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President Bush Promotes America's Promise, Urges Congress to Pass Education Reform, Patients Bill of Rights

Aired July 9, 2001 - 10:27   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now to President Bush at the Rose Garden at the White House to talk about fulfilling the promise of America and how it's going to affect the youth in the United States.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's doing a fantastic job for our country.

Welcome, Mr. Secretary.


Like me, he married well.


Thank you for being here, Elma.


I want to thank my friend Mark Roscoe for being the chairman of the board. I want to thank Peter Gallagher. I welcome my friend the governor of Maine, Angus King, for being here. I want to thank Ted Stevens and Connie Morella as well for being here, members of the United States Congress. I want to thank the first lady of Michigan, Michelle Engler for joining us as well.

It is my honor to welcome to the Rose Garden Jackie Joyner Kersee as well as Bob. Thank you all and thank you for being such a great supporter for America's promise.

I also want to thank the members of the board of directors as well as the members of the youth leadership team, 15 of our best in America who are here today. Please stand.


Just as I'm receiving the organization's annual report, I also had an opportunity to say hello to the 15, and our country's in great hands when you look in the eyes of these 15 fantastic leaders. The record has been impressive and the commitment has been deep, and I want to thank you, Mark, for continuing to challenge corporate America and individuals with the simple and urgent message; there is a need in every community and a responsible society meets those needs.

Today we're joined by several men and women from around the country who represent the promise of America's Promise; Mary Mahoney, the president and chief executive officer of Howard Johnson. Where's Mary?

Hi, Mary. Thank you for coming.


She's been a mentor, and she's inspired employees at more than 500 hotels to serve as mentors. I want to thank you very much for your dedication.

Leon Assael, the dean of college of dentistry at the University of Kentucky is here. Mr. Dean, where are you?

Thank you for coming, Dean.

They staffed a mobile dental van and asked volunteer faculty and students to serve more than 12,500 disadvantaged students in Appalachia. Thank you for your service to the country.

Reverend Clifford Barnett of Virginia's Brighton Rock AME Church.

Thank you for coming, Reverend.


He set up a safe haven for children to come to a place of worship not only to find hot meals, but to learn how to serve one another.

Charlie Trotters of Trotters Restaurant in Chicago.

Hello, Charlie.


The man not only serves good food, but every Groundhog Day he opens his kitchen to teach area youth and has sponsored some of his neighborhood youth through scholarship programs.

I want to thank you all for coming.

This is an example of the greatness of our country where people ask the question, "What can I do to help," and then not wait for some government activity to take place, but do it anyway in spite of government. I want to thank you all for serving as fantastic examples just like I want to thank Aisha Shaheim (ph). Where is she? Aisha (ph)? There she is.

Thank you so much for coming.


She understands that service is a part of a successful life. Catch this: She teaches honors in advanced placement English, biology and calculus to inner city youngsters in the south central neighborhood of Los Angeles.

We know what children need to succeed: They need mentors and role models like Aisha (ph). They need to be healthy and educated and challenged to serve and challenged to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be loved themselves, and that's what America's Promise does. In many neighborhoods, what a child needs is a caring adult.

Yesterday, flying down from Maine, Angus King, the governor of that state, told me about a program that he's starting to implement where, this summer, they're going to recruit 30,000 mentors in the state of Maine, all aimed to surround the children of Maine with love, all aimed at understanding there's nothing more powerful than an individual that says to a child in need, "Somebody cares for you. Somebody loves you."

So, Angus, I want to thank you for setting the example. My dream for America is for there to be mentors all over the country in every neighborhood, in every community where adults are able to say to a child, "The America Promise belongs to you just as much as it does to anybody else."

The effort requires a broad-scale strategy. That's why I was pleased to see that America's Promise has drawn 500 national partners and more than 550 state and local partners, and the effort, really, has just begun.

So I want to thank America's Promise. I want to thank you for your love and compassion. I want to thank the thousands all across our land who are working hard to make America a fabulous country for all.

Now, there are some things that Congress can do as well. First, this Congress needs to get an education reform bill on my desk before the summer recess. We had a bill pass out of the House by broad margin, a bill pass out of the Senate by broad margin. There is no need for further delay. It is time to get a good reform bill.


This is a bill that says every child matters. We believe in setting high expectations for all children in America. We believe every child can learn, but we also understand that educational excellence is found at local levels.

We pass unprecedented amount of power out of Washington to local jurisdictions, and in return for federal dollars which we increase, we expect results. We expect there to be a measurement so we can herald success and address failure before it's too late.

Secondly, the Congress must act on a patient's bill of rights, a good patient's bill of rights, one that recognizes patients are important -- not lawyers, a patient's bill of rights that encourages quality health care without encouraging frivolous and junk lawsuits that will threaten the very existence of an important health care policy in America.

And so I urge Congress to bring a reasonable bill to my desk.


We made great progress. There's broad agreement, for example, a heart patient should be able to see a cardiologist he needs without going through a gatekeeper, a woman should be able to see her gynecologist without asking permission, or parents should always be able to choose their child's pediatrician. And anyone denied health care by an HMO ought to have the right to an immediate appeal with the outcome determined by doctors, not HMO bureaucrats or trial lawyers.

We've got the makings for a good bill, and Congress ought to act and bring me a bill, so I can sign it before the August recess.

And finally, there is no more important initiative than the faith-based program that I've submitted to the United States Congress. It's important because government can't make people love one another. But what government can do is stand side-by-side with those who do love and those who are compassionate. I can't think of anything more important for our government to recognize the power of community and faith-based groups in our society.

If the goal is to make sure no one is left behind, let us stand side-by-side with the soldiers and the armies of compassion who have taken on that call themselves.

So urge Congress to not get stuck in the process, but to think about the results and to pass meaningful legislation that would allow and encourage and foster faith-based groups all across America to help people in need.

I absolutely know that the great strength of the country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens. And Congress must recognize that by enabling such faith-based programs to flourish all across the country.


So there are things we can do here in Washington to help.


But there is nothing more important than our citizens. And America's Promise does a fabulous job of cultivating and gathering and nurturing the compassion of America.

It's an honor to be the president of a country with so many loving people. I understand that societies change one heart and one soul at a time, that, here in Washington, we tend to think all we've got to do is pass a law and everything will be fine, but that's not how it works.

Cultures and hope change as a result of our compassion in America seizing the moment and that's what America's Promise is about. So, Mark, thank you very much for bringing the report. I'm honored to receive it. I encourage people all across our country to find a way to help, to become involved with making sure America's Promise does, in fact, reaches its hope all throughout our society. For those of you who are looking for a way to help our country, call America's Promise, say you want to help, and I can assure you, we'll sign you up.

It's now my honor to sign a resolution like other presidents have done.

God bless you all and God bless America.


PHILLIPS: President George Bush speaking at the Rose Garden of the White House, touting a number of programs -- one specifically: America's Promise.

We're going to bring in our Major Garrett, who is live at the White House as the president signs this declaration.

Major, why don't you tell us about what this means and the effect that this will have.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a rather standard-issue proclamation, Kyra.

It just sort of recognizes officially, at the presidential level, the America's Promise organization, what it seeks to do, and tries to offer what rhetorical and other help the White House can provide in helping America's Promise reach out to America's youth -- the other part of the speech, of course: a marker the president laid down for specific congressional action this month -- the president taking this opportunity, while everyone in Washington is returning from the Fourth of July recess -- to define what success is and is not in the month of July.

It's a big month for the White House. Senior advisers know a lot of issues are going to be coming the president's way. But he has decided to take this opportunity to define success as this: a patients bill of rights that comes to his desk that he can sign by August; an education reform bill that he can sign by August.

Now, that, in the eyes of some, might be a little bit unrealistic. The House, for example, isn't even going to vote on its version of a patients bill of rights until the middle of the month. Getting that reconciled with the Senate bill in time for the August recess would be working at lightning pace here in Washington. But the president says he is going to try to do his best encourage Congress to meet that deadline.

On the education reform bill, many Senate Democrats do not want to move that education bill until the separate question of how much this president is willing spend on education is dealt with. That may force that bill to lay over until the fall -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Major Garrett live from the White House, as the president signs the declaration for America's Promise, hopefully making better opportunities for our youth.



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