Home > 1999 Presidential Documents > pd01fe99 Remarks at a Memorial Service for Governor Lawton Chiles...

pd01fe99 Remarks at a Memorial Service for Governor Lawton Chiles...

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    Q. What do you do if the nightmare comes to pass, and some country 
hits us, hits us hard, with a biological weapon? What kind of response 
would you do?
    The President. Well, first of all, if some country were thinking 
about doing that, I would certainly hope that they wouldn't have the 
capacity to do it before we could stop them or interrupt them, if it was 
a--that is, if you're talking about somebody lobbing a missile over here 
or something like that.
    I think if it happened, it would be an act of war, and there would 
be a very strong response. But I think we've demonstrated that. But I 
think the far more likely thing is somebody representing some interest--
maybe it could be a rogue state; maybe it could be a terrorist network--
walking around a city with a briefcase full of vials or in spray cans, 
you know.
    So what we have to do--any country with any sense, if they wanted to 
attack us, would try to do it through a terrorist network, because if 
they did it with a missile we'd know who did it, and then they'd be 
sunk. It would be--that's a deal where they're bound to lose. Big time.
    Q. Would you respond with nuclear weapons to a biological attack?
    The President. Well, I never discuss the nuclear issue. I don't 
think that's appropriate. But I think that we would have at least a 
proportionate, if not a disproportionate, response if someone committed 
an act of war against the United States. That's what we would do. And if 
somebody willfully murdered a lot of our civilians, there would be a 
very heavy price to pay.

Senator Dale Bumpers' Senate Impeachment Trial Presentation

    Q. Mr. President, you have time for one more----
    Q. We're about to go. Did you have a chance to watch any of Senator 
Bumpers' presentation today?
    The President. I did. It's the only thing I've watched. I watched 
    Q. He said--he criticized the House managers for lacking compassion 
for your family. He described your family as a family that has been 
``about as decimated as a family can get. The relationship between 
husband and wife, father and child, has been incredibly strained if not 
destroyed.'' Is that an accurate representation?
    The President. Well, it's been--I would say it has been a strain for 
my family. But we have worked very hard, and I think we have come 
through the worst. We love each other very much, and we've worked on it 
very hard. But I think he was showing--you know, he knows me and Hillary 
and Chelsea, and we've all been friends, as he said, for 25 years. I 
think he was just trying to inject a human element into what he was 

Note: The interview began at approximately 6:30 p.m. in the Oval Office 
at the White House on January 21 and was released by the Office of the 
Press Secretary on January 23. In his remarks, the President referred to 
Usama bin Ladin, who allegedly sponsored bombing attacks on the U.S. 
Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998. He also referred to 
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical and biological weapons 
(CBW). A tape was not available for verification of the content of these 

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 115-116]
Monday, February 1, 1999
Volume 35--Number 4
Pages 109-155
Week Ending Friday, January 29, 1999
The President's Radio Address

January 23, 1999

    Good morning. Last Tuesday night, in my State of the Union Address, 
I was honored to report to the American people that our families, our 
communities, and our country are stronger, healthier, and more 

[[Page 116]]

than ever. But I warned that we cannot let the hum of our prosperity 
lull us into complacency. Instead, we must use this moment of promise to 
meet the long-term challenges we face as a nation, to meet our historic 
responsibility to the 21st century.
    Over the last 6 years, our hard-won fiscal discipline has given us 
the chance to meet those long-term challenges. Six years ago our budget 
deficit was $290 billion. Last year we had a budget surplus of $70 
billion. We expect another one a little larger than that this year, and 
we're on course for budget surpluses for the next 25 years.
    So now we face a new choice: what to do with the surplus. I believe 
we should use it to plan and save for retirement, to strengthen the 
readiness of our military, to get our children ready for the 21st 
century. Very simply, I believe we should use the first surplus in three 
decades and the projected ones in the future to meet America's great 
challenges. Above all, that means saving Social Security and Medicare.
    We all know that the baby boom will soon become a senior boom. The 
number of seniors will double by 2030; average life expectancy is rising 
rapidly, and that means rising costs for Social Security and Medicare.
    I propose to keep Social Security strong for 55 years by committing 
60 percent of the surplus for the next 15 years and investing a small 
portion in the private sector just as any private or State pension would 
do. We should make further tough choices to put Social Security on a 
sound footing for the next 75 years, to lift the limits on what seniors 
on Social Security can earn, and to provide support to reduce the 
poverty rate among elderly women--which is twice the poverty rate among 
seniors as a whole. We can do that with a good bipartisan effort.
    Once we've accomplished this, I propose we use one of every six 
dollars of the surplus over the next 15 years to double the life of the 
Medicare Trust Fund. Then I believe we should dedicate $500 billion of 
the surplus to give working families tax relief for retirement savings, 
by creating new Universal Savings Accounts--USA accounts--to help all 
Americans build a nest egg for their retirement.
    Under my plan, families will receive a tax credit to contribute to 
their USA account and an additional tax credit to match a portion of 
their savings--with a choice in how they invest the funds--and more help 
for those who will have the hardest time saving.
    Let me give you an example of how USA accounts could work. With the 
help of USA account tax credits, working people who save and invest 
wisely from the time they enter the work force until the time they 
retire could have more than $100,000 in their USA account, and a more 
secure retirement. That's the kind of tax relief America needs. By 
providing this new tax credit for retirement savings, we can make it 
possible for all Americans to have a stake in the remarkable economic 
growth they have worked so hard to create.
    Social Security first, then saving Medicare and giving tax relief to 
help all Americans save in the new USA accounts, investing in defense 
and education: that's the right way to use America's surplus. If we 
squander the surplus, we'll waste a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to 
build a stronger nation for our children and our grandchildren. Instead, 
let's work together to prepare our Nation for the great challenges and 
opportunities of the 21st century.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 3 p.m. on January 22 in the Roosevelt 
Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on January 23. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
January 22 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 116-117]
Monday, February 1, 1999
Volume 35--Number 4
Pages 109-155
Week Ending Friday, January 29, 1999
Remarks to the Community in Little Rock, Arkansas

January 24, 1999

    Thank you very much, James Lee. Ladies and gentlemen, let me thank 
you for coming out today. I want to thank Governor Huckabee for his 
response to this terrible, terrible tornado--and Mrs. Huckabee--I thank 
them for joining us on this walking tour today and welcoming me back to 
the Governor's Mansion. It's still--it's very beautiful inside, and it's 
had a little radical surgery in

[[Page 117]]

the backyard, as I'm sure that a lot of you have seen.
    I thank Secretary Slater, the Secretary of Transportation, also, 
obviously, our native Arkansan, for coming down here with me. And they 
will be helping us on the rebuilding. I thank Congressman Snyder and 
Congressman Marion Berry from east Arkansas, who has had some 
communities hit, and representatives of our other congressional offices 
who are here today. And Lt. Governor Rockefeller, Attorney General 
Pryor, Secretary of State Priest, Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher: I thank 
all of them for being here.
    And I want to thank Mayor Pat Hays for coming across the river and 
lending a friendly, neighborly hand. James Lee Witt's regional director 
here is Buddy Young, who lives in Texas and who, as many of you know, 
was in the Arkansas State Police for many years before that.
    This is a tragedy we all take very personally. When I was--I got out 
this morning at 25th and Gaines and sort of wended my way down Arch and 
Spring toward the Governor's Mansion, and I thought about how many 
hundreds of times I had run on those streets. And all these folks kept 
coming out and said, ``The last time I saw you, you were running by 
here. And I had a roof on my house.''
    And then we went over--we crossed Roosevelt and went down toward 
Martin Luther King Drive and saw a lot of those homes, large numbers of 
homes have been completely destroyed there. And I just wanted to say to 
you because Arkansas always had a lot of tornadoes and two huge floods 
when I was Governor, I asked James Lee Witt to run the national Federal 
Emergency Management Agency so that it would not be political and so 
that it would be competent, professional, and highly personal. And we've 
dealt with everything from a 500-year flood along the Mississippi River 
to a massive earthquake in California and all kinds of other natural 
disasters. This is a trip, I'm sure--I know I, and I'm sure both James 
Lee and Rodney, never wanted to have to make.
    I'd like to give a word of personal encouragement to my former 
neighbors up here in the Quapaw Quarter not to give up on it. I hope 
everyone who possibly can will rebuild those homes--will rebuild the 
homes, fix the roofs, replant the trees, and keep the spirit of the 
place alive. And I want to say to the folks in all the counties in the 
State--and I've got a list that includes not only Pulaski but also 
Independence, St. Francis, Saline, and White counties--we've already 
declared individual and local governments eligible for assistance there. 
The State has been declared a disaster area as more counties may become 
specifically eligible. I want to encourage all of them, as well.
    These things happen, as Governor Huckabee reminded me, that Arkansas 
had the largest number of tornadoes in one day moving through here the 
other day that have ever been recorded. And we grieve for the loss of 
    I'd like to say, especially, that this is a landmark for me, this 
store here. And I'm so glad that the people who own it are going to 
rebuild it, because it used to be our family store. And Hillary and 
Chelsea and I used to come down here. We think of the fine pharmacist 
here who lost his life, and the others here in Arkansas. And when we 
survey the scope of the devastation, I think we can all be grateful to 
God that the loss has not been greater.
    And so this is a day when the Sun is out, and a lot of people have 
offered their helping hands. I want to thank these young people from the 
AmeriCorps program, our national service program, for being here. 
They've come in to help. We're glad to see them.
    And so I ask you to redouble your resolve, and help your neighbors. 
And we'll do everything we can to be good neighbors.
    Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. in the parking lot of a Harvest 
Foods store. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Mike Huckabee and his 
wife, Janet, Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, Attorney General Winston Bryant, 
Secretary of State Sharon Priest, and State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher 
of Arkansas; and Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock.

[[Page 118]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 118-119]
Monday, February 1, 1999
Volume 35--Number 4
Pages 109-155
Week Ending Friday, January 29, 1999
Remarks to the Community in Beebe, Arkansas

January 24, 1999

    Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. 
Good afternoon. Thank you for making me feel welcome. Let me say, first 
of all, that I brought my ``Arkansas Cabinet''--Secretary Slater and Mr. 
Witt--down here today, along with a number of Arkansans from the White 
House staff, including Missy Kincaid, who is from this community. I have 
been here many times. I have a lot of friends here, and I was very sad 
when I flew over Beebe and McRae today and I saw how much damage had 
been done. And I saw a lot of pain in a lot of faces up on the road 
there, but I also saw a lot of determination.
    I want to thank your mayor for being--even with his bad foot, 
walking around with me in some pretty lumpy places. He must think he has 
impeccable timing. He got himself installed just in time for the 
tornado. But he's a young man and a teacher, so he ought to be about 
rebuilding the schools--and that's a good thing.
    And I thank your county judge. I thank your superintendent, Mr. 
Williams. I thank my good friend Senator Beebe and Mrs. Beebe and 
Representative Hinton. I'd also like to compliment your fire chief, Mr. 
Kennedy, and the National Guard people. I know they've worked very, very 
hard the last few days, and I know that we're all appreciative of them.
    And you've had some young AmeriCorps volunteers who came down from 
St. Louis, and that's a program that was started after I became 
President--I'm proud of these young people; they volunteer a year or 2 
years of their lives to work in communities just doing what needs to be 
done. And I'm very grateful for that.
    Let me say on the points that I've heard people talk about, as all 
of you know, we've got a relationship here with the State emergency 
folks. We are going to set up programs to provide whatever help we can 
to this community. I think the most immediate public need, obviously, is 
for some place for the children to go to school. And we've talked about 
how quickly we could get some of the portable classrooms in here in 
large numbers and with the best possible quality. And I assure you that 
we will--I will personally be involved in that, and so will Mr. Witt and 
Secretary Slater. We'll get on it, and we'll get the job done as quickly 
as it can physically be done.
    We also want to make sure that both the community and individual 
families are clear about what the Federal Government can and cannot do 
and what kind of support is there. We don't want anybody to leave 
something on the table that we could contribute to rebuilding the lives 
of the families and the community.
    And, again, I just want to encourage you. You probably know, right 
before I came here I was walking through my old neighborhood in Little 
Rock, the Quapaw Quarter, where the Governor's Mansion is and where I 
lived for 12 years. I saw a lot of people whom Hillary and Chelsea and I 
spent a lot of time with, with their homes down around their ears today, 
too. They'll have to decide how to go forward, and many of you will. But 
I just want to encourage you. I want to tell you that as awful as it is, 

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