''Our Union is Strong'' Bush Tells Nation

January 28, 2003
Posted at: 12:00 p.m. CDT
Updated at: 9:19 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON -   President Bush is issuing a list of complaints about Saddam Hussein tonight, calling him a ``brutal dictator'' with ``a history of reckless aggression.''

In his 60-minute State of the Union address, the president says ``the dictator of Iraq is not disarming -- to the contrary, he is deceiving.'

"If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm... we will lead a coalition to disarm him,'' Bush said.

In building his case for a possible conflict with Iraq, the president said ``the world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm.''

The president says, ``If war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military -- and we will prevail.''

Bush says intelligence sources report that thousands of Iraqi personnel are hiding documents and materials from U.N. weapons inspectors.

Bush says Saddam has not accounted for up to 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulism toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard gas and VX nerve agent, and more than 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical weapons.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to make a presentation at the UN on February 5 with details of Bush's assertion that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction and has links to al-Qaida.

President Bush began delivering his address, telling listeners, ``You and I serve
our country in a time of great consequence.''

The president said ``we will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.''

Bush says ``our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong.''

Saying the country ``has many challenges,'' the president says, ``We will confront them with focus and clarity, and courage.''

Hours before the speech to Congress and a global television audience, Bush said, "Tonight I will talk about the great challenges that face our country. I have no doubt we will be able to handle those challenges because we are a great country."

"It is a moment where I will rally the American people to some great causes and remind them that we will accomplish those causes together," he said after meeting with his Cabinet Tuesday afternoon.

President Bush is proposing a $15 billion plan for emergency AIDS relief in Africa. Bush called it a ``work of mercy'' that will save millions of people from the deadly virus.

Bush is also pledging continuing support for Afghanistan's new democracy. He says the U.S. will continue to seek peace ``between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.'' He also criticized the countries he dubbed an ``axis of evil'' last year -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea. But he did not repeat the ``axis of evil'' phrase this time around.

Bush says he has a message for the people of Iraq, telling them: ``Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country.''

Bush said that his administration has ``achieved historic education reform,'' and says to protect the country we ``created the Department of Homeland Security.'' He also cites his tax cuts to aid the economy and tough reform to hold corporate criminals accountable.

Bush talked about growing the economy and employing every person who wants a job. He's defended the concept of tax cuts as a way to give Americans more money to spend and invest and to create jobs.

The president says he's proposing that all income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. He's calling for legislation to put the extra money into workers' paychecks. Bush is also calling on Congress to end what he calls ``the unfair double taxation of dividends.''

As for dealing with federal budget deficits, Bush says the best approach is to encourage economic growth and ``to show some spending discipline in Washington D.C.''

The president says he will send Congress a budget that increases discretionary spending by four percent next year. On Social Security, Bush says younger workers should be given a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they would control.

The president is pledging to improve the nation's health care system by curbing excessive malpractice lawsuits. Bush says he wants to ensure ``high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.''

In his address, he says Americans should be able to choose their own doctors, and everyone should be able to get the help they need.

Central to the president's agenda is a drug benefit for older Americans who leave Medicare for government-subsidized health care plans administered by insurance companies.

Bush's guests at the Capitol include two doctors the White House says changed their practices because of rising malpractice insurance premiums.

On the economic front, he reiterated key elements of his $674 billion, ten-year economic growth plan, including elimination of federal tax on corporate dividends, acceleration of rate cuts scheduled for 2004 and 2006 to this year, abolition of so-called marriage tax penalty paid by many two-income couples.

Bush repeated his campaign 2000 call to strengthen Social Security by letting workers invest in private retirement accounts but provided no details.

Without specifying the size of projected budget deficits, the president says the best way to reduce them is to restrain spending and foster economic growth. Bush says he will propose limiting growth of federal agencies to four percent next year; White House
budget chief Mitchell Daniels has said most of that increase will go to the military, homeland security, education and health care for veterans.

Talking about terrorism in his State of the Union address, President Bush says 16 months after September 11, ''the war goes on and we are winning.'' Discussing what he describes as a ``world of chaos and constant alarm,'' the president says the U.S. has captured many al-Qaida commanders, though Osama bin Laden and other key terrorists remain at large.

Bush says the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice. He's also announcing creation of a center to analyze all terrorism intelligence, foreign and domestic. And the president is calling on Congress to approve money for Project Bioshield, which would protect the country against bio-terrorism.

Among the president's guests for his State of the Union address, one seat in the gallery is empty -- symbolizing those lost in the terror attacks.