THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Rancho Cucamonga, California)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ADDRESSING THE RANCHO CUCAMONGA COMMUNITY Chaffey Community College Rancho Cucamonga, California
2:10 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Wow, thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you for coming, thank you for standing out here on this hot, fine day. Thank you for your enthusiasm. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Dr. Jerry Young, for making me feel so welcome at Chaffey College and for the work you do here. Thank you, Congressman George Brown. Ladies and gentlemen, there is not a member of the entire Congress who knows more about the role of technology in your future, in California's future, in America's future than George Brown, and I hope you will send him back to the United States Congress so that he can continue to serve you. (Applause.)
Thank you, Carrie Matthews, thank you for your wonderful speech. Thank you for bringing your wonderful children and thank you for the power of your example. You, in your efforts to be a good parent, a good learner and a successful worker in the future -- you're what this country is all about, and I'm proud to be on the platform with you. (Applause.)
I would like to thank the folks who were here before, Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis, State Comptroller Kathleen Connell, Assemblyman Joe Baca, Mayor Bill Alexander, Art Torres, the San Bernardino County Supervisors who were here, the other officials who were here, and I would like to thank the Olympians who were here, Mike Powell and Evelyn Ashford. Thank you.
Where are they? They're over here somewhere. Thank you. Hi, Evelyn. Hi, Mike. Thank you. (Applause.)
I'd like to thank Karen Kraft (pho.) who sang The National Anthem, the Rancho Cucamonga High School Marching Cougar Band. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. The Loveland Church Choir -- thank you for singing. (Applause.) I'll tell you, I have had a good time already, and I thank you for that. Thank you for these great signs out here. (Applause.)
You know, so many times in the last four years when I have come to California, I have come to help the people of California with a problem they had -- whether it was an earthquake, a fire, a flood, a base-closing, trying to protect our borders in the South -- always a problem. I come today to tell you we've also been working hard to create opportunities for the people of California and we're on the right track to the 21st century. (Applause.)
In this election season, you have to ask first of all where are we now compared to where we were four years ago, when we had high unemployment, stagnant wages, rising crime, a dividing society and rising cynicism. Look at where we are today. (Applause.) The lowest unemployment in seven and a half years, 10.5 million new jobs, nearly 4.5 million new homeowners, the deficit's gone down for four years in a row by 60 percent -- the first time that's happened since before the Civil War in the 1840s. We're in better shape than we were four years ago. (Applause.)
Fifteen million of the hardest-pressed working Americans got a tax cut so they could raise their children and work and not be tempted to fall back into welfare. The welfare rolls are down by 1.8 million and child support collections are up by $3 billion, 40 percent. (Applause.)
For four years, the crime rate has gone down, 12 million Americans got to take a little time off from work when a baby was born or a parent was sick without losing their jobs because of the Family and Medical Leave Law. (Applause.) On October the 1st, the new minimum wage law will become effective and 10 million Americans will get a raise. (Applause.)
That law will also make every small business in America eligible for a tax cut when they buy health insurance. When they -- they'll make it easier for small businesses to invest in their businesses, to hire more people, and they will be eligible for more tax relief, and we made it easier for people who work for small businesses to take our retirement plans and to keep them when they change jobs, and so many people change jobs today that's very important.
And finally, that bill gave parents who adopt children a $5,000 tax credit to promote adoptive families. There's a lot of children out there who need it, and I hope it helps. (Applause.)
We passed the health care reform bill that made 25 million Americans eligible to get or keep health insurance by saying simply, you cannot lose your health insurance or be denied it now just because somebody in your family has been sick, or you moved from job to job. It can revolutionize health care security for millions of Americans. (Applause.)
And you may have noticed that at the Democratic Convention, I said that I thought we ought to do more in health care, and two things I mentioned -- one, I don't think it's right to throw a new mother and her newborn child out of the hospital before at least 48 hours go by. (Applause.) And I believe we ought to make a beginning at providing some insurance for people -- there are millions and millions and millions of families who need some health care in the mental health area, and I think we ought to make a beginning of that, and I'm here to tell you that this week, the Congress in both Houses has voted to do both those things. We are moving in the right direction, we are on the right track to the 21st century. (Applause.)
Now, folks, I have tried in the last four years to move our country toward the America I want for the 21st century, a country in which every person, without regard to color, gender or any other difference can live out their dreams and live up to their God-given capacity, a country where -- look out at this sea of people -- where all of us with all of our diversity will be able to come together and not be divided, a country that will still be the world's strongest force for peace and freedom and prosperity. And our formula is simple: We have to meet our challenges, we have to protect our values -- opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and a community in which every single person who works hard and plays by the rules no matter whatever else you want to say about them has got a role to play, a place at the table and we'll be walking across that bridge to the 21st century together. I want you to help me build that bridge. Will you do it? (Applause.)
So now, we have to ask ourselves: Are we going to build a bridge to the future, or a bridge to the past? Are we going to build a bridge where everybody can walk across because we recognize our obligations to help each other make the most of their own lives, or are we going to say, you're on your own.
Frankly, folks, I think America ought to work the way our community colleges work. Look at this place. It is democratic, small "d," -- that is, it's open to all, it's flexible, it's oriented toward results, the programs have to be good and relevant; otherwise people don't profit from them when they leave, they're changing all of the time and they represent partnerships between people in business and people in education, and no one asks you what your political party is or what your position is on this, that, or the other issue is. You're just given a chance to make the most of your own life. Nobody gives you a guarantee, but everybody gets a chance. That's the kind of America I want to build for everybody all the time. (Applause.)
Since I became President, I've worked as hard as I could to change the way politics works in Washington, to get away from the old who-are-we-going-to-blame politics, and instead say, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to make America better. No more who to blame. Let's ask what to do. No more insults, let's have a campaign and a life in America of ideas and change, positive change toward a better future. (Applause.)
We still have a lot to do if we're going to build the right kind of bridge to the 21st century. We have to provide the best educational opportunity in the world to everybody. And let me just mention two or three things. Number one, I have proposed a program to mobilize 30,000 mentors, including college students on Work study, AmeriCorps volunteers, other trained teachers to mobilize a million volunteers to go into all of our schools where there are reading problems so that every 8-year-old in America will be able to read on his or her own by the year 2000. (Applause.)
I want to have a country where every classroom in America, every single classroom and library in America is hooked up to the Information Superhighway, with good computers, good teachers and the Internet and the World Wide Web for everybody. What that means -- (applause) -- what that means is, if we do that, for the first time in history every student in every classroom in the poorest urban areas and the most remote rural areas will have access to the same learning in the same way at the same quality in the same time as the people in the wealthiest institutions in America. It will revolutionize opportunity in education and we have to do it. (Applause.)
I want to help our public schools to meet their challenges, to stay open later for the kids that need a place to go, a positive place to go, to have more flexibility to get greater results, to be judged by their standards, but to be given freedom from rules that stifle them. I've done a lot I'm very proud of in this area because I spent a lot of time in public schools as well as community colleges.
One of the things that California has led the way in is in the creation of new schools in public school districts, called "charter schools," where a group of teachers gets together and says, here's who we're going to serve, here's what we're going to produce, give us a charter and if we don't produce it, take it away from us. Hold us accountable, we'll educate our children better.
There are about 350 of these schools in America today, 90 of them in California. Today, we released another $1.25 million to put 12 more in California, and if you will give me four more years, we'll build 3,000 more in America and all across this country. (Applause.)
Finally, let me say that we have to make college education available to every single solitary person in America. (Applause.) Within four years, if we do the right things, we can make a degree from a community college just as universal in America as a high school diploma is today. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
Here's how we're going to do it. I propose to give families a tax credit, a dollar-for-dollar reduction in their taxes for the cost of the average community college tuition for two years so that everybody can afford to go to community college. We'll make it free; all you have to do is show up, do a good job, make your grades, learn and go on to build a better life. It'll make America stronger. (Applause.)
And I want to make it easier for people to go on to four-year schools, to postgraduate education, for older people to go back to college. So we also propose a $10,000 tax deduction for the cost of any college tuition after high school for people of any age. (Applause.) We will do this. And when we do, America will be stronger. (Applause.)
Finally, let me say that I think families ought to be able to save, and save more through an IRA, an individual retirement account, and then withdraw from it without any tax penalty for education or buying a first home or taking care of their health care needs. Now, we can revolutionize educational opportunity. If we do those things and you keep doing your job here, we will be able to say in four years we've opened the doors of college to every person in America and a college education at least at a community college is just as universal in the year 2000 as a high school diploma was four years ago. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
We have to keep working to keep this economy growing. California's suffered too much and too long, and there are still people here who want jobs who don't have them. That means we have to keep interest rates down and investment going. That means we have to balance the budget, yes, but we have to do it in a way that continues to invest in the technologies of the future and the education of our people, in the protection of the environment and providing the protection that Medicare and Medicaid give to children, to families with disabilities and to the elderly. We don't want to divide this country and we don't have to balance the budget. Will you help me do it in the right way? That's an important part of our bridge to the 21st century. (Applause.)
We have to build a bridge to the 21st century that keeps the crime rate coming down. We've got four years of declining crime. The leaders of our friends in the other party, they fought us on the Crime Bill. They're still against putting 100,000 police on the street, although for the life of me I can't figure out why. They were against the Brady Bill, they were against the assault weapons ban. They told people they would lose their weapons. Well, it's four years later. Not a single hunter, not a single sportsman has lost a single weapon. But 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers did not get handguns to terrorize the American people because of the Brady Bill and we are safer because of it. (Applause.)
We ought to go further. We ought to ban the cop-killer bullets and we ought to extend the Brady Bill and say, if you have brutalized your spouse or your child, you ought not to be eligible to get a handgun either. (Applause.) Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
We passed welfare reform, but all it does is give us a chance to reform welfare. It says now people on welfare will still get health care for their kids and nutrition and child care, if they take a job, more than ever before. But the income must now be used to move people to work. So I have a plan to create a million jobs, I don't want to see children and their parents in the street. I want everybody working and succeeding at home and at work. Will you help me create those million jobs to put people to work who have never had it before? (Applause.)
I want us to build a stronger American community and a stronger and safer world. That means we have to build strong families. I'm proud of the fact that the first bill I signed was the Family and Medical Leave Law, and I'd like to see it expanded a little to say you can also keep your job and still have a little time off to take your child to the doctor or to that parent-teacher conference at the school. It'll make America stronger. (Applause.)
We've had 10.5 million new jobs since I signed the Family Leave Law, it's been good for business because when families are happy, when they're succeeding at raising their children, they're more productive at work and they make America stronger. Let it be our goal to say, success at home and success at work go hand in hand. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
Let me say in California you know we have to build a bridge that protects our environment. I'm proud that we've destroyed more toxic waste dumps in three years than were destroyed in the 12 years before I took office; proud that our air is cleaner, that our food is safer; very, very proud that we created the country's largest national park south of Alaska here in California in the Mojave Desert; very proud that we saved Yellowstone from a gold mine and that we are moving forward on a whole broad range of fronts.
But we still have problems. Ten million American children -- 10 million -- live within four miles of a toxic waste dump, and that's wrong. In four more years, if you will give them to us, we'll close 500 of those dumps, the worst ones; because our children should grow up next to parks, not poison. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
Finally, let me say that we have to build a bridge to the 21st century that is safe for our children. I am so proud of the fact that just a couple of days ago, almost every country in the world -- only three voting no -- voted to ban the testing of nuclear weapons forever. We are making this a safer world. (Applause.)
I'm proud of the fact that there are no nuclear missiles pointed at America's children for the first time since the dawn of the Nuclear Age -- (applause) -- proud that your country is leading the way to peace and prosperity. But we have more to do. We have more to do. You saw it in Iraq. We cannot allow anybody anywhere to believe they are not bound by the rules of civilized behavior.
So I say again, I don't want to get in a word war with Saddam Hussein, but we're going to do whatever it takes to keep him from threatening his neighbors, threatening our pilots, and we're going to enforce the no-fly zone. (Applause.)
Let me make this last point: I believe that all of you, particularly those of you who are young, who have more tomorrows than yesterdays to look forward to -- (applause) -- I believe you will grow up in a more peaceful world than any we've known in a long, long time. But we know it's not a world free of threats. We know we have to deal with terrorism, we know we have to deal with all the ethnic and racial and religious wars that still engulf the world. We know we have to deal with organized crime and drug smuggling. We know we have to deal with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
That's why I have worked so hard to rally the nations of the world to say we're going to have zero-tolerance for terrorism, and why we're working so hard to make airline travel and airports safer in America. And I want you to support what we're trying to do.
But today in the United States Senate there's a big decision being made that most people have never talked about. They're debating something called the Chemical Weapons Convention. It is a treaty that will increase the safety of our soldiers and our citizens by reducing the dangers posed by poison gas. That seems a long way away but, remember, it wasn't so very long ago that a lot of innocent citizens were killed in Japan by a fanatic terrorist who exposed them to poison gas in a subway. We've got to do everything we possibly can to minimize the exposure of our people to this gas.
Now, this treaty was negotiated by President Bush; then I submitted it to the Senate three years ago for ratification. This has been a bipartisan effort all along the way. General Colin Powell supports it, President Bush is working for it, his national security advisor is working for it, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are working for it; but bitter partisan debate has broken out in the last few days and has threatened to derail this treaty. I want you to be protected from the dangers of poison gas insofar as we can humanly do it, and I ask you to join with me in asking the Senate to resolve the remaining questions, put partisanship aside and put America on the side of a safer world without poison gas being exposed to our citizens or our soldiers. (Applause.) Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
Now, before I go, let me just ask you to remember what I said about the community colleges. Don't you want a country in which we're coming together, instead of being divided?
THE PRESIDENT: Don't you want a country in which we all roll up our sleeves and say, we're going to work together to give each other the chance to make the most of our lives?
THE PRESIDENT: Don't you think my wife was right when she said it takes a village to raise a child?
AUDIENCE: Yes!! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Don't you think that we're far better off building a bridge to the future than a bridge to the past?
AUDIENCE: Yes!! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I want you to think about this. Just look around this crowd today. Look around this crowd. When I represented the United States at the opening of the Olympics and I watched all the teams come in, it was thrilling to me that there were people from 197 different nations there. And then I remembered I was looking at our own team, when Hillary and Chelsea and I went to visit with them, and I thought, you know, if the people from America, if they didn't have the American outfits on, you wouldn't have a clue where they were from. If you heard that the American team was up you could say, well, that one's from Africa, that one's from Scandinavia, that one's from the Middle East, this one's from Asia, this one's from India. They were from everywhere.
They were from everywhere. There were 197 nations represented at the Olympics; in Los Angeles County there are people from 150 of those 197 places. (Applause.) And I want you to think about that, not only today, not only for the next eight weeks, but for the rest of your life. This is a country founded 220 years ago by people who said, we believe all people are created equal. (Applause.)
We didn't behave that way then; we don't behave that way perfectly today, but that's what we believe. And we have to stand up and say to everybody, if you believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, if you're willing to show up tomorrow and be a good citizen and work hard, you're our kind of American, we don't need to know anything else about you, you're part of our American community. Will you help me build a bridge that all Americans can walk across to the 21st century? (Applause.)
Keep your spirits up, keep your determination up, and keep your eye on the future. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 2:35 P.M. PDT