THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Norristown, Pennsylvania) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 20, 1999
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT TO THE PEOPLE OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
Norristown Area High School Norristown, Pennsylvania
7:30 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Hello, Montgomery County. (Applause.) Thank you very much for your warm welcome, and it is a warm welcome. (Laughter.) I want to thank the First Lady for her kind comments. And, you know, there is no doubt Pennsylvania loves Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
Tipper and I are so proud to be with all of you here today. And we have been so privileged to serve with this President and this First Lady over the last six years and seven and a half hours, because we had the six-year anniversary of this administration at high noon today. And Tipper and I were reflecting on the way up here about what a wonderful privilege it has been to work hard for ideas that really matter to the American people and for progress that's greatly needed for the American people. And we heard a lot more last night about how we can make still more progress as we prepare our nation for the 21st century.
Did you all hear the President's State of the Union address last night? (Applause.) Was that some great speech? Do you agree with that agenda? Are you willing to fight for it? (Applause.) Let's pass it. (Applause.) Thank you.
You know, you've got some great members of Congress here who are fighting hard to pass this agenda and to bring about the further positive changes that we need, and I do want to compliment Congressman Joe Hoeffel and his wife, Francesca -- they were in our home recently -- and you all have chosen so wisely and well. Their children, Mary and Jake, are here. It's a wonderful family. And Joe Hoeffel is off to a great start on your behalf. (Applause.) I know that you have very high expectations and they're well placed.
I want to also acknowledge two other members of Congress who are here, both of whom do a fantastic job on behalf of the people of this state and the people of this country: Congressman Chaka Fattah and Congressman Bob Brady. Would both of you all stand up, please? (Applause.) And Congressman Brady's wife, Debbie, is here; and Congressman Fattah's son, Chip, is here, and I wanted to acknowledge them.
(Acknowledgements are made.) (Applause.)
I did want to say this. I think that we should also recognize the Vice President of the Student Council, Christopher Blake. (Applause.) It's so easy to overlook that position -- (laughter) -- and, actually, it's an extremely significant position. (Applause.) You and me. (Laughter and applause.)
You know, coming to the Norristown area, I'm reminded of two more of your favorite sons, Tommy Lasorda and Mike Piazza. (Applause.) As many of you know here, Tommy was a great player at Norristown Area High before he got drafted. Mike was a pretty good player too, although he didn't play for the Eagles. But when Tommy Lasorda knew Mike Piazza's family, he was Mike's godfather and he urged the Dodgers to draft Mike as a favor to Piazza's father. So they did -- in the 62nd round. But he never gave up. Mike Piazza worked harder than everyone else on the field, and that is exactly the spirit that I see and hear right here in this group here today, and it's the kind of dedication we need to move this country forward. (Applause.)
Now, ladies and gentlemen, last night President Bill Clinton stood before this nation and reported that the state of our union is strong; and it is. But that's really kind of an understatement, because many of the economic experts are now adding up the figures and consulting the history books and looking back over the decades, indeed centuries, and many of them are now beginning to write. But, actually, our economy right now may be the strongest economy we've ever had in the entire history of the United States of America. (Applause.)
But we've got more work to do still. It is now the longest and strongest economic expansion in peacetime in the history of our nation. As I say, the overall figures are adding up in a very impressive way. But we're also making tremendous progress in solving other problems. We have the lowest crime rate in a quarter century, the smallest welfare rolls in 30 years, the cleanest environment in many decades.
And you know, six years ago it's worth remembering that when the Clinton-Gore administration started on January 20th six years ago, we had in our nation at that moment by far the biggest, highest budget deficit in the history of the United States. And you know what, we've not only eliminated it, we now have by far the biggest budget surplus in the history of the United States. That's a turnaround for progress. (Applause.)
Now, we have cut taxes for middle income families, we have brought the crime rate down, we've invested more in key priority areas that will build our country's strength for the 21st century, balanced the budget. The President will talk about his plans for the future and the use of that surplus. We're seeing progress across the board, all these new jobs, lower unemployment rate -- all of the rest -- greater opportunities for all these young people.
This did not happen by accident. It happened because we've had leadership. I listened also to the invocation and that famous line from Scripture, "Where there is no vision that people shall perish." Well, I'll tell you what -- the flip side of that phrase is, where there is a clear, strong, wise vision on the part of a President of the United States of America, our country prospers. Thank you, President Bill Clinton for your vision and for your leadership and for your presidency. (Applause.) We're doing well in America. We're doing well. (Applause.)
And the President knows that this is no time to rest on our laurels, because this wonderful economy is one that not everybody is participating in. You know, in times past we've had some good economic periods and a lot of communities and individuals and families have been left behind. And from the very beginning Bill Clinton has said, we've got to try our best to create the kind of progress that everybody can share in. And so we're redoubling our efforts to do just that.
And because we are, in his phrase at the end of his speech last night, at the mountaintop of this American Century, able to see into the future, it is obvious that we need to use our strength and our economic prosperity in order to do even better and to solve the problems that remain unsolved. And so he is charting for our nation a bold course and offering a bold, new agenda to prepare us for the 21st century.
In presenting the President to you, I just want to mention briefly three areas in which we're going to concentrate attention. First of all, Joe Hoeffel talked about this issue that some call livability or smart growth. And I'm well aware that Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, has been a leader in this field, thanks in significant measure to what you've done over the years, Joe. We appreciate that, you've been a great leader in this area. Others have joined with you. (Applause.)
And in the county that boasts the home of John Audobon, himself, you started one of the largest initiatives ever to preserve open spaces, to maintain parks and greenways and trails and precious farmlands. And we're learning from communities like this one. We don't have to have a future in which the traffic jams get longer and bigger and more unwieldy where parents are explaining to their children on cell telephones why they can't get home to read them a bedtime story; where road rage is on the evening news every night -- people are out there bumper to bumper.
And so the President is proposing the single largest investment in smart growth in the history of the United States of America, to help communities all over our nation save open space, ease that traffic congestion, improve the quality of life and have a cleaner environment. Let's build an America that's not just better off, but also better and brighter for the children and grandchildren that deserve a bright future. That's what this issue is all about. (Applause.)
Now, secondly, you know the environment is very important and we have been doing more to clean up the environment than any other administration ever has, and at the same time building this strong economy. So those goals go together.
And the second issue I would like to talk about from the President's agenda is the need to strengthen families. We live our life primarily in the venue of our families. And families can contribute to the healing that we all need, or they can make situations worse. And so the President, from the very beginning, has talked about and worked for this goal. And the First Lady has been tireless and very eloquent in pursuing this agenda, as well.
I just want to single out one issue that is right at the heart of this agenda for families. And that is the health care patients' bill of rights. What it's all about is this: If there is a crucial medical decision that affects you or a member of your family, that decision ought to be made by a doctor and not by some accountant for a company that's trying to cut corners at the expense of your health -- it's just that simple. (Applause.)
You know, a lot of times doctors are put in a situation where they are not allowed to do what they think is the right thing for their patient, and instead the decision is made by some young bureaucrat on the other end of a telephone line that does not have a license to practice medicine and does not have the right to play God and we need to change that situation. (Applause.)
As a matter of fact, it reminds me a little bit of a joke that I heard the other day about three neighbors who died and went to Heaven and ran into St. Peter. And St. Peter interviewed all of them in succession and asked the first one: "What did you do on Earth?" And she said, "Well, I was a doctor. I cured the sick all my life." And he said, "Well, come on in to Heaven." And he asked the second one, "Well, what did you do?" And he said, "I was a teacher. I taught children all my life." St. Peter said, "Well, come on in to Heaven." And he asked the third one, and the third one is a little sheepish and he said, "Well, I ran an HMO." (Laughter.) And St. Peter said, "Well, come on in, but you can only stay three days." (Laughter.) That's what they've been doing to us, and we need to change it. (Applause.)
A doctor -- a few months ago, a doctor told me a true story about a patient of his who came into the emergency room and went into full cardiac arrest. His heart stopped, he died right on the table. And the doctor used all of his skills and one of those instruments they call a defibrillator and they eventually brought this person back to life, restarted his heart. He sent the bill to the HMO, the HMO refused to pay -- true story -- because they said it was not an emergency. (Laughter.)
Well, now, some of those fighting against this President's agenda may feel that the absence of a heart is not an emergency, but to us it is. And we need a health care patient's bill of rights to put the power and the decision-making authority in the hands of doctors and medical professionals for the good of families. (Applause.)
Now, finally, the third issue I want to mention from this agenda that we're fighting so hard for is education. If we want to build a stronger nation for the 21st century, we have to understand a couple of facts. Number one, we are in the early stages of an information revolution without any precedent in the whole history of humankind. We're seeing a dramatic change in the nature of work, all professions, all jobs are being changed. Some older jobs are disappearing; a lot of new ones are appearing. A lot of traditional jobs are changing the way people do them.
And so the strategic resource for the 21st century is knowledge, and that means the strategic skill is learning. And that means that, just as in the earlier days of the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we got together and pooled our resources and worked together to build ports and railroads, and to make sure that factories had the resources they needed, and to make sure that we could make the industrial economy work for us instead of against us -- now, it's obvious in the Information Age we need to get together and make sure that we have the best school system in the entire world right here in the United States of America, because that's how we'll compete in the 21st century. (Applause.)
And so we've been working to get more teachers into the classroom and bring the classroom size down so teachers have more time to spend with individual students. We want to lift up teachers. We honor teachers. We don't want to tear down public schools. We appreciate what teachers do. (Applause.)
And for these young people, under this President's leadership we've tried to open up the access to higher education -- and he'll talk about that. It's an important accomplishment. But there's one other thing that was on the agenda last year that the President said, look, we didn't do it last year, he pleaded with the Congress, do it this time. I want you to listen to this and I'm pretty sure you'll agree, but I want to ask you.
We have a lot of schools in America that are crumbling. There are holes in the ceiling and cracks in the wall and portable classrooms. You've got a lot of investment going on right here. But just 20 minutes away in the North Penn school district there are a lot of portable classrooms. (Applause.) And -- okay. You all will meet on the athletic field later in the year, I'm sure. (Applause.) But here's my point. Nobody should be in inadequate facilities.
You know, when we talk about controlling crime, we listen to the police officers tell us that if a neighborhood's run down and there are broken windows and there's litter all over and graffiti, then the message to would-be criminals is, if you want to commit a crime, this might be just the place. There is an unwritten, but powerful message in the nature and appearance of the community.
Well, the same thing happens in the schoolroom and a school building. If our country allows a school building to be so run down that it's hard for the children to concentrate -- I was in a school where they had to move the desks away from where the ceiling tiles regularly fell down. I was in another school that was so overcrowded, they had to feed the children lunch in shifts, and the first shift, elementary school, started at 9:30 a.m. in the morning, and they just kept on going until the early afternoon.
Well, the message, unwritten but powerful, is, if you're looking for a place to goof off, this might be just your place, because we obviously don't care enough to fix up your school and connect it to the Information Superhighway and make sure that it's prepared for the 21st century.
And so this President has said we've got to take on that challenge. After all, we're all baby boomers. When we first went into the elementary schools in the early 1950s, there were portable classrooms then -- quonset huts left over from World War II. But the World War II veterans got busy and did something about it, and they built a lot of new schools and they passed the G.I. Bill and they hired new teachers and gave them the training that they need. And they stocked the school libraries with the most up-to-date books, and they made the biggest investment in education that up until that time had ever been made. And our nation benefitted from those investments in education.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, there was a study that came out last summer that didn't get too much attention from the news media but to me, was very significant. It showed that these young people who are under the age of 18, have now just passed by the baby boom generation and now they are the biggest generation in the history of the United States of America.
Now, the question is this: Are those of us in a position to act today ready, willing and able to take responsibility for facing this challenge the way the World War II veterans did when the baby boomers were coming along into the schools? Our future is in these children and their future is in their classrooms with their teachers in what they learn and in their capacity to learn. And so our President has said, it is time to pass national legislation to make it possible for local school districts to build new schools and modernize the classrooms and create facilities that are worthy of these children, where they can learn and be prepared for the 21st century. (Applause.)
Now, finally, we're doing well and we've got the agenda we need for the future. This President's outlined a vision and he has the leadership skills to take us on the right road toward that bright future. But there is one question that we have to answer -- the people of the United States of America -- because there is a lot of resistance to this President's agenda. You've seen it and you've heard it. We've been able to prevail on many things, but there are a lot of battles that lie ahead. We need some bipartisan help.
But you know, the response of the people of the United States to this President and his agenda will determine whether or not we will continue moving in the right direction and pass this agenda.
So as I present the President to you I want to ask all of you, including those in the overflow room -- there are almost as many people in the overflow room listening to us on the television screen there as there are here, and we're going to go by afterward and say hello to them personally -- (applause) -- I want to ask all of you to demonstrate to the people of the United States of America that right here in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, you agree with President Bill Clinton's agenda for the future of the United States of America. You support this President. You want to see him lead our country in the right direction. You want to pass these measures. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you President Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much. First, let me say to all of you that when we came in here tonight I think it's fair to say that Hillary and Al and Tipper and I were literally overwhelmed by this reception. And I knew that this was a wonderful community, I knew this was a wonderful school. I knew there was a lot of enthusiasm, but it didn't all quite add up until I realized that we had caused your exams to be delayed. (Applause.) And I want you to know that we're having such a good time we'd be delighted to come back about this time next term if you want -- (applause) -- we can make this a regular thing. (Laughter and applause.)
I want to thank Dr. Williams for his magnificent invocation. I thank Dr. Woodall for the remarks he made, for making us welcome here and for the example that he and Mr. Spencer, the principal here, all the teachers here, and all the students and teachers from this school and the other schools here represented. I thank you for what you're doing and for the example you're setting for America. (Applause.)
I'd like to thank all of our musicians and the choir for playing and singing for us. I thought they were great. (Applause.) And I want to thank Melissa for speaking so well. Weren't you proud of her? Did she do a great job, or what? (Applause.) I'm glad I never had to run against her for anything. (Laughter.)
I also want to thank all these wonderful people from Pennsylvania who have come here, all the officials and citizens from this area and from Philadelphia and nearby areas. Let me say, there was a lot of talk tonight keying off Reverend Williams' invocation about vision.
I'd like to say something else, if I might, out of respect to others. It is a good thing to have a vision, because otherwise you never know where you're going. So you have to have one. I ran for President, beginning in 1991, because I thought our country was drifting, and because I believed that if you look at these young people here -- one elementary school in this area has kids from 50 countries speaking 13 languages -- and if you look at all these young people and their parents and everybody in this room and you imagine what the world is going to be like -- and you know it's going to get smaller and smaller and we're going to have more and more relationships, and the borders will become more and more open, it's hard to imagine any country in the world that is remotely as well positioned as America, to give people the chance to make the most of their own lives.
But we had to have a vision. My vision for the 21st century was pretty simple. I wanted us to have a country or the children of the Gores and the Clintons and all the other kids in our country where every person who was a responsible citizen would have a genuine opportunity to live out their dreams.
I wanted us to have a country where over all the differences between us we would relish those differences -- our racial, our religious, our cultural differences, our serious differences we would debate seriously -- but we would honor our common humanity and our shared values as Americans enough to say what unites us is so much more important than what divides us; we will build one America in the 21st century. (Applause.)
And I wanted us to continue to be the country, as we grew more diverse and, therefore, had deeper and deeper ties with more and more other people around the world. I wanted America to recognize that because of our wealth and position we have not only the opportunity, but a responsibility to continue to be the world's leading force for peace and freedom and prosperity for others. It is good for ourselves to do the right thing in trying to build the rest of the world and build closer ties. (Applause.)
Now, it is a good thing to have a vision -- you can't get started without it. Otherwise you don't know where you're going. The Vice President talked about Tommy Lasorda and Mike Piazza -- my favorite baseball player of all time, because he was such a wonderful speaker, was Yogi Berra. You know, Yogi Berra said, "We don't know where we're going, but we're making good time." (Laughter.) So you have to have a vision. But you have to have something else, too. You have to have people who are willing to act on it.
I hope you could see with the four of us up here -- we like being together, we've worked closely together. We see ourselves as a family, and we see our allies as a family. (Applause.) When I came to Washington I wanted to do something about homelessness, but Tipper Gore helped me do it. I wanted to raise the consciousness of America about all kinds of things that we sort of kept hidden under the rug, but were hurting people. Mental health was one of the most important. Tipper Gore helped me do it.
I wanted to prove that we could have a smaller government -- we now have the smallest federal government since 1962, but I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn't just throw good federal employees in the street and that would enable us to do more. The Vice President made it possible for us to do that, he led that effort.
I wanted to prove that we could grow the economy and improve the environment by doing things like building new cars that would triple gas mileage. The Vice President has led our efforts there. And in dealing with all the promise of new technology in trying to hook up all our schools and libraries to the Internet, and in managing a big portion of our relations with Russia, South Africa and other countries. I can say without qualification that no Vice President in history has had so much responsibility or done so much good. So the vision requires an action. (Applause.)
And if it hadn't been for Hillary for all the good intentions in the world, we wouldn't have done nearly as much to advance the cause of health care or child care or education or the observe the millennium -- we wouldn't have been able to do it. (Applause.)
When I see Joe Hoeffel standing up here talking -- and I know he's going to be a strong force on the committees that he's gotten. I see another new Congressman out there, my long-time friend, Bob Brady, from Philadelphia. I know that they will be implementors of a vision. Or Chaka Fattah who got you all worked up, up there, when he stood up. Do you know what he did? He passed a bill in the Congress last year that I was for, but I could not have passed it. I'll tell you the truth, I could not have done it.
But he went around to Republicans and Democrats alike and said, you know, I come from Philadelphia. There are a lot of poor kids there that have never had a real chance. They come from poor families, they live in tough neighborhoods, but they've got good minds. Will you help me pass a bill that will provide the necessary financial support for college students to come in and mentor these kids in middle school so they'll go on to college? And we did it, because of that. (Applause.)
Now, I'll give you one other example. Last time I came here as President was in 1993, to a conference on entitlement reform. Entitlement reform is a fancy way of saying with everybody living longer and the baby boomers about to retire, all the rest of you aren't going to be able to afford to pay our medical and retirement bills unless we do something. That's what entitlement reform means.
And I knew the first thing we had to do was to get the economy going. And I said, you know, I've got this economic plan and it's not going to be very popular with a lot of people because it has a lot of tough decisions. We re asking people who are the wealthiest people in America to pay a little more in income taxes -- sometimes a lot more if they were really well off; we're asking people who are used to getting government programs to do without a few hundred of them until we get this budget in balance. But if we do it, we'll lower interest rates, cutting home mortgages and the interest rates on car payments and credit cards; and we'll get investment back in the country; we'll have jobs coming back in the country.
And the money you will save on the stock market going up and the interest rates going down will be far greater than the money those of us who are well off had to pay in a little more taxes. It was very controversial and people said, oh, it will bring an end to the economy. It will end the American economy as we know it, it will drive us into recession.
Well, you heard what the Vice President said about the country with the longest peacetime expansion in history, the lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957 and all of that. What you should know is that this county -- this county has had since that economic program passed and the interest rates started going down -- 1800 new businesses and 44,000 new jobs, the highest growth in the state of Pennsylvania. (Applause.)
The decisive vote that made all that possible was cast in Congress by Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky. (Applause.) We won by one vote in the House and it was tied in the Senate. The decisive vote in the Senate was cast by Al Gore. (Applause.) And as he says, since he gets to vote whenever there's a tie, whenever he votes, we win. (Laughter.)
Now, the point I'm trying to make is we had a good vision, but somebody has got to carry the water; somebody has to make the decisions; somebody has to push the rocks up the hill; somebody has to take that step and jump off the diving board; someone has to move. People have to act on their vision. That's why I said last night and that's why that sign says, let's get to work. We have a good vision but we must act. (Applause.)
And for all of you, I thank you. I wanted to come here to this school because this school district represents what I think America ought to do. (Applause.) I know not every school district has the resources. So if we want everybody to end social promotion but have summer school and after-school programs, we have to provide the funds to help the school districts do it. If we want to turn around schools that aren't working, we have to provide help from Washington. And we're doing that.
But I want people to see this school district all over America, on the news tonight, in the articles tomorrow. I want people to know we came here to a place that has done important things -- to give kids who need it extra help, to have high standards, to do things that will create a vision that people will want to act on. I think to have a motto like, "learn and live to serve" is a stunning thing and I hope you will live by it all your lives. (Applause.)
Most of you here know this, but for the benefit of the press I want to say this: Every high school graduate in this school district gets a license, driver's license-sized copy of the diploma, and on the back it has the computer skills the graduate has mastered. That's a driver's license to the future. I would like to see that modeled in other places all across America, as well. (Applause.)
You've already heard what we have to say, but it's plain that America is working again. But every one of you knows -- if we had time to do it, I'd give everybody a piece of paper and I'd ask you to write down -- you might do this when you go home tonight. I'd ask you to write down somewhere between three and six things -- no more than six -- that you believe are the long-term challenges that will face you young people in the 21st century, and what is it that we could do now that would pave the way to a better future for you.
I can tell you that I did my best in the State of the Union last night to say, okay, we've got America working again, but what are the long-term challenges? And you've heard them talked about tonight, and I won't belabor them. But let me say, we have to build strong communities in the 21st century that gives everyone a chance at opportunity. That means we have to do more to have the kind of economic opportunity in places where unemployment is high and people make low wages that you have here. That means putting more money in there, it means teaching adults better skills. It means teaching those who are first-generation Americans to read better, if that what it takes. It means doing whatever is necessary to get these economies going. It means continuing to drive the crime rate down. It means making all communities livable communities, to set aside the land that we need to set aside, to have the green space, to manage the traffic, to do the things that will make people free and happy if they live anywhere in America.
These are the kinds of things we have to do. It means reconciling work and family. One of the best things that the Gores have done is for the last seven years they have had a conference in Tennessee every year on the challenges modern families face. And most all of them relate somehow or other to the need to balance work and family -- a challenge that faces Americans in all income groups.
I'll bet there is not a family here that has not at some point in the last couple of years faced some sort of challenge of balancing your responsibilities to your children to your responsibilities to your work.
That's why we want a child care plan that includes help for stay-at-home parents when the children are very young, but real help for working people that can't afford quality child care on their own, because -- (applause) -- in America, when I look at all of you, I want you to be free and confident when you start your families that you can do what you want in your work life, but you know that your first responsibility is to raise your children and you're going to be able to succeed at that responsibility. (Applause.)
The Vice President told you that rather gripping story about HMOs. The truth is, we have to manage the health care system; it's like any other system. We have to keep the costs as low as possible, but the quality of our people's health counts most. That's why we say you ought to be able to see a specialist if you need one. You ought to be able to go to the nearest emergency room. You ought to be able to have your medical records private and all of the other things in our patients' bill of rights, because we've got to balance the need to save money with the fundamental necessity of providing quality health care to all Americans.
And I'd just like to say one other thing. We've said a lot about education tonight, but I would like to say something about the very first subject I talked about last night in the State of the Union, and that is the aging of America. And again I want to say this is an issue that should be of primary importance, not to today's retirees, but to tomorrow's retirees, their children and their grandchildren yet unborn.
Because when the baby boomers retire -- and that includes the parents of just about all of the students here, people between the ages of 34 and 52 were the people born in the generation after World War II, the largest group of people in history, young people, until the present class of students, which numbers over 53 million -- now, when we retire, we're going to double the number of seniors by the year 2030. There will be two people working for every one person drawing Social Security. And what we've got -- and the average life expectancy is already 76 years old plus. For the young people here, it's probably about 83 years. This is a high-class problem; the older you get, the more you'll be glad that that's going up. (Laughter.) This is a high-class problem. But we do not want to get into a position where our retirement is a financial burden to our children and undermines our children's ability to raise our grandchildren.
So when I tell you that we ought to set aside roughly 75 percent of this surplus we've got for the next 15 years to save Social Security and to save Medicare, and in the process, since we'll be saving the money, we'll be paying down the national debt, giving us the lowest level of debt we've had as a nation since before World War I in 1917; keeping interest rates down, investment high, jobs creation going and incomes rising -- I say that not just for those of us who will be older, but for our kids and our grandkids. And I hope you will see it that way.
This is a big test for us. We haven't had this kind of situation in a long, long time. And very rarely do societies have the luxury of being financially strong enough, militarily secure enough and having enough information about the future to make the kind of decisions that I asked the American people to make last night. Yes, we ought to give some tax cuts, but they ought to be the right kind. They ought to be for child care. They ought to be for helping us to deal with our environmental challenges. They ought to be for people saving for their own retirement, because Social Security will never be enough for that. They ought to be for raising children.
But we can save this money now and lift a burden from the young people here. I want every parent here to look at the young people here and ask yourselves: Do you really want to run the risk of squandering this surplus that we have worked so hard for until we know for sure that our retirement will not compromise the integrity of their lives and their ability to raise their children as we have tried to raise them. (Applause.)
Now, the young people here are going to have a fascinating time. The Internet is already growing by, you know, millions and millions of new pages every week. It's the fastest-growing communication mechanism in human history. People are able to move around as never before, and even if you can't leave town now you've got people from all over the world right next door.
We are learning things that we have never imagined before. We are on the verge of not only unlocking the mysteries of the human gene, but actually finding medical treatments to cure or even prevent things from Alzheimer's to arthritis, to all kinds of cancers. This is a stunning time.
I went to the Auto Show in Detroit the other day, and one thing I'm looking forward to -- I love this job and I'm not looking forward to two years from now being barred from being President by the Constitution's two-term limit -- but one thing I am looking forward to, now that I've been to the Detroit Auto Show is getting back in those cars, because the cars of the future are going to be environmentally sound and hilariously fun to drive, and safer.
This is going to be an interesting time for you to live in. But we have to do our best in this time to, first of all, make it safe, dealing with the challenges of nuclear and chemical and biological weapons, to give you the strongest communities possible, to build one America across our lines of diversity and to think about the future.
When I ran for President in 1992, before I ever made the decision to run, a young man who is now not quite so young, he's a graduate student, named Sean Landris (phonetic) was driving me around Los Angeles. I was an anonymous, virtually anonymous governor of Arkansas. But Sean Landris knew something about me and the speeches I had made and the things I was interested in, and he said, "Are you going to run for President?" And I said, "Well, I haven't decided yet, but I might." He said, "Well, if you do, here's what I think your theme song ought to be."
And he had a little tape deck in his car and he put this tape deck in and this old Fleetwood Mac song, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" -- which was made before he was born. (Applause). So we made it our theme song.
And I believe that those of us in positions of responsibility have no higher responsibility than to think about your tomorrows. And when you reach our age, you will want more and more to think about the tomorrows of your children and your grandchildren.
What I tried to say last night is, there's never been a time when we had brighter tomorrows. All we have to do is act on our vision. Let's get to work.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 8:15 P.M. EST