THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Sunnyvale, California) _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 10, 1993
OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN MEETING WITH RETRAINED WORKERS, MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AND NOVA COMPANY OFFICIALS Sunnyvale Community Center Courtyard Sunnyvale, California
2:55 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, and Madam Mayor, and ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure for me to be here today. And we want to spend most of our time listening to you, but I'd like to take just a few minutes to explain what it is we're trying to do with this reinventing government project and how it relates to the future of the California economy and the ability of this state to come back.
When I ran for President it was apparent to me that America had not done very well in dealing with all these terrific challenges and changes that are sweeping through our world. And you know from your own personal life when you're confronted with a change and a challenge, you basically have two options: You can kind of hunker down and deny it and pretend it's not there and hope it'll go away -- and about one time in a hundred it will work out all right, and the other 99 times it's not a very satisfactory response; or you can take a deep breath and embrace the change and determine to make something good happen. And that's what we have to do as a country. We have to make change our friend again and not our enemy.
Of all the states in America, the state that's had the toughest time lately is California. You're unemployment rate's about three percent higher than the national average. Because you had 21 percent of the country's defense budget, you've taken the lion's share of the defense cuts, not only in base closings but costing even more jobs, I would argue, in contract cutbacks, which have affected people in this part of the state in particular. And you've had a lot of other manufacturing jobs losses and other problems. And as a result of that, there have been other kinds of pressures forcing the society apart when we need to be coming together.
Now, I believe that in order to remedy that, there are a number of things we have to do. We know we've got -- the Vice President and I always talk about all the deficits we have -- we know we've got a budget deficit, but if you know anybody who's out of work, you know we've also got an investment deficit. And the government has a performance deficit, which means we've got a trust deficit with the people. That is, people want me to do things all the time, but they're not sure they trust the federal government to do it -- whatever it is -- because people have worried so long.
So what I would say to you is that if you just look at it from the point of view of California, there are certain policies we need to change if we're going to generate more jobs and bring people together. We know that. We have an economic program, for example, that gives people big capital gains incentives now to invest in new high tech companies like those that have generated so many jobs here. We have some changes in our economic program which will encourage other kinds of investments that will create jobs here. We've got a new defense conversion program -- and this is an amazing story -- where we put out bids on about, oh, $475 million of matching funds for people who had ideas to convert from defense technologies or convert businesses to domestic technologies. We received 2,800 proposals of a total of $8.5 billion, and one-quarter of them came from California.
Now the interesting thing is, one-quarter of all the unemployed people in America today live in California. What does that tell you? That says -- there's a big mismatch. You've got all these people with ideas and brains and new technologies and ways to create jobs who are trying to close that gap. So just in the last 24 hours we have reached agreement with the United States Congress to put another $300 million into this program, because the demand was so much greater than the supply. (Applause.) It's great.
Now, so there's the policy aspect. Then there's the whole idea about how we from the top down can cut through the bureaucracy. One of the things that I did when I became President was to decide I needed to put one of my Cabinet members in charge of devising a strategy for California. And I asked the Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown to do it. And now thankfully he's got a deputy secretary who is from Silicon Valley, which won't hurt him any in making good decisions.
And so we thought a lot about what can we do for California. For example, by the end of the month we're going to announce a new policy that we probably would not have done this fast if it hadn't been for the demands of the people right here in Silicon Valley to change some of the old Cold War rules that keep a lot of our high-tech companies from selling products overseas to countries that used to be our enemies but aren't anymore.
So we did that. But we found over and over again that even if we had good policies and even if we tried to go around our own bureaucracy, until we made a commitment to make this government work better, which means do more, cost less -- and both are important -- we could never really serve you as we ought to.
And let me just mention that the one specific thing that I want to talk about -- I have been just overwhelmed by the work that's been done here in Sunnyvale basically to continuously provide more services at lower cost -- but I want to talk just a minute about this job training issue. You told me you'd been on the job for two years, and you explained how your company closed down and moved to another state. That is unfortunately going to become a more typical experience for people.
The average 18 year old will now change jobs about eight times in a lifetime, which means job security does not necessarily mean having the same employer. What it means is having the ability to always get a job as good or better than the one you've got today, which means that we have to make a commitment to the lifetime education and training of everybody in our country. And people in our country have to make a commitment to be willing to have that lifetime education and training into their 50s, into their 60s as long as they're in the work force, because nobody can repeal all of these sweeping changes that are going on. We're either going to face them and try to make the most of them or hope they'll go away. And like I said, that only works about one in a hundred times.
Now, here's the problem: Your federal government is not organized to help you very well. The NOVA program works because it is not like the way the federal government set the job training program up. (Laughter.) It works in spite of the fact that it gets federal money, not because of it. (Laughter.) I mean, that's what you need to know. It works in spite of the fact that it gets federal money.
There are -- here's how the job training program of your country is organized. There are 14 departments spending $24 billion a year on job training -- which is pretty good chunk of money -- in 150 separate programs. Now, if you're unemployed and you need a new training program, you don't give a rip which one of those 150 programs you fit into. And a lot of people fall between the cracks. We -- the Vice President uncovered this incredible story of a person who was working for a company and he lost the job that he had because of foreign trade -- lower cost competition from overseas. So he took another job with the same company instead of just quitting, you know, and going on unemployment. And then he lost that job because the defense budget was cut. At the time, there was a program to retrain people who lost their jobs for foreign trade, but not to retrain people who lost their jobs because of defense cuts. So the poor guy was punished for going back to work by losing funds to get his training. That's crazy.
So what we're going to try to do through the Secretary of Labor -- he'll say more about that later -- is to merge the unemployment system and the job training system, determine immediately who's not likely to get that job back or one just like it, and give you access to all the training opportunities that the federal government is funding. It is crazy. You're paying for this out of your pocket. I mean, you're paying for $24 billion worth of training -- and I'm sure that there's not a person here who could name 10, much less 150, of the separate training programs available. Am I right? Not only that, you shouldn't have to know that. It is irrelevant.
So the reason we came here is because this NOVA program is what we want to do all across the country. Yes, we want to make the government cost less, but if it doesn't work better, you still don't get what you need. And the people who are training who work in this fine company that we just toured are examples of what we want to provide for the whole country.
And I thank you for spending a little time with us today. Thank you. (Applause.)