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Remarks by President Clinton in Photo Op During Lunch with Chief Executive Officers
To: National Desk
Contact: White House Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2100

WASHINGTON, May 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of remarks by President Clinton during a photo opportunity with chief executive officers at the White House May 19:

12:23 P.M. EDT

Q Mr. President, do you think you can persuade these business leaders that your energy tax is a good tax, and that you have enough spending cuts in the budget?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope so. Several of them endorsed this program yesterday -- Mr. Chee on behalf of the Realtors did, and Mr. Armstrong -- he's aircraft -- Mr. Wolf did. So I think we're making a real good dent. I think the main reason is that the business leaders who are familiar with what is actually in the program know that there's $100 billion in entitlement cuts there; know that the energy tax is going to work as an important part of getting the interest rates down and having credibility in the markets. So I think we've got a real shot at it.

Q What about an entitlement cap, as some people on the Hill want? Wouldn't that help?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it has to be done in the right way. My view is -- and this is a good place to discuss this -- the United States government has already contributed to the rising costs of health care for employers by squeezing Medicare and Medicaid and forcing those costs off onto private employers.

So if we have a cap on health care spending, which I'm not opposed to, and it should be done in a right way. It should be done in connection with the health care plan so that we're helping everybody. If we did it without doing it on the health care -- if we did it now -- it would run the risk of two or three years from now having another big increase in their costs, undermining their ability to hire American workers and to keep America competitive.

So if we're going to do a health care cap, let's do it with health care. That's the way it should be done.

END 12:25 P.M. EDT

/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/