THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 17, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH
Pittsburgh International Airport Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
11:16 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you so much. Senator Wofford, Governor Casey, Commissioner Foerster -- happy birthday -- and Commissioner Flaherty -- I am so glad to be back in Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. (Applause.)
Now, where's the band who played for us -- up there? (Applause.) The Richland High Marching Band -- thank you very much.
I want to say, Mayor, it's always good to be with you and be in your city. I want to also acknowledge the presence here today of Congressmen Coyne, Klink, Murphy and Murtha, all of whom have supported this economic program to get our country moving again. (Applause.) And a person who has made some decisions that are very good for Pittsburgh and U.S. Air, and I think for the future of the country, the Transportation Secretary, Federico Pena, who is here with us. (Applause.)
I want to say a lot of things about the economic program, but before I do, let me say what -- since all of you heard the radio address and the interview, you know that this morning the jury in Los Angeles handed down a verdict in the Rodney King case. You don't know that? I thought you heard it. Well, let me say that they did. And the jury found two of the defendants guilty and two of the defendants not guilty. (Applause.) The jury convicted the officer, Officer Powell, who was shown on the film -- (applause) -- who did most of the beating, and the Sergeant who was in charge of the group of police officers who were there. (Applause.)
The jury acquitted two of the other officers, including the one who was a rookie and the one who was on the film and, in part, trying to deflect some blows from Rodney King.
Now, I want to say just a few words about that, because I think, frankly, our attitude about each other may have as much to do with the progress we need to make in the future as any specific law we can pass. This verdict was a tribute to the work and the judgment of the jury and the efforts of the federal government in putting the case together. It was, once again, a reminder that our courts are the proper forum for the resolution of even our deepest legal disputes. And it did establish what a lot of people have felt in their hearts for two years, that the civil rights of Rodney King were violated.
But I ask you to think about the deeper meaning of this whole issue. All across the world today people are fighting with each other and killing each other because of their racial and religious differences. In Eastern Bosnia, in the town of Srebrenica, Muslims and Serbs that lived together for centuries, and tens of thousands of the Muslims are now about to be forced from their homes through a process called ethnic cleansing, and because the Serbs had decided that they just can't live unless they can live alone and without others who are different from them.
Our country has always been about something different from that. We see these kinds of racial and ethnic conflicts on every continent all across the globe. But we've always been about something different from that. I once gave a speech to a university in Los Angeles County where there were students from 122 different countries. There are now people from 150 different racial and ethnic groups in that county alone. And I say to you, my fellow Americans, unless we really do believe that underneath the differences of race and religion and ethnicity, underneath the differences of political party and political opinion, there is a core in each one of us given us by God in which we share in common which obliges us to respect one another and to wish to live together in harmony and peace, none of the other things I came to talk to you about today can come to pass. (Applause.)
For the people of Los Angeles and the people of this country -- all around the country who need more opportunity, the time has come to go forward, to rededicate ourselves to the civil rights of all Americans, to rededicate ourselves to the fight against crime and drugs and violence -- (applause) -- to put 100,000 more police officers on the street, to pass the Brady Bill and try to reduce the vulnerability to violence and crimes by people -- (applause) -- to commit ourselves to a new agenda of expanding opportunity and empowerment. But, in the beginning, must be the willingness of every American to assume a personal responsibility to respect the differences of his or her fellow Americans and rejoice in what unites us as human beings. (Applause.)
Surely the lasting legacy of the Rodney King trial ought to be that -- a determination to reaffirm our common humanity and to make a strength of our diversity. And if we can do that, then we can get on about the business of this great land.
I want to -- before I talk a little bit about the stimulus program -- also say a special word about the gentleman who introduced me, and those of you who sent him to the Senate. When Pennsylvania elected Harris Wofford against all the odds less than two years ago, you started a movement not just that led to a change in presidents, but that led to a change in America. I'm here to tell you today that Pennsylvania sent shock waves to the country by electing Harris Wofford because Pennsylvania was saying we expect our government to solve the health care crisis. (Applause.) We expect our government to solve the jobs crisis. (Applause.)
I wonder how many people would have even taken seriously the campaign that I undertook to try to break the gridlock and change the whole way Washington works, to reduce the influence of special interest and put the American people --their jobs, their health care, their education -- first, to try to change the welfare system and start a system of national service so people could earn their way through college -- I wonder if any of that could have happened if Pennsylvania hadn't said in a loud, screaming, clear voice by electing Harris Wofford, the time has come to change the direction of this country. (Applause.)
I also want to ask you for your understanding and your patience. Senator Wofford has been working hard on this health care issue ever since he got to the Senate, but you can't change the health care system unless the White House and the Congress are in harness. And I, my wife, and our administration are working on this health care issue to put the White House and the Congress in harness to ensure affordable health care to all Americans. (Applause.)
I also want to say, again, how much I appreciate U.S. Air and the employees for giving us this wonderful terminal to meet in today. (Applause.)
And now let me talk about what Governor Casey spoke about. When I became President, I promised a long-term economic plan -- no short-term miracles, but a real effort to turn this country around. And I presented that plan to the Congress. They have to vote on it twice -- first in broad outlines, and then in the details. They adopted the outlines, the so-called budget resolution, in record time. They have never moved so rapidly.
It changes the whole way the federal government takes care of your money and has your priorities at stake. It emphasizes a dramatic reduction in the federal deficit, and at the same time, increasing investment in jobs, in education and health care and communities and the things that will make the country grow, over a five-year period -- not a one-shot deal, over five years. It does it by a combination of strict budget cuts, and raising some more money -- 70 percent of it comes from people with incomes over $100,000 a year to try to restore some fairness to this tax code that has gotten so unfair in the last 12 years. (Applause.) This program is a good program. It is what I campaigned on.
Then I asked the Congress to do something I didn't really campaign on, but that I decided was important -- to adopt a short-term jobs program to immediately create a half a million jobs in this economy. And I'll tell you why I did it, even though we never talked about it in these rallies when I came here. Because I looked around the world and I saw that every advanced economy in the world is having trouble creating jobs. Everyone. And then I looked at America and I saw that the economists were saying that we have been in an economic recovery for a year. And the unemployment rate is higher now than it was when we were in the depths of the recession.
So America is like a lot of these other countries. If you look at the overall figures -- a lot of you are responsible for this, by the way -- productivity, our output per working person, is up. Some profits of our corporations are up. Stock market at record-high levels. Now interest rates are going down because we're committed to reducing the deficit. And a lot of you, as a result, have refinanced your homes or gotten a lower mortgage on a -- or interest rate on a car, or other consumer interest rates. People have been able to get business loans or refinance them.
That's all good. But where are the jobs? This is a sweeping, worldwide problem for wealthier countries. But it is your problem and your community's problem if you or your neighbors don't have one. And as a result of the incredible pressures on business today, we see that even in this so-called recovery, we're having no new jobs created and we're having 100,000 Americans a month lose their health insurance. I say we can do better and we have to try to do better. (Applause.)
And so we came up with the idea of not having the government create a job for everybody that's unemployed -- you know we don't have enough money to do that with the deficit as high as it is -- but of having a very carefully targeted jobs plan to create a half a million jobs and hope it would operate like striking a match, and then that would get the economy spurred and other new jobs would be created. It was a disciplined, limited, targeted plan, clearly designed to get this economy going again in the short run.
And that is what I've asked the House and the Senate to adopt. The House adopted the plan right away. A majority of the Senate is for it. All the Republicans are filibustering it, which means they know it will pass, so they won't let it come to a vote.
Now, let me tell you what it will do. It will give communities a lift by putting thousands of police officers on the street to try to make the streets safer. (Applause.) It will invest in roads and streets and bridges and cleaner water and sewer systems and put people to work in construction work. That is important. It will give cities -- (applause) -- and counties and states some discretionary money to support projects like this one. It will create 700,000 jobs for young people who otherwise wouldn't have any work this summer to get them off the streets. (Applause.)
After trying for a long time to pass this program and getting no help from any of the Republican senators, because it takes -- we have to have at least three or four of them to help because it takes 60 people to shut off debate in the Senate -- not a majority -- 60 percent. I offered a compromise. Well, you've heard that old saying, it takes two to tango? It also takes two to untangle the gridlock in Washington. And I came here today asking you to ask Senator Specter to help me untangle this gridlock. (Applause.)
The Republicans say, well, maybe we ought to pay money to extend the unemployment benefits of people who are unemployed, but not a dime to create any jobs. We tried that for 12 years -- pay people to be unemployed; don't pay them to work. I say we should do both -- take care of the unemployed, but reduce the unemployed -- put people to work. (Applause.)
There are those who say, everything's fine, we don't need this. Everybody who says that has got a job. (Laughter.) Everybody who says that has got health insurance. Everybody who says that has a good education and is going to do fine almost no matter what happens. They can take care of themselves. The people who know how many vulnerable people there are in America know that we've got to try to do something to put the people to work. If it doesn't work, we'll do something else. But let's try this. It can work. (Applause.)
Let me say, in fairness to my opponents -- I want you to know what their argument is. They say if the Congress passes an emergency jobs bill, that adds to the deficit, and we shouldn't do anything to make the deficit bigger. Nothing. Except maybe unemployment benefits. Now, that has a lot of appeal. Here's what they don't tell you. We could pass every dollar I've asked for in this jobs plan and still be below the total spending targets that this Congress established before I ever became President -- for how much money was going to be spent this year, right, Congressmen? Number one.
Number two, we have cut and cut and cut spending in this budget -- over 200 specific spending cuts over the next five years that will blow away this extra spending. This spending is more than covered by budget cuts.
And third -- and the most important thing of all you need to know is that before I became President, just in the last four years, a lot of these same people voted for the same kind of emergency spending -- billions and billions and billions of dollars of it. A lot of it for overseas spending or other things that didn't have anything to do with putting the people of Pennsylvania to work. So they did this before, let's do it for the American people this time. (Applause.)
What's amazing to me -- they also say, well, you can't trust the cities and counties with the money. You give these community development block grants to the cities, you can't ever tell -- well, they'll fool around a build a swimming pool with it. (Laughter.) I have a couple of things to say about that. First of all, it was the Republicans in Washington that once championed these community development grants. Your late Senator from this state, John Heinz, was a great champion of the very thing I'm trying to -- increasing community development block grants. (Applause.)
Before I became President, I heard speech after speech out of the Republicans in Washington -- that I agreed with -- saying that people at the local level have better sense than we do about how to spend this money. How many times did the Congress get that speech from the Republicans -- let the mayors, let the governors, let the county officials spend this money. They know how to do it. Well, funny enough, I propose to expand that program, and all of a sudden they said, why, you can't trust those people, they'll squander the money. (Laughter.) They might build a swimming pool. (Laughter.)
Let me tell you something. I don't know how you feel, but in a lot of these cities and small towns and country places, I'd a lot rather those kids be at swimming pools this summer than some of the places they're going to be. (Applause.)
You go to Washington -- the President's got a swimming pool. The Senate has a swimming pool. Why shouldn't the people have a swimming pool? (Applause.)
And what about all those people who are going to work building those kinds of things in our cities? I'm tell you, folks, every argument they've got still comes back to gridlock.
Now, again, I'm going to tell you, this is not the end of the world, but we need to keep this country moving. And we need to create some jobs now. And we need to stop making excuses. We need to pull together. I have reached out the hand of compromise to the Republicans in the Senate. I did it all by myself. I didn't have any kind of deal from them. I just listened to them. I listened to all those speeches about how bad these programs were. So I said, okay, here's a different deal; and by the way, how about spending $200 million more to put police on the street? Why don't you do that? Let's hear what their answer is. Why shouldn't we have police on the street where we need it in the cities, where we've have to cut back on law enforcement coverage? Why shouldn't we have more people working in this country? (Applause.)
I want to ask you to help us put America back to work. I want to ask you to help keep the movement going. I have been very honest with you. We don't have any magic bullets. We know there won't be any overnight successes. But we know that this economy, like so many countries in the world, is not creating jobs. And if people were working -- you just think about it -- if everybody in this country who wanted a job had one, we wouldn't have half the problems we've got now. Let's try to put America back to work. (Applause.)
By the end of this month -- let me give you one more example -- if we don't fund this program, the main loan program of the Small Business Administration will be shut down. The opposite party for years paraded as the champion of the small businesses of this country. That program can help start 25,000 small businesses. Small business is generating most of the new jobs in America today. That is the kind of thing we have done here.
I ask you, please, not in a spirit of partisanship, not in an atmosphere of hostility, not with political rhetoric, just for the benefit of the people of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and Pennsylvania and the United States of America, ask your senator and the senators in the United States Senate to give us a chance to put this country back to work -- starting Monday. (Applause.)
Thank you, and God bless you all.
END11:30 A.M. EDT