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: Good morning. On this Labor Day weekend, we honor the working men and women who are the strength and the soul of America. For people who work hard all year, this weekend offers the opportunity to relax with our families at a picnic, a barbecue, a beach or just in our own homes.
In the calm and the quite of these last days of summer, there will be a moment when most of us think about our families and our future. Maybe it will come during a walk on the beach, a stroll through a park, or when we watch a son or a daughter take as swing at a softball or build a castle in the sand.
We'll think of the faith of our parents that was instilled in us here in America -- the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll be rewarded with a good life for yourself and a better chance for your children.
Filled with that faith, generations of Americans have worked long hours on their jobs and passed along powerful dreams to their sons and daughters. Many of us can remember our own parents working long hours on their jobs and then coming home and helping us with our homework. The American Dream has always been a better life for people who are willing to work for it.
In seven months as your President, I've been deeply inspired by the people I've met who are working hard and studying hard, building their futures in a time of turbulence and change. I'll never forget a woman I met from Detroit who had to support her children after her husband died. Determined not to be on welfare, she enrolled in a six-year advanced training program and found a job as a machinist. I'll never forget the men and women I met at Van Nuys Community College in California, people who had lost their jobs as aerospace workers and auto workers and were learning new skills from film production to computer science. And just yesterday in Delaware, I spoke with young people who are combining their high school education with specialized job training for highly skilled jobs in the aviation industry.
Young and old, these people are the heroes we honor on Labor Day, people who take personal responsibility for making their lives better and making our nation stronger.
Every morning when I go to work in the Oval Office, I think about how we can offer our hard working Americans the opportunities they deserve, opportunities too many have been denied for too long.
When Congress passed our economic plan last month, America took an important step toward building the high-wage, highskill, high-growth economy where hard work is rewarded. We're beginning to pay down the deficit we inherited, get our economic house in order, cut wasteful spending and invest in education and training and new technologies. We changed the tax laws to make sure that no one who works 40 hours a week with children at home will live in poverty. That means tax cuts for millions of American families with incomes below $27,000 a year. It's a pro-work, pro-family approach that's not about building bureaucracies but about encouraging people to keep doing the right things.
We've also made it possible for over 90 percent of the small businesses in this country to reduce their taxes but only if they invest more in their businesses. And we've opened the doors of college education to millions more Americans with lower interest loans and easier repayment terms, and the opportunity for tens of thousands of our young people to pay off their college loans or earn credit against college through the National Service Program and building their communities at the grass roots level. These policies, too, are pro-work and pro-family.
We're taking the values that are central to our own lives, values of work and family and putting them at the center of our public policies. We've got to keep America moving and we've got to pull America back together.
In just seven months we've done a lot. But for 20 years because of the pressures of the global economy and problems here at home, Americans have been working harder for less. And after 12 years of trickle down economics, which worked for just a little while but then left us with no fundamental change except a huge, huge national debt and a massive annual deficit, we've still got a lot more to do.
In the weeks ahead we'll be taking three new steps on the journey of change toward a new American economy and a stronger American community. First, we'll reform the health care system to provide health care security to all Americans and affordable costs so that this health care system doesn't bankrupt the economy while failing to cover millions of Americans. Second, we'll try to create more jobs through expanded trade, through the North American Free Trade Agreement and a general agreement with the other trading nations of the world. And third, we'll try to give you more value for your tax dollar by reinventing government to make it more efficient and less expensive.
These are the things we can do to give our people the tools they need to build a stronger economy. Health security, expanded trade and reinventing government really aren't separate goals. They're part of a comprehensive strategy to promote long-term growth, increased incomes, more jobs and a stronger American community -- part of our effort to make all these changes our friend and not our enemies.
In our own lives we understand that we often have to do several things to reach one goal. Think about the talk at your kitchen table when you discuss the challenges facing your own families. You might be talking about whether you can afford to buy a home or send your youngest child to college, or whether to build a new business of your own or go to night school to learn a new skill. Of course, these are separate questions, but they all add up to one challenge -- building a better life for you and your family.
It's the same with building our country's future. These pieces must all fit together. To control the deficit we have to reform health care and give families more security. To create new jobs for our workers, we have to open new markets for our companies and our products. And for government to be a help and not a hindrance in economic growth, we must make it less bureaucratic and more productive. Business and labor and government must work together as partners to achieve these goals.
This Labor Day weekend is a good time to remember that a free society needs a strong and a vibrant labor movement. From the struggle against communism in Poland to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, to the struggle for social justice in our nation, we have seen what working men and women can accomplish when they work together in the spirit of solidarity.
Now more than ever America needs the spirit of solidarity and the courage to change -- the understanding that we're all in this together and that we have to move forward together.
Together we can make the changes that our people deserve and our times demand. And then on Labor Day weekends years from now our children and our children's children will look back on the work we did. And they will say with gratitude and pride that we kept faith with the American Dream.
Thanks for listening.
END10:12 A.M. EDT