THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT WITH THE NATIONAL INTERCOLLEGIATE CHAMPION WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL TEAM, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-ARLINGTON
Diplomatic Reception Room
4:42 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be the first President to welcome the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Champions to the White House. I have to tell you that I am very impressed by this group of fine young men. They've done some amazing things. For the third year in a row the Moving Mavs from the University of Texas of Arlington have brought home a national championship. I hear that they're the pride of UT-Arlington, that their home games are drawing record crowds, and that every time another banner is brought home in Texas Hall the excitement and the enthusiasm of the fans keeps building.
I want to recognize a few of the people who've been instrumental in this team's remarkable success. The driving force behind the Moving Mavs, of course, the coach, Jim Hayes; Ryan Amacher, President of the University of Texas of Arlington and one of their biggest supporters, my friend, Congressman Martin Frost, who just coincidentally happens to represent them. (Laughter.)
I'm impressed with their winning record and their hard work and determination. I understand that this team really reflects the pioneer spirit of Texas and does not flinch in the face of obstacles. All of them are pioneers not only in wheelchair athletics, but in the ongoing struggle in our nation to obtain equal opportunities on and off the court for all Americans with disabilities, not inabilities.
They display the attributes of strength and determination. They've practiced, they've worked hard. They've produced a championship team in ways that few people ever know. I commend all of you for your unrelenting pursuit of excellence and for your demonstration about what is true in every sport -- that as an individual you may star, but as a team you can be champions.
I believe that when people are empowered and when they work together, when they're given the opportunity to make something of themselves by a real community effort, that's when we all achieve the fullest meaning in our lives. If we're going to be a strong America, we're going to have to do more of what you've done with this team, Coach.
I'm proud of all of you. I welcome you to the White House. I know the people back home are proud of you, too. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. AMACHER: Mr. President, I have two gifts for you. One is a seal of the University of Texas at Arlington. And I'd like to, on behalf of UTA, thank you for inviting us to the White House. As one of the players said as we were coming up the walk, "Is this awesome or what!" (Laughter.) The last gift I'd like to leave you with is tickets -- first tickets -- to the Final Four of the Wheelchair Basketball Championship to be held March 9, on the UTA campus. The first tickets are for you and Mrs. Clinton. We'd be delighted to have you attend.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. AMACHER: And let me turn it over to Coach Hayes, who has a gift for you.
COACH HAYES: Mr. President, we would like to take this opportunity to make you an honorary member of our team and then we have a jersey fixed up for you. And if I may call your attention -- there is some significance to the numbers. We figure the fourth team for us and four more years for you seems appropriate. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is great.
PLAYER PHUNG TRAN: Now on behalf of my teammates I'd like to present you this ball with our signatures on it. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We've got a basket down the way, we could probably -- (laughter) -- shooting some hoops instead of being in here. Thank you, very much. Anybody else, Martin, you want to say anything?
CONGRESSMAN FROST: Mr. President, I just want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule. I mentioned briefly to the team how busy you are each day and how it's important it is -- how significant it is that you would share a few minutes with them. And I want to personally thank you for doing that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much, all of you and good luck to all of you. You know, things do get busy around here but if people like you don't come to see us sometimes we forget why I'm here. It's easy to get too busy and lose connections with the people in the country. You know, tonight all over this country people will see a picture of you here. And you have no idea whether some young person will see your picture here and be inspired and say, well, I can do more with my life, I can make more of myself, there is something else I can do. And I don't think you could possibly underestimate the impact that your achievement will have on others. I really want to encourage you. I also want you to know I don't have the upper-body strength to play basketball. (Laughter.) Now, don't run off with that. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, are you satisfied with the way your tax bill came out of the House Ways and Means Committee?
THE PRESIDENT: I was -- well, I haven't -- Chairman Rostenkowski called me about an hour or so ago, right after the vote, and based on what I know, I'm very satisfied. I'm immensely pleased. All the basic features of the bill remained intact and many of the changes that were made I think made it a better bill. So again I have not had a chance to study all the things that were done today, but based on what I know, I believe it is a very good bill indeed. It still maintains the essential features. The earned income-tax credit is there for people making roughly $29,000 a year or less to basically add fairness to the tax code and relieve them of the impact of the energy tax.
The bill is highly progressive, virtually all of the money raised on people with incomes of over $100,000. The immunization program, the family preservation program is intact. The empowerment zone program was endorsed by the committee and they added quite a bit of money to it so we could encourage more cities to get involved in trying to bring free enterprise into distressed areas. I think that is a very impressive thing.
And I think changing the small business incentive to an expensing rather than an investment tax credit is basically a net plus because more small businesses can access it at less hassle. So I feel very good about it -- what I know about the bill. You know, like I said, I haven't -- but what I know about it is very encouraging.
Q Why shouldn't the American people regard this as a black letter day with a new tax bill coming their way?
THE PRESIDENT: Because all this money is going to go to reduce the deficit. Because we've got interest rates at a 20-year low. Because most Americans have refinanced a home or a business loan, they've already saved more money in interest costs than they will pay in higher taxes. And because if we don't do something to cut spending and increase some taxes we're going to bankrupt the country.
We tried it the other way for 12 years. We tried lowering taxes and increasing spending and we went from a $1 trillion to a $4 trillion debt. Didn't work out very well. And I think the American people want us finally to step up to the bar and reduce this national deficit and get it down eventually to zero and get some economic growth going.
I also believe until we bring the deficit down we won't have any money to invest in education and training and new technologies. We have to prove to the American people first we've got the discipline to spend their money properly and to run this government properly.
I think it's not a black letter day, it's a red letter day for America. We're finally beginning to face our problems in a mature way. And I'm encouraged. And I applaud the House Committee for what they did today.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END4:52 P.M. EDT