THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
The Oval Office
10:06 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's a bright, sunny day in Washington in more ways than one. The political fog that has surrounded this town for so long is at long last lifting.
For months we've all been working for this day -- a day when we can say to the American people that our government is getting on with the business of creating jobs, expanding the economy and doing better by all the American people.
Members of the House and the Senate showed our nation how government for the people can actually work for the people. They took the courageous step of breaking gridlock, passing my economic plan, and putting our nation on the road to long-term growth.
This plan plants us firmly on the path to getting so many good things done for our people. For the first time in a long time, we'll be making a meaningful down payment on the massive federal deficit. And as we reduce that deficit by nearly $500 billion over five years, with more spending cuts than tax increases, we'll be strengthening the foundation for our future at home and our position in the world economy.
For the first time in a dozen years the weight of the tax burden will be shifted so that it is borne more fairly. Middle class working families will pay about a dime a day to bring the deficit down in the form of a 4.3 cent gasoline tax -- no hidden taxes, no games, no gimmicks.
But 80 percent of the new revenues will come from those who can best afford to pay -- with family incomes over $200,000 a year. Those people got over half the economic gains -- over half the economic gains of the 1980s -- and big tax breaks besides. We don't want to punish success, we want to reward it. But in order for all Americans to have a chance to succeed, we have to bring the deficit down. And it's only fair to ask those best able to pay to do so. If family income is less than $200,000 a year, there will be no increase in income taxes.
For the first time in less than -- in a decade, we're also making a serious effort to invest in our children, to reward work over welfare, to strengthen our families, and to give real incentives to businesses to grow new jobs. Analysts project that our economy will create 8 million new jobs now in the next four years. We're keeping interest rates down and giving real, real incentives for people to invest in new business, research and development and new plant and equipment.
For all these reasons this plan is an urgent step. But I want to emphasize, it is only the first step. We're well on our way, but our work is far from finished. We'll continue to look for ways to further cut unnecessary spending and trim waste. On that front, we will remain tireless, responsible and accountable to you.
Soon we expect the Vice President's report on reinventing government. It will help make your government leaner, smarter, more efficient. It will show you that we're trying to have a government here that actually works for the people who pay the bills and takes how their money is spent very seriously.
We want to end welfare as we know it and restore dignity to millions of idle Americans who have been dependent too long. We'll do that by changing the system so it's a path to a job, not a way of life. The economic plan went a long way toward doing that by lifting all the people in this country, millions of them who work 40 hours a week and have children in their homes, out of poverty. Not through a government program, but through the tax system -- saying we won't tax people into poverty, we'll use the tax system to lift those out of poverty who are pro-work, pro-family and doing their part.
And we cannot rest while millions of Americans do without affordable health care. And many, many millions more worry that they won't be able to afford the cost of their health care policy or that they'll lose their health care coverage if they lose their job or someone in their family gets sick.
It's not right. And until we give all Americans health care that's always there, and control the cost, the health care crisis will continue to bankrupt our businesses, our families, and eventually our nation.
So we'll keep moving as fast as we have in these first six months of the administration and keep taking new ideas to the American people for making our country better and putting our people first.
With your support we've already moved on several fronts to ensure the principles that I fought for during the last campaign -- providing opportunity, encouraging personal responsibility, and rebuilding our communities.
Just this week, our national service program cleared its final hurdles and now will clearly become law. That means 100,000 young people will have the chance to help America's communities while helping themselves pay for a college education.
Also this week the family leave act went into effect. And now millions of American workers will be able to take some time off to care for their newborn children or an ill family member without fearing loss of their jobs. In our nation, where most people have to work, we cannot force people to choose between being a good parent and a good worker. Now, millions more will be able to do both.
We've also won passage of a new motor voter law to make voter registration more easy, more open, more accessible.
We've eased the credit crunch for small businesses all across America, making student loans easier to get and less costly to repay, and working to open markets overseas to create jobs here at home.
We've also changed the environmental policies of this administration so that once again America is a leader, not a follower in the effort to preserve the global environment and our environmental issues here at home.
We've made medical research more sensitive to the needs of women and more helpful to people with diabetes, Parkinson's and other diseases where political bias kept research that was very needed from going on for too many years.
We changed the ethics of the Executive Branch with the toughest ethics restrictions in American history -- restricting people from lobbying for foreign governments or lobbying at all for years after they leave top positions in our government.
There is more political accountability and more political reform on the way. Campaign finance reform, lobby reform, the line item veto, all three of these things have passed at least one house of Congress -- we're going to work hard to make them law.
With these and other measures to better the lives of our people, we're putting business as usual out of business in Washington. That's what you ordered in the last election.
This week the majority of the lawmakers on Capitol Hill joined us to break gridlock. They voted to move us forward together, to leave behind the shameful legacy of debt and deficits, and to give our nation control over our own economic destiny.
I congratulate those lawmakers for the courage they've shown in winning this tough fight in the face of all kinds of charges and misinformation that fill the airways. These people stood firm, they stood together, and they stood for you.
As we fought for this plan, we brought together business and labor, the cities and the heartland, Americans from every generation. Now, on the threshold of a new era of growth and prosperity and a new direction for our nation, it's time for all of us to stand together. And that includes those who opposed my plan on Capitol Hill.
To our critics there, I say all Americans, whatever their political stripe, can reap the benefits of the change we can begin today. I say to those critics, we must now put aside bitterness and rancor, move beyond partisanship and work together to give the country we all love the new direction it needs.
In the future, people will not ask whether we were Democrats or Republicans, whether we were conservatives or liberals, they will ask what we did to face our problems, meet our challenges, seize our opportunities and secure a better future for our children. Let us begin that together.
Thanks for listening, and Godspeed.
END 10:14 A.M. EDT