THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Los Angeles, California) _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 4, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO ROCKWELL EMPLOYEES AND GUESTS Main Factory Floor Rockwell International/Rocketdyne Canoga Park, California
1:50 P.M. PST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Beall, Mr Paster, ladies and gentlemen of Rockwell and Rocketdyne. I am very glad to be here. I want to thank all of you for coming. The workers in this great facility and some of my workers in the last campaign from the Inland Empire I know came here. They're here somewhere over there. (Applause.) I thank you for coming.
I also want you to know that we're all a little embarrassed to be so late here, but if you got to watch the meeting that just occurred, you know that there were so many people with so many ideas about what we could do together to rebuild the California economy. Having asked them there, I could hardly walk away and not listen to them. I was so moved by the people who came and what they said and how very specific they were. It made me really have greater faith than ever before that together we can turn this economy around and get things going again for California and for the entire country. (Applause.)
I also want to say a special word of thanks to you for the sign that I walked under coming out here that said, "Thank you, Mr. President, for the Space Station." We worked hard to save it. We're going to work hard to keep it. It's an important part of our future and so are you. (Applause.)
I ran for President, my fellow Americans because I thought this country had two great problems. I thought we had to restore the American economy so that it worked again for middle class Americans and gave all Americans a chance to work their way into the middle class; and I thought we had to pull this country together again and make a strength out of our diversity -- so that we can go into the 21st century as the greatest country in the world, and so that every person can live up to the fullest of their ability.
What is that? (Laughter.) That's not my hot air for a change. (Laughter.) If you can hear me, I'll talk over it unless we're in some kind of danger. (Laughter.)
When I came to the White House in January, I had an economic strategy that I wanted to implement for all the country. And I knew there was a special problem here in California -- the state that is not only our biggest state with our strongest economy, but the state that by January was the most economically hurt because of a combination of factors: The decline in defense spending; the collapse of real estate; the stagnation of the economies to the East, which trade with California and which were not buying as many of our exports. All these problems combined at once to give terrible, terrible burdens to the people of California -- much higher than average unemployment rates, and an attitude that was dragging the whole country down. And it became clear to me that unless we could turn the economy of California around, we would never fully be able to lift the economy of America. (Applause.)
I came here today, a year after I held a national economic summit in my home state to get the best ideas I could about implementing our national economic strategy, to have an economic meeting here in California to assess what we have done in the last year and what we need to do in the years ahead.
I want to tell you first that I am convinced that this economy can recover for four reasons: First, because the national economy is now experiencing clear and consistent signs of recovery. Second, because many of the things that we have done for the national economy will have a particular impact in California. Third, because we are targeting resources to this state in programs that will help the economy, not by hurting other states but by giving California its fair consideration. (Applause.) And finally, fourthly and most importantly of all, for all of you, because we have committed ourselves in this administration to fight for a five-year, $20 billion program of defense conversion so that we don't leave the people who won the Cold War out in the cold; we invest in technologies for a commercial peacetime economy that can create jobs in California and jobs in this company. (Applause.)
Let me take these issues one by one. When I became President, I committed to bring the deficit down; to get interest rates down; to keep inflation down; to get investment up; and to give people incentives to invest in this economy. The Congress after a lot of struggling, adopted an economic plan, which I had pushed very hard. And here's what the plan does. It does raise taxes on somewhat less than two percent of our people, the wealthiest Americans whose incomes went up while their taxes went down in the 1980s. It also cuts taxes on 15 to 16 million working families who work 40 hours a week, have kids in their house and are barely above the poverty line, so they'll be working and not on welfare. (Applause.) It gives the potential of a tax break to 90 percent of the small businesses in this country if they'll invest more money in their businesses. It increases the research and development tax credit to help companies like this one. It changes the rules to help people restore the real estate economy in states like California.
And in a year, look what's happened -- look what's happened. We have historically low interest rates. Over 5 million Americans have refinanced their homes. We have low inflation rates. We have investment up. Housing sales were at a 14-year high last month. And we've had more jobs come in the private sector in the last 10 months than in the previous four years. We are moving in the right direction. Most Americans have not felt it yet, but you can't ignore the facts -- the direction of the economy is good not bad. We are coming back, and that will benefit the State of California and the people who live here. (Applause.)
The second thing I want to say is, there are a lot of things we're doing that will really help California just because of how the economy is organized here. We are focusing on new markets. We are focusing on new products. We are focusing on new opportunities for the American economy. Not very long ago, we removed from export controls $37 billion worth of hightech products and computers and telecommunications, one-third of which are manufactured in this state. That will create tens of thousands of new jobs by permitting us to sell things abroad that we couldn't sell during the Cold War. It will make a huge difference. (Applause.)
We're helping to build a national information superhighway to computerize all kinds of information to facilitate economic transfers. California is in a remarkable position to take advantage of that. We have a whole new technology initiative that will enable us to do things that will benefit this state disproportionately.
And finally, let me say, I know this is one of the more controversial things I've been involved in, but I have strongly supported efforts to increase trade, like NAFTA, because you can't keep and generate more high-tech jobs unless you have more customers. You know in this plant, don't you -- (applause) -- that the American worker, under all the economic pressures of the 1980s, the American worker once again has become by far the most productive worker in the world. Now, we all know that. (Applause.)
What else do we know? You know it here. What does productivity mean? That means fewer people can produce more goods and services. That means you have to have more customers for your goods and services if you want more jobs and higher incomes. So productivity is good. It is a precondition of having a strong economy. But it is not enough. It is not enough unless the world economy is growing, unless we are experiencing an opportunity to increase the sales of our products and services, we can't have more jobs and higher incomes, not in California, not in the United States. So, you betcha, I want to sell more to Mexico and the rest of Latin America. I want to sell more to Asia. That's why I invited the heads of 15 Asian nations to come to the United States to meet with me. I want to sell more around the world. That's why we're working hard to reach agreement by December 15th on a new worldwide trade agreement, because I know that's the only way in the long run I can protect good jobs and high incomes and create more jobs. And I hope you'll support that. (Applause.)
We've also really tried to invest money in this economy. The most important thing we've done is to give American companies the chance to be partners with the United States government in converting from a defense to a domestic economy. In the Technology Reinvestment Project, which this year alone awarded over $420 million in grants for new technologies for the future. Yes, the things we've done specifically for California are important -- $300 million more to deal with the problems of education caused by the influx of immigration; another $500 million to help offset the health care costs of the state because of immigration; a $1.3 billion for an infrastructure project to extend that Red Line and create new jobs. Those things are important.
But you know as well as I do, most of the new jobs in this country have to be created by people like you in the private sector. That's why the most important thing we can do is to help build new partnerships to take advantage of this wonderful technological wizardry that came out of all our defense investment and put it to work in the domestic economy building a 21st century economy on high-tech commercial purposes based on the investments we've made in the Cold War technology instead of letting them go to waste.
I'm determined -- we let that happen for too long. We started cutting defense in 1987. We didn't start rebuilding our economic base until 1993, but we're not going to let another year go by without doing it. (Applause.) I know that you know as part of this Technology Reinvestment Project Rocketdyne received an award for several million dollars to design and develop a portable environmental monitor to identify low concentrations of hazardous chemicals.
This is a big deal. We will be able to assess the impact of toxic spills and auto emissions, chemical warfare agents on the battlefield. We'll be able to do something that is good for defense and something that is good for our domestic economy. We'll be able to do something we have all known for years we ought to be able to do, which is to create an enormous number of high-wage, high-tech jobs by cleaning up the environment and developing technologies we can then sell to other countries to create jobs in America cleaning up their environment.
Rockwell also led two other winning teams announced yesterday -- one to improve the fuel efficiency of automobiles and heavy construction equipment, at a potential fuel savings -- listen to this -- by as much as a billion dollars a year by the year 2000; another to allow medical personnel to monitor and diagnose trauma patients remotely, whether they're in rural clinics or far off battlefields. Again, this is a huge deal. In America rural health care is confronted with certain inevitable limits, whether it's in California or my home state of Arkansas or anywhere else. You cannot put all the high-tech equipment in the world in every rural area, but accidents occur there.
If technology that has been developed to help people on the battlefields deal with the woundeds, when only a medic is there and they need some high-tech connection, can be applied to rural health situations in America, it means again more jobs for Rockwell, a stronger economy for America and a better quality of life. That is the sort of thing that this national government should be doing to rebuild the economy of California and the United States and to move us forward. (Applause.)
Let me just say in closing, I know it gets frustrating to see how long it takes to make these changes be felt in your lives. I know that, but just remember, just remember if you look at our two biggest problems -- the economy. Working Americans have been working harder for stagnant wages for 20 years now. We cannot turn it around overnight, but we can turn it around.
If you look at what's happening to our society, the rising rate of crime, the continued breakdown of the family unit, the increasing number of children being born to children out of wedlock -- all these things that are disintegrating our society. That has been going on for 30 years. It did not start overnight. We can turn it around if we begin now. It won't happen overnight, but we can do it. (Applause.)
I just ask you to remember what can happen in a year. One year ago the deficit was going up, not down; and interest rates were not dropping as they are now. A year ago we didn't have the kind of bipartisan coalition passing bills like the Brady Bill and a crime bill to put 100,000 police on the street. (Applause.) This Congress, in a bill almost nobody knows about, revolutionized the student loan problem to lower interest rates on college loans, make the repayment terms easier. And they passed the national service bill which will enable 20,000 people this year and 100,000 people three years from now to serve their community at the grass roots level solving problems, and to earn their way through college. These are big changes that didn't happen a year ago. (Applause.)
A year ago we did not have a strategy to increase the exports of this country. We did not have the North American Free Trade Agreement; a new dialogue with Japan; a real, intense effort to turn this whole trading situation around. If we can pass, by December 15th, if we can get the trading nations of the world to agree on a dramatic reduction of tariffs everywhere, what that means is that American manufacturing products will lead the creation of over a million new jobs in this country in the next ten years. We did not have that, and I hope we can get it in the next ten days. That is the kind of difference you can make in just a year. And it's just the beginning. (Applause.)
These grants that were just announced to Rockwell -- the idea was approved by the Congress a year ago, but there was opposition in the Pentagon and in the previous administration. They did not believe this government had an obligation to help you convert from a defense to a domestic economy. I know we do and I believe this money -- ten years from now, 20 years from now, we'll look back on this and say this is the best money we ever spent and next year there will be more of it. We are just getting warmed up. You are our partners in building an America for the 21st century. (Applause.)
A lot of this may sound real detailed and complicated, but to me it's very simple. I think my job, as your President, is to get this country into the next century as the strongest nation in the world. I think my job, as your President, is to do everything I can to see that you have the opportunity and are challenged to assume the responsibility to build a community in this country that will enable every man and woman, every boy and girl to live to the fullest of their Godgiven capacities. That's my job. To do it, we're going to have to compete and win in the global economy; we're going to have to educate and train our people; we're going to have to invest in those things that will produce jobs and incomes and opportunities; and we're going to have to take our streets, our communities, our families and our neighborhoods back and do something about the terrible ravages of crime and violence that are consuming this country. But we can do it. We can do it. (Applause.)
I ask you always to be impatient with me and with this country. Push us to do better. Push us to keep making progress. But also recognize we got in the fix we're in -- 20 years in the decline of wages, 12 years in the explosion of the deficit, 30 years in the social problems we've got. We can turn it around. It won't happen in a day. But if we work together, and we work hard, every year we can see progress. We can see progress. And we will look ahead to the 21st century as the best years our country ever had because we did our job now to rebuild America.
Thank you for what you're doing. I'll stay with you. God bless you. (Applause.)
END2:11 P.M. PST