THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Santa Monica, California)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT FRIENDS OF JANE HARMAN RECEPTION Global Crossing Plaza Beverly Hills, California
10:05 P.M. PST 1023
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I have had a wonderful time tonight. And after Alex Winnick gave his speech, I thought, there's nothing for the rest of us to say. (Laughter.) He made the case for Jane. Thank you very much, Alex. And I thank you, Gary, and thank you, Karen, for having us here. I would like to hear the whole history of this building. I wish these walls could talk -- this might be one of the tamer events it would speak of. (Laughter.)
Gary Winnick has been a friend of mine for some time now and I'm quite thrilled by the success that Global Crossing has had. And it's interesting to me and I think it's fitting that they're now housed in this historic site.
I'd like to thank Governor Davis and Sharon for being such good friends to Hillary and me. I think Gray has been a great leader for California. (Applause.) And I thank him very, very much for all the support he's given to me over the years and all the work we've done together. And you might be interested to know, even though I have just 11 weeks left, even today in the car he was grinding on me to do one last thing -- (laughter) -- for California before I left office. And eventually I'll say yes just to be relieved of the pain of having Gray work on me. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Jane and Sidney for being great friends. I've been in their home in Washington. I've been in Sidney's plant in southern California. We had a great, great day there. And I have worked with Jane very closely. I was trying to think what, if anything, I could say to add to what has already been said this evening. Alex really did do a very good job of making the case. But I want you to know a couple of things.
First of all, when I met Jane Harman, I thought she represented the sort of person that I was trying to bring into the Democratic Party to get to run for office. And I thought the district she represented was the sort of district I thought the Democrats had to be able to campaign in and carry if we were going to become the majority party in America, mostly because of the ideas we shared.
You know, we believed that you have to be fiscally conservative in order to be socially progressive in a world where all the capital markets are global and, if you have an irresponsible policy and you run big deficits, your interest rates are going to be high, your economy is going to be weak and nothing the government can do can change that. We believe that you have to be able to have an economic policy that helps business and labor. We believe that you have to be able to improve the environment and grow the economy. And she has always had kind of a unifying view of politics which I thought made a lot of sense.
The second thing that impressed me is that she was such a good advocate for the people in her district, particularly the aerospace industry. And it's easy now to forget just how tough things were in January of '93. And I can tell you I wasn't President very long before Jane Harman made sure I knew just about as much as she did about all that and I had my to-do list from her. (Laughter.)
So she has, I think, proven that she is a good member of Congress, indeed, a truly outstanding one. But she also stood up there and cast that vote. She came very close to losing her election in 1994. Why? Because nobody is for deficits, nobody is for debt, but nobody wanted to do anything about it because by the time we got around to doing something about it in 1993, the problem was so great that there was no painless solution.
And if there's anything that a politician hates, it's to inflict pain and then to have to stand for reelection before the pain can be proved to be good. (Laughter.) And that's basically what happened to us in '94. The economy was getting better, but no one knew it yet. And we also lost a dozen members over the assault weapons ban in the Brady bill because the streets were getting safer, but no one felt it yet. The NRA took about 12 of our crowd out because they voted for the assault weapons ban and the Brady bill.
But Jane hung in there, and we kept working together until she left the House. I was surprised and thrilled that she decided to run again. All of you know that she is in a tight race. There are a couple of reasons why. One is, the Republicans have more money than we do and they do not want to lose the majority in Congress, so they are throwing a double ton of money into every one of these races where we have a chance to win. And in California, we have a chance to win five seats. And they have, they believe, a chance to win one -- and I hope they're wrong about it -- Congressman Dooley's seat, I kind of think they are, because he's such an extraordinary man. But, anyway, they have a lot of money and they're putting it in.
Since they can't win on the issues that are really before the Congress -- they can't win the fight on the patients' bill of rights or whether Medicare should have a prescription drug program or whether we should have hate crimes legislation or campaign finance reform or you name it, there has to be some bomb-throwing. And if you look at all of their campaigns all over the country, that's basically what they're doing. And so, you just have your tailored bomb. So Jane now has her tailored bomb.
So I want to tell you something. I know exactly what they've been saying. She worked very hard for you when she was in the Congress. She worked me harder than 90 percent of the people in the Congress -- me, personally -- to do things for her district. She's one of the smartest people I dealt with, and she had a good philosophy. I think she ought to go back to Congress, and I want you to help her go back to Congress. (Applause.)
Now, I'm going to ask you to do something else. The hour is late, and I know you're all tired, but this is an interesting election. The presidential race is just tight as can be. There's 10 or 12 states within two points, one way or the other. And the election will either be decided by the movement of people from undecided to one or the other candidates, or by the fact that one candidate's supporters want to vote more than the other candidate's supporters.
And there are all these House races and Senate races that are tight as can be. A lot of it favors us. I think the chances are quite high that we can win the House back. We even have an outside chance to win the Senate back. So all over the country -- why is it, why are people converging and being split right down the middle in all these races? Part of it may be there's so much money involved that the stuff is so confusing that people just kind of fall off one way or the other. I think part of it is that a lot of people don't remember what it was like eight years ago, particularly younger voters. And we tend to take it for granted that all this stuff just happened. It was just an accident.
And so this is an interesting debate they're having about how big the tax cut should be and what shape it should be; an interesting debate they're having about whether Social Security should be privatized and, if so, how much and in what way; an interesting debate they're having over the crime police, the education policy or whatever.
I just want to make a couple of points very crisply. But they're very important to me, and if you and I were alone and there were no press in the room and you asked me about this race, I would tell you this exactly if we were alone.
The first thing is, if you really want to maximize the chance of keeping this prosperity going, you ought to vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Jane Harman. Why? Why is that? Well, people ask me all the time, what great new idea did you and Bob Rubin and Lloyd Bentsen and all those guys bring to Washington to turn the economy around? And my answer is always a simple, one-word answer: arithmetic. (Laughter.) We brought arithmetic back to Washington.
And we said we're going to get rid of all this deficit, we either had to raise money or cut spending or do a little of both. And since it was impossible and wrong to raise as many taxes as it would take to get rid of the deficit and impossible and wrong to cut spending as much as it would take to get rid of the deficit, we did a little of both and we got rid of it. And now we're running a surplus. We've gone from the biggest deficit to the biggest surplus. But we did it by arithmetic. No phoney, rosy scenarios, no pretending money was there when it wasn't, no pretending we were cutting spending when we weren't; we just practiced arithmetic.
Now, what's that go to do with this race? The Republicans offer a tax cut that is more attractive to most of you who can afford a ticket to come here tonight, in the short run. It's three times as big as the Democrats' tax cut. And then they offer a partial privatization of Social Security that's quite attractive to young people who think they'll make a killing in the stock market. And therefore if they get 2 percent of their payroll, they can make more out of it than if they just get Social Security the way the older folks have always gotten Social Security. And then they got a few spending promises of their own.
Here's the problem. The surplus is projected to be $2 billion. And, believe me, that's very optimistic. Their tax cut and the associated interest cost is $1.6 trillion. It costs a trillion dollars to partially privatize Social Security and they promise to spend another half a trillion. Now, $1.6 plus $1 plus $ .5 is $3.1 -- $3.1 is bigger than $2. (Laughter and applause.)
Now look, I want you to laugh about it but, look, I'm telling you. You want to know what we did for the country? We brought arithmetic back to Washington. Jane Harman nearly lost her seat in 1994 because she voted to restore arithmetic to the federal budget. And everybody is for that in general and against it in particular, because nobody wants their taxes raised, nobody wants their program cut.
So we did it. But we went through all of this agony and we got this thing turned around. Now, we can afford a tax cut but it can't be that big. And if somebody wants -- you can argue the policy of privatizing Social Security, you think it's a good idea or bad idea, but you can't pretend you don't have to pay for it. And that's what the Vice President says when he talks about the money being promised to two different groups. If you take your payroll out, that's $1 trillion over 10 years. They still need the money to pay for the people they promised the benefits to. That's why it takes another trillion out of the surplus.
So believe me, this is important. My Council of Economic Advisors believes that interest rates will be about a percent lower under Gore's plan and under anything the Democrats would vote for because we promised to pay the debt down. And you ask yourself: well, then, how can you promise to spend more than they did? Answer: if you pay the debt down, interest on the debt goes down; it's now the third biggest item in the federal budget, and as you shrink it, it leaves you money to spend on education, health care or tax cuts, for that matter -- anything you want.
But my point is, this is a big deal to you. The good thing about this economic expansion is that it has more billionaires, more millionaires, but the average median income increased 15 percent in real dollar terms, and the median income is over $40,000 for the first time in history, so ordinary Americans also benefit. It's the first time in 30 years we've had an economic expansion that benefitted everybody from lower middle income workers to the wealthiest Americans, everybody together. Now, that's important. (Applause.)
If you abandon arithmetic in this election, you will have higher interest rates, more inflation, slower growth and more uneven prosperity. Some of you will do just fine; but even within the same income group some won't. Now, this is a huge deal. I'm telling you, if you're interested in economics, this is the most important issue in Jane Harman's race for Congress and in the race for President.
The second point I want to make is it's not just a matter of keeping the prosperity going, it's a matter of what kind of country we are and whether you want to keep building on the social progress of the last eight years. Compared to eight years ago -- not just the economy -- the crime rate is down to a 26-year low, 43 million more people are breathing clean air, the water is safer, three times as many toxic waste dumps have been cleaned up as under the previous 12 years. We set aside more land in permanent protection than any administration since Teddy Roosevelt a hundred years ago. (Applause.)
There's more. The number of people without health insurance is going down for the first time in 12 years. And listen to this, in spite of all the press you hear, nationwide, on the national tests of our students in school, reading scores, math scores, science scores are up, the drop-out rate is down, the college-going rate is at an all time high, the African American high school graduation rate is virtually identical to the white graduation rate for the first time in the history of the country, in the last five years there's been a 300 percent increase in the number of African American and Latino kids taking advanced placement classes to go on to college. Now that's the facts. (Applause.)
In every single case, I believe there is a policy we have pursued that she voted for that contributed to, did not totally cause, but contributed to those good results. And in every single case, there is a difference between the two parties. And I will just give you a few examples. One of the reasons the crime rate went down is we put 100,000 police -- now more, about 120,000 -- on the street in community policing, and they stopped a lot of crime from being committed in the first place. The other party is committed to abolishing that program. They say it's not the proper province of the federal government to help local communities hire police. You've got a choice here. The only problem for their position is we do have evidence here. We've got crime at a 26-year low.
Number two, we're trying to put 100,000 police on the -- I mean, 100,000 well trained teachers in the schools for smaller classes. They promise to abolish that. They say the federal government has got no business doing that; or helping schools deal with their construction needs. You've got all these kids going to school in house trailers and old broken down schools, and we can help them -- the school districts -- to modernize. They say we shouldn't do it. So you've got a choice there.
You heard Jane or Alex Winnick talked about the patients' bill of rights. We're for it and they're not. This whole idea that I have been obsessed by for years about building one America. Hate crimes, we are for it; they're not. Employment nondiscrimination, we are for it; they're not. Stronger enforcement of equal pay laws, we're for it; they're not. I could go on and on. But you get the picture here. There are real differences.
So I think what you need to do, if you live in Jane's district or you have friends who live there, if you live in another district in one of these other contested races, you need to tell people, look, there are huge differences here, there are real clear choices. These choices will have real consequences to you, your family, your community and your country. And you just have to say, you know, do you want to build on the prosperity or reverse the policy? Do you want to build on the social progress of the last eight years or reverse the direction? These are simple questions. I think the answer should be yes. If the answers are yes, you have to vote for Al Gore, Joe Lieberman and Jane Harman. This is not rocket science.
And it's not like we don't have any evidence here. We tried it our way for eight years and we tried it the other way. Our way works better. You can look at the evidence in the lives of the American people.
Just one last thing I would like to say is a plug for the Vice President. He understands the future. He is by far more experienced. He makes real good decisions. And John Kennedy said the presidency is preeminently a job of decision-making. And he would be a good president. And, God forbid, if we shouldn't win the Congress, somebody's there to be there to put on the brake. (Laughter.) And you've seen that for six years, too. Some of the best things I've done as President involved things that I stopped from happening, as well as things that we made happened.
But you ought to send Jane back to Congress. She's earned it. And if you want to keep the prosperity going and you want to keep the progress going, you ought to reward somebody who literally was willing to risk her career at the very beginning to turn California and America around. It worked and it will work again if you'll put her back.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 10:23 P.M. PST