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President Bush pens WSJ op-ed, calls for balanced budget by 2012

Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday January 3, 2007
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President George W. Bush has written an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that will appear in its pages today.

In a lengthy piece intended to address the new Congress, the President cites Sep. 11, indicates his continued opposition to tax hikes, and projects a balanced federal budget by 2012.

Discussing the nation's priorities, Bush first lists "defeating the terrorists who killed thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001 -- and who are working hard to attack us again." He also indicates that he will talk more about a new strategy in coming days.

Next, the President talks of keeping the economy strong, and pointedly trumpets his tax cuts while rejecting any increases. "Now is not the time to raise taxes on the American people," he writes. "It is a fact that economies do best when you reward hard work by allowing people to keep more of what they have earned."

He also remarks that by continuing the policies of his economic plan, the nation can balance the federal budget by 2012.

Bush acknowledges an important message he took from the last election, that Americans seek an end to "pork-barrel projects that have never been reviewed or voted on by Congress." He takes a jab at Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Rep. David Obey (D-WI): "[They] heard that message, too, and have indicated they will refrain from including additional earmarks in the continuing resolution for this fiscal year."

Bush also calls on the need for a presidential line-item veto to counter earmarking, and announces a proposal to halt "this dead-of-the-night process" and substantially reduce earmarks passed annually.

The President only passingly refers to such major election-season issues as energy, immigration reform and health care. He credits progress that has been made in each area, but cites the need to do more.

In closing, Bush gives a dramatic warning to the newly empowered Democrats. "If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate. If a different approach is taken, the next two years can be fruitful ones for our nation."

Excerpts from the op-ed at the Journal's free Opinion Journal site follow...

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I believe that when America is willing to use her influence abroad, the American people are safer and the world is more secure. I believe that wealth does not come from government. It comes from the hard work of America's workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. I believe government closest to the people is more responsive and accountable. I believe government plays an important role in helping those who can't help themselves. Yet we must always remember that when people are hurting, they need a caring person, not a government bureaucracy.

These are all common-sense principles, and they provide the basis for how I will approach governing with the new Congress. We've proved it can be done: When our nation was attacked, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Patriot Act and reform our intelligence agencies. When our economy was struggling, we worked together to pass tax relief that has helped our economy grow, create jobs, and raise the standard of living for the American people. When we saw that our public schools were failing our children, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, insisting on high standards, accountability and better options for parents.

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[W]e can help Iraq defeat the extremists inside and outside of Iraq -- and we can help provide the necessary breathing space for this young government to meet its responsibilities. If democracy fails and the extremists prevail in Iraq, America's enemies will be stronger, more lethal, and emboldened by our defeat. Leaders in both parties understand the stakes in this struggle. We now have the opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus to fight and win the war.

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It is also a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues. Because revenues have grown and we've done a better job of holding the line on domestic spending, we met our goal of cutting the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule. By continuing these policies, we can balance the federal budget by 2012 while funding our priorities and making the tax cuts permanent. In early February, I will submit a budget that does exactly that. The bottom line is tax relief and spending restraint are good for the American worker, good for the American taxpayer, and good for the federal budget...

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