THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Albuquerque, New Mexico) _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 3, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT "CELEBRATION '94" RECEPTION Albuquerque Convention Center Albuquerque, New Mexico
8:35 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: You know, when Bruce said to Alice, "Just give the President whatever it is you have," -- (laughter) -- I said, heck, Bruce, I want the ranch. (Laughter and applause.) I like the Stetson, but I mean if I really get a choice -- (laughter).
Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be here. (Applause.) Glad to be back in New Mexico. (Applause.)
How many of you were here -- I just got off the phone with Hillary. She was working in New Hampshire yesterday, so she's home tonight. I just got off the phone with her. How many of you were here when we were here the night of the election -- all night -- remember that? (Applause.) The press has a way of finding out everything about you if you become President. President Reagan loved jelly beans; and President Bush didn't like broccoli; and last week The Wall Street Journal reported our dark secret that Hillary and I are addicted to salsa. (Laughter.) And it all happened because of you -- because we stayed up all night living on that before the election. (Laughter.)
I am so glad to be back in New Mexico. I'm glad to be here with Ray Powell and with you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for being such a good emcee. I want to thank my longtime friend Bruce King. I don't know if you remember what he said. There are only three living Americans who served as governors in the '70s, the '80s and the '90s -- Cecil Andrus of Idaho, Bruce King and me. (Laughter.) It was the longest time before any of us could get a promotion. (Laughter and applause.) We had a lottery, and in the beginning we thought I won, but sometimes in the last year I wasn't sure I didn't lose. (Laughter.)
I love Bruce King. The first time I ever met Bruce and Alice and Bruce laid all that -- you know, that aw, shucks, stuff on me. (Laughter.) Aw, shucks, you know. (Laughter.) I checked three times to make sure I still had my billfold in my pocket. (Laughter.) Aw, shucks. (Laughter.)
I appreciate the fact that Bruce is missing the start of the annual Lobo Classic Basketball Tournament tonight. I know what a sacrifice it is. He did it for the money, not me. (Laughter.) But I'm glad he's here anyway. (Laughter and applause.) You can tell we're friends -- you can't make fun of your enemies. (Laughter.)
I want to say, too, how glad I am to be here with Bill and Barbara Richardson. Bill Richardson was the National Cochair of the Adelanten Con Clinton Movement -- thank you for bringing your posters, there's two there. But he never did anything more important for America than in his leadership in the fight for the passage of NAFTA. (Applause.) I can tell you on September the 14th, the day after we had the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and the PLO, we formally kicked off the NAFTA fight after all the side agreements on labor and the environment were done; and we had the endorsement of all the living former presidents. We had four presidents and former presidents there: President Ford, President Carter, President Bush and myself. We were 100 votes behind. We were maybe that close -- (laughter) -- a hundred in the House of Representatives. And Bill Richardson soldiered on when others were saying, well they ought to give up. And some of my friends who were on the other side of the issue even suggested maybe we ought not have a vote because they didn't want us embarrassed. And Richardson and I were too dumb to know we were beat -- (laughter) -- so we just keep on going. It worked out all right, and the nation is in his debt, and New Mexico will benefit enormously because of the astonishing national leadership he provided on that issue. (Applause.)
I gave -- what did you say?
THE PRESIDENT: I need a vitamin pill tonight. (Laughter.) I also want to say that Jeff Bingaman likes me because I brought Anne here tonight. I gave her the day off at the Justice Department. (Laughter and applause.) Sometimes being President is just like being a school principal -- you give people an excused absence. (Laughter.)
And we came back -- and I want to say Bill mentioned the Technology Reinvestment Projects but I want to, if I might, just take a minute to talk about Jeff Bingaman and what he did, not only for New Mexico but for the country there. In 1992, when I was running for President, the United States Congress under the leadership of Senator Bingaman provided for the expenditure of a few hundred million dollars to help America make the conversion, the painful conversion from a high-tech defense-based economy to a high-tech commercial economy. And there were a number of things in the bill that they passed. And as a candidate for President, I strongly supported the bill. And it passed before I could be elected President. And guess what? And I thought, well, here I am cutting off my nose to spite my face. I'm out there asking Congress to pass this bill, which will put a few hundred million dollars into the hands of the President I was running against to put the American people back to work in the way I've been saying we should do for the last five years. And guess what? They wouldn't spend any money because they didn't believe in it.
And so when I became President, we went to work on trying to give life to Jeff Bingaman's idea that a little bit of public money in the context of the hundreds of billions of dollars we've been spending on defense should be offered to the private sector in matching funds for people who would come up with ideas that could be used to take defense technologies and turn it into domestic jobs and American high-tech opportunities for the 21st century.
So earlier this year, we released the first round of grants and in the whole year we wound up with over $400 million worth of funds. Congress was so astonished by the success of the program that they have come back and voted to spend even more money on it in the year we're now involved in -- in Fiscal Year '94. (Applause.)
Now, I want you to understand how important this is. In the first round of applications, when we put up $400 million, we had almost 3,000 projects submitted for funding that, with public and private money together, would require $8.5 billion. That's how hungry American entrepreneurs, universities, laboratories and big companies are to be part of this defense conversion effort -- to find ways to create the jobs of the 21st century out of all the work we've put into defense research over the last 40 years. It is a very important thing. And none of this would have happened if Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico hadn't been the catalyzing influence, the energy behind this idea. (Applause.)
I also want to say it is true that in the first three rounds of grants that we're now completing today, New Mexico got a total, I think, of nine big projects. And on a per capita basis, you almost certainly led the country in grants. But you did it on the merits -- not just the labs, but the University. (Applause.)
So I'm honored to be here tonight with all these friends of mine on this stage and all of you out there to thank you for voting for Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1992; to thank you for providing leadership like Bill Richardson and Jeff Bingaman and Bruce King; to ask you to keep them in and keep them strong; and to ask you to keep supporting the direction our country is taking.
When I became President, we had had the four worst years of job creation since the Great Depression. We had had 12 years in which our national debt had quadrupled, while our investment in our people had gone down. We had had 20 years of the global economy requiring American middle-class people to work longer hours every week for the same or lower wages. We had outof -control health care costs with 100,000 Americans a month losing their health coverage. So we were paying more for less.
And almost everybody in this country thought things were going in the wrong direction. I said until I was blue in the face, even to those who were most enthusiastic about our campaign, that we couldn't expect immediate overnight results, but we could turn the country around. And what I want you to know, my friends, is after the first year, we have turned the country around. We are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
The economic plan, which the Congress adopted, reduced the deficit, had over 356 separate -- over 350, 356 to be exact -- separate spending cuts. Now, that's not government language, for we're cutting the rate of increase in the previous budget. There's 356 accounts that have less money this year to spend than they did last year. Increased investments in things like defense conversion and new technologies and worker training and Head Start, things that build our country over the long run. Raised taxes on fewer than two percent of the American people earning the largest amounts of money whose taxes had been lowered while their incomes went up in the '80s. Gave an enormous -- an enormous boost to the ideas of family and work by providing tax cuts to over 15 million working families whose incomes were $23,000 a year or less, because we wanted to say to people: We know you've got kids in your home; we know you're working hard for modest incomes; we want the tax system to lift you out of poverty, not drive you into it; we want you to be successful as parents and successful as workers. That will affect over 40 million Americans who are either the workers, the spouses or the children of the families who will get tax relief under this economic plan in April. (Applause.)
And what are the results? What are the results -- historically low interest rates; very low inflation; increased investment; a 14-year high in housing sales last month; a 10-year drop in unemployment this month -- that is, it dropped more in one from month to month than in any time in 10 years; almost 50 percent more private sector jobs created in the first 11 months of this year than in the previous four years. Has it affected most Americans yet? No. Are we moving in the right direction? You bet we are. And we have to keep going until we do see the benefits go to every American family. But we are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
This Congress not only passed the Motor Voter Bill, which Bill Richardson mentioned, it also passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives people the right to take a little time off without losing their jobs when there's a baby born or a sick parent. (Applause.)
This Congress passed the National Service Bill, which three years from now will give 100,000 young Americans the chance to earn some money against further education after high school by working in community service projects to rebuild the fabric of our country from the grass roots up. (Applause.)
This Congress passed the Brady bill (applause) which will require a waiting period for handguns. And both houses of Congress have passed campaign finance reform, they just have to reconcile the two bills; and a crime bill which will enable us to put another 100,000 police officers on the streets, have boot camps for first-time youthful offenders and do other things to make the American people safer in their homes and their schools, and on their streets and in their neighborhoods. (Applause.)
Bill Richardson was generous in what he said -- that no one knows that this was the most successful legislative session in history, since we've only been keeping score like this for 40 years. But it's not bad since they've been keeping score. (Laughter and applause.)
I say to you, this is a good beginning. But it is just the beginning. NAFTA was important, but we need to keep going until we've got all of Latin America committed to democracy, free market economics and an economic partnership with the United States. (Applause.) That's good, but we also need a new global trading agreement. I spent a good deal of time today working trying to get the nations of the world to conclude this so-called GATT agreement by December 15, our deadline. Because it is estimated that that will add over one million jobs to the American economy within the next decade if we can successfully conclude it.
Why is this important? Why was it important enough for people like Jeff Bingaman and Bruce King and Bill Richardson and Bill Clinton even to argue with some of our friends over? It is this simple, it is this simple: we can't keep any of our businesses in America today unless we become more productive. But being more productive means the same person can produce more goods or more services; maybe even fewer people can produce more goods and more services. Well, if there's no more demand for the goods and services, and fewer people produce them, what happens? Unemployment goes up and you don't have to raise wages because there are all these people who are out there unemployed who are more than happy to work for less. So if you want productivity -- which you have to have to compete with other countries -- to lead to higher wages and more jobs, you must have more customers for American products and American services. That's what these trade agreements are all about. We have got to expand the rate of growth in the world to find more customers for what we do well. And that will enable us not only to have more jobs, but to change the job mix to get the higher wage jobs in there, to raise peoples' incomes for the first time in 20 years. It's going to be hard to turn this around. But for 20 years most Americans have been working harder for less. We have got to try to do better than that. And the only way to do it is to provide more customers.
The second thing we have to recognize is that a lot
of our people are still not able to compete in that global
economy, which means we have to have a better system for training
our young high schoolers who don't go on to college, a better
system for giving our working people lifetime education and
training opportunities, a better system for recognizing that the
unemployment now is not like it used to be where people would go
on unemployment and then a couple of weeks later they would get
called back to their old company. Most people who are
unemployed now have to find a new job with a new employer. That
this coming year we're going to have to totally revise the entire unemployment system and make it a re-employment system -- immediately give people education and training and job placement.
I challenge all the people who supported us in NAFTA who wanted America to have more customers, to make sure Americans can take advantage of that instead of be punished by it, by retraining the American work force for the 21st century. That is our great challenge. (Applause.)
That's why the welfare reform program that we're going to deal with next year is so important. You have a lot of people out there who had children when they were children, who have never been in the work force, who have no education. They cannot command a living wage in a global economy. We owe it to ourselves, as well as to them, to set up a system where we favor work over idleness, but where we give people a chance to succeed in a highly competitive economy. We are all going to have to face the fact that we have new challenges. If we want our people to succeed as workers, we have to let them succeed as parents too, because most working people have children and most people with children have to work. That means family leave is important. That means a tax system that doesn't punish low-wage workers is important, and that means that it is important to have welfare reform and lifetime training.
The last thing I want to say is: I came here, before I was here tonight, to go out to a wonderful little community near here to talk about health care. If we don't control health care costs and provide health care security to all of our people, we will not have the underpinning of social security we need to have the courage to make the changes that the global economy imposes on us.
Next year we are going to do health care, welfare reform and revise the education and training program. Then they'll say, "Well, that's a better year than they had last year." And it will be for America.
We can do it together. Thank you. (Applause.) And God bless you all.
END8:55 P.M. MST