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pd04au03 Letter to Congressional Leaders on Waiver Certification To Implement the...
As a mark of respect for the memory of Bob Hope, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty- eighth. George W. Bush [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 9:18 a.m., July 30, 2003] Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on July 31. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 984-990] Pages 983-1028 Week Ending Friday, August 1, 2003 Remarks to the National Urban League Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania July 28, 2003 Thanks for the warm welcome. Thanks for your kind invitation. But most importantly, thanks for your service to your fellow Americans. The Urban League has always stood for justice and hope and healing. It's stood for opportunity for all our citizens. I'm honored to be at such an organization. I appreciate the chance as well to come to Pittsburgh. It's a city that's rich in civil rights, the history of civil rights. In the 1800s, the Underground Railroad here delivered thousands out of slavery and into freedom. In the 1930s and 1940s, Pittsburgh's Urban League led successful protests against schools and department stores that refused to hire African Americans. And today in this city, community leaders are showing what good people can accomplish by working together. I now know why they call it the Renaissance City, and I want to thank you for your hospitality. The work of the National Urban League represents one of the basic commitments of this country. See, we believe in opportunity for all, a society where every person can dream and work and realize his or her potential. We're dedicated to bringing economic hope to every neighborhood, a good education to every child, and comfort and compassion to the afflicted. And our Nation has come a long way, and we have a long way to go. And we will not stop, we will not tire until we extend the great promise of America to every neighborhood in America. And that's what I want to talk about today. I want to thank Mr. President, President Marc Morial, for his kind invitation and his willingness to lead this important American institution. He replaces a good man in Hugh Price, who has ably led the Urban League for nearly a decade. And there's no doubt in my mind that Marc Morial will do a great [[Page 985]] job on behalf of America. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. As he said, we grew up right around the corner from each other. And I know what he was--what New Orleans was like when he was the mayor of that important city. Bourbon Street was never more alive when--[laughter]--never mind. [Laughter] I'm honored that the Secretary of Education is with us today, Rod Paige. He is a good friend and a good man. I appreciate so very much Michael Critelli, who is the chairman of the board of the National Urban League, a businessman that understands corporate responsibility. It means you've got to help somebody else as well as watching the bottom line. Mike, thank you for being here. I'm honored that members from the Pennsylvania congressional delegation are with us today, Senators Specter and Santorum and Congressman Tim Murphy. I appreciate them coming. A couple of them jumped on Air Force One. [Laughter] I'm not suggesting that's why they came. [Laughter] There's not a lot of air raids on Air Force One. [Laughter] But I'm glad to have them. I see Reverend Jackson is with us today. Jesse Jackson, it's good to see you. Congressman Cummings, I'm honored to see you, Congressman. Thank you for being here. I appreciate so very much my friend Mayor Jim Garner, who's the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who is with us today. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming. I know that Mike Fisher, the State attorney general, is with us today. And the Allegheny County chief executive, Jim Roddey, is with us today. And I'm honored that they have come. I want to thank all the elected officials. I want to thank the board of the National Urban League. And I want to thank the delegates for giving me a chance to come by and say hello. Today I had the honor, when I landed at the airport, of meeting a board member of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, a fellow named Xavier Williams. He came to see me because one of the things I try to do is herald the great strength of the country, which happens to be the heart and soul of our citizens. You see, Xavier works for a--it's called INROADS. It's a nonprofit organization which matches minority youth with successful businesses and corporations to try to help them have the skills necessary to realize the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Xavier knows what I know, that the best way to serve your country is to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. And I appreciate the example that Xavier Williams sets for not only the good folks here in Pittsburgh but for people all around the country. Thank you, Xavier, for your service to our country. Every generation of Americans must rise to its own challenges, and this generation is rising to meet ours. We will never forget the lessons of September the 11th, 2001. Great oceans no longer protect us from dangers that gather far from home. And the other lesson is that there are people who can't stand what America stands for and desire to conflict great harm on the American people. In the 22 months since that day, we have put those who hate America on notice: Wherever they plot, wherever they plan, they will find no place to hide from American justice. The Al Qaida terrorists still threaten our country, but they're on the run. The regime in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime, inflicted great harm on the citizens of that country and protected the terrorists. But that regime is no more. Afghanistan is now free. And our current mission in Iraq is essential to the broader war on terror; it's essential to the security of the American people. You see, a free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with weapons. A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists or a funnel of money to terrorists or provide weapons to terrorists who would willingly use them to strike our country. A free Iraq will not destabilize the Middle East. A free Iraq can set a hopeful example to the entire region and lead other nations to choose freedom. And as the pursuits of freedom replace hatred and resentment and terror in the Middle East, the American people will be more secure. Our men and women in uniform are serving our Nation and the cause of security and peace. We're proud of them. We appreciate their progress. We appreciate their dedication to the country called America. This Nation has got another great challenge. While we stand for freedom and opportunity abroad, we must make those same [[Page 986]] values real in the lives of all Americans. This Nation has got work to do. There are citizens who can't find jobs. There are citizens looking for homes for their families. There are students who go to school that are letting them down every day and don't seem to improve. There are children who need mentors in their lives; people struggling with addiction who need to know they don't face that struggle alone. To make the promise of America real for everyone, we need active citizens who help their neighbors; we need active churches and active communities; and we need active government. We can make a difference in people's lives with creative, innovative policies that focus on results. Greater opportunity and hope begins with a growing economy. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. And then we had recession in the first quarter of 2001. So we acted. We provided historic tax relief for families. And then as the economy was beginning to come back, we found out some of our citizens, corporate CEOs, forgot what it means to be a responsible citizen, and they did not tell the truth to shareholder and employee alike. So we acted, and we're now holding corporate criminals to account. Last year, we saw too many Americans were still struggling to find a job, so we acted again. We brought the marriage penalty down. It doesn't make any sense, by the way, to penalize marriage in the Tax Code. It seems like the Tax Code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize it. We reduced income tax rates. We expanded the child credit from $600 to $1,000 per child, and we made the change retroactive to January 1st of this year, so the checks are in the mail. And as a matter of fairness, Congress should make the child credit refundable--low-income families need help as well during these economic slow times. To add more jobs to the economy, we're also focusing a lot on small businesses, because small businesses create the most new jobs in an economy. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships or Subchapter S's, so when you reduce the income tax rates, you help small businesses. They pay tax at the individual rates. We're also allowing higher expense deduction for small businesses, which will make it easier for small businesses to buy new equipment and to hire new people. We're working through the Small Business Administration and Minority Business Development Agency to ensure that minority businesses get access to Federal contracting and financing and technical assistance for startups, because we understand small businesses are the path to the American Dream, and this path must be more open to all our citizens. You hear a lot of talk about tax relief. Let me tell you my belief. When a person has got more money in his or her pocket, he or she is likely to demand an additional good or a service. And when somebody demands a good or a service in our society, somebody is going to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, it means somebody is more likely find a job. The tax relief we packaged is good for helping people find work in America. Now, we've been through a lot: recession, war, emergencies, and corporate scandals. But I'm optimistic about the future. I'm optimistic about the future, because I see hopeful signs. Home sales are strong, and people are refinancing their mortgages to put more money in their pockets. Inflation is low. Retail sales have begun to show growth. Productivity is high, and the good news is, a lot of the economists are beginning to forecast a better tomorrow, which is important for making sure that people have hope in our society. No, we're dealing with the economy. We saw a problem, and we dealt with it straight up. And as the economy expands, we've got to help Americans who find the greatest difficulty finding work. So I proposed what we call reemployment accounts. The job-seeker would have an account up to $3,000 for job training or child care or transportation or relocating to get a new job in a new city. If a worker finds a new job quickly, within 13 weeks, he or she gets to keep the balance of the cash as a reemployment account. Congress needs to put this plan in effect. Congress needs to help those who are having trouble finding work. Congress also needs to understand, we need a sound energy policy in America. We need to cut down on frivolous litigation, [[Page 987]] which inhibits economic growth. We need a trade policy that opens up new markets for American products. We also need good housing policy. A good way to make sure this economy remains strong is a housing policy which closes the minority homeownership gap in America. We need greater tax incentives for people to build homes in inner cities. I believe our Government should provide downpayment assistance to people who want to buy a home but need a little extra help. I understand there's a lot of fine print when it comes to mortgages, so we need to help people understand what's in the fine print. We need grant programs to help counsel low- and moderate- income folks across our country, to teach them what it means to buy a home and to make sure that the fine print is understood by all. No, we've got a goal in America of helping 5\1/2\ million more minority citizens become homeowners by the end of this decade. The truth of the matter is, the future of our economy and our country depend upon good schools in all our neighborhoods. Equal education is one of the most pressing civil rights of our day. Nearly half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, there's still an achievement gap in America. On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, on the reading test, 41 percent of white fourth graders were proficient and better readers, but only 12 percent of African Americans met that standard. That means we've got a problem. Both numbers are too low. I think too many of our schools are leaving too many of our children unprepared. And so we acted. I worked with Congress to pass what we call the No Child Left Behind Act. It says every child can learn; we must have high standards for every child; and we must hold people to account to make sure children do learn. We must challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, and you know what I'm talking about. And as Rod Paige will brief you, States are beginning to respond. We said, ``In return for record levels of education spending at the Federal level, we expect results.'' You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you ought to be asking the question to those who are spending our money, ``Are you teaching the child?'' That's what we ought to be asking all across America. And now there's accountability plans being put in place in 50 States plus Puerto Rico and the District. I know people are concerned about testing. I've heard this debate a lot. They say it's discriminatory to measure and compare results. I say it is discriminatory not to measure. I think it's important to know whether or not our schools are succeeding. We simply have got to stop shuffling our children from grade to grade without asking the question, have they been taught to learn to read and write and add and subtract? I believe it is those who believe certain children can't learn that are willing to shuffle them through. And the No Child Left Behind Act ends that. In return for record levels of money, you've got to show us whether or not the children can read and write and add and subtract. And when schools don't measure up, parents must have more options. It's one thing to measure, but there has to be consequences for failing schools. So in that act, parents are able to send their children to a different public school or a charter school or get special tutorial help. I also believe it makes sense to explore private school choices, so I'm working with the leadership in Washington, DC. This isn't a Democrat issue or Republican issue. This is an issue that focuses on children. I know setting high standards works. I know measuring and using the measurement system as a way to diagnose problems so you can focus on the problems works. In my State, 73 percent of the white students passed the math test in 1994, while only 38 percent of the African American students passed it. So we made that the point of reference. We had people focused on the results for the first time, not process but results. And because teachers rose to the challenge, because the problem became clear, that gap has now closed to 10 points. Because every child can learn, you've just got to focus the attention and the resources when necessary. Accountability tells you what's going right, and it tells you what's going wrong, and it shows you where the emphasis needs to be. We're having the same results in North Carolina. In States that measure, you'll find that the achievement gap is closing dramatically. [[Page 988]] Our opportunity in society must also be a compassionate society. As Americans, when we see hopelessness and suffering and injustice, we will not turn our backs. And one of the best ways to build hope is to recognize where some of the great works of compassion are done. You see, Government can hand out money--sometimes we do a pretty good job of it-- but what it can't do is put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That happens when people who have been called to love a neighbor interface with a neighbor in need. See, every day across America, faith-based and community groups are touching people's lives in profound ways--give shelter to the homeless and provide safety for battered women; they bring compassion to lonely seniors. America's neighborhood healers have long experience and deep understanding of the problems that many face, and many of them have something extra besides experience. They have inspiration, as they carry God's love to people in need. I like to call the neighborhood healers America's social entrepreneurs. And they need the support of foundation America and corporate America. They need the support of individuals and,
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