, and the country a more hopeful place.
That's why I'm running. (Applause.)
See, we've done a lot in this administration, but the
only reason to look backwards is to best determine who
to lead us forward. And that's what I'm talking about here.
I just want you to know I have a plan and a reason for
running, so that you can go out and tell your friends and
neighbors: let's put him back in there; he's got some good
ideas; he understands what he's doing when it comes to
making sure this economy continues to grow, making sure
that families are strong, making sure that the institutions
and systems are changed in order to help the American people;
and he's got a plan and a vision to make this world a safer
place. And that's what I'm here to tell you.
First, I know the nature of the enemy. It means we must
be relentless and unyielding. (Applause.) Secondly -- and
we must use all tools at our disposal. That's why I'm looking
forward to working with Peter, to make sure the intelligence
system -- see, we were chasing down people who hide in
caves, people who kind of lurk in the dark corners of cities
around the world. And, therefore, we need good intelligence,
and we're working with friends and allies in order to share
intelligence. You know, people -- we'll use law enforcement.
We're darn sure going to use our United States military,
too, to protect the American people. (Applause.) And that's
why it's important for our military to be, you know, transformed,
to meet the threats of the 21st century.
Secondly, since it's a different kind of war, in order
to make sure America is safer, I laid out a new doctrine
that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty
as the terrorist. Now, when the American President says
something, he better mean it. (Applause.) When the American
President says something, he's got to speak in a way that's
easy for people to understand and mean what he says. I
meant what I said when I said to the Taliban, if you harbor
a terrorist, like al Qaeda, you're just as guilty as they
are. They ignored what we said. And that's why they're
no longer in power. (Applause.) In other words, we said,
if you continue doing what you're doing, you're not going
to be in power. And as a result of a great United States
military, and as a result of brave souls, Afghanistan has
been liberated from a barbaric group of people. And we're
safer for it. (Applause.)
Al Qaeda can no longer train because we upheld doctrine.
Remember, they were training thousands of people in Afghanistan,
so they could put these terrorist cells around the world.
Way before September the 11th, they were training in Afghanistan,
plotting and planning. You know, somebody said, well, they
-- by staying on the offense, you're creating more enemy.
I strongly disagree with that sentiment. I strongly disagree.
(Applause.) They were planning -- they were plotting and
planning way before September the 11th. No, by staying
on the offense, we're reducing the enemy. By keeping the
pressure on them, we're reducing the enemy and making America
more secure. And by upholding doctrine, we're making America
more secure, as well.
Now, think about Afghanistan for a second. Not only is
the Taliban out, and al Qaeda had lost a safe haven, but
people are free in that country, and that matters to America.
It should. Because free societies promote peace. Free societies
become allies when it comes to fighting off the ideologues
You know, it just wasn't all that long ago -- it was three
years ago that young girls weren't allowed to go to school
-- many young girls -- most young girls weren't allowed
to go to school in Afghanistan. That's backwards, see?
When you've got people running a country that is so --
so clouded in their vision that they wouldn't let young
girls go to school, is a society that would breed, you
can imagine, incredible resentment. It's a hopeless society.
That's how terrorists are able to recruit, because there's
no hope. Freedom -- a free society is one that promotes
hope. You know, their moms would be drug out in the public
square and whipped. And that matters to America, because
we believe in human dignity. We believe -- we believe in
the value of every human being. That's why we support a
culture of life, because we believe in life. (applause.)
Think about this, tell your friends and neighbors this
amazing statistic when it comes to Afghanistan -- at least
I think it's amazing. But three years ago, these people
lived in a dark world. Today, there's light and freedom
is -- freedom is moving rapidly to that country to the
extent that 10 million citizens, 41 percent of whom are
women, are registered to vote in the presidential elections
that will be taking place next month. Think about that.
Amazing, isn't it? (Applause.)
I have -- I can't remember all the people that wrote and
opined about what it was like going into Afghanistan back
then. I suspect some probably said that these people can't
be free; You know, they really don't want to be free. Freedom
is powerful. And I'm just guessing that there were some
people that were pessimistic about the country's dream
of having a democracy there in Afghanistan. But 10 million
people -- that wasn't all that long ago that women were
pulled off a bus by the Taliban and murdered because they
were involved in the election process.
Third lesson is, when we see a threat, we must deal with
it before it fully materializes. In other words, one of
the lessons of September the 11th is that oceans no longer
protect us from harm's way. It used to be, prior to September
the 11th, that if we saw a threat, we could deal with it
or not deal with it because we never dreamt it would come
home to hurt us if we saw something materializing overseas.
Policymakers in the country could say, well, that makes
sense to deal with that, or, we can let that one go, because
it can't possibly -- it can't possibly hurt us. That's
what we thought. And history had taught us that. I can
understand why everybody felt that way. But September the
11th changed that equation.
And, therefore, when we see a threat, this country must
deal with that threat so it doesn't come home to harm us.
And I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. The reason I saw
a threat in Saddam Hussein is because I was looking at
intelligence that said he was a threat. But as importantly,
I remembered his history. He was a sworn enemy of the United
States of America. We had been to war with him once before.
He was shooting at our pilots who were enforcing the world's
sanctions. He had harbored terrorists. Remember Abu Nidal?
He killed Leon Klinghoffer. Abu Nidal and his organization
was in Iraq. Zarqawi, he's still lingering around. He had
an organization. He's got ties to al Qaeda. He's The guy
who beheads people to shake our conscience. He was in and
out of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein paid the families of suiciders
Now, he was a threat. I went to the Congress and I said,
the world has changed. And they looked at the -- they agreed.
They looked at the intelligence I looked at. They remembered
his history. And they concluded, members of the Congress
from both political parties, concluded that Saddam Hussein
was a threat, and they authorized the use of force. My
opponent, he looked at the very same intelligence my administration
looked at. And he voted "yes" when it came time
to authorize the use of force. I went to the United Nations
-- and I'll tell you why I went to the U.N., because I
believe before a Commander-in-Chief commits troops into
harm's way, we must try all avenues, all avenues to solve
a problem. I understand the grave decision of sending men
and women into harm's way. It's a decision I wish I hadn't
had to make as your President. It's a decision, however,
that came to my desk because of the actions of an enemy.
And so I went to the United Nations in the hopes that
we could solve this problem diplomatically. And so I gave
a speech, I remember, there talking about the threat, reminding
people of the world that we lived in after September the
11th. And the United Nations looked at the same intelligence
I looked at and remembered the same history, and voted
15 to nothing to send this message to Saddam Hussein: You
disarm -- or disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences.
Now, I believe when you say something, you better mean
it in order to make the world a more free and peaceful
place. That's what I think. I think when you say something,
in order to -- (applause.) If you're going to vote to authorize
force, you better mean it. If you're going to say, "serious
consequences," you better mean it.
But Saddam Hussein ignored the demands of the free world
once again. People say, well, you didn't try diplomacy.
Diplomacy had been tried for a decade. This was a confirmation
that he wasn't interested in complying with the demands
of the free world. I think there was, what, 17 U.N. resolutions?
Something like that. A lot. Like, resolution after resolution
after resolution. And he wasn't interested in complying.
One reason we knew is because he systematically deceived
And so I have a choice to make at this point: Do I forget
the lessons of September the 11th, take the word of a madman
-- or take action to defend this country? Given that choice,
I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Thank you. A couple other points.
It's hard work in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know that, and
I want to thank the family members who are here who --
if you've got a loved one in the military, I want to thank
you for the sacrifices you've made and the sacrifices your
son, daughter, husband, or wife have made on behalf of
this country. It's not easy to help a country. There are
people around this world that want to stop the march of
freedom because they see it as the biggest threat to their
ideology of hate. That's the fact.
A lesson I've learned, and a lesson that -- it wasn't
hard for me to learn it, either -- was that any time you
put troops into harm's way, the federal government needs
to support them so they can finish their mission. (Applause.)
That's why -- that's why a year ago, I went to the Congress
and proposed $87 billion of supplemental funding to make
sure Marines, like this man right here, have got what it
takes to do the job.
And we got great support in Congress. You might remember
that, Pete, about how members of both parties stood up
and recognized the need for us to support troops in harm's
way. As a matter of fact, the support was so strong that
only 12 members of the United States Senate voted against
essential funding for our troops -- only 12 -- two of whom
were my opponent and his running mate, were part of those
Interestingly enough, when you're out gathering the vote,
you might remind people that there was only four members
of the United States Senate that voted to authorize the
use of force and then didn't vote to fund the troops. And
two of those four were my opponent and his running mate.
You might remember, when asked to explain why he made the
vote he made, he said, I actually did vote for the $87
billion, right before I voted against it. (Laughter.) See,
I think a President needs to speak clearly and mean what
he says. So they kept pressing him. He finally said, the
whole thing is a complicated matter. There's nothing complicated
about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
A couple other things I want to share with you -- a couple
of other things then we've got to move on down the road
in the bus. (Laughter.) It's a bus tour. (Laughter.) It's
exciting to go on a bus tour, because a lot of people come
out and they want to wave, and it warms my heart to see
many people lining the roads like -- that's what happens
on these trips.
Let me tell you a couple of other things. One, people
say, what's the mission? The mission is, in Afghanistan
and Iraq, to help those countries become free countries,
is to help on the road to democracy, is to help the political
process go forward. Remember, Iraq is going to be having
elections in January. They've got a tough Prime Minister.
I like him, Allawi. He's a strong guy. He's they guy that,
by the way, survived an assassination attempt by Saddam
Hussein. The guy sent the people in to -- he was living
in London at the time -- they sent a ax-wielding thug to
try to chop him to pieces. And he survived it. Seriously.
So he understands. He understands the tyrant.
He believes in the aspirations of the people. He wants
there to be elections. He knows that Iraq can handle democracy.
It's what he believes in his soul. I believe we ought to
help him get there. When we give our word, we need to keep
our word. In order to make the world a more peaceful place,
when you say something, you better mean it. And we've told
the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, we'll help them. We will
stay the course so that they can develop an army and police
force of their own so they can defend themselves. That's
what we're doing. We're providing stability for a political
process to go forward, and we're training troops so they
can do the hard work, so they can step up, so they can
help the reconstruction efforts go forward. It's precisely
what we're doing. And we're going to get -- get the job
done as quickly as possible, and then our troops will come
home with the honor they've earned. And the world will
be better off. I believe liberty can transform the world.
Listen, we all want peace. And I believe it's going to
happen, that our children and grandchildren will grow up
in a peaceful world, that we will make America secure by
staying on the offense. But in the long-run, our security
comes from spreading liberty.
You know, I tell people that one of my favorite leaders
in the world is Prime Minister Koizumi, of Japan. I want
you to think about this here for a minute. You know, I
sit down at a table with them, and have dinner, and we
have really interesting, meaningful discussions about peace.
What's unusual about that conversation is that 60 years
ago, or so, my dad and your dads and husbands and grandfathers
were at war with the Japanese. They were a sworn enemy
of America. Thousands lost their life because of the Japanese.
Fortunately, Harry Truman believed in the power of liberty
to transform societies, and so did a lot of other Americans.
There was a lot of skeptics, and you can understand why
there was skepticism after World War II. If your loved
one had been over fighting and had lost a life, how could
you possibly imagine that a sworn enemy could become a
But because our predecessors believed in the power of
liberty -- I mean, predecessors for citizens and elected
officials -- to transform an enemy into a friend, today,
Japan is a friend.
We did the hard work after World War II of helping Japan
go toward a democracy. Not an American democracy, but a
Japanese democracy. And today, I sit down at a table with
Prime Minister Koizumi talking about the peace, talking
about how to deal with the tyrant in North Korea. By the
way, it is now five voices reminding him that he needs
to disarm, including China, as opposed to one voice reminding
I talked to -- I talked to Prime Minister Koizumi about
how liberty can transform Iraq and Afghanistan to become
allies in the war on terror. I talked to a head of a country
that we were at war with about how free societies will
serve as powerful examples for women who want to be free
in the Middle East or for reformers who wonder whether
or not the free world hears their calls for help. I talked
to him about feeding the hungry.
I believe to whom much has been given, much is required.
I believe this United States of America must use our great
wealth and generosity to help those who are hungry in the
world. I believe we ought to continue to lead the effort
to help orphans whose lives have been changed because of
the pandemic of HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa. I
believe we not only need to write checks, I believe we
need to unleash the great faith-based programs of America
to help those who suffer. (Applause.)
I believe all these things. And of course, we'll continue
to provide medicines, and help, and infrastructure to help
save lives. I believe all this because the actions we take
will mean that a generation of young Americans can grow
up in a better world. The enemy attacked us. We didn't
ask for this attack. They attacked us. But out of this
attack, because of U.S. leadership, because we've got great
values, because of our resolve, because of a clear vision
of a better world, out of that attack is going to come
some incredible good, in my judgment: a safer America,
a more peaceful world, a better life.
And that's why I'm asking for the vote for four more years.
I know where I want to lead us. I have the energy and desire
to do so. And I'm not afraid to ask for your help.
God bless. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)