For Immediate Release
Radio Address by the President to the Nation
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, both the House and Senate passed strong bipartisan measures authorizing the use of force in Iraq if it becomes necessary. Our country and our Congress are now united in purpose. America is speaking with one voice: Iraq must disarm and comply with all existing U.N. resolutions, or it will be forced to comply.
Confronting Iraq is an urgent matter of national security. America's economic security, especially the creation of good jobs is also an urgent matter, requiring presidential and congressional action. For that reason, I acted on Tuesday to reopen our Pacific Coast ports which had been shut down for more than a week due to a labor dispute. The crisis in the western ports was costing our economy up to a billion dollars a day in lost business and lost jobs, hurting truckers and rail operators who transport goods across America; workers on assembly lines; cashiers in retail stores; and manufacturers and farmers who sell across the world.
And auto plant in Fremont, California was forced to shut down its assembly line for two days, keeping about 5,100 employees off the job after it ran out of parts. A company that manufactures televisions and VCRs had to stop production and lay off 150 workers in Vancouver, Washington. Produce from America's farms was stuck on docks, unable to be sold overseas. Retailers across the country were worried about having enough merchandise for the holiday season.
The American people have been working hard to bring our economy back from recession. We simply cannot afford to have hundreds of billions of dollars a year in potential manufacturing and agricultural trade sitting idle. The action I took this week will help keep our economy moving and allow labor and management more time to resolve their differences. I expect the port operators and worker representatives to bargain in good faith and reach a final agreement as quickly as possible. Reopening the ports got people back to work.
Another important step in putting America's hard hats back on the job is passing a terrorism insurance bill. Congress is close to a final agreement. And I look forward to signing this good piece of legislation, if and when it gets to my desk.
After September the 11th, many insurance companies stopped covering
builders and real estate owners against the risk of terrorist attack.
The lack of terrorism insurance has hurt the growth of this economy and cost American job. The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more then $15 billion in real estate transactions. And more than 300,000 carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, and electricians and laborers and other building professionals who could have good paying jobs have been out of work.
The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or cancelled more than $15 billion in real estate transactions. The $15 billion worth of delay has cost 300,000 jobs -- jobs to carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, plumbers and other hardworking Americans.
This terrorism insurance legislation will cost us nothing if we experience no further attacks. Yet it will mean thousands of new jobs for America's hard-hats and billions in new investment. And if we do face another attack, we'll be able to compensate victims quickly and limit the economic damage to America.
This week leaders of Congress put partisan differences aside to confront a grave danger to our country. Clearly, we're able to get things done in Washington when we focus on getting results, rather than scoring political points. For the good of the economy, for the good of workers who needs jobs, senators should again put politics aside and take one last step to reach a final agreement on terrorism insurance.
Congress is still in session next week. There's still time to reach an agreement. Our workers have waited a year. It's past time for Congress to finish the job.
Thank you for listening.