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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, March 19, 2001
Volume 37--Number 11
Pages 431-461

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]

 Addresses and Remarks

    See also Bill Signings; Meetings With Foreign Leaders
        Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City
            Tour of Senior Airman Donnie Bryant's home--436
            Youth Activities Center--437
        Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce in Panama City--438
    Louisiana, remarks in Lafayette--431
    New Jersey
        New Jersey Chamber of Commerce in East Brunswick--447
        Tour of the Youth Entertainment Academy in Plainfield--445
    Radio address--435
    Small-business owners--455
    Saint Patrick's Day
        Shamrock presentation ceremony--453

Bill Signings

    John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, remarks--442

Communications to Congress

    Campaign finance reform legislation, letter--452
    Iran, messages on continuation of national emergency--443, 444
    Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, letter--444

Interviews With the News Media

    Exchanges with reporters
        Plainfield, NJ--445
        South Lawn--451
        Tyndall Air Force Base, FL--436

Letters and Messages

    Saint Patrick's Day, message--454

Meetings With Foreign Leaders

    Ireland, Prime Minister Ahern--453
    United Kingdom
        Northern Ireland Executive
            Deputy First Minister Mallon--453
            First Minister Trimble--453
        Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Reid--453


    Continuation of Iran Emergency--443


    National Girl Scout Week--458

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--461
    Checklist of White House press releases--460
    Digest of other White House announcements--459
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--460

  Editor's Note: The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is 
also available on the Internet on the GPO Access service at http://


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[[Page 431]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 431-434]
Monday, March 19, 2001
Volume 37--Number 11
Pages 431-461
Week Ending Friday, March 16, 2001
Remarks in Lafayette, Louisiana

March 9, 2001

    The President. Thank you all very much. I'm sure glad I came here to 
Louisiana. Thank you for coming. I want to thank you all for coming. I 
want to thank the thousands of people who lined the road on the way in 
here. I wish the hangar were 10 times bigger, but thank you all so much 
for being here.
    First, I want to thank my friend and your Governor, Mike Foster. I 
appreciate his friendship. One thing you can say about him is, you know 
where he stands. And I know he stands as my friend, and I appreciate 
that so very much.
    I appreciate John Cooksey, the Congressman who is here. I appreciate 
Susie Terrell, who is here. I want to thank Senator Michot for being 
here. Ernie Alexander, my friend, is here; I want to thank him. My 
friend Ernest Johnson, who heads the Louisiana NAACP, is with us today, 
and I want to thank you, Ernest, for coming.
    There is one other fellow, a man who stuck his neck out in the 
course of the campaign. You see, he doesn't happen to have the 
Republican label by his name. His name is Dan Morrish. He's a Democrat. 
He put party aside and did what he thought was right for the country. 
And Dan, I'm honored to have your support. I thank you for your 
    And it's great to be here. I tell you, it is important for me to 
make sure I get outside the Nation's Capital on a regular basis. I love 
people in Louisiana. I like the idea of coming to bring my message to 
you. I hope by now the people of the country are beginning to realize 
that we all have adopted a commonsense message. It's a message of the 
people. It's a message that understands that the most important element 
of politics are the people of this country, the hard-working Americans 
who make the country go.
    I get to propose things in Washington. I don't get to vote on them. 
I'm not a member of the legislative branch. But the biggest influence in 
our Government is the people, and I know that. So I'm here today in 
Lafayette, Louisiana, to explain a commonsense budget. And if you like 
what you hear, you might decide to maybe e-mail or call some of those 
who represent you and let them hear from you. If you like the 
commonsense approach to how we spend your money, it may make sense to 
pick up the phone or drop a note to people who may not see it our way. 
That's what politics is all about, as far as I'm concerned; it's the 
people's will. And I'm here to talk about the people's business. And the 
people's business is to bring some fiscal sanity to the budgeting 
process in Washington, DC.
    It starts with understanding this important principle, that the 
surplus is not the Government's money; the surplus is the people's 
money. And so what makes sense? Well, what makes sense is to set 
priorities. That's what makes sense. Here's some of my priorities. 
Education is a priority; making sure children learn is a priority. So we 
increase spending at the Education Department. It's a priority of the 
country, but in case you might think that I forgot where I came from, 
I'll understand that the people who can run the schools best in 
Louisiana are not people in Washington, DC, but the folks of Louisiana. 
So we're spending a little more at the Federal level, but we're going to 
work with Congress to pass power out of Washington to empower the local 
folks, to empower parents and teachers to make the right decision for 
the children of the great State of Louisiana.
    The people's health is a priority. Today I talked about expanding a 
number of community health centers around America to make sure that the 
poor are able to get primary care. I also want to make it crystal clear 
in the budget I submitted to the Congress that we have doubled Medicare 
spending over a 10-year period of time, that we're going to make the 
commitment that we have made

[[Page 432]]

to the elderly. It not only requires more spending, which we will do; it 
also requires an attitude of reform that says we'll trust seniors to 
make choices for themselves--seniors--to match their needs with a 
variety of programs, all of which include prescription drugs.
    And I want to praise one of your Senators from Louisiana. John 
Breaux and I are going to work on this issue. We will spend a lot of 
time making sure that Medicare is properly reformed so that the promise 
we have made to our seniors will be a promise that will be kept.
    There's a lot of talk about Social Security, as there should be. The 
message to the Congress is loud and clear: We're not going to spend 
payroll taxes on anything other than Social Security; we're not going to 
take the money aimed for Social Security and spend it on anything else.
    There's money in my budget to make sure that we're able to keep the 
peace by making sure we pay our military folks a good wage. There's 
money in the budget for priorities. As a matter of fact, we increased 
what's called the discretionary spending by 4 percent. That's greater 
than the rate of inflation.
    But it's not enough for some in Washington, because, you see, 
they're used to spending a lot of money up there. The last session, they 
spent your money to the tune of 8 percent. It's like they had a bidding 
contest to see who could get out of town. Those days are over with.
    We will set priorities and fund them. But we'll be wise about how we 
spend your money. We don't want the Federal Government exploding in 
growth. We want the Federal Government to be lean and efficient and 
focused with your money. And that's exactly what's going to happen with 
new leadership in Washington.
    There's a lot of discussion about paying down debt. I want to remind 
you, there are two types of debt--there are a lot of types of debt--but 
there are two types of debt that I worry about. One is debt at the 
national level. And under the plan I submitted to the Congress, we pay 
down $2 trillion in national debt over 10 years--$2 trillion. It's the 
biggest amount of debt repayment ever. There's also consumer debt, the 
credit card debt that burdens many of the working families in America. 
Yes, we talk about national debt, and we're paying a lot down. But 
you're fixing to hear me tell you, part of the remedy for people who 
have got a lot of credit card debt is to make sure people get some of 
their own money back.
    We have met priorities. We grew the budget at a reasonable rate, not 
this fantastic rate that exploded during the last session. We pay down 
debt. We protected Social Security. We have also set aside one trillion 
over 10 years for contingencies.
    Who knows what will happen. And so, we put one trillion aside. That 
makes sense. That's common sense to do that, it seems like, to me. We 
may need money for our farmers. And I'm going to tell you something 
about agriculture in America. It is an incredibly important part of our 
economy. Who knows what we'll need money for.
    So we set aside money to do so but, guess what? There's still money 
left over. The fundamental question is: What do we do with that money? 
The fundamental question that I want Congress to hear from you about is, 
what to do with the money? Do we increase the size and scope of the 
Federal Government?
    Audience members. No-o-o!
    The President. Or do we trust you with your own money?
    Audience members. Yes!
    The President. There's a lot of discussion about how to get tax 
relief. I worry about what's called targeted tax cuts. I worry about 
people sitting around Washington saying, ``You're targeted in, but oh, 
by the way, you're targeted out.'' It seems like, to me, the fairest way 
to handle the people's money is to say that everybody who pays taxes 
ought to get relief. The Federal Government ought not to try to play 
favorites. It's likely people in Louisiana may not be considered a 
favorite. You will be, as far as this President is concerned.
    So the plan that was passed out of the House--and John, thank you 
for your support--is fair. It reduces all rates on everybody that pays 
taxes, and it simplifies the code. It drops the bottom rate from 15 
percent to 10 percent. It increases the child credit from $500 to $1,000 
per child. And

[[Page 433]]

let me explain to you why. Let me explain to you why this Tax Code we 
have is unfair.
    One of the things that the people must stand for is fairness in 
life. If you're a single mother in the State of Louisiana trying to 
raise two children, and you're making 20-something thousand dollars a 
year, under the code that's written today, for every dollar you earn 
above $22,000, you pay a higher marginal rate on that dollar than 
someone who is successful. You pay nearly 50 percent on that dollar, and 
that's not right. And that's not what America is all about.
    Now, this country stands for rewarding hard work, not penalizing it. 
And we must understand and--when we find people working the hardest job 
in America, which is the single moms in this country, and they're 
struggling to get ahead, we ought to have a Tax Code that welcomes hard 
work and says, ``You can access the middle class, and you can realize 
your dreams.''
    This plan that passed the House yesterday makes this code imminently 
more fair. It also reduces the top rate. And oh, I know there's a lot of 
discussion about that, dropping the top rate, but let me tell you why. 

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