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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 16, 1998
                     REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT 
                             AT THE TOP OF 

                           The Roosevelt Room

9:04 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome to the White House. Thank you all very much for joining us. I'm sorry for the short delay in getting started here and, after we start this session, I'm going to make some opening comments and then I'm going to start the discussion here. I will have to leave a little bit before the end of this because of the funeral for Governor Lawton Chiles in Florida, and Tipper and I are representing the President and the country there. And, of course, when we set this up, we didn't realize that was going to be going on today, but my able colleagues here will take over from me.

And I'm really honored to be in partnership here with the Secretary of the Treasury, Bob Rubin, and SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez. These two members of the Cabinet have been going way above and beyond the call of duty and the regular course of events in putting their hearts and souls into making this whole effort work. I've always learned a lot from Bob and Aida about economics and business, and I'm grateful for the chance to work with them on this.

I also want to acknowledge my colleague Fred Hockberg, Deputy Administrator of SBA -- where'd you get to, Fred? Okay. Thank you, Fred. And others who are part of the administration team here. Chad Gifford is CEO of BankBoston; thanks for coming back for yet another of these sessions. In the private sector, he's been a tremendous partner for us, as honorary co-chair of the White House Business and Entrepreneurial Roundtable.

And to all of you; we'll hear from you during this session but, as a group, I want to thank you for the commitments that you're making and the whole spirit that you're bringing to this endeavor. It really is making a huge difference.

Now, before I get into the substance of my remarks about this Business Link announcement today, I would like to just make a couple of brief comments on another matter. I just came from visiting with the President in the Oval Office, where I congratulated him on his highly successful trip to the Middle East. And I told him that we were about to start this session here, and -- to put it in context, I think it's very clear that the most important job we have is to continue to focus on the business of the American people, and to do so in a bipartisan manner. That's how we make progress -- the discussion that is about to start here and the work that is underway within this group is itself an example of the kind of progress that we make when we do work on a bipartisan basis.

Now, I would just say that I believe on Capitol Hill, there is still time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and embrace a bipartisan compromise -- to seek a resolution that is both quick and fair -- and try to turn away from the bitter partisanship that we have seen so far. That is what the American people want, and that is what is in the best interests of this country.

Now I'd like to turn to the business at hand here --

Q Do you think you'll get that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've expressed my hope, Helen, and I hope that that will be the result. You know, in the Federalist Papers, James Madison was among those warning us about the dangers of faction", which is the word our founders used to describe partisanship that began to get out of the healthy boundaries that -- where it should be kept.

And those words of warning, more than 200 years ago, are still valid today. We're always at our best in this country when we recognize the dangers of excessive partisanship, and stop and reflect on what the best interest of the country is, and then try to put together a solution that transcends the partisanship and puts in the top priority-place what's best for the United States of America.

And in my opinion, what's best for the United States of America is for them to embrace a bipartisan compromise solution that spares the country the kind of damage and ordeal that would otherwise occur. That's my feeling.

END 9:10 A.M. EST