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pd06my96 Remarks Honoring the United States Olympic Committee's Champions in Life...


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property, where people, for example, own more of their own businesses, 
they're more committed to democracy and to economic reform and to the 
promise of free enterprise, even with all of its troubles as they start.
    And so now they're trying to get more homeowners, more property 
ownership, out in the rural areas of the country. And I say that just to 
say a lot of times we just take it for granted that once you start a 
democracy it's just such a wonderful thing we just keep on with it. And 
we realize that--I mean, we forget that this is the oldest continuous 
democracy in human history, and it's not all that easy to start one and 
it's not all that easy to save one. And a lot of times people want to 
lay down the burden of governing themselves and making all these hard 
decisions and living under the rule of law and enduring defeat as well 
as victory in elections and in other big decisions.
    And I was there still watching this very great country with its rich 
and profound history essentially still in the process of defining what 
it wishes to be in the 21st century. And it struck me so clearly there 
that giving people a piece of the country for themselves, whether it was 
in the private ownership of a building, private ownership of a farm, 
private ownership of a home, private ownership of a business, that is 
the key to making everybody feel that they can really win, even if their 
side doesn't win every election or if every issue doesn't go their way.
    So that liberty, free speech, and free elections and personal 
liberties should include--indeed, I would argue must include--the 
recognition of private ownership of property in order to make sure that 
democracies can last. I wish them well, and I know that you do, but I 
thought you'd be interested in that.
    We take this country and everything good about it for granted, and 
we take our system for granted. And sometimes we don't even show up on 
election day and we say--nearly every citizen does say--from time to 
time says foolish things like, well, it doesn't really matter what 
happens, and all that. We just think it will go on. But one reason it 
probably will go on is that we all have a piece of America. And even 
people who don't own property still have a piece of America because they 
know they can, they know that we all can participate in this.
    And so when you see the next couple of months unfold in Russia and 
you watch that, and you see what happens to their democracy, you ought 
to just think about what they

[[Page 741]]

have in common with us. And as they move to have more control in their--
individuals and families and communities--over their future, a lot of it 
will be because they have a personal, private stake in the public future 
of a free country.
    Four years ago when I sought this job I am now privileged to hold, 
things weren't so good for you or for the rest of the country. Our 
economy was down, unemployment was high, the deficit was exploding, the 
debt had quadrupled in just 12 years. I wanted to change the course of 
this country, and I knew we had to do it, first of all, by getting 
economic growth back by driving interest rates down. And that meant that 
we had to do something about the deficit. But to me it was part of a 
vision that I have about what I want our country to look like in the 
21st century and how I want America to be perceived by all of its 
citizens.
    I want this country to be a place where everybody who is willing to 
work hard and obey the law has a chance to live out their dreams without 
regard to their race or their region or their station they were born to 
in life. I want this country to be a place that is coming together, not 
being driven apart, even though we're rapidly becoming the most diverse 
democracy in the world. Los Angeles County alone has 150 different 
racial and ethnic and religious groups within one county. But if we can 
come together and meet our challenges, based on shared values, instead 
of being driven apart, that's a guarantee of America's strength.
    And I want us to continue to lead the world as the greatest force 
for freedom and peace and security and prosperity, because whether we 
like it or not, we're living in a global economy and we can't run away 
from it. So we'd better try to shape it; we'd better try to have more 
democracies and more people who want to work with us and more people who 
are committed to finding nonviolent solutions to their own problems, as 
well as to the problems that affect us all.
    We've seen it lately in the great debate we've had the world over on 
terrorism. And we know now that in this great open world we're living 
in, with all of its opportunities, the organized forces of evil can 
cross national boundaries. You can have a terrorist that's homegrown, or 
you can have a terrorist that is tied to the forces beyond your borders, 
as we did at the World Trade Center. And every country is facing these 
kinds of challenges.
    So I want all those things for our country. But I know it all begins 
by giving individuals and families the power to make the most of their 
own lives. And we could never have done that unless we started by 
reversing the disastrous fiscal condition of this country by bringing 
that deficit down and getting interest rates down and promoting economic 
growth, while continuing to invest in the things that we all know we 
have to invest in, like education and infrastructure and environmental 
protection and the integrity of our medical programs, so that the 
country can grow together.
    Now, that's what I tried to put together in that 1993 economic plan. 
And this organization supported that, and I will be eternally grateful. 
But it worked. I predicted that if we implemented it we would cut the 
deficit in half and generate 8 million new jobs. Well, last month the 
Congressional Budget Office said that by the end of this year the 
deficit will be less than half of what it was 4 years ago, and we 
already have 8\1/2\ million new jobs. That's something you can be proud 
of.
    This country is enjoying the lowest combined rates of unemployment 
and inflation in what used to be called the ``misery index'' in 27 
years. For 3 years in a row we've had a record number of new businesses 
started and--I like this statistic--a record number of new self-made 
millionaires, not people who were inheriting their wealth, but people 
who made it the old-fashioned way in America. Our telecommunications and 
auto industries are once again leading the world. We've halted finally--
and this may, over the long run, be the most important thing of all--we 
have finally halted a 10-year-long slide in average hourly earnings. And 
most important to you, of course, as has already been said, 
homeownership is at a 15-year high.
    The Government has been reduced in size and it has been reformed so 
that it is beginning to work better and cost less. I'll just give you 
one example. The Small Business Administration has cut its budget by 
over 25 percent and doubled its loan volume. And

[[Page 742]]

I'm very proud of that. It's the smallest your Federal Government--as 
you come here to Washington this month, it's the smallest it has been 
since 1965. [Applause] Thank you.
    By the end of this year it will be the smallest it has been since 
1963. And yet, we are still working to try to do better. There's been a 
quiet revolution in the relationship of the National Government not only 
to the private sector, but to State and local governments. There's been 
a lot of debate in Washington, for example, about what kind of welfare 
reform legislation we ought to sign. But I think there's a broad 
consensus in America that the welfare system ought to empower people to 
take responsibility for their own lives, not just support people forever 
who ought to be supporting themselves.
    We had some differences here about how that ought to be done. I have 
a very strong conviction that most people--based on my 12 years as a 
Governor, I have a very strong conviction that most people on welfare 
are dying to get off of it if they can be given the ways to work and 
support themselves and they don't have to hurt their kids. So I'm for a 
system that is very, very tough on work, very tough on child support 
enforcement, but is good to the kids, has child care and other support 
for the children. It ought to be pro-work and pro-family. After all, 
most of you had to work and raise your families. Most Americans are 
working and raising children. So what we want is an America where 
everybody can succeed at home and at work. And if we have to choose one 
or the other, we get in a lot of hot water because none of us have any 
more important job than raising our own children well. So that's what 
we're striving for.
    But anyway, you might be interested to know while all this 
hullabaloo about the legislation has been going on, we have made over 50 
agreements with 37 States to get them out from under destructive Federal 
rules and regulations, and let them require people who can work to work. 
Seventy-three percent of the people on welfare in this country are under 
welfare reform today, and that's a good thing.
    But I want to talk to you today about the paradoxes of this good 
news, because you have all seen the paradoxes. You know, for example--I 
mean, if I had told you this 3 years ago, let me ask you if you would 
have found it hard to believe--if I had said to you, look, you support 
my economic plan and in 3 years and 4 months we'll have 8\1/2\ million 
new jobs, we'll cut the deficit by more than half, we'll have the lowest 
combined rates of unemployment and inflation in 27 years, highest 
homeownership in 15 years, but wages for the bottom half of the work 
force would be more or less stagnant, about what they were 15 years ago, 
and there will be places in our inner cities and rural areas that won't 
have any new investment, and there will be a lot of people that look 
like me, 50-year-old white guys, that will be being downsized at big 
companies just when they're trying to send their kids to college, and 
they won't know what to do and how to get another job paying anything 
like what they were making, and there will be a lot of women and people 
of color going through the same thing, but there are a lot of these big 
companies--and they'll be out of work for a while--and we'll cut the 
inflation rate in health care dramatically by having more competition, 
but we'll still have a lot of people who won't be able to get health 
insurance because they work for small businesses and it's too expensive, 
or because they can't take it from job to job with them--you'd say, 
well, that doesn't make sense, it doesn't compute.
    The reason it's happening is that we're going through the period of 
most profound economic change we've been in 100 years, since we've moved 
from farm to factory and from the country to the city, as a general 
rule. Now, we're moving from a cold war set of regional economies in the 
world to a global economy, and every kind of work is more dominated by 
information and technology, including yours, than it was 5 or 10 years 
ago. If you were to go home with me in Arkansas at planting time or 
harvest time you'd see people driving around in farm equipment with 
computers, maybe with software in it that they designed themselves.
    So with all these changes, what has happened? A lot of work that 
used to be done by a lot of people can now be done by a few people. And 
all organizations need fewer people passing orders down and information 
back up. And there's an enormous mobility

[[Page 743]]

in technology and money and information and management. And that's 
what's creating all these incredible opportunities for people that I 
just reeled off.
    But if you happen to be on the wrong side of it on a given day, it 
can also dislocate your life. And it happened 100 years ago. When we 
became an industrial country there were people who came in from the 
country and went to cities and got jobs in factories and overnight 
became middle-class citizens--for the first time in their lives could 
afford to have their own home and send their kids to good schools and 
have a decent retirement, maybe even take a vacation for the first time.
    But there were also tens of thousands of people living in tenement 
houses in these cities, virtually without the means to support 
themselves, because when you have this kind of upheaval you have some 
bad along with the good. And what we have to do is to find a way to grow 
this economy fast enough to keep America generating these new jobs, but 
also give people the chance to raise their families in dignity, to get 
incomes up, to be able to afford to buy their own home, to be able to 
have access to education for a lifetime if they have to change jobs and 
access to health care they can carry around with them from job to job 
and access to retirement savings that they can carry around with them 
from job to job, so that we can compose family life and community life 
and still keep the American job machine growing.
    That is the challenge of the moment, and you will play a big role in 
that. I think you understand that. That is what I hope so much that in 
this election year we can have an honest debate about. We don't need 
another stale debate about yesterday's issues, or this one's an alien 
and the other one ought to be disqualified and all that kind of stuff. 
We ought to actually have an honest discussion about which path to the 
future we're going to take, because no great country has solved this 
problem. Indeed, no other country has done anything nearly as well as 
the United States has in generating new jobs. But we have to say, even 
with all these jobs we need to have a really permanently growing economy 
that is pro-family and pro-community and that gives everybody a chance 
to live up to their dreams. That is the challenge we all face as 
Americans today.
    Now, I believe that homeownership is a big part of that. You know 
that and I do, too. So we ought to balance the budget, but I don't think 
that we should do it in a way that undermines the ability of people to 
own their own home. If we can simplify the tax code, I'm all for it. But 
I don't think we ought to adopt a flat tax that will raise taxes on 
everybody making less than $100,000 a year and put homeownership out of 
the reach of all the people in those categories.
    Your president has already mentioned that the last time I spoke to 
you in Anaheim in 1994, I asked you to work with Secretary Cisneros to 
develop a national homeownership strategy that will take us up to two-
thirds of the American people in their own homes, 8 million new 
homeowners by the end of the century. And we are well on our way to 
getting there because of the 56 major housing and finance groups that 
have joined us. I want to thank you for that.
    I also want to thank you for your support of FHA, and I want to ask 
you to continue to support it. Again, there's always an argument for 
doing anything that will save money to help us to balance the budget. 
But we don't want to do anything that will undermine our ability to grow 
the economy. And if you want hard working people on modest incomes to 
have a chance to be pro-work and pro-family, lower income people have 
got to have access to buy modestly priced homes. That's why we shouldn't 
do anything to wreck FHA. And I hope you'll stay with us on this.
    Last June, Secretary Cisneros and I were joined by representatives 
of this partnership, including people from your organization, at the 
White House. We announced 100 specific actions that we can take to make 
homeownership more affordable, to target underserved populations, to 
educate those who haven't considered becoming homeowners. Now, we've now 
got this national homeownership rate, at the end of the first quarter of 
1996, up to 65.1 percent. That's the highest rate since 1981 and the 
sharpest increase, as you heard earlier, in 30 years. We can make it. We 
can get up to two-thirds of the American people in their own homes by 
the end of this decade.

[[Page 744]]

    Beginning next week, HUD and FHA will launch the next phase of this 
effort, a grassroots outreach and education campaign designed to help 
millions of new Americans become homeowners. The cornerstone is a new 
toll-free number to provide instant information on the wide variety of 
home-buying help that HUD offers. We're going to launch a series of 
home-buying seminars in schools in over 20 markets across the country, 
to bring together real estate professionals, lenders, governmental and 
nonprofit organizations to help potential first-time buyers gain an 
understanding of the process. Outreach and PSAs will show how FHA can 
open the door to homeownership.
    I don't need to tell you about how important that is. And again, I 
want to thank you for helping. But let me say that the most important 
thing we can do to help you is to continue to grow this economy. And the 
most important thing that we can do to continue to grow the economy is 
to keep the interest rates down by finishing the unfinished business of 
balancing the Federal budget in a way that is consistent with our values 
and our long-term economic interests.
    Now, yesterday I signed a bipartisan budget that will cover the 
Government's operations for the rest of this year. We fought about it 
for 6 months. But I would have gladly signed the budget I signed 
yesterday on the first day of the new budget year. It was a year of 
intense and heated debate, but finally, the Republicans and the 
Democrats in the Congress and the White House came together and we 
crafted an agreement that is good for the American people.
    First, the budget I signed for this year keeps the deficit on a 
downward path. We're now cutting the deficit for the 4th year in a row 
for the first time since Harry Truman was the President of the United 
States. The budget cuts billions of dollars in spending and eliminates 
outright over 200 Government programs. I bet you don't miss a one of 
them. [Laughter] You know, while I was a Governor, every 2 years I'd 
eliminate a government agency just to see if anybody complained. 
[Laughter] And I never got the first letter. [Laughter]
    But let me say that the budget we adopted also upholds our values 
and keeps my pledge that this budget honors our commitments to our 
elderly, to our children, and to our future. It invests enough to keep 
environmental protection going in a responsible way. It invests enough 
to keep our commitments in education and to keep opening the doors of 
college education wider, to keep striving for higher standards in 
education, to keep more kids coming into these Head Start programs. It 
does the right thing there. It protects the integrity of the Medicare 
and Medicaid programs while understanding that we have to do things to 
lower the inflation rate in them. That's what it did for this year.
    Now, this is just a one-year budget. When you hear us talk about the 
balanced budget up here, that's a multiyear budget plan. And now it's 
time to finish that job. Earlier this year I proposed a plan to balance 
the budget, and Congress' own economists have now certified that it will 
do so in 7 years. The Republicans in Congress have their own balanced 
budget plan that is now different from the one that I vetoed several 

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