Presidential Radio Address - 13 December 2003
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I was honored to sign the Medicare Act of 2003, the greatest advance in health coverage for America's seniors since Medicare was founded nearly four decades ago. This new law will give seniors better choices and more control over their health care, and provide a prescription drug benefit.
Beginning in 2006, most seniors now without prescription coverage can expect to see their current drug bills cut roughly in half, in exchange for a monthly premium of about $35. And for the first time, seniors will have peace of mind that they will not face unlimited expenses for their Medicare.
These and other major improvements in Medicare came about because Republicans and Democrats in Congress were willing to work together for the interests of our senior citizens. We were able to pass this law because we listened to the people, set the right priorities and worked hard until we finished the job.
The reform and modernization of Medicare was one milestone in a year of accomplishment. We worked with Congress to take action in a number of areas on behalf of the American people. Last May, the House and Senate passed my jobs and growth package into law, delivering substantial tax relief to 91 million Americans. We reduced taxes for everyone who pays income taxes, increased the child tax credit, cut the taxes on dividends and capital gains, and gave 23 million small business owners incentives to invest for the future.
And now we are seeing the results. In the third quarter, the economy grew at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. Productivity, manufacturing and housing construction are expanding. And we have added over 300,000 jobs since August. The tax relief we passed is working, and our economy is gaining strength.
Legislation passed this year also showed the compassion and the good heart of America. We created the American Dream Down Payment Fund to help low-income citizens afford the down payment on homes of their own. We defended children from the violence of partial birth abortion, and passed new incentives to promote the adoption of children in foster care. And we acted to fight the global spread of AIDS by launching a multi-year emergency effort to prevent millions of new infections in Africa and the Caribbean, and to provide medicine and humane care to millions more who suffer.
This year we took important action to protect the environment. Our whole nation saw the devastation left by wildfires in the west, and we passed healthy forest legislation to thin the underbrush that fuels catastrophic blazes.
Our government also took urgent action on every front in the war on terror. Congress appropriated more than $31 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to prepare first responders and safeguard our ports and infrastructure, and help scientists develop vaccines against dangerous biological threats. Our country stood behind the men and women of our Armed Forces as they liberated Iraq and helped carry out the work of reconstruction there and in Afghanistan. In Congress, members of both parties worked together to provide vital resources for our troops, who are fulfilling their responsibility to defend the nation.
All these actions have made us safer, more prosperous, and a better country. We confronted problems with determination and bipartisan spirit. Yet our work is not done. There will be pressing business in the new year on issues from job creation to health care to public schools. And above all, we will continue to fight the war on terror until the war is won.
On behalf of all Americans, I thank the Congress for a productive year. Working together, we can add to this progress in the year to come.
Thank you for listening.