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shootings, children are less likely to be killed today than they were 7 
years ago. I'm proud of that. But does anybody seriously believe this 
country is as safe as it ought to be? And if it's not, why should we 
stop until America is the safest big country in the world?
    Now, I have a proposal to put 50,000 more police on the street--the 
first 100,000 did a good job--and to put them in the highest crime areas 
of the country. The Democrats in Washington, we're trying to pass 
proposals for reasonable gun restriction, for child safety locks, for 
closing the gun show loophole, which has no background checks at gun 
shows and urban flea markets, and doing a number of other things. But we 
shouldn't stop; we shouldn't say we're satisfied with where it is, 
because we shouldn't be.
    The next thing we ought to do is to make this economy work for all 
Americans. You know as well as I do that right here in New Jersey there 
are people and places that have not been touched by this economic 
recovery. We've worked very hard on this. The Vice President has run our 
remarkably successful empowerment zone program. But we want

[[Page 2081]]

to double the number of those empowerment zones, and we want to make 
sure that with our new markets initiative that people who have money to 
invest get the same financial incentives to invest in poor neighborhoods 
in America we give them to invest in poor neighborhoods in Latin 
America, in Africa, in Asia, and throughout the world. Because people 
here who want to go to work ought to have a chance. If we don't do 
something now, when our economy is so prosperous and when our 
unemployment rate is so low to give people who don't have work the 
chance to have it, we will never get around to it. Now is the time to do 
    Let me just say one other thing, maybe in some ways the biggest idea 
of all. People are asking me all the time if we've repealed the business 
cycle, because we now have the longest peacetime expansion in history. 
We haven't. But one of the things we know is that if we keep an open 
economy and we keep competing and this technological revolution 
continues and we educate more and more of our people, we'll do better. 
But you all know that one of the reasons we're doing better is because 
we took a $290 billion deficit and turned it in to $115 billion surplus, 
and that drove down interest rates and it increased investment; it 
increased jobs; it increased incomes; it lowered home mortgage rates; it 
lowered college loan rates; it lowered car interest payment rates and 
credit card rates. It made us more prosperous.
    If my plan in Washington is adopted, to save Social Security and 
Medicare, it will enable us to pay down the debt over the next 15 years, 
so that 15 years from now this country could be out of debt for the very 
first time since--listen to this--Andrew Jackson was President in 1835. 
Now, why should the nominally more liberal party be for getting us out 
of debt? Because it's good for poor people who want jobs; it's good for 
middle class people who want affordable credit; it will give us a 
stronger, longer-running prosperity. And when we do get into trouble, it 
won't be nearly as bad as it otherwise would have been. And I hope every 
Democrat will stand up for that and stick up for that. That's why I 
vetoed that Republican tax bill, because we never would have gotten out 
of debt and we wouldn't have had any money left to invest in education 
and health care and the environment.
    I'll just mention two other things real briefly, because they don't 
bear on you quite so much. One is, I think the most important thing we 
can do is keep working to build one America, to keep working to reach 
across the lines that divide us. The more complicated, the more diverse 
we get, the more we ought to be lifting up and celebrating our 
differences--and making a little fun of them, like I did tonight--
[laughter] and enjoying it, but also reaffirming our common humanity.
    When you see all these hate crimes we have--Matthew Shepard killed 
in Wyoming because he was gay; James Byrd dragged apart in Texas because 
he was black; a Filipino postal worker shot in California by a man who 
just got through shooting at Jewish children at a Jewish community 
school; an African-American basketball coach and a young Korean 
Christian killed walking out of his church in the Middle West by a man 
who belonged to a church that said he didn't believe in God, he 
believed--the church believed in white supremacy.
    When you see all this stuff it is just sort of the most egregious 
example in America of the problems that all of us have in looking at 
people who are different from us and feeling fear or misunderstanding. 
And when those things are not dealt with, they can lead quite easily to 
hatred, which can lead to dehumanization, which in the most egregious 
examples, can lead to killing. And it's not just America; it's all over 
the world. What am I working on in the Middle East or Ireland; or to try 
to stop tribal wars in Africa; or in Bosnia and Kosovo. All over the 
world, we are still on the verge of this most modern of ages. We're 
bedeviled by fear of the other.
    We had a fascinating--Hillary has organized eight different 
Millennium Evenings at the White House, where we bring in brilliant 
people to come talk about various things and then put it out over the 
Internet, all over the country and all over the world. Last week we had 
two guys come in and talk; it was the most fascinating thing you ever 
saw. One of them helped to develop the architecture of the Internet. The 
other one was an expert in the human genome project. And they

[[Page 2082]]

talked about how computers made it possible to unlock the mystery of the 
human genes and together would make it possible to do things like put 
little computer chips in any part of our body that's broken someday and 
have the chip emit electronic impulses which would, for example, take 
the place of damaged nerves. It was fascinating.
    But what the geneticist said is interesting. He said that all human 
beings, from a genetic point of view, are 99.9 percent the same. And 
that the genetic differences among groups of people--that is, within 
them--are greater than the genetic differences of the group as a whole 
with any other group. So that among Poles, Italians, Latinos, and 
African-Americans, within each of those groups, the genetic differences 
are different than on average the genetic differences of one group are 
from another. We have got to get over this notion that we define our 
lives in terms of being better than somebody who is in some other group. 
And it's a huge issue.
    The last thing I want to say--you mentioned the test ban treaty. I 
have done everything I could from the first day I got here to try to 
lead the world to a point where we could take advantage of the good 
things going on and beat back the threats of tomorrow. What are the 
threats? The spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; the 
growth of terrorism, organized crime, and drug running and the groups 
working more and more together. What are the opportunities? Expanding 
trade, expanding communications.
    One of my big struggles with the Congress is that they don't agree 
with a lot of this. But I just want you to know one thing about the test 
ban treaty. Everybody is for it when you hear about it. Then they can 
get a lot of people to say, ``Well, I don't know if I'm for it 
because,'' they say, ``why should America sign a nuclear test ban treaty 
when other people can cheat?''
    The answer is, the treaty makes it harder to cheat. Because if we 
get the treaty, we get over 300 super-sophisticated sensors that we put 
out all over the world, in all the critical places, which catch people 
cheating. If we don't sign it, it's harder and harder to know whether 
people are testing or not; and even if they do, they're not violating 
any rules--because we walked away.
    Now, that's what I think. Deal with the aging of America; deal with 
the children of America; deal with the families of America; makes us the 
safest big country in the world; get us out of debt, and give poor 
people a chance to be a part of this economy; make us one America, and 
keep leading the world. That's what I think.
    Now, look at the Republicans' position. On Social Security, they 
have an act to save Social Security or reform Medicare, and they say 
there won't be any prescription drug benefit this year. On education, 
they're against voluntary tests; they're against our no-social-promotion 
policy; they won't give us 100,000 teachers; and they sure won't give us 
any funds to help you to build or modernize your schools. On the family 
issues, they're against expanding family leave; they haven't supported 
equal pay; they're sure against the Patients' Bill of Rights, the 
leadership; and they haven't helped us expand child care. On the crime 
issue, they were against putting 100,000 police on the street, and 
they're against putting 50,000 more. And you know where they are on the 
gun issues. On the economy, the tax cut would have taken away the 
possibility of getting us out of debt. On one America, they're against 
the hate crimes bill, the employment nondiscrimination bill. And on 
world leadership, it's not just the comprehensive test ban; they won't 
pay our U.N. dues; they're against our doing our part to combat climate 
change; and they're against adequately funding our national security. I 
vetoed a bill today for foreign operations which doesn't have any money 
to meet our obligations to the Middle East peace process, any money to 
increase our efforts to diminish the nuclear threats that still exist in 
Russia, any money to help pay off the debts of the poor countries that 
the Pope and everybody else has begged the rich countries of the world 
to do in the year 2000.
    Now, what has all this got to do with the New Jersey Assembly? 
Plenty. Because if you look at these things--the children, the seniors, 
the families, whether the economy works, how the education system works, 
whether we've got safe streets, and whether we're coming together 
instead of drifting apart--a lot of that work is done at the State 
level. Joe has already talked about it but, you

[[Page 2083]]

know, I'm proud to come here because you're trying to pass a meaningful 
patients' protection bill that not only has the right to sue but also 
has an ombudsman to look over how the managed care system works.
    Now, I have a right to say this because I have never condemned 
managed care, per se. But do you know when I proposed the Patients' Bill 
of Rights, 43 managed care companies came to me and said, ``Mr. 
President, we're interested in these principles; we think they ought to 
be the law; but you don't understand--you have got to pass a law, 
because if we try to do this on our own, we'll lose our shirt if our 
competitors undercut us. They'll take all the healthy people and not 
charge them anything and leave us with all the problems. There needs to 
be a law here.''
    I'm here because New Jersey's Democrats are trying to pass child-
proof gun legislation, which is very important. I'm here because you 
believe in progressive, not regressive, taxation--and I know about your 
fight there--and because of what you've done in education. Keep in mind, 
this only works if there is a partnership.
    Now, my Republican predecessors talked a lot about partnerships, but 
we have eliminated more regulations on the State--two-thirds of all the 
Department of Education regulations. We have turned over more programs 
to the State than my two predecessors combined. But if it's going to 
work, you have to have the right people in the State government.
    So I ask you, again, think about what you want the new century to 
look like for your kids and your grandkids. Think about the obligation 
we have with this chance of a lifetime. Do what you can to stick with us 
nationally, but also at the State level. And if you do what you ought to 
do in these elections, you will send a loud message to America that we 
are moving in the right direction for tomorrow.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:30 p.m. in an outdoor tent at a private 
residence. In his remarks, he referred to State Senator Raymond J. 
Lesniak, dinner host; Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth; Mayor 
Sharpe James of Newark, NJ; Thomas Giblin, chairman, and Robert C. 
Janiszewski, Hudson County chairman, Democratic State Committee; State 
Senator Richard J. Codey; State Assembly members Loretta Weinberg and 
Joseph V. Doria, Jr., who introduced the President; and Jon Corzine, 
former chief executive officer, Goldman Sachs.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2083-2087]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Remarks to the Voices Against Violence Conference

October 19, 1999

    Thank you. Good morning. I think Rebecca Hunter did a wonderful job 
with her pledge and with her introduction, don't you? Let's give her 
another hand. I thought she was great. [Applause]
    I would like to begin by thanking our House Democratic leader, Dick 
Gephardt, and all others who were involved in this Voices Against 
Violence meeting. I want to thank Congressmen Frost, Bonior, DeLauro, 
Clement, and Menendez, who are over here to my left. And I see 
Representative Capps out there--there may be more Members of Congress 
here. I thank all of them for being here.
    I would like to thank our Secretary of Education, Dick Riley, who 
came with me; Jeff Bleich, who runs our national grassroots campaign 
against youth violence. And I'd like to thank Ananda Lewis of MTV and 
all the other organizations who are working to help make this a safer 
place for all of you. I thank the parents, the teachers, and the 
chaperons who came here with you today.
    But most of all, I came here to say thank you to all of you for 
taking responsibility, taking a stand in raising your voices against 
    I also have to say that this is a good day for me for you to be here 
because I know a lot of you have been trained in conflict resolution, 
and I'm meeting with the leaders of the Congress this afternoon, the 
Republicans and the Democrats, to try to resolve our conflict over the 
budget. [Laughter] And if I don't do so well, I may keep some of you in 
Washington for an extra day or 2 to help me. I think that would be a 
good idea.
    Actually, we do agree on things from time to time. Later today I'm 
going to sign legislation that will make good our common commitment to 
veterans, housing, science and technology, and to a part of what I call 

[[Page 2084]]

new markets initiative, to give economic opportunity to the poor parts 
of America where our recovery has not reached.
    And now we have to finish the rest of the budget. The most important 
thing to me and to all of us is that we do a good job on education. It 
has got to be the number one priority for our country for the new 
century. We have the largest and most diverse student population we have 
ever had. It poses new challenges for us, but it gives America an 
unprecedented opportunity.
    So I want you to see what we want to do about youth violence in the 
larger context of what I believe should be our commitment to give you 
the best possible education and the best possible future that any 
children have ever had in the history of our country.
    We're trying to put 100,000 teachers in our classrooms for smaller 
classes. We're trying to build or modernize 6,000 schools, because so 
many kids are in house trailers and broken-down old schools today, 
because there are so many more schoolchildren than we've ever had 
before. We're trying to make sure that by the end of next year we have 
hooked up every classroom in America to the Internet. We're trying to 
provide funds for summer school and after-school programs, funds to turn 
around schools that aren't doing a good job, more efforts to mentor 
young people in middle school to get them ready to go on to college.
    We're also fighting for funds for health care and the environment 
and for more community police officers. And we're doing it in a way that 
will enable us to do something else you should care about, which is to 
save Social Security and Medicare when the so-called baby boom 
generation retires, and then there will only be about two people your 
age working for every one person retired. And it's very important that 
we use this moment, here, where we're prosperous, to protect your 
    Most of us who are in the baby boom generation are panicked by the 
thought that when we retire, we'll impose a big burden on your 
generation and your ability to raise your kids. So we're determined to 
avoid that, and we can.
    And finally, let me say, from the time I was your age until today, 
our country has always been in debt--and over the last 10 or 12 years, 
increasingly so, before I became President. We've got a chance to get 
this country out of debt over the next 15 years, to make America debt-
free for the first time since 1835, and I hope we will do that.
    I've been asking all the American people, including our young 
people, to imagine the future and to recognize that our country has a 
certain, unique moment here, when we've got a lot of prosperity and when 
our problems have been laid bare for us for all to see by tragic 
instances, like the instance at Columbine. But it's not the only kind of 
violence young people are subjected to. They're also subjected to hate 
crimes: Matthew Shepard being killed in Wyoming; the children shot at, 
at the Jewish community center; and then the Filipino postal worker 
murdered; the young Korean killed in the Middle West by the guy on the 
hate crime spree who also killed the African-American former basketball 

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