(Editor’s Note: The White House released the following memo to Interested Parties yesterday. HUMAN EVENTS is reprinting it as a courtesty to our readers.)
In today’s political climate, daily headlines and fast moving events make it easy to lose the forest for the trees. Some historic developments over the past few weeks, however, warrant a second look. Last week alone, the President appointed a Treasury Secretary who received praise from both sides of the aisle and the President proposed a strategy to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon that received praise from both sides of the Atlantic – and appears likely to produce progress on the diplomatic front. The challenges of Iraq and immigration reform remain as Congress reconvenes this week, but there is a clear tide of positive developments that reflect the President’s ability to get things done.
By reaching out to the world community with his offer to participate in multilateral talks with Iran if conditions are met, the President turned the tables in negotiations with Iran and strengthened the international consensus that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons. The situation with Iran will not be resolved overnight, but the President is leading an international effort to ensure Iran suspends all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. As New York Times columnist David Brooks noted in praising the President’s Iran strategy, “Bush and Rice have created a coherent policy. They have organized the Europeans, Russians and Chinese around that policy. They have put Iran on the defensive, and forced the different factions in the regime to argue about what sort of country they wish to become.” In short, the President’s proactive approach is bringing the world together to confront a global concern.
Last month, the Iraqi people marked another milestone when Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki announced the members of a new unity government. The Prime Minister must still fill two critical posts, but Iraq’s unity government is poised to chart a new path for the Iraqi people. And as the security capability of the Iraqi forces grows and the new government confronts the militias and sectarian violence, coalition forces will continue to transition more and more responsibilities to the Iraqi people. We face serious challenges in Iraq – as the recent sectarian violence has made all too clear. Yet our country and the world will be better off by helping this young democracy succeed and deliver a real blow to the terrorist ideology that has sowed so much death and destruction over the last three years.
News reports alleging U.S. troops killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha are unsettling for the American people. The President has made clear that if there was wrongdoing, those responsible will be held to account and the President has said the Marine Corps will investigate what happened in an “up-front way, in an open way.” In other words, in a way that relies on facts rather than heated rhetoric.
Over the past weeks, the President has nominated a string of qualified, capable officials. Henry Paulson, the President’s choice for Treasury Secretary, is universally acknowledged to have the ideal background for the position. The President nominated a CIA Director with decades of experience – and the Senate confirmed Michael Hayden by an overwhelming 78-15 vote after some leaders initially expressed dissatisfaction with the pick. The Senate’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals shows the emptiness of the liberals’ previous threats to filibuster qualified judicial nominees who will strictly interpret the Constitution. The Senate confirmed Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and OMB Director Rob Portman by unanimous consent.
When the Senate adjourned for Easter recess, the conventional wisdom was that Democrats led by Minority Leader Harry Reid had successfully killed a vote on immigration reform to advance their political agenda. But just ten days after the President discussed his vision for comprehensive immigration reform in an Oval Office address to the nation, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform package.
The same people who predicted the Senate would fail to pass any bill are now saying that the House and Senate will never be able to compromise, but the President is focused enabling both houses of Congress to work together. This week, the President will make another trip to the border and continue to advocate for comprehensive reform.
The President is leading the country and the Republican Party in a direction he thinks is right, and opinion polls show Americans strongly support a comprehensive approach. For example, proposals to allow illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and meet other requirements (pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, have a clean criminal record) to apply for legal status garner the support of nearly 80 percent of Americans in a CNN poll (5/16-5/17) and 77 percent in a CBS News poll (5/16-5/17), including 76 percent of Republicans.
America’s economy is flourishing. On the heels of the President signing the extension of his 2003 tax cuts on dividends and capitals gains – a huge victory for the Republican-controlled Congress – the Labor Department announced on Friday that our unemployment rate is now at 4.6 percent, lower than the average of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 5.3 percent for the first quarter of this year, the fastest growth in two-and-a-half years.
These statistics may seem like abstract numbers – until you put yourself in the shoes of an American worker filling one of the 5.3 million new jobs created since August 2003. And while the critics will continue to focus on everything that could go wrong with our economy, the President and our allies in Congress are working to ensure we build on the economic momentum underway. A key test of who supports the hard work of millions of small businesses and family farmers comes this week as the U.S. Senate takes up the repeal of the death tax. The President’s tax cuts put the death tax on the road to extinction, and the President looks forward to working with to Congress to permanently end this unfair burden on America’s growing economy.
From uniting the world community in preventing Iran from making a nuclear weapon to successfully installing qualified officials at home, and from assisting the Iraqi people in setting up a unity government to overseeing a strong economy that continues to create jobs for American workers, President Bush’s leadership is achieving a steady flow of results that do not always dominate the day’s headlines on their own but that together represent real progress for the American people.
The President knows more work must be done to build on this progress. As members of Congress return to Washington this week, the President looks forward to working with them to pass the emergency spending supplemental, confirm U.S. Trade Representative nominee Susan Schwab, and continue trying to find common ground on comprehensive immigration reform.