WASHINGTON – The following is a transcript of President Bush's radio address to the nation on Saturday:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. This past week I traveled to Austria and Hungary, where I had productive meetings with our European allies. We discussed the challenges and opportunities we share, including the importance of spreading prosperity at home and around the world. It's good to be back home, and I'm pleased to report that our economy is strong, growing, and delivering prosperity to more of our people.
Let me give you a few facts. In the first quarter of 2006, our economy grew at an impressive annual rate of 5.3 percent. Since August of 2003, America has created more than 5.3 million new jobs, more than all 25 nations of the European Union combined. Productivity is growing, and wages are beginning to rise. And because taxes are low, workers are keeping more of the money they earn.
Our economy is heading into the summer on the fast track, and one of the best ways to keep our momentum going is to restrain spending in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, Congress took an important step by passing an emergency spending bill that stayed within the strict spending limits I set. The bill included necessary funding for high priorities, such as equipping our military and rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and it showed discipline in other areas. Congress deserves credit for meeting my spending limits, and I was pleased to sign the emergency spending bill into law.
As Members of Congress show restraint on spending bills, they also need to make reforms in the spending process. Under the current system, many lawmakers are able to insert funding for pet projects into large spending bills. This process is called earmarking, and it often results in unnecessary spending. For example, a bill to fund our military can be loaded up with unjustified earmarks and other spending that may not add to our national security.
This leaves Members of Congress with two bad options — they can either vote against the whole bill, including all the worthwhile spending, or they have to accept the whole bill, including the wasteful spending. The President is left with the same dilemma — either he has to veto the entire bill or sign the bill and approve the unnecessary spending.
There's a smarter way to handle taxpayer dollars, and it begins with granting the President a tool called the line-item veto. A line-item veto would allow the President to remove wasteful spending from a bill while preserving the rest of the legislation. Forty-three of our Nation's 50 governors have line-item veto authority, and they have used that authority to remove needless spending from otherwise good bills.
Ten years ago, Members of Congress from both parties voted to grant President Clinton the line-item veto. However, the Supreme Court ruled that version of the line-item veto unconstitutional because it took too much spending authority away from the Congress. I proposed a new version of the line-item veto that fixes the problem and gives the President a clear and constitutional way to cut wasteful spending. Under my proposal, the President would identify a list of unnecessary items that should be removed from a larger spending bill. Congress would then be required to hold a prompt up-or-down vote on the list.
A line-item veto would give the President a way to insist on greater discipline in the budget. A line-item veto would reduce the incentive for Congress to spend wastefully because when lawmakers know their pet projects will be held up to public scrutiny, they will be less likely to suggest them in the first place. Most importantly, a line-item veto would benefit American taxpayers by ensuring greater respect for their hard-earned dollars.
This past Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill granting line-item-veto authority. This was a victory for the taxpayers and for spending restraint. I call on the Senate to show a bipartisan commitment to fiscal discipline by passing the line-item veto so we can work together to cut wasteful spending, reduce the deficit, and save money for American taxpayers.
Thank you for listening.