DEMOCRACY IN ACTION TRANSCRIPT
I was asked why I selected so many women to senior positions in my administration and I came back with the story that you may have heard about the three men trying to cross the Colorado River when it was raging at high speed. The first man got on his knees, prayed to be given the strength to get across the river. He dived into the water and was just beaten by the current and pushed against the rocks. He emerged on the other side way down the river bloody and so forth. The second saw that happen and got on his knees and said please give me the vehicle to get across this river. And a boat appeared. He got in the boat, started to row across, but the river was raging so quickly it tipped over quickly. He was battered and knocked around, also bloodied. The third man got on his knees and said, having seen what had happened, please give me the brains to get across the river. Whereupon he turned into a woman, and upon that fact looked at the map and saw that there was a bridge about 200 years up the river.
Now there is a rumor afloat that I'm here this evening in furtherance of national ambition. You and I both know that there's way too big a difference between Massachusetts and Washington, DC for that to even be a remote possibility. In Washington, DC for instance a 527 is a political fundraising committee. In Massachusetts 527 is the number of registered Republicans. In Washington, DC a negative campaign means your opponent has taken out an attack ad on you. In Massachusetts a negative camapign means that Whitey Bulger has taken out a contract on you. In Washington, DC Code Orange is a terror alert. In Massachusetts Code Orange means that John Kerry got out of the tanning salon. In Washington, DC a $2 trillion debt is called an embarrassment. In Massachusetts we call it the Big Dig.
Now of course there's some big differences between Massachusetts and New Hampshire as well. There is this affection that some people in Massachusetts have for toll booths. I don't understand it. This Memorial Day weekend my wife and I waited in the toll booth line at the Hampton tolls for just about half an hour. And I have a message for your Democratic governor. Tear down that wall.
Now you have one huge advantage over us and that is you have a legislature which is not 85 percent Democratic as mine is, but a legislature which is Republican. You keep this state on the straight and narrow. You're doing a great job and we all salute you. Congratulations.
Now I have a feeling that my remarks are the only thing that stands between you and eating tonight and so I'm going to move pretty quickly here 'cause I know that there are some priorities, but I want to begin by just giving you a sense of what's happened in my state over the last couple of years and put it in context.
When I was running for office I had a debate as you may recall, actually five of them. Don't know whether you saw the one where Tim Russert was the moderator. He wondered how we were going to be able to close a $1 billion budget gap. And I had to lay out what my plans were for doing so. When I got in office, my Secretary of Finance came to me and said, I've got great news and bad news. The great news is we don't have a one billion budget gap. The bad news is we have a $3 billion budget gap. And there were some people that said all we have to do is raise taxes. And I said, look, if you raise taxes you kill jobs and you hurt working families. There were some other people that said why don't we just raise debt. We can just borrow our way out of this. But if you raise debt you just put our problems on the backs of our kids. I said no, we're going to go back to government, we're going to cut out the waste and inefficiency and duplication. We're going to do the job we were elected to do. And Republicans and Democrats came together and made a lot of that happen.
We looked at everything we were doing. We cut out every souce of waste and duplication we could find. In my department for instance we saw in the executive branch health and human services we had 17 different agencies. We combined it into four and saved money by doing so. We eliminated whole departments of government altogether. We got rid of something-- We have three highway departments in Massachusetts. Why? I don't know. I'm trying to get it down to one. I've gotten it down to two; I've got one more to go. One commentator said we hadn't just gone after the sacred cows, we'd gone after the whole herd, and it's true.
We went out and reformed everything we could find. We reformed transportation, we reformed housing, we reformed the judicial nominating process, we reformed construction, we reformed--what else am I missing--education. We went after every single aspect of government we could think of to make it more efficient and more effective. Now some of the areas of waste you can't get over.
One of the areas was with regards to prescription drugs. The state buys a lot of drugs and our cost of prescription drugs was going up and up and up. In the year prior to my coming into office we'd seen a 14 percent rate of growth in our drug costs, the year before that 16 percent, before that 18 percent. We went to work to say we got to get down the cost of these prescription drugs in our state. We put in place a new formulary, a new buying process, a way of working with people to make sure that only the right drugs were being prescribed, and this year we actually saw a 1 percent reducation in the cost of prescription drugs in our state. It's a battle, but it's worth it.
One of my favorite experiences is related to the homeless. We have a number of homeless in Masschusetts; we spend about $130 million to care for the homeless. I was looking through the list of costs associated with our homeless program and there was one down there for hotels and it was in the tens of millions of dollars. And I said, what's that? And they said, well you have to understand if someone comes to a homeless shelter and if the homeless shelter is full, we have to put them up at a hotel. And I thought well I bet the word gets around. Homeless shelter's full: you go to the hotel. So I said why don't we make a small change to the program. Let's do this. Let's say that when someone comes to a homeless shelter and it's full and we have a number of people who come in dire circumstances, let's tell them we're going to let you into the shelter, but the person who's been in the shelter the longest, they're the one that's now going to go to the hotel. That little change had a pretty profound effect. Incentives are pretty powerful. You know how many hotel rooms we rent now? We used to rent 600 rooms a night. Now we rent zero rooms a night. And the tens of millions of dollars we've saved we've been able to use to help people get into permanent housing.
Well what's happened in Massachusetts? You've seen over the last couple of years we've made some progress. Instead of a $3 billion deficit, we just turned in last year a $724 million surplus and I think we'll do even better this year. We added almost 35,000 new jobs. We got a credit upgrade from Wall Street, and by the way we didn't cut education. Our future is based upon the success of our kids. And I said I'm pleased with the kind of schools we have. You know we have great schools right across your border, but I want to make sure that our very best kids stay in our Massachusetts institutions of higher learning 'cause that's our future--that's where our workforce comes from. We had a great scholarship program. It was based on need and that's as it should be. We have a lot of kids that can't afford to go to school and wanted to help them. But I wanted to do something more. I wanted to add to our scholarship program a scholarship based on merit, not just need. And so we proposed something, we proposed something we called the Abigail and John Adams scholarship. If you graduate in the top quarter of your class in any Massachusetts high school you are now entitled to go to any Massachusetts institution of higher learing, state institution, tuition-free for four years. And we got that done.
So let me give you the news. Massachusetts isn't Taxachusetts anymore. Massachusetts is investing in the future; we're investing in education and we're investing to create more good jobs.
Now let me tell you our job isn't over. We recognize that. Health care continues to be very expensive. I proposed a program, believe it or not, to get health insurance for every single Massachussetts citizen without raising taxes--this isn't HillaryCare. By the way someone said to me the other day, I'm in favor--they said they were in favor of a single payer health care system. I said I'm not in favor of a single payer system unless the single payer is going to be Teresa Heinz Kerry. But we put in place a program, we put in place a program to get every citizen insured without any additional government spending. It allows people to be able to buy more reasonably priced health insurance products and those people who need a little help getting that product--a subsidy if you will--we're going to help them with the money we're currently spending to care for those that are uninsured.
Well I'm not going to go on and on on this, but I'll tell you, you're
going to hear these same messages from Republicans across the country.
Republican governors, Republican Senators, congressmen, we're all taking
our lead from our president, because our president is someone who is commited
to investing in education and making it better, a president who is commited
to bringing fiscal discipline and responsibility in Washington, and a president
who's commited to wringing out the waste and inefficiency and duplication
in Washington, DC. You don't hear much from the Democrats on those
topics or any others. At this point they're putting their head in
the sand. They're not moving ahead. But we as a party have
an agenda. We want to make America strong and we know it's by fiscal
responsibility, it's by investing in the future with our kids. Why
is it that this is so important to us? Why is it such a critical
time for our nation? It is critical. I think this is a turning
point in our nation's history and I'm so glad that we fought to get George
Bush elected. We didn't do much good down in Massachusetts.
You made it a real battle here, but thank heavens for all the people in
this nation that did what it took to get George Bush elected president
of this nation.
It's a critical time for a number of reasons. There are three attacks I think under way in America. One is a military attack. We recognize that. Thank heavens by the way, we have the bravest fighting men and women in the entire world who are fighting for our liberty. Thank heavens we have a president who will give terrorism no quarter and will take the fiight to them.
And for all those people, for all those people like myself who yearn for world peace, don't forget that a strong America is peace's best ally. As Ronald Reagan said, he said, I saw four wars start in my lifetime and not one of them was started because America was too strong. We have a president who is committed to defending this land and to spreading liberty throughout the world and we are firmly behind him. We just had a--we recently just had a visit from Shimon Peres of Israel. He said America is unique in the world and plays a unique role. In the history of the world, he said, when wars are fought, they're fought over land and the victor takes land. But when America has been drawn into war and when millions of its sons and daughters' lives have been taken, it asks for nothing in return. No land did we take from Germany, no land did we take from Japan. In fact we invested in their countries to preserve their liberty, because we recognize their liberty and their freedom provides freedom for us and the entire world. This is a nation which is unusual in the history of the world, it is unique, and this is a nation which helps preserve the peace of the entire planet. And I'm proud and privileged to know that we have such great militrary and such great leadership carrying out and fulfilling that promise.
Now America is also under attack economically if you will. Not really an attack but we got some challenges, some opportunities, but also an attack. I had lunch not long ago with the chief executive officer of one of our major corporations. He said something which gave me some concern. He said you know we've always lost low-end jobs in the United States. We've seen low-end jobs go to other countries. But now we're seeing high-end jobs--engineering jobs, software jobs, technical jobs. And I asked him, well you're a big employer here in Massachusetts, ten years from now how many of your manufacturing jobs--this is a high tech manufacturer--will still be in Massachusetts? He said 10 percent; 90 percent will move to Asia. I said why are they moving to Asia? Is it because of the low wage rates over there? He said no, it's not wage rates, it's because they're able to have an educated workforce with the skills we need and their suppliers are making cutting edge technology products. That's where we have to be to get those products. I said that can't possibly be true.
Then I read some books about what's happening in China. Do you realize China is graduating five times the number of engineers that we're graduating in this country. Only 15 years ago the Asian citizens of the world and the U.S. citizens graduated about the same number of PhDs in math and physical science a year--about 4,500 a year. This last year we graduated about 4,700 American, United States citizen PhDs in math and in physical sciences and the Asian countries graduated 24,900. Indeed it's a place committed to higher education, to entrepreneurialism. This is a group of folks who are highly ambitious, who are committed and this is a nation which is thankfully coming out of poverty, China is.
It represents a huge opportunity for American employers, but it also represents a competitive threat. And we're going to have to be serious about waking up to that threat. I remember what Will Rogers said. He said even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. And America for too long has just been sitting there. We got to get serious about what we're facing on a global basis.
Let me tell you some things we need to do.
Labor. Labor needs to recognize that it needs to be just as concerned about the viability of the companies where they work as they are about get more money for themselves.
Business leaders have to finally abide by the highest standards of ethical conduct--and by the way some of our CEOs have to revisit their compensation levels, because their compensation levels when they get so far out of line create the kind of enmity and jealosy that leads to the labor unrest which we sometimes endure.
We've got to raise the bar on education. We can't continue to have our schools not turning out world quality kids. Our schools are not at the top in the world. Our schools are in some places way down. We sometims take great pride in how we're doing relative to other states, but look at the world. We have to raise the bar in education. And by the way it's more than just money. I'm so thankful we have a president, in my opinion, the president that's been the greatest leader on education that I've seen in my llifetime in that White House. This is a president who said I want to bring accountability to education, I want to test our kids so we can evaluate our schools. We have a recognition in our state that money alone isn't going to solve our education needs. The district in Massachusetts that spends the most per pupil is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You might be surprised by this. It spends $15,000 per child. It's almost twice the state average. Fifteen thousand per kid. You know how well those kids do based on our rankings of kids? They're in the bottom 10 percent. Money doesn't do it. Accountability, better teachers, giving principals the ability to hire and fire, the best teachers getting more money, providing additional support for math and science teachers that we desperately need--these are the ways that we're going to raise the bar in education and we have a president who's willing to put the kids first and the unions behind.
Well we got to get the waste out of our government system, and I'll tell you the fatter the government is, the more we're bleeding away from our private enterprise system, the more difficult it is for us to compete with the world, and that's something this president's going to do.
And there's one more thing let me mention. And that is we've got to reinforce the culture and the ideals which has always made America the greatest nation on this planet. I read a book recently bu someone named David Landes. He's a professor at Harvard. On the cover of the book jacket there was a quote praising the book by John Kenneth Galbraith. I thought, oh here's going to be some liberal rant; I don't want to read this book. But I did anyway and I found it very interesting. And after about 500 pages Professor Landes ends by saying something that struck me very powerfully. He said this. If we learn anything from economic development it is that culture makes all the difference. See he was comparing all the nations of the earth in the history of the earth and said culture makes all the difference.
And I thought about what is it that brings the culture of the United States in such relief that it lifts America. Well we're a people that's used to hard work. We're a people who believe in a Creator or if not we believe in a purpose greater than ourselves, in purpose-driven lives as Rick Warren has pointed out. We're a people who are self-reliant and independent. We're a people who take care of those who are truely in need. We're a people also who fundamentally respect the value of human life. and at the foundation of our society is of course the familiy. The familiy has always been the structure from which we pass along our values and ideals to the next generation.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did something which I think struck at the foundation of the family by saying that our Constitution requires gay marriage. I think John Adams would be surprised. He wrote it; I don't think he had that in mind. And I want you to recognize of course as people we should show respect to people who make different choices in their life, we should show tolerance to other individuals, but we should also recognize that marriage is not about rights of adults, marriage is about raising children. Every child has the right to have a mother and a father.
I know that sometimes the attack on American ideals and culture can be deeply troubling and disturbing. But I remember a wonderful letter that was written by Abigail Adams to her son during some troubled times. She said this. It's not in the still calm of life or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed. Great necessities call out great virtues. I believe that's happening today.
Shirley and Ruth talked about, I guess it was Ruth in particular, talked about my experience at the Olympics. I learned something there. I was reminded again about the characteristics that make America so great in the hearts of our young people. I am absolutely convinced that regardless of the attacks we face, as a nation we will always emerge victorious because of what is found in the hearts of our citizens and our young people. One young man I came to know pretty well is a fellow named Derrick Parra. Some of you know this guy. He's a Hispanic American, originally from Miami. Pretty good roller blade skater. Have you seen those roller blade things? Your kids may have them. Zipping around on those his wife said, you know, honey, you're so good at that you ought to try ice skates. He said I've never tried ice skates. Put them on. He was pretty fast. Fast enough to make the United States Olympic team in speed skating. So he shows up in Salt Lake City, Utah as an Olympian. He puts on those skates and we wondered how's this Hispanic young man from Miami going to do competing with these kids from Scandanavia and all over the world. He put on these skates and turned in a silver medal and then turned in a gold medal--fastest in the world.
The vice president, Dick Cheney, was at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. He asked me to pick one athlete that I though represented the spirit of our athletes there. I picked Derrick Parra. And I asked Derrick to come sit with us. As he came in, I said, Derrick, what was the most meaningful experience you had in these Olympics? And I expected him to say the silver medal or the gold medal. He did not.
He said the most powerful experience for me was carrying in the flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 into the Opening Ceremonies. You may recall in our ceremonies we brought that flag in. It was tattered and torn. It couldn't be put up on a flag pole. Eight athletes were selected by their teammates to bring that flag in and they held it by its sides and brought it in front of the orchestra and the choir. President Bush and I and another man, the head of the International Olympic Committee, stood and watched as they held that flag. Derrick said we held onto our emotions as the national anthem was played. I can imagine. And then he said the choir and the orchestra did something we hadn't expected. Just as the had finished the National Anthem, they sang a reprieve of that last line: Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. And they sang in a higher octave and with more powerful orchestration and as they did so, a little gust of wind filled that flag. And he said it was as if the spirits and voices of all those who'd fought for American liberty just breathed into that flag, and he said the tears ran down my face.
And I said to myself, it is because of that patriotism and that character that America willl always remain the victor on the world stage, the champion of human rights, the champion of the family, the champion of peace, the fighter for freedom and liberty. This is the greatest land on the face of the earth with a great mission. George Washington recognized that Providence saw this nation as having an unusual place upon the stage of humankind. We have that place. We are fortunate to have great leaders like President Bush, who lead this land and great men and women like yourself in this state, like our state, like people across this great land like Derrick Parra.
It's an honor to be here with you, to fight together for the things
we believe in, to fight for Republican values. Let's do it again
and again and again. Thank you so much.