[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 38, Number 3 (Monday, January 21, 2002)]
[Pages 66-70]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in Aurora, Missouri

January 14, 2002

    Thank you all very much. So there I was, sitting in the residency at 
the White House--[laughter]--watching a football game, eating a pretzel. 
[Laughter] And the next thing I know is Barney, the Scottish terrier, is 
wondering what the heck happened. [Laughter]
    I want you all to know that I learned a good lesson, and that is: I 
should have listened to my mother. [Laughter] She said, ``Never try to 
swallow your pretzel until you chewed it.'' [Laughter]
    Thank you all for coming, and thank you for letting me come. If you 
see some of the folks who lined the road coming in, tell them thanks. 
Really, I wish we had a bigger hall so I could thank everybody in 
person, but there's a lot of people from your communities that are out 
there to wave, and I'm really grateful. Thank the high school kids and 
the teachers for being out there, as well.
    I'm working my way through the Midwest, through the heartland, 
because I want to send a couple of messages to the American people. One 
message is, food is really important for the economy of this country, 
that in the year 2000, $1.3 trillion of the GDP came from food and 
fiber, 24 million Americans were employed as a result of work and food 
and fiber, that if we're talking about the economic health of the 
country, we've got to always understand it begins with a healthy farm 
economy. And if we're worried about creating jobs--which I am--then 
we've got to think--we use some common sense principles in order to 
expand the job base so people can find work.
    I'm also glad to be in the heartland because it's a place that 
understands values, the values of family and faith, of personal 
responsibility and hard work.
    I started my day in Moline, Illinois, at the John Deere plant, where 
they're making Harvesters, and then here, of course, in Aurora and 
Springfield, Missouri. And then I'm on my way to New Orleans, where they 
sell the product. It's a good message for America, to understand how the 
farmer works in relationship to the equipment manufacturer, in 
relationship to the exporter.
    I'm so happy that people in my administration understand the 
importance of the farmer to our country, starting with our Secretary of 
Agriculture, Ann Veneman, and the Secretary of Commerce, Don Evans. 
Thank you both for being here.
    I want to thank Senator Kit Bond for traveling with me today. He was 
giving me a good lesson on Missouri politics, as was Jim Talent, when we 
drived over. Thank you for coming, Jim. And I'm traveling with two 
members from the Missouri congressional delegation, Kenny Hulshof and 
Todd Akin. Thank you all for coming.
    Now, my friend Roy Blunt isn't here. He's evidently on a mission 
somewhere else, but he sent his better half. And I want to thank very 
much--I want to thank sweet Roseann Blunt for coming, as well. Thank you 
for coming. I want to thank the Missouri Farmers Association. I want to 
thank the people who run this outfit. And I want to thank my fellow 
citizens for coming today.
    One of the things I strongly believe is that the role of Government 
is not to create wealth. The role of Government is to create an 
environment in which people are willing to take risk, an environment in 
which people are willing to risk capital, an environment that heralds 
the entrepreneur and the small-business person. That's the role of 
    If the role of Government is to create an environment in which 
people are willing to take risk, one of the things Government must do is 
to work hard to create confidence in the people. And at this moment in 
history, the best thing I can do, along with my administration, in order 
to build the confidence of

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the American people, is to prevent the evil ones from hitting us again.
    The best way to make sure this economy recovers and people can find 
work is to have a homeland security system that runs down every hint 
that somebody might harm us, runs down every lead that we find. I want 
to assure you all that I spend a lot of time, as did my administration, 
on this top priority, that we're working with intelligence-gathering 
services from around the world to sniff out, to listen to, to find out 
who might be trying to harm us again, that we've got our law enforcement 
officers around our country--at the Federal, State, and local level--now 
understand that they must remain on alert, that there's still an enemy, 
and we've got to stop them. The FBI's primary mission is homeland 
security, and we're working closely with folks in your communities to 
make sure that if there's any hint that somebody may try to harm 
America, that we're going to act and act now and bring them to justice.
    I'm proud of the efforts of many all around our country who are 
working endless hours to make America safe. But the best way to make 
America safe is to hunt the enemy down where he tries to hide and bring 
them to justice, and that's exactly what we're going to do.
    I gave our military a mighty task, and they have responded. I want 
to thank those of you who have got relatives in the military, a brother 
or a sister, or a son or a daughter, or a mom or a dad. They have made 
me proud, and I hope they made you proud, as well.
    We sent the military on a clear mission, and that is to bring the 
evil ones to justice. It's a mission, however, that I expanded to 
include this: that if you hide a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if 
you provide aid and comfort for a terrorist, you're just as guilty as 
the terrorist. That's why the Taliban is no longer ruling Afghanistan.
    I think that one of the most joyous things for me is to see the 
faces of the Afghan women as they have been liberated from the 
oppression of the Taliban rule. Not only is our military destroying 
those who would harbor evil, destroying whatever military they had, 
destroying their defenses, but we're liberators. We're freeing women and 
children from incredible oppression.
    The humanitarian aid workers are home, as part of the conditions I 
laid down for the Taliban. The Taliban is in total rout. But we haven't 
completed our mission yet. And we're now at a very dangerous phase of 
the war in the first theater, and that is sending our boys and troops 
into the caves. You see, we're fighting an enemy that's willing to send 
others to death, suicide missions in the name of religion, and they, 
themselves, want to hide in caves.
    But you know something? We're not going to tire. We're not going to 
be impatient. We're going to do whatever it takes to find them and bring 
them to justice. They think they can hide, but they're not going to hide 
from the mighty reach of the United States and the coalition we have put 
    I see members of the FFA here. I want you to know that the cause 
that our military now wages is a just cause, it's an important cause, 
that I long for peace. But I also understand that this Nation must lead 
the war against terror if you and your children and your grandchildren 
are going to grow up and understand the freedoms that we so enjoy in 
America, that if you and your children and grandchildren can grow up in 
a peaceful and hopeful world, now is the time for this country to lead, 
and lead we will.
    I'm worried that the attacks on 9/11 have affected the ability for 
people to find work, and we're going to do something about it. Not only 
are we going to make the homeland secure, but we've done some things in 
Washington that actually make sense. [Laughter] And one of them is to 
pass a good education bill that makes public education a priority, that 
sets high standards, that calls people into account if there's failure, 
and that trusts the local people to run their own schools.
    I had the privilege of traveling the country last week with two 
Republicans and two Democrats, the sponsors of the bills. One of the 
Democrats happened to be Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Never 
did I dream--[laughter]--that I would say good things about him. 
[Laughter] Never did he dream that I would say good things about him. 
[Laughter] But I can, because he joined

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together with an administration to come out with a bill that's a good 
    It goes to show--this bill shows what can happen in Washington when 
we're willing to put our political parties behind and focus on what's 
best for the United States of America.
    I'm going down to New Orleans tomorrow. I like to go there. It's a 
nice place to eat, and I'm going to be--[laughter]. I've got a lot of 
friends in Louisiana; it's right next to the State where I used to be 
Governor. But I'm also going to remind people of the importance of 
trade, trade not only for the agricultural sector of our country but 
trade in general. And let me tell you my view.
    If you're good at something, you ought to try to encourage it to 
become a bigger part of your world. And if you're good at growing crop, 
we ought not to diminish the ability to grow crops in America; we ought 
to encourage. And the way to do that is to find other places to sell 
crops. If you're the best in the world at what you do--which we are in 
farming--then it seems like, to me, we ought to encourage that product 
to be sold not only here in America but level the playing field so it 
can be sold all across the world.
    I know there's a lot of farmers around who say, ``You know, we've 
heard that before. Every trade agreement trades out the farmer. Here 
comes old Bush from Texas, and he says he's for the farmer. Yet, you 
watch. They'll worry more about other products, and when it comes time 
to argue for the agricultural sector, they'll just leave us out.''
    But that's not the way it's going to be, folks, because I understand 
how important agriculture is, not only for America, but how important it 
is for international trade for our country. Not only domestically but 
internationally, agriculture is important.
    And I'd just ask you to look at the record. In China, I argued that 
China ought to be in the WTO because it's good for the American 
agriculture. Look at the agreement. We've opened up the Chinese markets 
to U.S. farmers. It's good for China, and more importantly, it's good 
for the U.S. farmers to have that market available. We've got to trade. 
It's in our Nation's interest to trade, and it's a sure way to help 
create jobs.
    We've also got to have an energy policy if we're going to grow for 
the long term. One of the great things about America is, is that we're 
self-sufficient in food. It's a national security interest to be self-
sufficient in food. It's a luxury that you've always taken for granted 
here in this country, but imagine if we have to rely upon somebody else 
to provide us food. It would be a problem. The good news is, we can not 
only grow food for ourselves; we can grow food for others.
    That's not the way it is in energy. We're too reliant upon foreign 
sources of energy. We're too reliant upon parts of the world that may 
like us, may not like us, for our sources of energy. It seems like, to 
me, that we ought to work hard to become more self-sufficient, less 
reliant, by having an energy plan that encourages conservation--
encourages the use of ethanol, for example--value-added processing, and 
also explores for energy in our own hemisphere and in our own States, in 
an environmentally friendly way.
    Finally an administration has come along and said, ``Let's have a 
national energy plan.'' And that's exactly what passed out of the House, 
and hopefully, we can get it out of the Senate, just like the trade bill 
that came out of the House. Hopefully, we can get it out of the Senate. 
Hopefully, when they come back, they listen to the American people and 
put plans in place that will help our economy grow so that people can 
find work.
    Finally, I want to talk to you about economic policy out of 
Washington. It seems like, to me, that the question we ought to be 
asking in Washington is, what does it take to help people create jobs? 
What's it take? I started with this part: I said that if you give people 
their own money back, if you let them keep more of their hard-earned 
dollars, that's good for the economy. If a consumer has got more money, 
he or she spends it on a product, causing the person who manufactures 
the product to keep jobs in place and/or increase jobs.
    And so we worked together and passed meaningful, real tax relief. It 
came at exactly the right time. The economy started to show signs of 
slowing down in March of 2001. A way to stimulate growth during 
recession is to give people--let them keep their own money. That's 
Economics 101; except, it sounds like some of them hadn't taken the 
course in Washington. [Laughter]

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    There's now some talk that maybe we should raise taxes in a 
recession. That would be a disaster for the American economy, and we're 
not going to let it happen. And one of the best parts of that bill, that 
tax bill, was phasing out the death tax so the American farmer can pass 
his assets from one generation to the next.
    And there are some things we ought to do in Washington to help. We 
ought to help people who lost their job on 9/11, whose industries were 
affected as the result of that attack. That means extending unemployment 
benefits. That means helping people with health care. But here's the way 
I think about it: People really don't want an unemployment check; they 
want a permanent paycheck. And therefore, we ought to figure out ways to 
expand the job base of America.
    Every question ought to be, how do we grow our economy in a smart 
way? Therefore, I'm more than willing to work with the Democrats and 
Republicans to help the unemployed, but I ask them to think long term 
for America. Accelerating depreciation makes sense for people who buy 
equipment. It makes sense to speed up the tax relief. It makes sense to 
help low-income taxpayers with money in their pocket to enhance demand.
    Oh, there's some smart things we can do to stimulate this economy, 
and there's some smart things we will do to make sure that we've got a 
good farm bill. I look forward to working with both political parties to 
come up with a farm bill that meets the following principles: One, it 
will be generous and affordable. There will be ample money in there to 
meet the needs, and it's money that will fit into our budget. Secondly, 
a farm bill must provide a safety net for the American farmer without 
encouraging overproduction and thereby depressing prices. Thirdly, the 
farm bill must support our strong commitment to trade. Fifthly, it must 
offer incentives for good conservation practices on working lands. And 
finally, establish farm savings accounts to help farmers manage risks.
    These are sound principles which will enable the American farmer to 
plan, to think ahead, to be able to survive in a down time, and thrive 
when the markets get good. I look forward to working to get a good farm 
bill, and I look forward to working with you to get a good farm bill.
    Here are some practical steps to make sure that our economy 
recovers: good education--that will help in the long run, for certain--
good tax policy; a good stimulus package; a good farm bill; good trade 
policy; and most importantly, homeland security that keeps Americans 
    You know, when the enemy hit us, I was amazed to read that they 
really thought we were soft. They kind of didn't understand America very 
well. They might have been watching too much TV or something. [Laughter] 
I don't know what it was, but they thought, ``Well, we'll hit them, and 
then America will fold their tent.'' We may launch a cruise missile or 
two, but that will be it. Man, did they make a big mistake.
    They don't understand how much we love freedom and that we're 
willing to fight for it. They didn't understand people--they must not 
have understood people being on a commercial airline, figuring--
realizing what was happening, then saying a prayer and bringing the 
plane down to save others' lives. They didn't understand sacrifice. But 
what they really don't understand is the character of the American 
people. They don't realize that this Nation is a nation full of people 
who are determined and strong but compassionate and loving.
    A lot of times people ask me, ``What can I do in the war against 
terror?'' Well, obviously, if you see something unusual, report it. 
Treat people with respect. Value all religious--religions. But there are 
some other things you can do. Fight evil with good. We can fight terror 
using our military, and we're going to, of course. But we can fight 
terror and evil with acts of kindness, with millions of acts of 
kindness, all across the country. The best thing about America is the 
fact that that happens on a daily basis. There are people who walk 
across the street to a neighbor in need and say, ``Can I help you? What 
can I do to help?'' They find somebody who is shut in and say, ``I'd 
like to just love you for a second.'' It happens when Sunday schools or 
synagogues or mosques empty out, and they look for somebody to help. It 
happens when people raise money for a local charity. It happens when 
somebody says, ``I want to

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be a Boy Scout leader, to teach a child good values.'' It happens when 
somebody mentors a child and teaches them how to read.
    The war on terror is a war we will fight on many fronts. It is a war 
we're going to win on many fronts. It's a war we'll win at home because 
this is a compassionate nation, full of decent and loving and caring 
people. And it is such an honor to be the President of the greatest 
Nation on the face of the Earth.
    Thank you for having me. God bless. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:30 p.m. in the warehouse at the MFA Feed 
Mill. In his remarks, he referred to Roseann Blunt, wife of 
Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri.