Social Security has been called the “third rail of American politics” — the one you’re not supposed to touch because it shocks you.
But, if you don’t touch it, you can’t fix it. And I intend to fix it.
To seniors in this country … You earned your benefits, you made your plans, and President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security … no changes, no reductions, no way.
Our opponents will say otherwise. This is their last, parting ploy, and don’t believe a word of it.
Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to end the politics of fear and save Social Security, together.
For younger workers, we will give you the option — your choice — to put a part of your payroll taxes into sound, responsible investments.
This will mean a higher return on your money, and, over 30 or 40 years, a nest egg to help your retirement, or pass along to your children.
When this money is in your name, in your account, it’s not just a program, it’s your property.
Now is the time to give American workers security and independence that no politician can ever take away.
On education … Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge.
This is discrimination, pure and simple — the soft bigotry of low expectations.
And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination … We should end it.
One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local people should control local schools.
And those who spend your tax dollars must be held accountable.
When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don’t, parents should get the money to make a different choice.
Now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program, teach all our children to read, and renew the promise of America’s public schools. Another test of leadership is tax relief.
The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason … We were fighting World War II. Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend.
But they’ve got it backwards.
The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money.
I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code.
And I will act on principle.
On principle … every family, every farmer and small businessperson, should be free to pass on their life’s work to those they love.
So we will abolish the death tax.
On principle … no one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government. So we will reduce tax rates for everyone, in every bracket.
On principle … those in the greatest need should receive the greatest help. So we will lower the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and double the child tax credit.
Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills.
The world needs America’s strength and leadership, and America’s armed forces need better equipment, better training, and better pay.
We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more … a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.