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Bush Calls For Corporate Honesty In Radio Address

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 20, 2002

Radio Address of the President to the Nation


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. As Congress approaches the August recess, it must take decisive steps to provide economic security to the American people, to demand high ethical standards from corporate leaders, to promote economic growth and job creation, and to curb its appetite for excessive spending.

We must promote economic security by enforcing high ethical standards for American businesses. Unethical business practices by corporate leaders amount to theft and fraud. These practices are unacceptable, and we are fighting them with active prosecutions and tough enforcement by the SEC. We will defend the rights and interests of every American worker and shareholder, and we will not accept anything less than complete honesty.

The House and Senate have both passed strong corporate accountability bills that toughen penalties and provide transparency and hold corporate executives accountable for their behavior. I am confident that the differences between the House and Senate approaches can be bridged.

Some in Congress have predicted that it will take two months for the House and Senate to send a bill to my desk. There is no good reason for the legislative process to take that long. I call again on Congress to pass a bill before the August recess. It's time to act decisively to bring a new era of integrity to American business.

We must also increase economic security for American workers through expanded trade. For over a year now, the United States Congress has debated trade promotion authority. This week, I met with members of the House and Senate to urge them to resolve their differences and approve a bill. If Congress waits, less markets will be open to American goods, and less jobs will be created for American workers.

To promote our economic security, we also need to act on a terrorism insurance bill. Until Congress sends a bill to my desk, some buildings will not be able to get coverage against terrorist attacks and many new buildings will not be built at all. Commercial development is stalling and workers are missing out on these jobs.

This year alone, the lack of terrorism insurance has killed or delayed more than $8 billion in commercial property financing. Congress should pass a terrorism insurance bill without unnecessary measures that increase frivolous litigation.

Finally, we must promote economic security by enforcing fiscal restraint. Congress must control its enormous appetite for excessive spending so we can meet our national priorities and return to a budget surplus without undermining our economy. Unless Congress controls its spending, we will face a decade of deficits. I will insist on and, if necessary, I will enforce discipline in federal spending.

This is a crucial moment for the American economy. The economic fundamentals are strong. Inflation and interest rates are low. Productivity is increasing and the economy is expanding, which creates more jobs. While the economy is growing stronger, confidence in our free enterprise system is being tested.

Unethical business conduct that began in the boom of the 1990s is being uncovered. Investors have lost money. Some in retirement have lost security. Workers have lost jobs, and the trust of the American people has been betrayed.

As we face these economic challenges, my administration will do everything in its power to ensure business integrity and long-term growth. We must act quickly and aggressively on a variety of fronts to increase the economic security of the American people, and I ask the Congress to join me in this urgent task.

Thank you for listening.

END

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