Prepared Remarks of President
Saturday, December 29, 2007
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. New Year's Day will soon be upon us, and with it will come New Year's resolutions. This weekend is a good time to give thanks for our blessings -- and to resolve to do better in the coming year.
One of our greatest blessings as Americans is that we live in a country with a growing economy -- where people can pursue their dreams, turn ideas into enterprises, and provide for their families. It is a measure of our economy's resilience that even with high oil prices and softness in the housing market, we're still growing. In November, our economy added jobs for the 51st straight month, making this the longest period of uninterrupted job growth on record. Unemployment is a low 4.7 percent. Exports are up. And the fundamentals of our economy are strong.
Economic statistics are important indicators. Yet it is more important to remember that behind all these numbers are real people. These people include the entrepreneurs who live their dreams by starting up new businesses. These people include small business owners who create most of the new jobs in our economy. And most of all, these people include the tens of millions of working moms and dads whose jobs provide for their families.
I know that even in this growing economy some of you have real concerns. Some of you worry about your ability to afford healthcare coverage for your families. Some of you are concerned about meeting your monthly mortgage payments. Some of you worry about the impact of rising energy costs on fueling your cars and heating your homes. You expect your elected leaders in Washington to address these pressures on our economy and give you more options to help you deal with them. And I have put forth several proposals to do so.
In the last month, Congress has responded to some of my initiatives. They passed a good energy bill, they passed a temporary patch to protect middle class families from the burden of the Alternative Minimum Tax, and they passed a law that will help protect families from higher taxes when their lenders reduce their mortgage debt. But this is only a start. Congress needs to do more to decrease America's dependence on oil. Congress needs to pass legislation that will help make health care coverage more affordable for small businesses and workers who buy their own policies. And Congress needs to act quickly on the rest of my proposals to help families struggling with rising mortgage payments keep their homes.
Most of all, we need to set a good example in Washington by being careful with your money. I'm disappointed that leaders in Congress sent me a massive spending bill that includes about 9,800 earmarks. Earmarks are special interest items that are slipped into big spending bills like this one -- often at the last hour, without discussion or debate. Among the earmarks Congress approved was one for a prison museum and another for a sailing school. In the last election, congressional leaders ran on a promise that they would reform earmarks. They made some progress, but not nearly enough. So my Administration is reviewing options to address wasteful earmark spending.
As we address earmarks, we also must restrain spending, keep taxes low, and continue on a path towards a balanced budget. And that is what the budget I submit in February will do. You work hard for your money and to live within your means. As you provide for your families, the last thing you need is wasteful spending that will lead to a tax hike. My resolution for the New Year is this: to work with Congress to keep our economy growing, to keep your tax burden low, and to ensure that the money you send to Washington is spent wisely -- or not at all.
Thank you for listening, and Happy New Year.