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pd25oc99 Statement on Signing Legislation Establishing Black Canyon of the...
years. 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]] <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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 Reporters 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 priority. 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 priorities. 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 necessary? 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 do. 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]] Pakistan 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 forthcoming. 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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