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President Bush Speaks to Carpenters Union Group in Kaukauna, Wisconsin

Aired September 3, 2001 - 10:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at live pictures coming from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, where President Bush and first lady Laura Bush just arrived there at the hall, where he will be speaking to the northern Wisconsin Council of Carpenters. This is a training center which is just outside of Green Bay, and they will be spending some time there this morning. This of course before President Bush flys to Detroit. We'll have coverage of that as well here on the network throughout the day.

But President Bush here addressing a group that doesn't normally have many Republicans speaking before it. We are talking about union groups here. As a matter of fact, as I understand it, this particular group of carpenters, this group of Teamsters split off from the AFL- CIO, which is a very, very staunch Democratic ally. They've been allied with the Democratic Party for years. President Bush has said that is going to make outreach to these groups, something that is a priority for him. and proof of that is being seen today.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: First lady with him as you mentioned, Leon, and after his remarks, you are going to actually will have a tour of that Northern Wisconsin Council of Carpenter Training Center as well.

DOUG MCCARRON: We have a number of very distinguished guest here today. But I want to start by recognizing all of you, and especially the carpenters here today.

(APPLAUSE)

Now Labor Day is a day our nation sets aside to honor working people. So let's start by recognizing the men and women here today that built this country...

HARRIS: Sorry. We don't have names for some reason of the people that basically are appearing before the microphone, so we can't let you all know who this is, but again, we're expecting President Bush to speak to this group, and speak to an issue that is getting a lot of attention nowadays by people like this, and pretty much from people everywhere, jobs, and the fact that this economy has not been generating as many of them, creating as many of them as it had been for some time, and President Bush has said that he's going to -- the words that he said, interesting enough, last week, was that he was going to focus like a laser beam on the economy to change that, and those words may sound familiar, because they were uttered at one time by President Bill Clinton. That was something he said when he was elected back in '92, saying that he was going to focus on the economy, and the economy is stupid, and he was going to focus on it like a laser beam. Well, President Bush now giving that same message.

I guess we will maybe get some tipoffs in his comments today about exactly what it is he plans to do about juicing up the economy.

MCEDWARDS: During dramatically different sort of economic trials. Those statements were made during the Clinton era of course. People talking about a recession in the manufacturing sector. Certainly a slowdown in the rest of the economy, particularly the technology sector. Some of the building trade sectors hit very hard with a layoffs and slowdowns in their job and work orders as well.

HARRIS: And of course President Bush's tax cut is something that he's been pushing, and touting and selling an idea to help turn this economy around. The problem is, we have not seen much evidence of it actually having an effect as yet. That of course could come later on down the road. You will probably hear something about that as well today.

MCEDWARDS: Certainly getting a warm welcome there from members who are attending the Northern Wisconsin Regional Council of Carpenter's Training Center. You are looking at those live pictures now near Green Bay, Wisconsin, in Kaukauna, where the first lady and President Bush are there. He is to give remarks. Later on, the two of them will have a tour of the facility.

Then they'll move on from there actually to attend a Labor Day barbecue at the Michigan Teamsters headquarters, and then it's on back to Washington. All of this part of the Labor Day events on President Bush's calendar. We're just waiting for this member of the union to introduce the president for his remarks.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: We've gotten this gentleman's name. It's Doug McCarron. and he is with the National Brotherhood -- was it Joiners and Carpenters, was that it? There you go.

But he should be introducing President Bush any minute now, and we'll be getting those remarks.

In fact, let's listen in.

MCCARRON: It takes training, as Carpenters, our livelihoods depends on our skills. Quite literally, we are earning our living with our hands. And it's through training that we improve our skills and our ability to compete for jobs. It's through the skills and training that keep our contractors competitive in the market. And it's through the fair wages and benefits we earn by competing with those skills. That we build the American dream for our family, and by extension, the rest of the country.

(APPLAUSE) MCCARRON: Because it's the skill that the Carpenters here today and the hundreds of thousands of Carpenters just like them across the country that build the real wealth of this great nation.

Now, Mr. President, I know I speak for everyone here when I say, welcome.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all.

(APPLAUSE)

I brought the A-team with me.

(LAUGHTER)

I can't tell you how proud I am of the job that Laura's doing. (APPLAUSE)

Both of us are thrilled to be back in the great state of Wisconsin...

(APPLAUSE)

... in the neighborhood of the mighty Green Bay Packers.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm old enough to remember the Ice Bowl.

(APPLAUSE)

But I shouldn't bring up a sore subject -- well, I mean a fine subject.

(LAUGHTER)

At any rate, we're thrilled to be here. Doug, I want to thank you for a couple of things. First of all, I want to thank you for your leadership. Doug is a plain-spoken fellow. There's no question where he stands, which is good. There's also no question of where his heart is, and his heart is with the working men and women of the country, and I appreciate that, Doug.

(APPLAUSE)

There are a lot of talkers in Washington, D.C.-- a lot of fancy footwork people. But there's also some doers, and when Doug puts his mind to getting something done, he can get it done. And as he said, sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. But I will tell you, he will always answer his phone. We'll always listen to what he has to say.

He brought a severe problem to my administration that relates to the carpenters and hard-working people of America. It had to do with pension benefits -- that the pension plans weren't fair for the carpenters, for the working people. So we sat down with Doug and his folks and worked with some members of Congress. And part of the tax relief plan that we got passed is a part that Doug had a lot to do with, which is pension reform, 401K reform, IRA reform -- reform that's good for everybody in America who works with their hands, who works every single day. Doug McCarron is a can-do guy and I'm honored to call him friend and I'm honored to be able to work with him on behalf of the working people of America.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Jim Moore (ph). I want to thank old Jim Moore.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE) The first person he introduced me to was his wife, and the second person he introduced me to was his mother...

(LAUGHTER)

...which reminds me of one of my favorite stories about my mother.

BUSH: I had just been elected governor of Texas. Laura and I were in a central Texas town called Fredericksburg, Texas. Mother and dad were going to be there to pay homage to the folks that had fought in the Pacific theater in World War II. And by the way, all the World War II vets not only deserve a sense of thanks from us, but I'm proud to announce we're going to build a World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

At any rate, you may relate to this story, Jim. I got up and I said, welcome to central Texas, to my dad. And everybody gave me a nice round of applause and gave him a nice round of applause. Then I said, it's also a privilege to welcome my mother -- and before I could get the words out of my mouth, people went wild.

(LAUGHTER)

And I said, Mother, it's clear the people of central Texas still love you, and so do I, but you're still telling me what to do after 50 years.

(LAUGHTER)

And a guy in a cowboy hat strode right out in the middle of Main Street, Fredericksburg, and he said, "And you better listen to her, too, boy."

(LAUGHTER)

I asked Jim if he was listening to Evelyn.

(APPLAUSE)

Your mother's name is Evelyn, isn't it? Yes, he said he's still listening to Evelyn. I'm still listening to Bar.

(LAUGHTER)

I want to thank Elaine for traveling with me, too. Elaine is the secretary of Labor. She's doing a fabulous job.

(APPLAUSE)

There's another member of my cabinet who isn't here, but comes from the great state of Wisconsin. He's doing a fabulous job. You trained him well. And that's Tommy Thompson.

(APPLAUSE)

Tommy's been replaced by a good man, and he's with us today -- the governor of the great state of Wisconsin, Scott McCallum and his wife Laurie. Thank you, Scott.

(APPLAUSE)

You sent a good congressman from here up to Washington. He's a good, solid fellow. He's down to earth. He cares deeply about the folks in his district in Wisconsin. And that's Mark Green.

(APPLAUSE)

As well, traveling with us today, and we're honored to have him with us -- he's a fine fellow as well. He's got a lot of experience in the Congress. He represents the folks in his district well from Wisconsin, and that's Tom Petri.

BUSH: Thank you, Tom, for coming. I appreciate it.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to thank you all for coming today. Thanks for taking time out of your Labor Day to come and say hello to Laura and me. We are honored to be here. We're honored to be able to deliver a Labor Day message here in Wisconsin, particularly in the midst -- in the hall of a group of hard-working folks that really make America go.

Labor Day, as Doug mentioned, is a day on which we celebrate truly one of the great strengths of the country, and that's the working people of America. The thing that makes our nation unique is that American people work hard to provide for their families. They're not afraid of hard work. They welcome hard work. The productivity of America is high because of the working people. And today, our nation takes a moment to say thanks -- thanks for what all you do; thanks for those who carry a hammer; thanks for the police; thanks for the schoolteachers...

(APPLAUSE)

... thanks to the firefighters; thanks to people from all walks of life who work all across our country. It's fitting we honor the strength of America. I must say that our life in Washington is exciting. It's been a fantastic eight months. We've got some problems on the horizon. One of my jobs is not to shirk problems, but to deal with them. And on this Labor Day, I've got to tell you I'm concerned about working families. I'm concerned our economy is not as strong as it should be. For the past 12 months, our growth in our economy has been anemic at best. It's been a paltry 1 percent over 12 months. That's not good enough for America.

You know, they talk about unemployment statistics. They're relatively good so far. But if you've been laid off from work, you're 100 percent unemployed. And I worry about it. I worry about the families affected. I'm concerned about the children whose dad or mom may not be able to find work right now. And I intend to do something about it, and it started with doing something strong for our economy. And that's taking your money and sending it back to where it belongs -- the taxpayers of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Make no mistake about it, tax relief was the right thing to do at the right time.

(APPLAUSE)

The rebate checks are now hitting. People have got more money to spend or invest -- the very things needed to make sure that we sustain economic vitality and growth. And there are some second-guessers in Washington. There are folks who on the one hand wish they had more money to spend. But I'm going to tell you, we've got ample money in Washington, D.C. to spend, if we set our priorities. If we do what you do on a regular basis -- say, here's my budget; here are the priorities. If Washington would only prioritize, we've got plenty of money to spend in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

Like any policy, there will be second-guessers and you'll hear them. They'll say, "Oh, we shouldn't have had tax relief." But my question to them is, do they want to raise taxes? My question to the critics is, if you're against tax relief, does that mean you're for now raising people's taxes?

BUSH: The worst thing that could happen to our economy -- the absolute worst thing -- is to raise the taxes on the working people.

(APPLAUSE)

There's a fundamental difference of opinion in Washington, and it starts with folks in Washington forgetting whose money we're spending. All that money is not the government's money, it's the working people's money.

(APPLAUSE)

It's the right thing at the right time to make sure our economy grows, even though people are hurting today. And I know they are. I'm confident in the basic underpinnings of the American economy. I'm confident of the productivity levels of our people. I'm confident that we'll recover. I'm confident we'll have sustained growth. And I'm confident in the values of hard work that make our nation unique.

There's another issue that we've been working on that I want to talk to you about that's incredibly important for you and your jobs, and that's energy. We don't have enough of it. We import a lot of energy from parts of the world that are unstable. And we need more energy and we need to do a better job of conserving the energy we have. And I applaud the conservation efforts that take place all across America.

We're doing our part at the federal level. We told the military to increase savings of energy. We're beginning to use more cost- effective technologies to save energy. But the thing I appreciate Doug and the people who've got common sense in Washington, D.C. is they also understand that we need to find energy in an environmentally friendly say. We, for the first time, have got an energy policy that's supported by members of the unions because they understand good energy policy equals good jobs in America. And that's what we ought to be asking -- how can our people find good jobs?

(APPLAUSE)

Part of a good economic plan is to make sure we've got a good education policy. And one of the reasons we came here is because of the training center that's here. It's good to see a union not only care about health care or pension benefits or wages, but a union that cares about educating its workforce. This is a thoughtful union. This is a progressive union that understands.

(APPLAUSE)

So I appreciate what Doug and Jim are doing, and I hope you appreciate what's taking place in Washington when it comes to educating our children. We're working hard to reform public education. And let me tell you what the philosophy behind our reforms are. The philosophy behind our reforms is this: We trust the local people to run their own schools. We trust the people of Wisconsin.

(APPLAUSE)

I don't believe in federalizing education. I know that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to educating our children.

BUSH: And having said that, I also believe we've got to challenge what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations; that when you lower the bar, you're going to get lousy results. We need to raise standards all across America.

(APPLAUSE)

And the federal government can help. The federal government can help. And I also believe in results. I'm a results-oriented person. It seems like to me it makes sense that if you spend money, you ought to ask the question: What are the results? If we spend money at the federal level trying to teach children, we ought to say: Can they learn?

And so part of the reform is that we're going to insist upon strong accountability measures. It says that states will measure, because we want to know. We want to know whether or not children can read or write and add and subtract. That's what we want to know. That's a fundamental question we ought to be asking all across America. You in Wisconsin need to be demanding a return for your taxpayers' money. You ought to be asking the schools whether or not they're teaching the children to read. You ought to be demanding they use a curriculum based upon phonics so that children can learn.

(APPLAUSE)

We got a good bill out of the House. We got a good bill out of the Senate. And I hope when the members come back tomorrow, they don't play politics with an education bill, and they get it on my desk so I can sign it so the local folks can start planning for the school year that's coming up.

(APPLAUSE)

Good tax policy is important for our country; good energy policy; good education policy. We need to teach children more than just reading and writing and adding and subtracting. We need to teach them the right values. We need to not be afraid.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to teach them right from wrong. One of the reasons I love coming to a Labor Day rally is because so many of your brought your families. And let me tell you one of the great values of America is our family -- family life.

(APPLAUSE)

I think that one of my most important jobs is to remind the moms and dads of America that the most important job, if you happen to be a -- well, since you are a mom or dad -- one of the most important jobs you'll ever have is loving your children with all your heart and all your soul. That is the most important way you can make a contribution to our country is to tell your children you love them, and not be afraid to teach them the difference between right and wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

I talked about the strength of the country being the willingness of our folks to work hard, but there's another strength, too, and that's in the hearts and souls of Americans. We're a compassionate nation, based upon fantastic values; a nation that's strong because our people are strong; a nation that's decent because our people are decent; a nation that's compassionate because we've got folks who will walk right across the street and say to a neighbor in need, "What can I do to help?" It doesn't matter whether they have a union card or not a union card. You love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself, because there's a higher calling amongst many in America.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Now, on this Labor Day we've got to remember the values not only of hard work, but tried and true values of honoring your mother and dad and telling the truth; bringing integrity to whatever you do; and loving a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

This is a great land, and I'm honored to be the president of the greatest land on the face of the Earth. I'm honored to be here in Wisconsin.

(APPLAUSE)

Laura and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers and your support. Thank you for coming out today to say hello.

May God bless the American worker and may God bless America.

Thank you very much. God bless.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: And with that, President Bush wraps up his remarks this morning to the Carpenters Union Group there in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. And this morning, we heard him pretty much saying a lot of what heard him say in the last couple of weeks on his Heartland Tour. He basically touted his tax relief package, saying it was the right thing to do at the right time, and that the effects will be seen fairly soon. He said he's confident in the basic underpinnings of the economy right now, and confident that there will be an upturn. He also drew something of line in the sand about that tax package, saying since he knows it's going to be addressed in Congress fairly soon, when Congress returns, and he said for those who want to change it, or rescind it, he's asking if they are for raising taxes right now. He also went again and talked about his energy policy, his energy initiative, and his education initiatives, again urging movement in Congress on those things.

So we'll have much more coverage of the president. Later on the day, he's going from this point in Wisconsin on to Detroit, so stay with us here in CNN throughout the day.

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