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Office of the Press Secretary

Embargoed Until Delivery
of the State of the Union Address
at 9:01 PM EST
January 31, 2006

As Prepared For Delivery

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the
Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow

Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called
America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we
are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken
from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta
Scott King.

Each time I am invited to this rostrum, I am humbled by the privilege, and
mindful of the history we have seen together. We have gathered under this
Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We
have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our
history – and it has been my honor to serve with you.

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there
will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be
conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden
into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a
spirit of good will and respect for one another – and I will do my part.
Tonight the state of our Union is strong – and together we will make it

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the
future and the character of our country. We will choose to act
confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our
duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our
prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade
and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of
isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends
in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way
to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our
leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead.

Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek
the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided
idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On
September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and
oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and
destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed
resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction.
Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their
citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every
step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will
act boldly in freedom’s cause.

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story
of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on
Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the
story of self-government – with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan …
and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink … and men and
women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the
necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of
our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half
– in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran – because
the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom
as well.

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight
against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is
radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology
of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass
murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.
They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout
the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their
aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch
attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to
challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.
When they murder children at a school in Beslan … or blow up commuters in
London … or behead a bound captive … the terrorists hope these horrors
will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they
have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our
commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these
vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply
move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat.
And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its
will – by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself – we would signal
to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own
courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United
States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that
saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up
democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the
call of history to deliver the oppressed, and move this world toward

We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or
captured many of their leaders – and for the others, their day will come.

We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan – where a fine president and
national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a
new democracy.

And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.
First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old
resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. Second, we
are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to
fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience
the benefits of freedom. Third, we are striking terrorist targets while
we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the
enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be
their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that
brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In
less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to
liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At
the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist
infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over
territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for
victory … I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people … I am confident
in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this
fight to win, and we are winning.

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we
make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead,
we should be able to further decrease our troop levels – but those
decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in
Washington, D.C.

Our coalition has learned from experience in Iraq. We have adjusted our
military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the
way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by
Members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue
to reach out and seek your good advice.

Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for
success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure.
Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to
speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would
abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison … put men like bin Laden and
Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country … and show that a pledge from
America means little. Members of Congress: however we feel about the
decisions and debates of the past, our Nation has only one option: We
must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American
military in its vital mission.

Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices – and showing a sense
of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it is like to fight house
to house in a maze of streets … to wear heavy gear in the desert heat … to
see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs
also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last
month fighting the enemy in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his
family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American.
Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. It has been an honor to
protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge
that you would not have to…. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and
support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay’s wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and
Bud, are with us this evening. Our Nation is grateful to the fallen, who
live in the memory of our country. We are grateful to all who volunteer
to wear our Nation’s uniform – and as we honor our brave troops, let us
never forget the sacrifices of America’s military families.

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action.
Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark
vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political
freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports
democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital –
but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule
of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions
that last longer than a single vote. The great people of Egypt have voted
in a multi-party presidential election – and now their government should
open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of
radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections – now the
leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work
for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform – now
it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those
efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own,
because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet
liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty
is the right and hope of all humanity.

The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical
elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that
country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon
– and that must come to an end. The Iranian government is defying the
world with its nuclear ambitions – and the nations of the world must not
permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue
to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak
directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect
your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win
your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of
friends with a free and democratic Iran.

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by
encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in
hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting
enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We
show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity
and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a
refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show
compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and
despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and
the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS
and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations
that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people
everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life.
Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our
world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our
country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by
showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at
home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us.
Fortunately, this Nation has superb professionals in law enforcement,
intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women
are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our
support and our thanks. They also deserve the same tools they already use
to fight drug trafficking and organized crime – so I ask you to
reauthorize the Patriot Act.

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government
failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the
hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida
operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was
too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me
by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist
surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international
communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from
America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority
I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority.
Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist
surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains
essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our
country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because
we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

In all these areas – from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in
Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions – we need the
support of friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be
clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to
American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world.
Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values
that gave us birth. American leaders – from Roosevelt to Truman to
Kennedy to Reagan – rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that
America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. Our own
generation is in a long war against a determined enemy – a war that will
be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan
support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us
protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead
this world toward freedom.

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the
prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the

Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major
industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has
created 4.6 million new jobs – more than Japan and the European Union
combined. Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters,
the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the
envy of the world.

The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be
complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors
like China and India. This creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to
feed people’s fears. And so we are seeing some old temptations return.
Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our
high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that
the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy,
centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear
claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy – even though this
economy could not function without them. All these are forms of economic
retreat, and they lead in the same direction – toward a stagnant and
second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path – an agenda for a Nation that
competes with confidence – an agenda that will raise standards of living
and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future,
because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And
our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend,
save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has
left 880 billion dollars in the hands of American workers, investors,
small businesses, and families – and they have used it to help produce
more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief
is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American
families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not

Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than
temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make
the tax cuts permanent.

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax
dollars. Every year of my presidency, we have reduced the growth of
non-security discretionary spending – and last year you passed bills that
cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or
eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not
fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save
the American taxpayer another 14 billion dollars next year – and stay on
track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I am pleased that Members of
Congress are working on earmark reform – because the Federal budget has
too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem
together, if you pass the line-item veto.

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or
entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million Baby Boomers turn
60, including two of my Dad’s favorite people – me, and President Bill
Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis – it is a national
challenge. The retirement of the Baby Boom generation will put
unprecedented strains on the Federal government. By 2030, spending for
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of
the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with
impossible choices – staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep
cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, yet
the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away – and
with every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight, I
ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of
Baby Boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This
commission should include Members of Congress of both parties, and offer
bipartisan answers. We need to put aside partisan politics, work
together, and get this problem solved.

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that
Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is
related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American.
With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or
out-compete the American worker.

Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds
our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy.
Our Nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must
have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must
have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty … allows
temporary jobs for people who seek them legally … and reduces smuggling
and crime at the border.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our
government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor
and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all
Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the
doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance
coverage they need. We will make wider use of electronic records and
other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce
dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen Health Savings Accounts – by
making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance
with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.
We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs
without having to worry about losing their health insurance. And because
lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice – leaving women in
nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB-GYN – I ask the
Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a
serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from
unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001,
we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more
reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of
incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy
Initiative – a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research at the
Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To
change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in
zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind
technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our
research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in
pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional
research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn
but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this
new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach
another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports
from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of
America, this country can dramatically improve our environment … move
beyond a petroleum-based economy … and make our dependence on Middle
Eastern oil a thing of the past.

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all:
We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our
greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated,
hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge.
Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage
innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a
firm grounding in math and science.

First: I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical
basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years.
This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as
they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and
alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax
credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With
more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our
quality of life – and ensure that America will lead the world in
opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and
make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations.
We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left
Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our
country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead
advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and
science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to
students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good,
high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life,
they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Preparing our Nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can
share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative …
and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our
greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and
how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate,
decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation. Violent crime
rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases
have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth
is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than
at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to
teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation – a revolution of
conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of
personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a
role. Wise policies such as welfare reform, drug education, and support
for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our
country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right
to be proud of this record.

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the
direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions.
They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and
discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. And they
worry about children in our society who need direction and love … and
about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster … and about
suffering caused by treatable disease.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that
America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The
American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists
wrong before – and we will do it again.

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law.
The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John
Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of
them. And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that
judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench.
Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24
years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut
ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life.
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious
abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or
implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and
buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from
our Creator – and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up
for sale.

A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust.
Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the
ethical standards of Washington – and I support your efforts. Each of us
has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility – and that is a
pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray.

As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the
character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction
and love. Through the Helping America’s Youth Initiative, we are
encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child – and
this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. This year we will
add resources to encourage young people to stay in school – so more of
America’s youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of
suffering and emergency – and stays at it until they are back on their
feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to
the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris,
repairing highways, and building stronger levees. We are providing
business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate
needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the
storm arrived. In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow
citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer
is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child … and job
skills that bring upward mobility … and more opportunities to own a home
and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for
the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and
rich in opportunity.

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can
be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans
live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African-Americans.
I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act … and provide
new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicine in
America. We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with
African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV
tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when
there are no new infections in America.

Fellow citizens, we have been called to leadership in a period of
consequence. We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing
to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will
influence all our lives. And sometimes it can seem that history is
turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every
great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could
have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin
Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved
only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have
accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the
oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical
journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage.
Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will
finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and
excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral
commitments of this land. And so we move forward – optimistic about
our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

# # #

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