THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN PHOTO OP WITH THE AIDS ADVISORY COUNCIL
The Roosevelt Room
11:26 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, and welcome. I'd like to begin by thanking Patsy Fleming for the work that she's done with me and with you and for our country on this issue; and by thanking all of you for your service on this Advisory Council. We need your advice, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your energy, and America needs your service. And I thank you for it very much.
As you know, I have been strongly committed to an increasing federal response to the AIDS crisis. In spite of the fact that we have cut and eliminated hundreds and hundreds of programs since I have been President, we've increased overall AIDS funding by 40 percent, and funding for the Ryan White Care Act by 80 percent since I've been President.
I was very, very pleased to see yesterday how overwhelmingly the Senate voted to reauthorize the Ryan White Care Act. I've got a budget before them which would increase our funding considerably more. I hope that will pass. But the United States Senate made an important statement yesterday, almost unanimously. And I think we should all appreciate that and be grateful for it.
This terrible plague has cost our country 270,000 American lives, and over 100 every day. There are some encouraging signs on the research front, as all of you know. Scientists have discovered ways to block the transmission of HIV from mothers to children. New classes of drugs are being developed to actually repair damaged immune systems, which is very, very hopeful. These scientific advances give us all reason to hope, and should redouble our determination, even in this season of balanced budget to reinvest even more and more of our nation's wealth into medical research in AIDS and medical research of all kinds.
This is not the time to slow down and retreat. This is not the time to give in. AIDS is a challenge which all of us face. That's what the United States Senate said yesterday. It really is a part of our common ground. I think we can attack this disease without attacking each other. And apparently, sensible, good, farsighted Americans in both parties agree.
When we begin to pit one disease against another, or one group of people against another in this country, we all wind up behind. And I felt much better about the future of our country, at least on this point, when I saw how the United States Senate conducted itself yesterday. Now, our task is to continue to marshal all the forces we've got to lift the visibility of this issue.
When I spoke about this matter in my speech at Georgetown just a few weeks ago I said that this was one area where we had to find common ground. This morning, I think we got a chance to do it. And with your help, we'll continue to make progress on it. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Is the United States orchestrating the transfer of arms to the Bosnian Muslims through Arab or Middle Eastern countries or anywhere else?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Mr. President, have you managed to achieve the economic soft landing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the economy is coming back up, if that's what you mean. We had a slow second quarter, we knew we did. But the general thrust of the economy looks strong again. The fundamental problem is now that we had a slow second quarter -- if you're going to have a long, long period of growth, you're going to have uneven periods within that.
The fundamental problem is, we've created 7 million jobs and most Americans haven't gotten a raise. Most Americans still feel economically insecure in their own circumstances because their incomes haven't gone up, because they don't think their jobs are secure, because they're worried about their family's health care. And we need an agenda in this country that I have been pushing for two years now that not only creates jobs, but also raises incomes and increases the security of families.
That is the fundamental problem. But it starts with having a good economic policy. So we wouldn't even be where we are if we didn't have the 7 million jobs and a lower unemployment rate with low inflation. So I'm proud of what we've accomplished. But it's only half the job.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:31 A.M. EDT