View Header


                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Danbury, Connecticut)
For Immediate Release                                 September 11, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        TO THE DANBURY COMMUNITY

                       Charles Ives Amphitheater
                     Western Connecticut University
                          Danbury, Connecticut

3:52 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. (Applause.) First, thank you, Mayor Eriquez, for your wonderful speech and for outlining some of the things that we've been able to do together to help the people of Danbury.

I want to thank all of you for coming. (Applause.) And President Roache, thank you for making us feel welcome at your wonderful school. And I want to say to all of you, I may be the first President to come and spend this much time in Danbury, but this is not the first time I've been to Danbury. I first came here in 1970, 30 years ago. (Applause.) That was when I met Joe Lieberman, who was running for the state senate. (Applause.)

Then, I came back to Connecticut as a governor in 1980, when I met Chris Dodd. (Applause.) And then, I had to become President before I met Jim Maloney. But I will say this: it has not been a disappointment. He is one of the best members of the United States House of Representatives, and you need to send him back down there in November and reelect him. (Applause.)

You know, Jim made a very good case for himself and for our side. And you've been out here waiting a long time, and the last thing you need is another political speech. So I'm not going to repeat what he said; I'm just going to make a few very brief points that I want you to think about.

This election is profoundly important, because we're doing so well. What do I mean by that? Well, because we're doing so well, we have a chance to meet some really big goals for this country. We could get this country out of debt over the next decade for the first time since 1835 -- America debt-free, low interest rates. (Applause.)

We could take every child in a working family in America out of poverty by making sure we had a tax system that was fair to the working poor. We could provide health care to every single child and every working family in America that don't have it today. (Applause.)

We can make sure that every child who needs it has preschool and after-school programs and mentors. We can make sure that every child in America, when he or she comes of age, could afford to go to all four years of college. We've already opened the doors, universally, to the first two years, we can do it for all four years. (Applause.)

We can meet the big environmental challenges of the 21st century, like climate change, and do it in a way that would create millions of new jobs here in America, with the new technology of alternative energies and more efficient use of energy. It could mean a fortune of new jobs and wealth to Connecticut, just by doing the right thing to preserve the environment for our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren. (Applause.)

Jim talked about breast cancer. We now have identified the two genes, which when they are slightly bent in their structure, make it more likely for women to get breast cancer. We have now seen the first sequencing of the human genome. Within a matter of just a few years, young girls who are in this audience now, when they grow up a little, get married and begin to have babies, when they come home from the hospital, they'll come home with a gene map of their children, and it will tell you everything that's good about their structure and all the problems. And when that happens, Americans will have a life expectancy of about 90 years. Just in a few years, all this is going to happen.

Now, what's that got to do with this election? We have to make the right decisions now about what to do with our prosperity, if we want to make the big goals for America for the 21st century come true. One I didn't mention is dealing with the aging of America. I'm the oldest of the baby boomers. Everybody between the ages of 36 and 54 was the biggest generation of Americans ever born, until this group that is in our schools right now.

And when we retire for a period of about 18 years, there will only be about two people working for every one person eligible for Social Security. And I can tell you that everybody I know in my generation is determined that when we retire, our retirement will not bankrupt our children and their ability to raise our grandchildren. It doesn't have to happen. (Applause.) We can save Social Security and save Medicare and add this prescription drug benefit and take the burden off of our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)

But it all depends on what the American people decide today, in a moment of great good fortune, great national optimism, all the mean and stinging rhetoric we used to hear from the other side for 20 years -- life's gone away and butter wouldn't melt in their -- (laughter) -- and I appreciate that. It's a good thing; I never liked the politics of personal destruction. But there are real differences here which cannot be obscured.

And I would argue to you that it may be harder for a free people to make the right decision in good times than it is in bad times. After all, back in 1992 when you took a chance on me, it wasn't much of a chance; the country was in a ditch, and you knew we had to change. We were in terrible shape, and you knew we had to change. (Applause.)

Now, things are going along so well, there seem to be options. And often the debate is blurred about what the options is -- are. I need to come back to college -- (laughter) -- about what the options are. We say we're for the patients' bill of rights that 200 health organizations are for, and they say we're for a patients' bill of rights. The difference in "a" and "the" is a huge difference.

We say we're for a Medicare prescription drug program through Medicare, that all of our seniors who need it can afford to buy into. They say we don't know how much that's going to cost, we want to give the neediest of our seniors a prescription drug benefit and let the others buy insurance. They don't say that there's never been an insurance plan designed to sell drugs that will work. It's already failed in one state, and their program would leave half the people out who need it.

They say, we want to give you a tax cut. It's your money and we've got this big surplus. They don't say that if they give it all to you in a tax cut, what are you going to do if the money doesn't come in and we're back into deficits? What are you going to do for investments in education? What are you going to do when we get rid of the surplus and we stop paying down the debt, and interest rates start going up again?

Do you know how much Jim Maloney's position on giving you a modest tax cut, so you get a deduction for college tuition, a credit for long term care for elderly or disabled members in your family, some means of saving for retirement income, and more for child care, an abatement of the marriage penalty but at an affordable cost -- do you know how much money that will save you in interest rates, as opposed to the plan of their nominee and all their crowd for Congress? It will save you about 1 percent a year for a decade.

Do you know how much that's worth? That's worth $390 billion in home mortgages, $30 billion in car payments, $15 billion in college loans payments, a $435 billion tax cut to ordinary Americans for car payments, college loan payments and home mortgage payments, if we'll just keep paying off the debt, keeping the interest rates down, keeping the American economy strong and going. That's another reason you ought to be for him, and Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. (Applause.)

Now, let me say, I'm going to do my best, when the Congress comes back in, to work closely with them. I'm going to do everything I can to get as much done as I can for you in the next five weeks. But however much we get done, you remember this, there are real differences here. Differences in economic policy, differences in education policy, differences in health care policy, differences in environmental policy, differences in criminal justice policy, differences in arms control and world peace policy, and differences about how we're going to live together across all the diverse cultures and races and genders and all the differences in this society that make us up.

There are big differences. And what I think you have to do is to ask yourself, what do I want this election to be about? If you want the biggest check at the earliest point and never mind the consequences, you ought to be for them -- if you're an upper-income person. Actually, our tax cut gives two-thirds of you more money, even though it just costs a third as much. What does that tell you about it? (Applause.)

But if you would like a tax cut that helps you pay for the education of your children, the long-term care of your elderly or disabled family members, helps you to save more for retirement, helps with child care, helps with the marriage penalty but saves enough money to keep paying this debt down and investing in education and health care and science and technology so that we can keep going forward together, if you believe that we ought to make a future in which the most important thing is our common belief that everybody matters, everybody deserves a chance, and we all do better when we help each other, then you need Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and Jim Maloney.

Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.) And thank you for the Hillary sign back there. If you vote in New York, help her. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 4:05 P.M. EDT