This week, in my address to Congress and the American people, I was pleased to report that the state of our union is confident and strong. Many challenges still lie before us, and I will work with Congress to do what Americans have always done — leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.
Meeting this responsibility to the future starts with being good stewards of the American economy. I welcome the bipartisan calls to control the spending appetite of the federal government. On Monday, my administration will submit a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. In the long run, the best way to reduce the deficit is to grow the economy. And we will take steps to make the American economy stronger, more innovative, and more competitive.
We must also strengthen and save Social Security for our children and grandchildren. For those of you born before 1950, I have a message: The Social Security system will not change in any way for you. For younger workers, the system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. With every year that passes, we have fewer workers paying ever-larger benefits to ever-increasing numbers of retirees. In 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. By the time today's younger workers retire in 2042, the system will be bankrupt — unless we act now.
Fixing Social Security will require an open, candid review of the options. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer, and I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. As we proceed, we will adhere to a few basic principles. We will make Social Security's finances permanently sound, not leave the task for another day. We will not increase payroll taxes. We will make the system a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to save some of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal retirement accounts — a nest egg they can call their own, which government can never take away.
Our second broad responsibility to the future is to preserve and pass on the values that sustain a free society. We must continue to build a culture of life that respects human dignity while advancing science. To promote the compassionate character of America, we will pursue initiatives to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS, help our at-risk youth reject gangs and violence, and help prevent wrongful convictions in our courts. I will continue to nominate well-qualified judges who understand the proper role of courts in our democracy — and the Senate must fulfill its constitutional responsibility, and give every nominee an up or down vote.
Finally, our commitment to human dignity and freedom at home also leads us to spread freedom and peace around the world. We remain at war against the forces of terror, and we will not rest until the fight is won. We will continue to hunt down terrorists abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. Our budget will give our military all the tools they need for victory, and we will also honor the sacrifices of the fallen by increasing substantially the payments made to the families of our servicemen and women who have given their lives in the war on terror.
Recently, we have seen freedom's gathering momentum in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine — and last Sunday, in Iraq. On that day, millions of brave Iraqis defied the threats of terrorists, and cast votes to determine their nation's future. The whole world can now see that the assassins and car-bombers are doomed to fail, because they are fighting the desire of the Iraqi people to live in freedom. And when Iraq is democratic, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself, our nation will be safer, and our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.
The work ahead is not easy. But we go forward with confidence, knowing that America's best days are yet to come. Thank you for listening.