THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
The Parc Lane Hotel Oakland, California
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week we took a big step toward restoring opportunity and prosperity to the people of our nation, when I signed into law our economic growth plan. It puts our house in order with the largest deficit reduction measure in our history, mandating more than $250 billion in spending cuts, with substantial cuts in more than 200 specific spending programs. It makes over 90 percent of our small businesses eligible for tax cuts, if they invest to spur job creation. And it provides new incentives to lift people who work full time and have children in their homes but still live in poverty above the poverty line.
That's a real incentive for the working poor to stay at work and a down payment on our plan to end the welfare system as we know it.
With this economic plan in place, private analysts believe more than 8 million jobs will be created over the next four years. Already the plan has brought interest rates to historic lows and the stock market to historic highs. People are refinancing home loans and business loans, saving a lot of money, money that can be invested to grow this economy. And we've had about a million new jobs come into the economy in the last six and a half months. This plan will help us to restore the economy and revive the American Dream.
But there's another threat to our security, to our economic revival and our most basic values. It's the crime that's ravaging our neighborhoods and communities. There were 90,000 murders in America in the last four years, and a startling upsurge in gang activity, drive-by shootings and bloody carjackings.
There's a virtual war on many of our streets, and crime has become a national security issue to millions of Americans. I've worked to fight crime as an attorney general and a governor. I've worked with law enforcement officers, community leaders, victims groups. I know we can make our streets safer and our children's future more secure.
This week I announced my administration's anti-crime plan and law enforcement officers from all over America came to support it. People from Massachusetts to Mississippi spoke up. William O'Malley, a District Attorney in Massachusetts said the murder rate in Plymouth County had doubled, and the age of defendants in court is getting younger. One of the law enforcement officers said that in his area the average age of a killer was now under 16 years of age.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton of Boston spoke of the fear that grips his city where homicides have gone up 60 percent this year because of gangs and domestic violence. The attorney general of Mississippi pointed out that the crime wave has now reached small towns and rural areas. And we can't leave them out of our solution.
These facts could be repeated by any prosecutor, any police officer in the United States. We have to give these people the help they need to seize the control of our streets. And that's precisely what I'm determined to do.
Our new crime initiative goes back to basics --toughening criminal laws and disarming criminals, putting more police on patrol, protecting students, restoring order to our streets. It also emphasizes some good ideas that do work --community policing; working with citizens to prevent crime and catch criminals; and boot camps for youthful offenders to give them a second chance to develop self-discipline and other skills to live lawful, successful lives.
Society has the right to impose the most severe penalty on the hardened criminals who commit the most heinous crimes. I support capital punishment, especially against those who kill our police officers. This legislation expands the federal death penalty and limits the time available to criminals to appeal their sentences. The plan cracks down on the easy availability of guns. I'm eager to sign the Brady Bill, which requires a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun. And I've signed a directive ordering the Treasury Department to suspend the importation of foreignmade assault pistols, the weapons of choice for many gangs and drug dealers.
Our crime bill will fund the hiring of up to 50,000 new police officers to walk the beat. It will also create a police corps to allow young people to pay for college and then ask them to return to their communities as police officers in exchange for the educational benefit.
The plan expands the Cop on the Beat Program to help pay to put more police on the street, to hire more security guards to keep our schools safe, to beef up patrol in public housing in communities where small businesses are vulnerable to crime. We ask for new federal boot camps to provide wayward young people the discipline, the education, the training they need for a chance to avoid a lifetime of crime.
And we put these new tools into the hands of the toughest and most talented trio of crimefighters ever assembled at the federal level -- the Attorney General Janet Reno, a seasoned prosecutor from Miami; the FBI Director Louis Freeh, a streetwise former prosecutor and tough federal judge with a nationally acclaimed record of crimefighting; and Lee Brown, the former police chief of New York, Houston and Atlanta, the father of community policing, who now serves as our Director of Drug Control Policy.
But these law enforcement leaders cannot and must not wage this war alone. We in government can start by ensuring that the criminal justice system reflects our values and restores people's confidence in the government's ability to prevent and punish crime.
But the power of every individual to influence those around them is also very strong, and it's also a power we must turn to if we're going to turn the crime problem around. Too many of our fellow citizens simply reject values like decency, order and the respect for the rule of law. Often we can yank people like that back to what is right and what is true.
Every one of us needs to speak up and provide better role models for our young people before we lose them to the meanness of the streets. We can take simple but effective actions like taking car keys away from teenagers and adults who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs before they get behind the wheels of their cars and risk great damage to themselves and others.
We can urge broadcasters and advertisers to tone down the violence we see on television and then theaters everyday and persuade them that there is a market for programs and movies that reflect and reinforce our values. We can remind people of the opportunities they have for community service so that they can express their patriotism and caring by giving something back to the country which gives us so much and helps people in need at the same time.
In short, we can work together as partners. And when we do, when the government works with us and not against us, there is nothing the American people can't do.
With the economic plan in hand and a very tough anti-crime bill on the way, we can truly say our country is headed in a new direction -- more responsibility, more opportunity, a deeper sense of community and restoring the American Dream.
Thanks for listening.