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pd16au99 Videotape Remarks to the ``Safe Schools, Safe Students: What Parents Can...
unemployment in history, a 30-year low in unemployment, a 32-year low in welfare rolls, a 26-year low in the crime rate. The air and the water is cleaner; the food is safer; 90 percent of our children are immunized against serious childhood diseases for the first time. Because of the HOPE scholarship, virtually every kid in this country can get a $1,500 tax credit to pay for tuition to go to college. A hundred thousand young people have served their country in AmeriCorps in 4 years. It took the Peace Corps 20 years to reach that milestone. We have been a force for peace from Bosnia and Kosovo to Northern Ireland to the Middle East. And what I want you to know is I could not have achieved any of those things without the leadership and the support and the aggressive efforts of Vice President Al Gore. In 1993, when all the Republicans said that the country would go down the drain if Bill Clinton's idea of economics--which was to return to basic arithmetic instead of smoke and mirrors--took off, he cast the deciding vote on the economic plan. And the rest is history. We went from the biggest deficit to the biggest surplus in the history of the country. We made a decision that we wanted to do something to try to bring economic opportunity to people in places who had been left [[Page 1587]] behind with the empowerment zone program, the enterprise community program. He personally ran it, and it's been a terrific success. And a lot of you know that I was in the Mississippi Delta region of our State this week, and in the Delta and on Indian reservations and Appalachia a couple of weeks ago, trying to take nationally the approach pioneered by Al Gore, proving that we can bring opportunity to poor people who want jobs in this country. Everybody in Arkansas ought to be concerned about whether we can get computers into all of our schools and hook them all up by the year 2000. And one of the things that we don't want to do is to go into the 21st century with a big digital divide between the rich and the poor. Al Gore led the fight to make sure that the Federal Government required all the schools in this country to have affordable rates so that every classroom in the poorest schools in America can be hooked up to the Internet. He did that, and he deserves credit for it. And there are so many more things that I can hardly list them all. But just let me say one thing. The management of our national security and for our foreign relations is very important. He has handled very important, complicated, difficult aspects of our relationships with Russia. He has dealt with any number of other countries. He played a major role in the decisions we made when they were not popular to liberate Bosnia and Kosovo from ethnic cleansing, to free the people of Haiti from a military dictatorship, to push ahead with our support for the peace process in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, to stand up to terrorists around the world and organize the world against it. In short, to prepare for the world we are living in. People can say many things about these last 6\1/2\ years. Historians may have their different evaluations. There is one thing, I will make you a prediction, that there will not be a single voice of dissent on: Al Gore has been the single most influential, effective, powerful, important Vice President in the history of the United States of America. Now, the second thing I want to tell you is this: He understands what the purpose of this election is. He understands it's a job interview. He wants you to hire him, and he's gone to the trouble of telling you what he'll do if you give him the job. Now, that may sound laughable to you. I think one of the reasons we've enjoyed the success we have is that I was forced to think through in advance what I'd do if I got the job, and I told the American people in greater detail than anyone ever had. Then when I asked Al to join me, we revised--we sat down together, and we went over every plan, and we revised it, and we put it out again. And now that he's running, he's told you what his economic policy will be, what his anticrime policy will be, how he wants to use faith- based groups in communities to help solve social problems, how he wants to go out and do dramatic new things with medical research, to cure cancer and other things--and exactly how he proposes to do it. And here's why that's important. Our generation--our generation, the baby boomers--have got an opportunity, because of the work we've done the last 6\1/2\ years, to save Social Security, to save Medicare and provide a prescription drug benefit, and to do it in a way so that when we retire, our kids don't have to support us and undermine their ability to raise our grandchildren. We have the opportunity to invest in the education of all of our children, so that we'll have world-class opportunities for the poor, the rich, the in-between of all races and backgrounds, so that our country will be strong. And we have the opportunity to get this country out of debt for the first time since 1835. Now, what I want you to understand is, we're living in a dynamic time. We're still embracing change. Our administration is the force for positive change. This is not going to be change versus the status quo election. This election is about what kind of change do you want; and do you want to build on what's worked and go beyond it, or do you want to go back to the ways that got us in the ditch in the first place? That's what the issue is. And you don't have to guess with Al Gore, not only because of his record, but because he's given you a roadmap. And the third thing I want to tell you is this: I have been with this man in every conceivable kind of circumstance--good and [[Page 1588]] bad, personal and political. We have talked about our children. We have talked about our parents and their deaths. We have talked about every conceivable subject, personal and political. I know him as few people do. He is a good person. He is a decent person. He is a strong person. If everything was on the line and I had to pick an American to make a decision that I knew would be good for my country when my daughter is my age, I would pick Al Gore, and so should you. Ladies and gentlemen, Vice President Al Gore. Note: The President spoke at 8:03 p.m. in Hall Two at the State House Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to State Attorney General Mark L. Pryor; and former Senators Dale Bumpers and David H. Pryor. The transcript made available by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Vice President Al Gore. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 1588-1594] Monday, August 16, 1999 Volume 35--Number 32 Pages 1577-1631 Week Ending Friday, August 13, 1999 Remarks to the National Governors' Association Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri August 8, 1999 Thank you so much, Governor Carper, Governor Leavitt, and Governor Carnahan; thank you for welcoming me back to Missouri and to St. Louis, a place that has been so good to me and our family and our administration. I must tell you, this has been a great day for me already. My staff says I'm entitled to a great day once in a while. I got to spend the night in my mother-in-law's house, go to early church in my church, and have breakfast with my friends, and then come to meet with you. Something bad may happen tomorrow, but this has been a good day. [Laughter] When I first spoke to the Governors as President in 1993, I promised that we would build a new partnership, and I said I would try to hold up my end of the deal in three ways: first, by bringing down the Federal budget deficit so we could have lower interest rates and greater investment and a recovering economy. I've been a Governor through one boom and two busts; the booms make the job easier. Second, I promised to work with you to end welfare as we know it, to prove that poor people could succeed at home and at work. And third, I promised to loosen the rules and lift the regulations on Medicaid, that had long stopped Governors from providing more health care for less. Six and a half years later I think it's clear that this partnership has worked, through the hard work of the American people and the economic plan we put in place in 1993, followed up with the bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of 1997. We've turned record deficits into record surpluses, as Governor Carper said. Most of your budgets also enjoy healthy surpluses. We have the largest peacetime expansion in history, and on Friday I announced that we've gone over 19 million new jobs in the last 6\1/2\ years, with homeownership the highest in the history and minority unemployment the lowest ever recorded. You all know, and I think Tom referred to this, that with the welfare waivers that we granted the States, followed by the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, your initiatives have led us to the lowest welfare rolls in 32 years now. Last week in Chicago, I was able to announce that every one of your States is meeting the work requirements in the new welfare law, something that the American people should be very grateful for. And we now have 12,000 businesses in our Welfare to Work Partnership committed to hiring people from the welfare rolls into the work force. With the bipartisan balanced budget bill of '97, we created the children's health insurance program, $24 billion, the largest expansion of health coverage since the creation of Medicaid. We've waived or eliminated scores of laws and regulations on Medicaid, including one we all wanted to get rid of, the so-called Boren amendment. And last week I signed the federalism Executive order, putting to rest an issue that has divided the administration and the Governors for far too long. In so many areas we share a common vision. I heard Governor Hunt talking when I walked in today--I thought, I've heard that voice for more than 20 years. It's still singing more or less the same song, and it gets better every time he sings it. I thank you, sir. So I would say to you that this country is poised to enter a new century and a new [[Page 1589]] millennium with its best days still ahead. But we have some significant long-term challenges. I think we're in a position to meet those challenges. And I'd like to talk very briefly about the next steps that could affect you on the Federal budget, on welfare, and on health care. First, let me say that I do see this as a generational challenge--to deal with the aging of America; to deal with the children of America, which are more numerous and more diverse than ever before; to deal with the long-term economic health of America; to bring the light of opportunity to places that have still not felt any of this recovery. Those are just a few, but I think the biggest, of our long-term challenges. So what I propose to do is to take over three-quarters of this projected surplus and set it aside in ways that would enable us to lengthen the life of the Social Security Trust Fund, in ways that would cover the entire life of all those in the baby boom generation--that is, I don't expect to be around in 2053; I'd like it if it turned out that way, but I kind of doubt it will happen--in ways that would lengthen the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, bring the best that we know in terms of competitive technologies and other things to play, have more preventive screenings to try to keep people out of the hospitals, and have a modest prescription drug benefit--something we plainly would provide if we were creating Medicare for the first time today. If we do that, there will still be enough money to meet our fundamental obligations--in education, national defense, medical research, veterans, agriculture, the environment--and to have a modest tax cut. And we can do it, and pay off all the publicly-held debt in this country for the first time since 1835, when Andrew Jackson was President. We can do that in 15 years. Now, I think that's important, because in a global economy where interest rates are set in part by the movement of money at the speed of light across national borders--I'll make you a prediction: In 20 years, people will think all rich countries should not have debt because that will keep interest rates lower, investment higher, more jobs, more incomes, smaller costs for everything from homes to college education. And our trading partners around the world that are struggling to lift themselves up, or countries that get in trouble as the Asian countries did over the last couple of years, will be able to get the money they need at lower interest rates, recover more quickly, and help us to continue to integrate the world into a global market. Now, as you know, I'm having a big argument about this in Washington. And I know you've already heard the other side of it. [Laughter] But let me just say, I think if you hear it at first blush, the plan of the Republican leadership has some appeal. They say, ``Look, we've got this big projected surplus, and we want to let the Government keep two-thirds of it and give the people a third of it. And why is that unreasonable?'' Well, here's the problem. First of all, you all have been there; a projected surplus is not the same as one in the bank. And we don't know that. But secondly, there are--the budget problems, economic problems, and aging realities that I would argue undercut this tax bill that has passed the Congress. Let me just mention them. First of all, the two-thirds of the surplus that the Republican leadership--and I applaud this--is committed not to spend is that produced by the Social Security taxes. So they say we're not going to spend it at all, which means the only money available for spending over the '97 budget caps is the 100 percent they want to give away in the tax cut. And it is 100 percent, because it's not just the size of the tax cut, but when you cut taxes that much, you reduce debt less, so your interest rates are higher--the interest payments are higher. So you have to add to the tax cut the interest payments that we will have to pay that we would not otherwise have to pay. So basically, it means that the surplus we project to come from Social Security taxes will be out here, and if it's kept that way it will be used to pay down the debt. And that's good--not as much as my plan, but it does pay some down, and that is good, and I applaud that. But it also means that you and we and the American people are stuck with the '97 budget caps for the next decade. Now, let me tell you what that means. First of all, it's not real. The same people that [[Page 1590]] voted for this tax cut are up there spending money to help the farmers, and they ought to be. We've got a terrible crisis on the farm in America, and we need to deal with the present emergency, and we need a long-term modification of the '95 farm bill to reflect the fact that it has no safety net. And we need to do it in a way that doesn't mess up market prices, doesn't go back to the bad old days of overly-managed farm programs by the Federal Government. There are ways to do this, and we have to be careful how we do it. There are a lot of good things in that farm bill, in terms of having the Government get out of telling people what to plant and where; had a good conservation reserve program, had a lot of good things, but it had no safety net. So the Congress on the one hand is cutting the taxes and on the other hand spending money for farmers. They're putting more money back into the veterans' health budget, which they ought to do; there's some need there. They want a defense increase even bigger than the increase I want, neither of which can be funded under the new balanced budget calculations if you keep the Social Security surplus out of it. And that doesn't count what you will want us to do to help you in education or Medicaid or anything else. And it doesn't count what I hear every place I go, in every State, in communities large and small, which is that we had cuts that were too severe in the Medicare budget in 1997, which has imposed enormous burdens on the teaching hospitals in every State in the country, on the hospitals with large numbers of poor people, and on a lot of therapy services, for example, for home health care, which have been cut back. So, on the one hand we've got a construct that sounds simple and good--we keep two-thirds of the surplus; we give you a third back, to the people--but it means that we have to stay within the 1997 budget caps, which are already being broken, and which should be exceeded. You've got to do something about agriculture. We've got to do something about these teaching hospitals. We need some relief for the Veterans Administration, and that doesn't deal with all the things that you've been talking about, probably, before I got here. Now, so that's the budget problem. So one of two things will happen. If we had this construct, we either have huge cuts in all these things--huge--or we would have a reversion to past policies. We'd go back to deficit spending. At least we'd be deep into the Social Security portion of the surplus. Secondly, there are the aging realities. The plan that has passed does not do anything to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, nor does it do anything--even though it holds the taxes back--it doesn't do anything to extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund. Just taking the tax receipts and holding them separate does not extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund. To do that, you have
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