The full text of the US President George W Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech:
Mr Speaker, Vice-President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals
and carried on a noble dream.
Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.
Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the
privilege, and mindful of the history we have seen together. We have
gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and
We have served America through one of the most
consequential periods of our history - and it has been my honour to
serve with you. In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected
branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even
tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences
cannot be allowed to harden into anger.
To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one
another - and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong - and together we will make it stronger.
In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom - or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life.
We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy - or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting - yet it ends in danger and decline.
The only way to protect our people - the only way to secure the peace - the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership - so the United States of America will continue to lead.
Abroad, our nation is committed to a historic, long-term goal - we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America
depends on it. On September 11, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country.
Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbours, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom's cause.
Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government - with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan - and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink - and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom.
At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half - in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.
No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam - the perversion by a few of a noble
faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like [Osama] Bin Laden are serious about mass murder - and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.
They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power
in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.
Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan - or blow up commuters in
London - or behead a bound captive - the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.
In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honour in retreat.
By allowing radical Islam to work its will - by leaving an assaulted world to
fend for itself - we would signal to all that we no longer believe
in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and
our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from
the world, and we will never surrender to evil.
America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the
Nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and
helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once
again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed, and
move this world toward peace.
We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have
killed or captured many of their leaders - and for the others, their
day will come.
We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan - where a fine
president and national assembly are fighting terror while building
the institutions of a new democracy.
And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for
victory. First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government,
so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency
Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts, and
helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern
economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom.
Third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces
that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are
showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies
in the cause of freedom.
Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But
that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new
democracy. In less than three years, that nation has gone from
dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to
At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security
I am confident in our plan for victory - I am confident in
the will of the Iraqi people - I am confident in the skill and
spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to
win, and we are winning.
The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home.
As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly
take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop
levels - but those decisions will be made by our military
commanders, not by politicians in Washington DC.
Our coalition has learned from experience in Iraq. We have
adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to
reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefited from responsible
criticism and counsel offered by Members of Congress of both
parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek
your good advice.
Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that
aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything
but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is
not a strategy.
With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a
duty to speak with candour. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from
Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison - put men
like Bin Laden and [Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country - and
show that a pledge from America means little.
Members of Congress: however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our
Nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our
enemies, and stand behind the American military in its vital
Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices - and showing
a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it is like to
fight house to house in a maze of streets - to wear heavy gear in
the desert heat - to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And
those who know the costs also know the stakes.
Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting the enemy in
Falluja. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could
just as well be addressed to every American.
Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honour is. It has been an honour to protect and serve all
of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. Never falter! Don't hesitate to honour and support those of us who have the honour of protecting that which is worth
Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We are grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform - and as we honour our
brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's
Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change.
So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East.
Elections are vital - but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single
The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election - and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism.
The Palestinian people have voted in elections - now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace.
Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform - now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our
own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens.
Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon - and that must come to an end.
The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions -
and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to
gain nuclear weapons.
America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie
our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need.
We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/Aids, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing
genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion
abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and
despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human
trafficking, and the drug trade.
In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to
fight Aids and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward
developing nations that are moving forward with economic and
For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge
Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the
compassion of America.
Vigilance at home
Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism
here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to
Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law
enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security.
These men and women are dedicating their lives to protecting us all,
and they deserve our support and our thanks.
They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized
crime - so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act. It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy.
We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack - based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute - I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America.
Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have - and federal
courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country
who are talking with al-Qaeda, we want to know about it - because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
In all these areas - from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions - we need the support of friends and allies. To draw that
support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to
act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically
more dangerous and anxious world.
Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders - from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan - rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy - a war that will be fought by
Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress.
And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom.
Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world. Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations.
In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs - more than Japan
and the European Union combined. Even in the face of higher energy
prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an
economic performance that is the envy of the world.
The American economy is pre-eminent - but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed peoples fears. And so we are seeing some
old temptations return.
Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to
take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power
in Washington and increasing taxes.
We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy - even though this economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic retreat, and
they lead in the same direction - toward a stagnant and second-rate
Tonight I will set out a better path - an agenda for a Nation
that competes with confidence - an agenda that will raise standards
of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our
economic future, because we intend to shape it.
Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy
growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own
money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax
relief you passed has left $880bn in the hands of
American workers, investors, small businesses, and families - and
they have used it to help produce more than four years of
uninterrupted economic growth.
Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome. Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent.
Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending - and last year you passed bills that cut this spending.
This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are
performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14bn next year - and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by
I am pleased that Members of Congress are working on earmark reform - because the Federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto.
We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favourite people - me, and President Bill Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis - it is a national challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal government.
By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone
will be almost 60% of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices - staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social
Security, yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is
not going away - and with every year we fail to act, the situation
So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work together, and
get this problem solved.
Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for
all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs
in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere
to buy American.
With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker. Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that
upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of
our economy. Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet
this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border
And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program
that rejects amnesty - allows temporary jobs for people who seek
them legally - and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our
government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the
poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For
all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care - strengthen
the doctor-patient relationship - and help people afford the
insurance coverage they need.
We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts - by making sure individuals and small business
employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people
working for big businesses now get.
We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because lawsuits are
driving many good doctors out of practice - leaving women in nearly
1,500 American counties without a single OB-GYN - I ask the Congress
to pass medical liability reform this year.
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.
Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10bn to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources - and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce
the Advanced Energy Initiative - a 22% increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas.
To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy. We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will
increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric
cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.
We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing
ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch
grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and
competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new
technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more
than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.
By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment - move beyond a petroleum-based economy - and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people - and we are going to keep
Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nations children a firm grounding in math and science.
First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of Americas most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life - and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.
Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and
science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete
with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades
with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and
lifting test scores across our country.
Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in
math and science - bring 30,000 math and science professionals to
teach in classrooms - and give early help to students who struggle
with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If
we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure
that America succeeds in the world.
Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all
of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness
Initiative - and together we will show the world what the American
people can achieve.
America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our
greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are
and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate,
decent, hopeful society.
In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation.
Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the
1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past
decade. Drug use among youth is down 19% since 2001. There
are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three
decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been
falling for a dozen years in a row.
These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation - a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfilment. Government has played a role.
Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this
Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep
concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our
most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct
by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to
And they worry about children in our society who
need direction and love - and about fellow citizens still displaced
by natural disaster - and about suffering caused by treatable
As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the
belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to
unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven
the pessimists wrong before - and we will do it again.
A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice
under law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief
Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for
confirming both of them. And I will continue to nominate men and
women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and
not legislate from the bench.
Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that
do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value
of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the
most egregious abuses of medical research - human cloning in all its
forms - creating or implanting embryos for experiments - creating
human-animal hybrids - and buying, selling, or patenting human
embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator - and that gift
should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.
A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public
trust. Honourable people in both parties are working on reforms to
strengthen the ethical standards of Washington - and I support your
efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public
responsibility - and that is a pledge we must never forget, never
dismiss, and never betray.
As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show
the character of America in our compassion and care for one
A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack
direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative,
we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a
child - and this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush.
This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in
school - so more of America's youth can raise their sights and
achieve their dreams.
A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times
of suffering and emergency - and stays at it until they are back on
their feet. So far the Federal government has committed $85bn to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.
We are removing debris, repairing highways, and building stronger levees.
We are providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we
meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges
that existed before the storm arrived.
In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but
schools that teach every child - and job skills that bring upward
mobility - and more opportunities to own a home and start a
business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.
A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/Aids,
which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a
million Americans live with HIV, and half of all Aids cases occur
among African-Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize
the Ryan White Act - and provide new funding to states, so we end
the waiting lists for Aids medicine in America.
We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African-American churches
and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end
the stigma of Aids, and come closer to the day when there are no new
infections in America.
Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period
of consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did
nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that
will influence all our lives.
And sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.
Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over
segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others.
Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well? Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedoms advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy.
We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward - optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.