- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

NEW YORK President Bush yesterday compared the resolve of President Reagan during the Cold War to his own stewardship in the U.S.-led war against terrorism, saying "what was true in his day is true today."
Noting that he works on the same Oval Office desk as the former president, Mr. Bush told a group of New York Police Department officers that the United States will remain steadfast until the scourge of terrorism is eliminated.
"Some around the world may grow weary. Some of them may grow exhausted by our drive for freedom. But not me, not our government and not our nation," he said, drawing cheers.
"We must seize the moment. History has called this nation into action. History has given us a chance to defend freedom, to fight tyranny, and that's exactly what this country is going to do," Mr. Bush said.
Invoking the Reagan era on the former president's 91st birthday, Mr. Bush sought to draw comparisons between the battle against what Mr. Reagan called "the evil empire" the now defunct Soviet Union and the new war against international terrorism.
"When it is a matter of principle and when the multilateral community does not agree with us, we do not shrink from doing that which we think is right, which is in our interest even if some of our friends disagree with us," Mr. Bush said yesterday on his fifth visit to the site of the nation's worst terrorist attack in history.
Mr. Bush, whose 2003 budget calls for a missile-defense shield to protect America and the largest increase in military spending since the Reagan administration, said such spending pays off.
"Whatever it costs to defend our security, and whatever it costs to defend our freedom, we must pay it," he said. His budget proposal projects deficits of $106 billion in 2003 and $80 billion in 2004.
Also yesterday, Mr. Bush put to rest a small executive-branch misunderstanding over funding, saying New York will receive at least $20 billion to rebuild.
At the release of the president's 2003 budget proposal Monday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said more than $5 billion slated to go to victims of the attack would be included in the $20 billion total.
Mr. Bush said that is not the case.
"I told the people of New York that we will work to provide at least $20 billion to help New York rebuild herself," the president told several hundred police officers and emergency workers.
"And that includes money apart from the Victims Compensation Fund. And when I say $20 billion, I mean $20 billion," he said to cheers.
He said he supports creating a "Liberty Zone" in lower Manhattan, an idea proposed by Rep. Amo Houghton, New York Republican, that passed the House at the end of last year but stalled in the Senate.
"We need to provide job incentive, incentive to create jobs in the area that was affected by the attack. Congress needs to put the Liberty Zone, the Liberty Bonds, in a stimulus package and get it to my desk so I can sign it for the good of New York City," he said.
As for the misstatement by Mr. Daniels which led some New York congressional members to accuse the Bush administration of bad faith White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "Everyone's entitled to make a mistake."
The $20 billion likely will be just the first wave of cash the federal government pays to rebuild the downtown Manhattan area where the World Trade Center once stood, White House officials said.

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