My most solemn responsibility as Commander-in-Chief is to protect the American people. At this moment, our courageous men and women in uniform are serving in distant lands, risking their lives to ensure our security. We must give them all the resources they need to protect us from the threats of determined enemies and to prevail in the war on terror.
I applaud the House and Senate for their strong support of my supplemental funding request for our troops serving on the front lines. This funding will help provide the weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and equipment that our troops need to do their job. I urge Congress to come together to resolve their remaining differences, and send me a bill quickly.
As our servicemen and women make our nation more secure, they are also helping to transform other nations that until recently knew only tyranny and despair. In Afghanistan, millions went to the polls after we helped liberate that country from the Taliban. In Iraq, the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces are helping Iraqis build a government that answers to the people instead of the other way around.
As Iraqis assume increasing responsibility for the stability of their country, Iraqi security forces are becoming more self-reliant and taking on greater responsibilities. Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police, and security forces outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective, and then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.
As we fight the war on terror and spread freedom abroad, we continue to pursue pro-growth economic policies at home. Sustaining Americas prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. That's why the 2006 budget I submitted to Congress holds the growth of discretionary spending to 2.1 percent -- below the projected rate of inflation.
Spending discipline requires difficult choices. Every government program was created with good intentions, but not all are matching good intentions with good results. My 2006 budget eliminates, or substantially reduces, more than 150 federal programs that are not succeeding, that are duplicating existing efforts, or that are not fulfilling an essential priority. The principle is simple: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not spent at all.
Spending wisely means reducing wasteful spending that can threaten the viability of essential programs like Medicaid. We must end overpayment for prescription drugs by states and the federal government. We will work with states to ensure that federal Medicaid dollars are spent properly and go to help those in need. And we must close loopholes that allow people who can afford to pay for their health care to shift the costs to Medicaid, and drain resources needed to provide health care for the poorest Americans.
The savings in my budget are critical in helping us to keep our economy growing and creating jobs. Now members of Congress need to come together and send me a budget that funds our priorities, ensures that taxes stay low, and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Thank you for listening.