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pd25oc99 Statement on Signing Legislation Establishing Black Canyon of the...

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    But I have to tell you that the most important thing we have to do 
to get ready for the 21st century, even more important than our efforts 
to continue to grow our economy, is to build one country out of our 
diversity. If we do, if the American people really can come to have that 
wonderful balance which enables us to celebrate our diversity and our 
unique ethnic and religious traditions--which makes America a very 
interesting place to live--and still say our common humanity is even 
more important, we'll figure out how to deal with all the other things.
    Last year, one of only 2 years I've missed since I first came here 7 
years ago, I was up for 9 days and nights at the Wye Plantation trying 
to keep the Middle East peace process on track. If you look around the 
world at how I have spent my time as your President--working for peace 
in the Balkans, among Muslims and Croats and Serbs, among Albanian 
Muslim and Serbian Orthodox Christians; for peace in the Middle East, 
among Arabs and Jews, among Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Jordanians, 
and Lebanese; for peace in Northern Ireland among Catholics and 
Protestants; to set up protections against the kind of tribal slaughter 
we've seen in Africa among people who shared the same land, in one case 
in Rwanda, for 500 years.
    It is truly interesting that at the dawn of this new millennium, 
when we're exhilarated by all these technological and scientific 
advances that are being made--one man told me that when I have 
grandchildren they may be born with a life expectancy of 100 years; we 
know that our kids are using the Internet and talking to people all over 
the world and knowing things we couldn't know--isn't it interesting that 
in this quintessentially modern era our biggest problem is the most 
primitive and ancient of human failings: the fear of the other, people 
who are different from us?
    And what a short step it is from fearing people to hating them to 
dehumanizing them, which legitimizes doing away with them. And isn't it 
interesting that at a time when the crime rate in America is at a 26-
year low, we still have these vicious examples

[[Page 2070]]

of a man shooting children at a Jewish community school, and then going 
out and murdering a Filipino postman; another man saying he belonged to 
a church that didn't believe in God, but did believe in white supremacy, 
killing an Africa-American basketball coach in Illinois and then 
murdering a young Korean Christian as he walked out of his church?
    And all these other examples--the young gay man Matthew Shepard, a 
year ago this week being stretched out, literally, upon a rack; James 
Byrd being pulled apart in Texas because he was an African-American. Not 
because all Americans are like that--almost all of us aren't--but 
because in each of us there is this fragile scale, like the scale of 
justice Mr. Scalia must try to balance in his work. And in this scale we 
wake up every morning with some curious balance of light and dark, of 
hope and fear. And when the scale gets badly enough out of whack, the 
easiest thing to do is to strike out against the other.
    So I say again to you, Italian-Americans have been subject to 
discrimination and bigotry in times past in America. You still are 
subject to stereotypes that I think are unfair and unrepresentative, to 
be kind about it. But it is because of the values you share with other 
Americans that we have a prosperous economy and a healing society. And 
we just have to remember that overall. Yes, I hope a lot of your 
children make hundreds of millions of dollars by starting Internet 
companies; yes, I hope that my plans to take care of the aging of 
America and save Social Security and Medicare will prevail; I hope our 
plans to elevate the quality of all of our schools will prevail; I hope 
I can convince both parties in Congress to resist temptation and save 
enough of this surplus to get us out of debt for the first time since 
1835 over the next 15 years. I hope all of that. But remember this: The 
most important thing is to build one America out of this crazy quilt of 
all of us who live here.
    Last week Hillary and I had the eighth of her Millennial Evenings at 
the White House. And we had an expert in the Internet, who helped to 
design the architecture of the Internet; and an expert in genomics, who 
talked to us about the human genome project and the miracles it will 
bring. He says one day the intersection of computers and gene studies 
will enable us to put digital, microscopic digital pieces in all parts 
of the human body to do even the repair work on shattered nerves to the 
spine. And we talked about all the miracles out there.
    And the genomics experts said, but what I want you to understand is 
that of all the possible permutations among people, with all many, many 
parts of every gene, 99.9 percent of us is identical to that of every 
other human being. And the genetic differences among groups--that is, 
individuals among the Italian community, for example--are more 
significant and greater than the aggregate average genetic differences 
between Italians and Irish and Africans and Latins. It's important to 
remember. For people of faith, it reflects the wisdom of our Creator.
    So I say again, I'm indebted to you for many things--your work 
ethic, your family ethic, your creativity, your energy, your passion--it 
made America a much more interesting place and it fueled this remarkable 
run we have had. But your commitment to see that neither Italians nor 
any other human beings are subject to degradation and prejudice because 
of who they are, that we will learn to honestly and openly express our 
differences and enjoy our differences, but reaffirm our common humanity, 
make no mistake about it--just pick up the paper any day; look at the 
perils of the present day. We are in a conflict between modern 
possibility and primitive hatred. One America is the only answer, and 
you're leading the way.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:37 p.m. in the ballroom at the Washington 
Hilton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Frank J. Guarini, chairman, 
Joseph R. Cerrell, president, and Geraldine Ferrarro, board member, 
National Italian American Foundation; U.S. Ambassador to Italy
Thomas M. Foglietta; U.S. Ambassador to Romania James C. Rosapepe; 
Italian Ambassador to the U.S. Ferdinando Salleo; Minister of Foreign 
Affairs Lamberto Dini and Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema of Italy; CNBC 
journalist Maria Bartiromo, event emcee; James Cardinal Hickey, Roman 
Catholic Archbishop of Washington, DC; Richard Grasso, chairman and 
chief executive officer, New York Stock Exchange; and Joe Torre, 
manager, New York Yankees.

[[Page 2071]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2071]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Statement on the 1998 Uniform Crime Report

October 17, 1999

    The 1998 Uniform Crime Report released by the FBI today shows that 
serious crime has continued to fall in every region of our Nation for 
the seventh straight year. The murder rate is at its lowest since 1967. 
The overall violent crime rate is down, and gun crimes, rapes, 
robberies, assaults, and juvenile crime have all dropped to their lowest 
levels in over a decade. This is good news for America's families, and 
it shows we can indeed turn the tide on crime.
    My administration's strategy of 100,000 more police, fewer guns in 
the hands of criminals, thanks to the Brady law, and more tools for 
communities to combat crime is working to make our streets safer and our 
communities stronger. But tragedies from Littleton to Los Angeles show 
that we must do more to protect our communities from gun violence. Even 
as crime falls, we must not let down our guard. That is why we must 
redouble our efforts to build on what works--by fully funding our COPS 
program to put more police on the street and by passing commonsense gun 
legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Together we can make 
America the safest big nation in the world.

Note: This statement was made available by the Office of the Press 
Secretary on October 15 but was embargoed for release until 6 p.m., 
October 17.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2071-2074]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Remarks Following a Meeting With the Economic Team and an Exchange With 

October 18, 1999

Federal Budget

    The President. Good morning. I have just completed a meeting with my 
economic team to see what we can do to reach overall budget agreement 
with the congressional leadership. In just 4 days, the resolution that 
temporarily funds the Government will expire. And yet, Congress still 
has not sent me a budget that maintains our fiscal discipline, pays down 
Social Security, reforms Medicare, and honors the priorities of the 
American people, especially including education, and including 50,000 
more community police for our children, for our streets, and a steadfast 
commitment to preserve and protect our environment.
    Now, there is an overwhelming consensus across our country, and even 
here in Washington, that we face no challenge more critical than the 
education of our children. When our children graduate, they will be the 
largest and most diverse group of graduates in our history. They will be 
in a vastly more global and complex and information-dominated economy 
than ever before. For their sake, and the sake of our continued 
prosperity, we have wisely made--as a people--education our number one 
    That means shrinking class size while increasing quality by 
fulfilling our commitment to put 100,000 teachers in the classroom--
something the Republicans in Congress supported last year. It means 
making sure our children are ready for the year 2000 by ensuring that 
every one of them has access to computers in their classrooms. It means 
keeping schools open after school and during the summer. It means 
expanding mentoring and Head Start. It means having strategies that 
impose high standards and accountability, give schools funds to turn 
around themselves if they're failing, but shuts them down if they can't 
turn around. It means more funds for charter schools.
    Now, if we're going to make these critical investments and maintain 
our fiscal discipline to keep our economy strong, we're going to have to 
make tough choices, and we're going to have to make them together. There 
are 4 days until the continuing resolution expires. Inaction is not an 
option. I will do everything I can to meet our priorities in a 
responsible way.
    As I have said repeatedly in recent weeks, indeed, for years, my 
door is open to Members of both parties who are willing to work with us. 
If we're going to finish the job the American people sent us here to 
do--reach real results in educating our children, fighting crime, 
protecting our environment--then we have to put politics aside and seek 
common ground.

[[Page 2072]]

    In that spirit, I am inviting the congressional leadership to come 
here and meet with me and our economic team at the White House, to see 
if we can agree on an overall budget framework. Yes, there are 
differences of opinion. But I don't think they're so great that we can't 
make progress by working together in a genuine bipartisan spirit. I'm 
committed to doing so and to resolving the remaining differences. If the 
congressional leadership will join me, we can make this a season of real 
progress for our people.
    Thank you.

Spending Caps

    Q. Sir, what about the spending caps on Social Security money? Are 
you willing to say before the congressional leadership comes here that 
you'll negotiate lifting the caps?
    The President. Well, first of all, they've already been lifted. I 
mean, they have--they're into spending the Social Security surplus, and 
everyone but them--everybody else has acknowledged it. I mean, their own 
Congressional Budget Office says that. I have given them offsets. I will 
work with them with further offsets. I would like to see them do better 
on that.
    But we can't not fund these critical education priorities. We can't 
not have an adequate environmental budget. And we can't not fulfill our 
responsibilities to the rest of the world. You know, I vetoed the 
foreign operations bill this morning because it seems to me to be the 
next big chapter in the new American isolationism, right after the 
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. There's no money to fund the Wye peace 
accord for peace in the Middle East; no money to fund our continuing 
work with the Russians to reduce their nuclear threat; no money to help 
us with debt relief to the poorest countries in Latin America and Asia; 
and several other problems.
    So I think that--but on the other hand, according to Congressional 
Budget Office, they've already spent billions of dollars that are in the 
nongeneral revenue, or the Social Security revenue, portion of the 
surplus. I will work with them on offsets; I will work with them on 
getting a balanced budget out of here that meets all of our Nation's 
    But we need to sit down and do it together. You know, we can 
continue this standoff, and I will fight for what I believe in, as I 
have ever since they took over Congress in 1995. But in the years where 
we have worked together--in '96 and '97 and '98--we've produced good 
results for the American people. And we ought to do that in 1999, and 
that's my commitment.

Continuing Resolution

    Q. Is it inevitable that another continuing resolution will be 
    The President. I think probably, but it ought to be short. And, you 
know, what I want to do is to put all these bills together and see what 
the real critical differences are. I know they're not going to do 100 
percent of what I want them to do. But there are certain bottom lines 
for the American people that I have, that I have to fight for. And we 
need to see how all this spending works together, and then do our best 
to agree on a responsible way to pay for it. And that's what I'd like to 
    And I'm not interested in being able to walk out of here and win a 
battle on whether they spent the Social Security surplus or not. As a 
matter of fact, they have, and it's been acknowledged for months, but 
that's not the point. The point is, we need a responsible budget here.
    We're on a path to paying down America's debt. Because the tax cut 
was rejected, vetoed, we can still get America out of debt over the next 
15 years. We can still extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund 
beyond the lifecycle of the baby boomers. And we can still have the 
funds to reform and modernize Medicare and meet these other priorities.
    If you look over the 5-year period--if you look over the horizon, 
here--this country is moving in the right direction. And we shouldn't 
allow these momentary difficulties to deter us from doing what is right 
now, so we can keep on the right path.

[[Page 2073]]


    Q. Mr. President, on Pakistan, what's your reaction to General 
Musharraf's speech yesterday? There's no indication of any timetable for 
moving toward elections, or for democracy.
    The President. Well, a lot of what he said on the substance, 
including the conciliatory tone he took towards India, I thought was 
quite good. But I was quite disappointed that there was no commitment to 
a timetable to move toward democracy. And I certainly hope that will be 

Carol Moseley-Braun Ambassadorial Nomination

    Q. What do you think about Senator Helms' blocking Carol Moseley-
Braun's nomination? Reported obstruction----

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