THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
The Briefing Room
11:15 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today, we had good economic news for America's working families. Four years ago today, unemployment was nearly eight percent, job growth was anemic, the deficit was at an all-time dollar high, wages were stagnant. We promised to take these economic challenges head on. Our critics said it wouldn't work. But today's news, once again, proves them wrong.
Unemployment has dropped to 5.3 percent. The American economy has created 10 million jobs since the beginning of this administration. The deficit has been cut more than half, and wages for American workers are finally on the rise again. We have the most solid American economy in a generation. And it's good news when America can have high job growth, strong investment and low inflation.
In 1993, we put in place a comprehensive strategy -- cutting the deficit, expanding trade, rewarding work, investing in the skills and the education of our people. We have a lot more to do. We must make sure that every American has the tools that he or she needs to make the most of the opportunities in this new economy. We have to make sure that income growth continues. That's why we should balance the budget, pass the Kassebaum-Kennedy health reform bill, raise the minimum wage, improve pension security and improve access to college and training for all Americans. Our strategy is working, and this is no time to turn back.
On this Independence Day weekend, we Americans have a lot to celebrate. Just yesterday, the Russian people also showed the power of democratic ideals and free markets by turning out in large numbers to vote for the forces of reform. And by reelecting President Yeltsin, the Russian people have decisively chosen the path of progress.
This morning I spoke with President Yeltsin to congratulate him on his victory and on the victory of the Russian people. The United States and Russia have accomplished a great deal over the last three and a half years. I expressed to the President my determination to build on that progress, to advance the security and the prosperity of both the American and the Russian people.
I wish all Americans a happy Fourth of July weekend. We have two things to celebrate -- more than 10 million new jobs and a continued hope for a greater peace and stability in the world in the wake of the elections in Russia.
Q Are these jobs all in the service area? I know that President Chirac sort of nicked you a little at the summit, saying that they were basically fast food --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but that's actually not accurate. Martin Bailey's going to come up here and brief you, from the Council of Economic Advisors, about them and he can talk about this in great detail. But our analysis shows that the new jobs -- of the new jobs, the vast majority are in higher income job categories and are full-time jobs. So we believe that there is not only a stabilizing of the economy, but a stabilizing upward of the economy if you look at the job mix, if you look at the categories in which they are.
Q When will you see President Yeltsin again? And how did he sound, did you ask him about his health? How did he sound?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn't have to ask him about his health because he sounded so good. We joked. I told him that, you know, in January, a majority of the people of Russia said they wouldn't vote for him for reelection. And so he had a remarkable turnaround. He sort of took the "comeback kid" label away from me. (Laughter.) But he sounded quite good.
And in answer to your question, I don't know when we're going to meet again. But he is going to have some folks coming over here to see us. And Vice President Gore is going soon to Moscow -- I think within a week, a week to 10 days -- to take up his regular meetings with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. So whatever we need to deal with in the near term we'll probably use that channel as we normally do.
Q Are you prepared for your Whitewater testimony on Sunday, and how do you feel about another session?
THE PRESIDENT: Fine.
Q Mr. President, a question about campaign contributions. Your administration has been very critical of Senator Dole for accepting a lot of money from the tobacco industry. Yet, there is an article today in the Wall Street Journal saying that the DNC had accepted a lot of money from tobacco industries and had kind of been channeling it out to the Democratic state parties. Is there any difference in Dole accepting money from the tobacco industries and your administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, look at what I have said. What I seek to highlight is the difference in our policies. There is also a huge difference -- I mean, it's roughly, I think, a five to one difference in the ratio of contributions. I think over 80 percent of their money, I believe, is the tobacco industry's money I believe has gone to Republicans.
And what I've been critical of is the apparent impact of this. We have evidence of the Republican Party chairman calling state Republican officials around the country, when the Republicans out in the country are thinking about doing the responsible things, to restrict access of young people to tobacco and urging them not to do certain things. And we had the repeated opposition of Senator Dole to what we're trying to do to restrict the advertising of tobacco products to children and the distribution of them, and going to areas where he thinks there will be a receptive audience for that and attacking my policies.
So what I think is, you know, we have an open and free country and people who are citizens should be able to contribute to whomever they wish. But when you see a pattern of contributions and then a dramatic difference in the policies, it is the policies and their impact on the American people that I'm most concerned about.
And the American people should look at where I stand and where he stands and they should decide whether they agree with us. Then because all the contributions are reported, they can decide whether they think the contributions have anything to do with the policy position. That's how I think it ought to be analyzed.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:21 A.M. EDT