(Editor's Note: The following is the prepared text of President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.)
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, fellow citizens.
Every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.
You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country and we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.
In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. In a whirlwind of change, and hope, and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong.
This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, other presidents, and other generations. We will confront them with focus, and clarity, and courage.
During the last two years, we have seen what can be accomplished when we work together. To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform, which must now be carried out in every school, and every classroom, so that every child in America can read, and learn, and succeed in life.
To protect our country, we reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security, which is mobilizing against the threats of a new era. To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation. To insist on integrity in American business, we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account.
Some might call this a good record. I call it a good start. Tonight I ask the House and Senate to join me in the next bold steps to serve our fellow citizens.
Our first goal is clear. We must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job.
After recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and stock market declines, our economy is recovering - yet it is not growing fast enough, or strongly enough. With unemployment rising, our Nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, "Help Wanted."
Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best, fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place.
I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. And under my plan, as soon as I have signed the bill, this extra money will start showing up in workers' paychecks. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to a thousand dollars, we should send the checks to American families now.
This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes and it will help our economy immediately. Ninety-two million Americans will keep, this year, an average of almost 1,100 dollars more of their own money.
A family of four with an income of 40,000 dollars would see their federal income taxes fall from 1,178 dollars to 45 dollars per year. And our plan will improve the bottom line for more than 23 million small businesses.
You, the Congress, have already passed all these reductions, and promised them for future years. If this tax relief is good for Americans three, or five, or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today.
We also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It is fair to tax a company's profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits. To boost investor confidence, and to help the nearly 10 million seniors who receive dividend income, I ask you to end the unfair double taxation of dividends.
Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more taxpayers - and higher revenues to our government. The best way to address the deficit and move toward a balanced budget is to encourage economic growth - and to show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C.
We must work together to fund only our most important priorities. I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by four percent next year - about as much as the average family's income is expected to grow. And that is a good benchmark for us: Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families.
A growing economy, and a focus on essential priorities, will also be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.
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