A third challenge is to keep the inexorable march of technology from giving terrorists and potentially hostile nations the means to undermine our defenses. The same advances that have shrunk cell phones to fit in the palms of our hands can also make weapons of terror easier to conceal and easier to use.
We must meet this threat: by making effective agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programs in North Korea, curbing the flow of lethal technology to Iran; preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors; increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack; protecting our vital computer systems from hackers and criminals; and developing a system to defend against new missile threats—while working to preserve our Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.
I hope we can have a constructive bipartisan dialogue this year to build a consensus which will lead eventually to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
A fourth challenge is to ensure that the stability of our planet is not threatened by the huge gulf between rich and poor. We cannot accept a world in which part of humanity lives on the cutting edge of a new economy, while the rest live on the bare edge of survival. We must do our part, with expanded trade, expanded aid, and the expansion of freedom.
From Nigeria to Indonesia, more people won the right to choose their leaders in 1999 than in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. We must stand by democracies—like Colombia, fighting narco-traffickers for its people's lives, and our children's lives. I have proposed a strong two-year package to help Colombia win this fight; and I ask for your support. And I will propose tough new legislation to go after what drug barons value most— their money.
In a world where 1.2 billion people live on less than a dollar a day, we must do our part in the global endeavor to reduce the debts of the poorest countries so they can invest in education, health and economic growth—as the Pope and other religious leaders have urged. Last year, Congress made a down payment on America's share. And I ask for your continued support.
And America must help more nations break the bonds of disease. Last year in Africa, AIDS killed ten times as many people as war did. My budget invests $150 million more in the fight against this and other infectious killers. Today, I propose a tax credit to speed the development of vaccines for diseases like malaria, TB and AIDS. I ask the private sector and our partners around the world to join us in embracing this cause. Together, we can save millions of lives.
Our final challenge is the most important: to pass a national security budget that keeps our military the best trained and best equipped in the world, with heightened readiness and 21st Century weapons; raises salaries for our service men and women; protects our veterans; fully funds the diplomacy that keeps our soldiers out of war; and makes good on our commitment to pay our UN dues and arrears. I ask you to pass this budget and I thank you for the extraordinary support you have given—Republicans and Democrats alike—to our men and women in uniform. I especially want to thank Secretary Cohen for symbolizing our bipartisan commitment to our national security—and Janet Cohen, I thank you for tirelessly traveling the world to show our support for the troops.
If we meet all these challenges, America can lead the world toward peace and freedom in an era of globalization.
Responsibility, Opportunity, and the Environment
I am grateful for the opportunities the Vice President and I have had to work hard to protect the environment and finally to put to rest the notion that you can't expand the economy while protecting the environment. As our economy has grown, we have rid more than 500 neighborhoods of toxic waste and ensured cleaner air and water for millions of families. In the past three months alone, we have acted to preserve more than 40 million acres of roadless lands in our National Forests and created three new National Monuments.
But as our communities grow, our commitment to conservation must grow as well. Tonight, I propose creating a permanent conservation fund to restore wildlife, protect coastlines, and save natural treasures from California redwoods to the Everglades. This Lands Legacy endowment represents by far the most enduring investment in land preservation ever proposed.
Last year, the Vice President launched a new effort to help make communities more livable—so children will grow up next to parks, not parking lots, and parents can be home with their children instead of stuck in traffic. Tonight, we propose new funding for advanced transit systems— for saving precious open spaces—for helping major cities around the Great Lakes protect their waterways and enhance their quality of life.
The greatest environmental challenge of the new century is global warming. Scientists tell us that the 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire millennium. If we fail to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will be flooded, economies disrupted.
Many people in the United States and around the world still believe we can't cut greenhouse gas pollution without slowing economic growth. In the Industrial Age that may have been true. In the digital economy, it isn't. New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even more growth. For example, just last week, automakers unveiled cars that get 70 to 80 miles a gallon—the fruits of a unique research partnership between government and industry. Before you know it, efficient production of biofuels will give us the equivalent of hundreds of miles from a gallon of gas.
To speed innovations in environmental technologies, I propose giving major tax incentives to businesses for the production of clean energy—and to families for buying energy-saving homes and appliances and the next generation of super-efficient cars when they hit the showroom floor. I also call on the auto industry to use available technologies to make all new cars more fuel efficient right away. And on Congress to make more of our clean-energy technologies available to the developing world—creating cleaner growth abroad and new jobs at home.
The Opportunity and Responsibility of Science and Technology
In the new century, innovations in science and technology will be the key not only to the health of the environment but to miraculous improvements in the quality of our lives and advances in the economy.
Later this year, researchers will complete the first draft of the entire human genome—the very blueprint of life. It is important for all Americans to recognize that your tax dollars have fueled this research— and that this and other wise investments in science are leading to a revolution in our ability to detect, treat, and prevent disease.
For example, researchers have identified genes that cause Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer—and they are designing precision therapies that will block the harmful effects of these faulty genes for good. Researchers are already using this new technique to target and destroy cells that cause breast cancer. Soon, we may be able to use it to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Scientists are also working on an artificial retina to help many blind people to see and microchips that would directly stimulate damaged spinal cords and allow people who are now paralyzed to stand up and walk.
Science and engineering innovations are also propelling our remarkable prosperity. Information technology alone now accounts for a third of our economic growth, with jobs that pay almost 80 percent above the private sector average. Again, we should keep in mind: government-funded research brought supercomputers, the Internet, and communications satellites into being. Soon researchers will bring us devices that can translate foreign languages as fast as you can speak; materials 10 times stronger than steel at a fraction of the weight; and molecular computers the size of a teardrop with the power of today's fastest supercomputers.
To accelerate the march of discovery across all disciplines of science and technology, my budget includes an unprecedented $3 billion increase in the 21st Century Research Fund, the largest increase in civilian research in a generation.
These new breakthroughs must be used in ways that reflect our most cherished values. First and foremost, we must safeguard our citizens' privacy. Last year, we proposed rules to protect every citizen's medical records. This year, we will finalize those rules. We have also taken the first steps to protect the privacy of bank and credit card statements and other financial records. Soon I will send legislation to the Congress to finish that job. We must also act to prevent any genetic discrimination by employers or insurers.
These steps will allow America to lead toward the far frontiers of science and technology—enhancing our health, environment, and economy in ways we cannot even imagine today.
At a time when science, technology and the forces of globalization are bringing so many changes into our lives, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the bonds that root us in our local communities and in our national communities.
No tie binds different people together like citizen service. There is a new spirit of service in America—a movement we have supported with AmeriCorps, an expanded Peace Corps, and unprecedented new partnerships with businesses, foundations, and community groups. Partnerships to enlist 12,000 companies in moving 650,000 of our fellow citizens from welfare to work. To battle drug abuse and AIDS. To teach young people to read. To Save America's Treasures. To strengthen the arts. To fight teen pregnancy. To prevent youth violence. To promote racial healing.
We can do even more to help Americans help each other. We should help faith-based organizations do more to fight poverty and drug abuse and help young people get back on the right track with initiatives like Second Chance Homes to help unwed teen mothers. We should support Americans who tithe and contribute to charities, but don't earn enough to claim a tax deduction for it. Tonight, I propose new tax incentives to allow low- and middle-income citizens to get that deduction.
We should do more to help new immigrants fully participate in the American community—investing more to teach them civics and English. And since everyone in our community counts, we must make sure everyone is counted in this year's census.
Within ten years there will be no majority race in our largest state, California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in America. In a more interconnected world, this diversity can be our greatest strength. Just look around this chamber. We have members from virtually every racial, ethnic, and religious background. And America is stronger for it. But as we have seen, these differences all too often spark hatred and division, even here at home.
We have seen a man dragged to death in Texas simply because he was black. A young man murdered in Wyoming simply because he was gay. In the last year alone, we've seen the shootings of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Jewish children simply because of who they were. This is not the American way. We must draw the line. Without delay, we must pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And we should reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
No American should be subjected to discrimination in finding a home, getting a job, going to school, or securing a loan. Tonight, I propose the largest ever investment to enforce America's civil rights laws. Protections in law must be protections in fact.
Last February, I created the White House Office of One America to promote racial reconciliation. That's what Hank Aaron, has done all his life. From his days as baseball's all-time homerun king to his recent acts of healing, he has always brought Americans together. We're pleased he's with us tonight.
This fall, at the White House, one of America's leading scientists said something we should all remember. He said all human beings, genetically, are 99.9 percent the same. So modern science affirms what ancient faith has always taught: the most important fact of life is our common humanity.
Therefore, we must do more than tolerate diversity—we must honor it and celebrate it.
My fellow Americans, each time I prepare for the State of the Union, I approach it with great hope and expectations for our nation. But tonight is special—because we stand on the mountaintop of a new millennium. Behind us we see the great expanse of American achievement; before us, even grander frontiers of possibility.
We should be filled with gratitude and humility for our prosperity and progress; with awe and joy at what lies ahead; and with absolute determination to make the most of it.
When the framers finished crafting our Constitution, Benjamin Franklin stood in Independence Hall and reflected on a painting of the sun, low on the horizon. He said, "I have often wondered whether that sun was rising or setting. Today," Franklin said, "I have the happiness to know it is a rising sun." Well, today, because each generation of Americans has kept the fire of freedom burning brightly, lighting those frontiers of possibility, we still bask in the warmth of Mr. Franklin's rising sun.
After 224 years, the American Revolution continues. We remain a new nation. As long as our dreams outweigh our memories, America will be forever young. That is our destiny. And this is our moment.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.