Skip to main content /transcript




Bush Touts Accomplishments of First Six Months in Office

Aired August 3, 2001 - 14:20   ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A picture of power in the Rose Garden. We see the members of the president's Cabinet, including secretary of state, secretary of defense, treasury, the attorney general, EPA, transportation -- I see the chief of staff there.

And Kelly Wallace over there at the White House. We're expecting to hear from the president shortly. And this a six-month anniversary event.


The president meeting with his entire Cabinet and then, as you said, the entire Cabinet coming out there to the Rose Garden -- Mr. Bush coming out.

What we'll hear from the president: He will list the achievements from the perspective of this administration for the first six months when it comes to domestic issues such as passing and signing into law a tax cut; passing in both houses of Congress education bills; also likely to hear the president talk about that energy bill and a patients' bill of rights, which the House acted on this week.

But then the president's aides say we'll be looking ahead. In the words of one White House aide, or several White House aides, they feel like they had a good six months, and they're hoping to make the next six months even better. The president will call on Congress to finish up work on education, on his faith-based agenda which, as you know, is allowing religious groups to provide social services to the needy, and also to work on improving Social Security and Medicare.

So Lou, we've been saying all day, this White House is feeling very pumped up about where things are right now. Many aides saying that this president has had more legislative accomplishments during his first six months than other previous presidents. And this all after, of course, the closest election in modern history -- Lou.

WATERS: Yes, Kelly, and of course we know that the appearance of confidence goes a long way in establishing success on down the line. And this certainly has the appearance of success here today, and in recent days up on Capitol Hill with all the legislators coming out and celebrating their successes.

But what about what's ahead for the president? How difficult will it be him, and how important is this look of confidence today? WALLACE: Well, the look of confidence is very important, as you mentioned. And the president has engaged a bit more one-on-one, more personal lobbying this president has done over the past several weeks. That has gone a long way. Congressman Norwood, for one, saying that helped in terms of getting him to work out a deal with Mr. Bush.

But we cannot underline how difficult things will be when you're dealing with the Democratically controlled Senate. You already have Democrats saying they're going to fight very, very hard to remove some -- let's go now -- listen to the president.


The vice president and I are pleased to welcome the Cabinet to the Rose Garden. Together with Congress, we're proving that a new tone, a clear agenda and active leadership can bring significant progress to the nation's capital. We're ending deadlock and drift and making our system on behalf of the American people.

Six months ago, I chose a distinguished Cabinet, took a solemn oath and promised to fight for the things close to my heart. My administration pledged to bring civility and high standards to Washington and to lead for the sake of all Americans.

Six months later, I'm proud of my Cabinet and the White House staff who have worked with such energy and have brought integrity to their jobs. I'm grateful for the good will shown by Congress, and I am pleased with the progress we have made together, progress that touches every American family.

We acted quickly to pass the first major tax cut in a generation, to help families in an economic slowdown and to help rebuild the momentum of our economy.

Both houses of Congress have passed major education reform legislation which will bring a new passion for excellence to America's public schools. We have broken six years of gridlock in the task of protecting patients from arbitrary medical decisions made by bureaucrats. The House has passed a bill to promote the work of mentoring groups, homeless shelters and drug treatment facilities. And I've had positive discussions with leaders in the United States Senate on this matter.

The House has also passed an energy plan that addressing current needs. We have put our foreign policy on sound footing. We're strengthening our relationships with our allies and moving to build a world that trades more freely.

We've taken the first steps toward revitalizing and transforming our military so it can meet the threats and challenges of the future. Today, the Senate joined with the House to provide our farmers with $5.5 billion of emergency help.

We passed a budget resolution that for the first time in recent memory has been respected, not ignored. And we're on our way to the second largest surplus in history as well as paying down a significant amount of U.S. debt.

On this path, we're headed for a year of strong, meaningful legislative achievements. And I want to express my thanks for every legislator who made tough decisions.

Every legislator who chose long-term progress over short- term political gain. There's much more to do. In September, the second stage of our work begins, and I will be guided by a few goals.

First, we must finish the work we have begun. On the topics of education and the disadvantaged, our nation has news that will not wait. Americans, come September, will be watching. They want us to be principled, not partisan. They want us to look for agreement instead of looking for fights and arguments. Americans know obstructionism when they see it, and when necessary, I will point it out.

Second, the Congress must live within the generous limits of our budget. Irresponsible spending is a threat to our economy and a threat to the essential functions of our government. I will protect Medicare, Social Security and our armed forces, and I will protect the American taxpayers.

The Congress, through its budget resolution, has given its word on spending. So far Congress has kept its word, and it must continue to do so.

Third, within a limited budget, we must have an active, compassionate government. Beginning in September, I'll be proposing creative ways to tackle some of the toughest problems in our society. We must take the side of parents trying to raise responsible, motivated and moral children. We must help disadvantaged Americans find opportunity in ownership and the tools to succeed in our free economy. We must show that our welcoming society values the ideals and contributions of immigrants. We must challenge Americans to be citizens, not spectators, in the renewal of their neighborhoods and their cities.

In a few days, I'm headed home to the heartland to listen to the American people and to talk about the values that unite and sustain our country. Members of Congress are going home as well. When we all come back in September, so many accomplishments are within our reach, and I look forward to the work ahead.

Thank you all very much.

WATERS: President Bush speaking of the past, the present and the future. Heralding the accomplishment of his administration in the first six months of its operation: setting a new tone, a clear agenda, establishing leadership and showing what can be done -- and he cited a number of accomplishments, including a tax cut, which was No. 1 on his list. Education reform, patients' bill of rights, the energy plan, foreign policy is on a sound footing -- the president's words. The military is being redesigned; the farm bill; budget resolution.

He's also talking about what's going to happen in September, Kelly Wallace. And he's more or less warning legislators to stay on budget. We heard just a dew minutes ago about the battle over the farm bill, which was just passed, which was not acceptable to Senator Daschle. It was almost like a shot across Daschle's bow.

WALLACE: Well, yes, Lou.

And the White House made it clear earlier on this day that if the Democrats in the Senate passed a bill much higher than the one they passed today -- something like $7.5 billion, as opposed to the $5.5 billion in emergency aid to farmers -- that the president would take out his veto pen.

So the president getting that message out, clearly making a message to these lawmakers that, he says, they cannot go ahead and take part in any kind of irresponsible budgeting. He says that he and, of course, the American people will be watching.

As you heard him say, there's much more work to be done when lawmakers and the president return in September. He talked about education; he talked about budgeting, as you mentioned.

He also talked a little bit about some new initiatives that the president plans to be unveiling this fall. Again, as you see: education, pushing his faith-based agenda, improving Social Security and Medicare. But also the president saying he's going to be unveiling some initiatives more on the line of his compassionate conservatism: initiatives to help families struggling to raise children, to help immigrants come to this country.

And, Lou, if you had a hint there of the White House strategy, you heard the president say he will know obstructionism when he sees it and he will point out. That appears to be a message to the Democrats in the Senate. this White House saying if the Democrats in the Senate are going to block the president's agenda, well they will point that out and say that the Democrats are to blame for why these priorities the American people care about are not being worked on.

WATERS: And the president making that obvious point also, as you noted, about how Americans will be paying attention. It is true that, during the summer months, when folks are on vacation they're not focused in, as they will be in September. We just saw that from the Gallup organization -- the numbers on stem cell research -- how Americans feel about it. they're not quite sure about that yet.

But in September, the president is right, how does that factor in to the political strategy in the fall, for not only the administration, but the Congress?

WALLACE: Well, what's interesting, Lou, is while many Americans, of course, will be enjoying their vacations, Republicans and Democrats will certainly be using these four weeks leading to the return after Labor Day to sort of get their agendas out.

Republicans will be pushing on economy, on energy. Democrats also touting their priorities. So you could say they're both sort of laying the groundwork for the fall offensive. And, again, though, that's when the American people will be watching the president, as we were mentioning before he started. While he does have a significant number of victories this week and over the past six months, it is still going to be an uphill climb to get final action on that energy bill and a patients' bill of rights in this Democratically controlled Senate.

So both sides have their work cut out for them when they return.

WATERS: We're going to see the president one more time within this hour, are we not? What's going on there?

WALLACE: Absolutely. Closer to 3:00, Lou, the president will have joining him today Lance Armstrong. As our viewers know he just was, what -- victory for the third time in the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor. He has a foundation. The president and Lance Armstrong will be speaking to some cancer patients from this area as well as from around the country. So it should be a rather poignant moment for the president and Lance Armstrong later this hour.

WATERS: There should be some Texas chauvinism going on there, also.

Kelly Wallace at the White House. We will get to that event in the East Room when it happens.



Back to the top