President Bush's State of the Union address, as delivered last night:
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, fellow citizens:
Vice President Cheney, left, and House Speaker L. Dennis Hastert, center, applaud as President Bush prepares to deliver his State of the Union address at the Capitol.
(Rich Lipsk -- The Washington Post)
As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: We've been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine and a free and sovereign Iraq.
Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world. Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world, the state of our union is confident and strong.
Our generation has been blessed by the expansion of opportunity, by advances in medicine, by the security purchased by our parents' sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror -- or a lot of gray -- and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their union?
Members of Congress, the choices we make together will answer that question. Over the next several months, on issue after issue, let us do what Americans have always done and build a better world for our children and our grandchildren.
First, we must be good stewards of this economy and renew the great institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely.
America's economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. In the past four years, we have provided tax relief to every person who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised homeownership to its highest level in history. And in the last year alone, the United States has added 2.3 million new jobs. When action was needed, the Congress delivered, and the nation is grateful.
Now we must add to these achievements. By making our economy more flexible, more innovative and more competitive, we will keep America the economic leader of the world.
America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results or duplicate current efforts or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely or not at all.
To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores are on the rise, and we're closing the achievement gap for minority students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools so every high school diploma is a ticket to success. We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career by reforming our job-training system and strengthening America's community colleges. And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education by increasing the size of Pell Grants.
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities. So we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted and our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims. And I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.
To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable and give families greater access to good coverage and more control over their health decisions. I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive health care agenda with tax credits to help low- income workers buy insurance; a community health center in every poor county; improved information technology to prevent medical error and needless costs; association health plans for small businesses and their employees, expanded health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need.
To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power-plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology, from hydrogen-fueled cars to clean coal to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough. I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.