US President George W Bush has made his 2004 State of the Union address. Here is a full transcript of his speech:
Mr Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them.
As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure.
Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and women of our new homeland security department are patrolling our coasts and borders. And their vigilance is protecting America.
Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.
Tonight, members of Congress can take pride in great works of compassion and reform that sceptics had thought impossible. You are raising the standards of our public schools; and you are giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
We have faced serious challenges together and now we face a choice. We can go forward with confidence and resolve - or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us. We can press on with economic growth, and reforms in education and Medicare - or we can turn back to the old policies and old divisions.
We have not come all this way - through tragedy, and trial, and war - only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same of us. In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong.
Our greatest responsibility is the active defence of the American people.
Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11, 2001 - over two years without an attack on American soil - and it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us.
That hope is understandable, comforting - and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilised world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.
Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets.
For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists. Key
provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs this vital
legislation to protect our citizens - you need to renew the Patriot Act.
America is on the offensive against the terrorists who started this war. Last March, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a mastermind of September 11th, awoke to find himself in the custody of US and Pakistani authorities. Last August 11th brought the capture of the terrorist Hambali, who was a key player in the attack
in Indonesia that killed over 200 people.
We are tracking al-Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or
killed. Thousands of very skilled and determined military personnel are on a
manhunt, going after the remaining killers who hide in cities and caves and,
one by one, we will bring the terrorists to justice.
As part of the offensive against terror, we are also confronting the
regimes that harbour and support terrorists, and could supply them with nuclear,
chemical, or biological weapons. The United States and our allies are
determined: We refuse to live in the shadow of this ultimate danger.
The first to see our determination were the Taleban, who made Afghanistan
the primary training base of al-Qaeda killers. As of this month, that country
has a new constitution, guaranteeing free elections and full participation by
women. Businesses are opening, health care centres are being established, and
the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school.
With help from the new
Afghan army, our coalition is leading aggressive raids against surviving members
of the Taleban and al-Qaeda. The men and women of Afghanistan are building a
nation that is free, and proud, and fighting terror, and America is honoured to
be their friend.
Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States,
Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other countries enforced the demands of
the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and the people of Iraq
are free. Having broken the Baathist regime, we face a remnant of violent
Saddam supporters. Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now dispersed
and attack from the shadows.
These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a serious, continuing
danger. Yet we are making progress against them. The once all-powerful ruler
of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell. Of the top 55
officials of the former regime, we have captured or killed 45. Our forces are
on the offensive, leading over 1,600 patrols a day, and conducting an average of
180 raids every week. We are dealing with these thugs in Iraq, just as surely
as we dealt with Saddam Hussein's evil regime.
The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has
always been willing to do what it takes for what is right. Last January, Iraq's
only law was the whim of one brutal man. Today our coalition is working with
the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law, with a bill of rights. We are
working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full
Iraqi sovereignty by the end of June.
As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the
enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They
are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United
States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. The killers
will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in freedom.
Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their own
security and their own future. And tonight we are honored to welcome one of
Iraq's most respected leaders: the current President of the Iraqi Governing
Council, Adnan Pachachi. Sir, America stands with you and the Iraqi people as
you build a free and peaceful nation.
Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and
dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programmes, including a
uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Gaddaffi correctly
judged that his country would be better off, and far more secure, without
weapons of mass murder.
Nine months of intense negotiations involving the
United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of
diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be
effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of
Different threats require different strategies. Along with nations in the
region, we are insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear programme. America and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its
commitments and not develop nuclear weapons. America is committed to keeping
the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world's most
'Coalition of nations'
When I came to this rostrum on September 20th, 2001, I brought the police
shield of a fallen officer, my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that
does not end. I gave to you and to all Americans my complete commitment to
securing our country and defeating our enemies.
And this pledge, given by one,
has been kept by many. You in the Congress have provided the resources for our
defence, and cast the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies have
been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats have been
skilled and tireless.
And the men and women of the American military, they have taken the
hardest duty. We have seen their skill and courage in armoured charges and
midnight raids and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the joy when
they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost.
I have had the honour of
meeting our servicemen and women at many posts, from the deck of a carrier in
the Pacific, to a mess hall in Baghdad. Many of our troops are listening
tonight. And I want you and your families to know: America is proud of you. And my administration, and this Congress, will give you the resources you need
to fight and win the war on terror.
I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all.
They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law
enforcement and indictments.
After the World Trade Center was first attacked in
1993, some of the guilty were indicted, tried, convicted, and sent to prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and plotting
in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans.
After the chaos and
carnage of September 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal
papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.
Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of
Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be
candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We are seeking all the facts - already the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of
mass destruction-related programme activities and significant amounts of equipment
that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the
dictator's weapons of mass destruction programmes would continue to this day.
Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed
as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by
dictators around the world. Iraq's torture chambers would still be filled with
victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq, where hundreds
of thousands of men, women, and children vanished into the sands, would still
be known only to the killers.
For all who love freedom and peace, the world
without Saddam Hussein's regime is a better and safer place.
Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalised. This
particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia,
Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark,
Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and
the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. As we debate at
home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international
partners, or dismiss their sacrifices. From the beginning, America has sought
international support for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained
There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never
seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.
Middle East democracy
We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater
Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to
assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and
self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to
live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades,
it will rise again.
As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny, despair, and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of
America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom
in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront
the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friends.
through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other
broadcast services are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian and
soon, a new television service will begin providing reliable news and
information across the region. I will send you a proposal to double the budget
of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the
development of free elections, free markets, free press, and free labour unions
in the Middle East. And above all, we will finish the historic work of
democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, so those nations can light the way for
others, and help transform a troubled part of the world.
America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most
basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim
is a democratic peace, a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man
and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet
we understand our special calling: This great Republic will lead the cause of
In these last three years, adversity has also revealed the fundamental
strengths of the American economy. We have come through recession and
terrorist attack and corporate scandals, and the uncertainties of war.
And because you acted to stimulate our economy with tax relief, this economy is strong, and growing stronger.
You have doubled the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000,
reduced the marriage penalty, begun to phase out the death tax, reduced taxes on
capital gains and stock dividends, cut taxes on small businesses, and you have
lowered taxes for every American who pays income taxes.
Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving this economy
forward. The pace of economic growth in the third quarter of 2003 was the
fastest in nearly 20 years. New home construction, the highest in almost 20
years. Home ownership rates the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is
increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing.
Productivity is high. And jobs are on the rise.
These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than government would have, and you were right to return it.
America's growing economy is also a changing economy. As technology
transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive,
and workers need new skills. Much of our job growth will be found in
high-skilled fields like health care and biotechnology. So we must respond by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy.
All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered. By passing the No Child Left Behind
Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country.
We are providing more funding for our schools, a 36% increase since 2001. We
are requiring higher standards. We are regularly testing every child on the
fundamentals. We are reporting results to parents, and making sure they have
better options when schools are not performing. We are making progress toward
excellence for every child.
But the status quo always has defenders. Some want to undermine the No
Child Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results
we require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third graders to read
and do math at third grade level, and that is not asking too much. Testing is
the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind.
This nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along
from grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on
any child, and the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity
to all of America's children.
At the same time, we must ensure that older students and adults can gain
the skills they need to find work now. Many of the fastest-growing occupations
require strong math and science preparation, and training beyond the high school
So tonight I propose a series of measures called Jobs for the 21st
Century. This programme will provide extra help to middle- and high school students who fall behind in reading and math, expand advanced placement programmes in low-income schools, and invite math and science professionals from the
private sector to teach part-time in our high schools.
I propose larger Pell
grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high
school. I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges,
so they can train workers for the industries that are creating the most new
jobs. By all these actions, we will help more and more Americans to join in the
growing prosperity of our country.
Job training is important, and so is job creation. We must continue to
pursue an aggressive, pro-growth economic agenda.
Congress has some unfinished business on the issue of taxes. The tax
reductions you passed are set to expire. Unless you act, the unfair tax on
marriage will go back up. Unless you act, millions of families will be charged $300 more in federal taxes for every child. Unless you act, small
businesses will pay higher taxes. Unless you act, the death tax will eventually
come back to life. Unless you act, Americans face a tax increase. What the
Congress has given, the Congress should not take away: For the sake of job
growth, the tax cuts you passed should be permanent.
Our agenda for jobs and growth must help small business owners and
employees with relief from needless federal regulation, and protect them from
junk and frivolous lawsuits. Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of
energy to make our economy run, so I urge you to pass legislation to modernise
our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on
foreign sources of energy.
My administration is promoting free and fair trade,
to open up new markets for America's entrepreneurs, and manufacturers, and
farmers, and to create jobs for America's workers. Younger workers should have
the opportunity to build a nest egg by saving part of their Social Security
taxes in a personal retirement account. We should make the Social Security
system a source of ownership for the American people.
And we should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as
good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In two weeks, I will send you a budget that
funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while
limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4%. This
will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be
wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over
the next five years.
Tonight I also ask you to reform our immigration laws, so they reflect our
values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary worker programme to
match willing foreign workers with willing employers, when no Americans can be
found to fill the job.
This reform will be good for our economy, because
employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary
worker programme will help protect our homeland, allowing border patrol and law
enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security.
amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly
reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker programe will preserve the
citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of
hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life.
Our nation's health care system, like our economy, is also in a time of
change. Amazing medical technologies are improving and saving lives. This
dramatic progress has brought its own challenge, in the rising costs of medical care and health insurance. Members of Congress, we must work together to help
control those costs and extend the benefits of modern medicine throughout our
Meeting these goals requires bipartisan effort and two months ago, you
showed the way. By strengthening Medicare and adding a prescription drug
benefit, you kept a basic commitment to our seniors: You are giving them the
modern medicine they deserve.
Starting this year, under the law you passed, seniors can choose to receive a drug discount card, saving them 10 to 25% off the retail price of most prescription drugs, and millions of low-income seniors can get an additional $600 to buy medicine. Beginning next year, seniors will have new coverage for preventive screenings against diabetes and heart disease, and seniors just entering Medicare can receive wellness exams.
In January of 2006, seniors can get prescription drug coverage under
Medicare. For a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors who do not
have that coverage today can expect to see their drug bills cut roughly in half.
Under this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as
it is, or they can choose a Medicare plan that fits them best, just as you, as
Members of Congress, can choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. And
starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money tax-free
for their medical expenses, in a health savings account.
I signed this measure proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our
seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare, will
meet my veto.
On the critical issue of health care, our goal is to ensure that Americans
can choose and afford private health care coverage that best fits their
To make insurance more affordable, Congress must act to
address rapidly rising health care costs. Small businesses should be able to
band together and negotiate for lower insurance rates, so they can cover more
workers with health insurance.
I urge you to pass Association Health Plans. I
ask you to give lower-income Americans a refundable tax credit that would allow
millions to buy their own basic health insurance.
By computerising health
records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve
care. To protect the doctor-patient relationship, and keep good doctors doing
good work, we must eliminate wasteful and frivolous medical lawsuits.
tonight I propose that individuals who buy catastrophic health care coverage, as
part of our new health savings accounts, be allowed to deduct 100% of the
premiums from their taxes.
A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription. By keeping
costs under control, expanding access, and helping more Americans afford
coverage, we will preserve the system of private medicine that makes America's
health care the best in the world.
Drugs and abstinence
We are living in a time of great change in our world, in our economy, and
in science and medicine. Yet some things endure - courage and compassion, reverence and integrity, respect for differences of
faith and race. The values we try to live by never change. And they are
instilled in us by fundamental institutions, such as families, and schools, and
religious congregations. These institutions, the unseen pillars of
civilisation, must remain strong in America, and we will defend them.
We must stand with our families to help them raise healthy, responsible
children. And when it comes to helping children make right choices, there is
work for all of us to do.
One of the worst decisions our children can make is to gamble their lives
and futures on drugs. Our government is helping parents confront this problem,
with aggressive education, treatment, and law enforcement. Drug use in high
school has declined by 11% over the past two years. Four hundred
thousand fewer young people are using illegal drugs than in the year 2001.
my budget, I have proposed new funding to continue our aggressive,
community-based strategy to reduce demand for illegal drugs. Drug testing in
our schools has proven to be an effective part of this effort. So tonight I
propose an additional $23m dollars for schools that want to use drug
testing as a tool to save children's lives. The aim here is not to punish
children, but to send them this message: We love you, and we don't want to lose
To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics
play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in
professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of
performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other
sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message - that there are shortcuts
to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So
tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to
take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of
To encourage right choices, we must be willing to confront the dangers
young people face, even when they are difficult to talk about. Each year,
about three million teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases that can
harm them, or kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents. In my
budget, I propose a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these
medical risks. We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs, so
schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only
certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Decisions children make now
can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us
- parents, schools, government - must work together to counter the negative
influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.
A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we
should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most
fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilisation. Congress has already
taken a stand on this issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in
1996 by President Clinton. That statute protects marriage under federal law as
the union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine
marriage for other states.
Activist judges, however, have begun redefining
marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their
elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's
voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the
people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional
process. Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.
The outcome of this debate is important, and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual
has dignity and value in God's sight.
It is also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the
compassion of America's religious institutions. Religious charities of every
creed are doing some of the most vital work in our country - mentoring children,
feeding the hungry, taking the hand of the lonely. Yet government has often
denied social service grants and contracts to these groups, just because they
have a cross or Star of David or crescent on the wall. By Executive Order, I
have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes
faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law, so people of
faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them again.
In the past, we have worked together to bring mentors to the children of
prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This
year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We
know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they
are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison. So tonight, I
propose a four-year, $300m Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative to expand
job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to
help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups.
America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison
open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.
For all Americans, the last three years have brought tests we did not ask
for, and achievements shared by all. By our actions, we have shown what kind of
nation we are. In grief, we found the grace to go on. In challenge, we
rediscovered the courage and daring of a free people. In victory, we have shown
the noble aims and good heart of America. And having come this far, we sense
that we live in a time set apart.
I have been a witness to the character of the American people, who have
shown calm in times of danger, compassion for one another, and toughness for the
long haul. All of us have been partners in a great enterprise. And even some
of the youngest understand that we are living in historic times.
Last month a
girl in Lincoln, Rhode Island, sent me a letter. It began: "Dear George W
Bush. If there is anything you know I, Ashley Pearson age 10, can do to help
anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country." She added this PS: "If you can send a letter to the troops, please put
'Ashley Pearson believes in you.' "
Tonight, Ashley, your message to our troops has just been conveyed. And
yes, you have some duties yourself. Study hard in school, listen to your mom
or dad, help someone in need, and when you and your friends see a man or woman
in uniform, say: "Thank you." And while you do your part, all of us here in
this great chamber will do our best to keep you and the rest of America safe and
My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our
nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the
cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater
power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can
know that his purposes are just and true.
May God bless the United States of America. Thank you.