President's speech inspiring
Several days ago, as millions of Americans watched on television or listened on the radio, the House of Representatives, the Senate and members of the administration and Supreme Court gathered in the United States Capitol to listen as President George W. Bush delivered his fourth State of the Union Address.
This year's speech -- the latest in a long series of annual presidential addresses -- was a remarkable speech filled with hope and optimism for greater success and prosperity in this country during the next year. During his hour-long address in the House chamber, the president touched on many issues of concern and provided an update on several of the topics which have dominated the news in recent months.
Additionally, he offered some new proposals which will directly impact the people of Alabama. I would like to take just a moment this week to touch on a few of the more notable points raised by President Bush, and in the coming weeks I will go into these and other issues at greater length.
War on terrorism continues
Every day, hundreds of thousands of Americans -- both civilians and men and women proudly wearing the uniform of our military -- are working to ensure the security of the United States.
President Bush highlighted our armed forces, as well as the thousands of troops from around the globe, who together have achieved tremendous success in the war on terrorism.
The recent dramatic changes in Iraq, while certainly tempered by the loss of 500 of our bravest young men and women, are proof of those efforts. Additionally, collaboration with our global partners has resulted in the death or capture of nearly two-thirds of known al Qaeda leaders.
In terms of our national security here at home, President Bush recognized that the greatest responsibility of the United States is to actively protect its citizens. The work performed by the personnel of our law enforcement and homeland security agencies ensure that the American people will not have to live in fear of terrorist acts on our shores.
As part of this effort on the home front, the president called for the renewal of many provisions of the Patriot Act. This act has been a crucial weapon in efforts to stop terrorists. It allows federal law enforcement officials to share information in a more efficient manner and enables them to find better ways to track terrorists and seize their assets. Certain opposition to renewing this plan does exist, but as the president said, "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."
During his remarks, the president pointed out that while this act is scheduled to expire next year, the actions of terrorists will not, and that it is crucial for our country to continue its strong efforts to end terrorism.
Recognizing improving economy
As we have all witnessed in the past several months, the tax cut packages signed into law in 2001 and 2003 have stimulated our economy and caused it to grow markedly stronger.
To continue this positive movement in the economy, the president feels it is very important that these tax cuts be made permanent. I certainly agree with this assessment, and in fact introduced H.R. 407, a bill designed to eliminate the sunset provisions of these tax cuts.
We have all seen families that have benefited in many ways by these tax cuts. The child tax credit has been doubled from $500 to $1000. Marriage penalties have been reduced, and the so-called "death tax" is being phased out. Taxes on capital gains and stock dividends have been lowered, and the financial burdens placed on America's small businesses have been cut. Every American who pays income taxes has been helped in some manner by these changes, and the president stressed the importance of opposing any efforts to roll back or eliminate these cuts.
Additionally, American productivity has seen dramatic increases, the level of manufactured goods has increased, our level of exports has increased, and the inflation rate and interest rates are low.
The president noted that, in every instance, the tax cuts of the past few years have played a direct role in once again getting the economy moving in a positive direction.
Assistance for community colleges
Finally, the president wants to ensure that the growing prosperity our country is experiencing is extended to all Americans, primarily by offering opportunities to non-traditional students and adults to help gain the skills they need to find work. To assist in this endeavor, he has proposed larger Pell Grant awards for students who prepare for college by enrolling in demanding high school courses. Additionally, the president has proposed increasing the level of financial support for America's community colleges. In so doing, greater opportunities for education and skills training will be available for men and women seeking opportunities in our currently growing and changing economy. This funding proposal, if approved, will certainly help our many fine two-year colleges in south Alabama.
Of course, I have only touched on a very few of the proposals and statements made by the president during his address. However, as he asserted, "we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our Nation is strong and steadfast."
During the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to update you on the progress of the president's proposals and on the work undertaken by my colleagues and me in the House of Representatives.