- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

A Labor Day message

The working people of this country deserve a day off. This country prospers because of people who give their best effort every day to support their families, to go to work, to make America a better place.

You know, it’s interesting that it was union leaders who first suggested a day to honor America’s workers. And I’m glad we do. This union represents men and women of great skill and great professional pride.

We’re also grateful to some other hardworking Americans who don’t have the day off: the people of the United States military who are winning the war against terror. The war against terror goes on. It goes on because we love freedom and we’re not going to change and our enemies hate freedom. It goes on because there are cold-blooded killers who have hijacked a religion. It goes on because we refuse to relent. And the best way to protect our homeland, the best way to make sure that we listen to the lessons of September the 11th, 2001, the best way to do our solemn duty to the American people is to chase the killers down, one by one, and bring them to justice.

And so on this Labor Day, when many have the day off, we thank our men and women who wear our uniform. We thank them and their families. We thank their sacrifice, and we want all of them to know, you make our nation proud.

I would like to remind people that a culture of responsibility is coming in America. One of the reasons why is that we see every day people who are willing to serve something greater than themself in life. Our children see heroes again, because they see policemen and women and firefighters and emergency teams and military personnel who sacrifice for something greater than themselves in life. And for all the officers who are with us today, I thank you for your line of service for America.

Today, I want to talk about our economy. I want people to understand that when somebody wants to work and can’t find a job, it says we’ve got a problem in America that we’re going to deal with. We want everybody in this country working. We want people to be able to realize their personal dreams by finding a job. We’ve got a lot of strengths in this economy. One of the greatest strengths, of course, is the work force. We’ve got the best workers in the world. We’re the most productive workers in the entire world. Productivity is up. What productivity means is that we’ve got a lot of hard work and we’re using new technologies to make people more effective when it comes to the job, and that’s important.

You see, in 1979, it took more than 40 hours of labor to make a car, and now it takes 18 hours. Higher productivity not only means we can produce better products, but it means our people are better off. The more productive you are, the better off our workers are. Higher productivity means that workers earn more. And it means it takes less time for workers to earn the money to buy the things they need.

In 1908, the average factory worker had to labor for more than two years to buy a Model-T — more than two years of work to buy a car. Today, you can buy a family vehicle for about seven months of salary. We’re a productive nation because of the good, hardworking Americans. And that’s what we’re here to celebrate today.

I also want you to focus on what we have overcome. We’ve got great foundations for growth, and we’ve overcome a lot as a country over the last couple of years. In early 2000, the stock market started to decline. It was a forerunner of the recession that came. The first quarter of 2001, we were in recession. But we acted to come out of that recession. We acted with tax relief. And it created big noise and big debate in Washington. But here’s what I believe and here is what I know. When you’ve got more money in your pocket, it means you’re going to spend or save and invest. And when you spend and save or invest, somebody is going to produce a product for you to be able to spend your money on. When somebody produces a product, it’s more likely somebody is going to be able to find a job. Tax relief was needed to stem the recession.

No, we did the right thing with tax relief. And we were beginning to pull out when the terrorists hit us. And they struck us hard. It cost our American economy about $80 billion. The attack of September the 11th had a high price tag to it. But we acted. Not only did we go on the offensive with a mighty and skilled military; we did some things to keep our people back at work.

We hadn’t recovered from all the challenges, and so we passed tax relief again. I called upon Congress to pass the jobs and growth package, and we lowered taxes once again to create jobs. When you reduce taxes, people have more money. And I’m going to remind you of what we did. If you’re a mom or a dad, we increased the child credit to $1,000 per child, and we put the checks in the mail — $400 additional per child for American families, so you get to decide to do with the money. It’s your choice. You see, after all, in Washington we don’t spend the government’s money; we spend your money.

We reduced the marriage penalty. What kind of tax code is it that discourages marriage? We want to encourage marriage. We gave incentives to small businesses so that they can hire more people. We reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends to protect your savings accounts. We want the pension plans strong. We want the 401k’s doing well. We reduced all taxes. We thought it was fairer not to try to pick and choose winners. If you pay taxes, you deserve relief. Three million people are now off the tax rolls; 3.9 million households received tax relief.

No, we’re making a difference. And the economy is beginning to grow, and that’s what i’m interested in. I come with an optimistic message. I believe there are better days ahead for people who are working and looking for work. Economic output is rising faster than expected. Low interest rates mean that families can save billions by refinancing their homes. I bet some of you have refinanced your homes. Put a little extra money into your pocket. Consumer spending is on the rise. Companies are seeing more orders, especially orders for heavy equipment.

We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move. And that’s why we’ve signed extensions to the unemployment insurance, so people can get their feet back on the ground. The Department of Labor passes out emergency grants for people who are hurting to cover health care costs and child care costs and other critical needs. And that’s a useful role for the government.

And finally, I want to talk about another issue …One of them is this country needs an energy policy. The energy sector has been hamstrung by old laws. We need new laws. And I’ve been calling on Congress to do this. And when they get back, they need to stop politicking and get a good energy plan, so that we can make sure the economy continues to grow.

I’ll tell you what else we need to do. We need to use our technologies to be able to explore for energy in environmentally friendly ways. For the sake of national security, for the sake of economic security, we need to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

There’s a lot we can do. We’ve done a lot to lay the foundation for economic growth. And there’s a lot we can do when Congress gets back to make sure that this economic recovery continues so that people can find work. On Labor Day, we’re committed to helping those who have got a job keep a job, and committed to those who are looking for work to find a job. That’s the commitment of this Labor Day.

We’re also committed to our freedom and to peace. And we will stay on the offensive to protect our freedom. And we will stay with the notion that the more free societies are, the more peaceful they become. See, we love freedom and we love peace in America, and we intend to make the world a more peaceful place. This country will lead the world to peace.

If you’re a mom or a dad, if you’re lucky enough to be a parent, you’re responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all your soul. That’s your job. If you’re worried about the quality of education in the neighborhood in which you live, you’re responsible for doing something about it. As I mentioned, if you happen to be a CEO in Corporate America, you’re responsible for telling the truth, you’re responsible for treating your employees with respect. If you’re an American in the responsibility era, you’re responsible for loving a neighbor like you’d like to be loved yourself.

I want to thank those of you who reach out to somebody who hurts, somebody in need. You see, the great strength of the country is not our military might or economic prowess, the great strength of the country is the heart and soul of the American people. Millions of acts of kindness and decency go on on a daily basis. Millions of acts of decency and kindness help define the true worth and the true strength of this great American country.

And so on Labor Day, a day in which we honor the worker, let us honor those who work to make our society and country a more compassionate place by helping a neighbor in need, by doing your job as a citizen of the country, by being a patriotic person, which means more than just putting your hand over your heart. It means serving your country in ways large and small, all aimed at lifting up this nation, all aimed at keeping us the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.


Labor Day 2003

Ohio Operating Engineers

Richfield Training Center

Richfield, Ohio

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