|For Immediate Release||January 20, 1999|
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Hello Buffalo, Western New York.(Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you for coming out here and being apartof this magnificent crowd. (Applause.) And thank you, Hillary, for yourkindwords of introduction and for that great speech. You know, there is nodoubt,Buffalo loves Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
Tipper and I are so proud to be here with all of you and it hasbeensuch a privilege for us to be a part of this Clinton-Gore administrationforexactly six years and one hour and five minutes. And we celebrated thatanniversary just before we walked out here on stage. And when we roundedthecorner and the curtains parted and we saw this crowd, all four of us justgaspedat the same time -- it's unbelievable. Thank you so much for being here in suchnumbers. (Applause.) We love you, we thank you. (Applause.) This isgreat.
Last night really was a turning point for out country. Did you all seethe President's State of the Union address last night? (Applause.) Didyouagree with his agenda? (Applause.) Are you willing to fight for hisagenda?(Applause.) That's what it's going to take.
When he reported that the state of our union wasstrong, that was right on, but also kind of an understatement,because it's true right now a lot of the economic experts arebeginning to write that, as of right now, our country has thestrongest economy ever in the history of the United States of
America, the longest peacetime expansion in the history of theUnited States of America -- (applause) -- but also, improvementin so many other areas: the lowest crime rate in a quartercentury, the smallest welfare rolls in 30 years, the cleanestenvironment in this century.
And you know, six years ago when we started thisadministration, it's worth remembering that at that time we had,by far, the biggest budget deficit in history. And now, aftersix years of President Clinton's leadership and thisadministration, we have, by far, the largest budget surplus inhistory. That's a turn around that America is proud of and it'shelping our country. (Applause.)
And there's one person, of course, at the heart of allthat progress. This nation has worked hard, our communities havecome together, our families are stronger; we're trying to makecertain no one is left behind. But all of this progress does nothappen by accident, ladies and gentlemen. It happens because ofgreat leadership. And the one person most responsible, more thanany other for the good times in America today is our President,Bill Clinton. And we appreciate your leadership, Mr. President.(Applause.)
The main point of that speech last night was not simplyto outline the nature of the strength in our country and in oureconomy, but rather, as you saw and heard for yourselves, for thePresident to lay out a bold, new agenda to make certain that ournation is prepared for the 21st century, which is now so near tous.
Because he has been willing to think boldly and playout an agenda that is good for our people in the past, we've beenable to fight for these policies and enact a lot of them. Andyou see the results right here in this community, with all of theimprovements.
But he's also stopped a lot of unwise things fromhappening because he's had to try to build coalitions acrossparty lines, but every once in a while, those in Congress whodisagree with him try to pass some measure that is, in hisopinion, not good for working families in this country, not goodfor communities, not good for organized labor, not good for themiddle class.
You know, I was thinking about what he does and hasdone every time they've tried to slip one of those policies byhim -- because he's sitting here, right toward one end of thisMarine Midlands Arena, and was thinking that he kind of lookslikeDominic Hascek sitting there. (Laughter.) And he will not badlegislation get by that President's desk in the Oval Office. Heis going to knock it away and keep it from passing. (Applause.)The Dominator is what they call Hascek.
Now, the reason he is looking forward toward the agendafor the future is because, especially here in Buffalo, it'sobviously that we have to build on the good times and do evenmore to keep our economy humming and creating good jobs, so thatno one is left behind. There have been plenty of good times inour past, when people were celebrating the drop in theunemployment rate. And then they look around and they find manyin the community who are having a very different experience, whonever really get a job, who never break out of poverty.
We are determined that our nation is going to followpolicies that not only lift the general standard of living andhelp people get good jobs and raise incomes, but policies thatalso make certain that nobody is left behind. We want everybodyto share in the prosperity of America. That's what we're allabout as a nation. (Applause.) And under this President'sleadership, with your help, we're going to do it. (Applause.)
That's why he's called for more than half a billiondollars for new job training and life-long learning, to helpeverybody keep up with the fast moving changes in this newInformation Age economy -- new investments in areas liketechnology and computing that haven't received the attention theydeserve in the past, even though when you open the want ads youcan see that those are the areas where lots of the new jobs areopening up. And that's why we need the job training andlife-long learning opportunities, to equip people so they can getthe skills they need to hold down those jobs.
That's why he's focused on building the strength ofcommunities. For example, right here we have seen Buffalo's,impressive South Buffalo Redevelopment Plan to create new jobsand bring the whole community along, to build new trails andparks and keep traffic away from the lakefront. And I want tosay this community, Buffalo and Erie County, are really servingas a model on what we can do to have smarter growth that willbring our people a higher quality of life. We need to be notjust better off, but better -- with stronger communities.(Applause.) And we're going to support that agenda. (Applause.)
That's why the President is proposing the largestsingle investment in smart growth in America's history, to helpsave open space, ease traffic congestion, improve the quality oflife, give families more time at home with their children.
You know, the First Lady also talked about theimportance of strengthening families. And one of the issues atthe heart of that agenda is a proposal that the President renewedlast night. John Lafalce has been helping us with it in theCongress. Senator Moynihan and your great new Senator, ChuckSchumer, have both been helping us with this agenda -- (applause)-- Pat Moynihan, Chuck Schumer, doing a great job for you.(Applause.) And that is the patients' bill of rights.
Now, let me tell you just briefly why I think this isso important. A lot of people are seeing big changes in the wayto get health care and they don't like the fact that some of themost critical decisions about their lives and the medical carefor their families are not being made by doctors; that some ofthese large companies are making the decisions instead. Peoplebelieve it's time to change that. (Applause.)
I heard a story the other day that kind of illustratesthis. It's about three neighbors who died and went to heaven andSt. Peter greeted them at the gate. And he interviewed the firstone and said, what did you do on Earth? And she said, I was adoctor, I cured the sick all my life. And St. Peter said, well,come on in. He interviewed the second one and said, what did youdo on Earth? And he said, I was a teacher, I taught children allmy life. St. Peter said, well, come on in.
He asked the third one, what did you do? And he lookeda little sheepish and he said, well, I ran an HMO. And St. Petersaid, well, come on in, but you can only stay three days.(Laughter and applause.) That's what they've been doing to us --it's time for a change. (Applause.)
A few months ago I talked to a doctor who told a truestory about a patient who came into the emergency room and hadfull cardiac arrest. His heart stopped. He died right on thetable there. And the doctor drew on all his skill and got one ofthose -- what do you call them -- defibrulators, and eventuallyrestarted the man's heart, brought him back to life. He sends abill to the HMO; the HMO refused to pay because they said -- thisis a true story -- it was not an emergency. The man was dead.
Now, some of those who have been fighting against thePresident's agenda may believe that the absence of a heart is notan emergency -- we disagree. We think we need a health carepatients' bill of rights. Let's support President Clinton'sproposals and give the families of this country the right to havetheir medical decisions made by doctors and nurses and notaccountants. (Applause.)
Now, finally, the President emphasized one other issuemore than any other, and that is education. And he did for areason. We know that in this period of fantastic and rapidchange, what we earn will, indeed, depend upon what we learn.How our nation competes in the world economy will depend upon howwell we organize ourselves to give our children and Americans ofall ages the knowledge that is the key strategic resource of the21st century -- the skills that will enable them to hold downgood-paying jobs. And so it is time to, once again, fall behindthis President's leadership to modernize our schools, to finishthe job of hiring all of those new teachers, to bring theclassroom size down, to honor our teachers and our schools, tolift them up, instead of tearing down public education. To makethe point that our schools are the places where our future isborn.
Now, the average school here in Buffalo is 65 yearsold. We've been trying to wire every classroom and every libraryto the Internet. But you know it's hard in some places where theschools are very, very old. That's why the President has said weneed to do something about this.
He and I are part of the baby boom generation -- allfour of us are part of the baby boom generation. And when wefirst went into elementary schools, the schools were crowdedthen, and there were portable classrooms then. They called themquonset huts in many places because they were left over from thewar. But the World War II veterans got together and joined handsand did something about that. And they built new schools andthey passed the G.I. Bill, and they made a huge investment ineducation. And we are still benefitting as a nation because ofwhat that generation did for the baby boomers in investing inschools.
Well, I'm telling you something. Last summer, ourCensus Bureau came out with a brand new study that was surprisingto some people -- not to this President, he's been talking aboutit. This new study showed that the generation of young people,the boys and girls 18 years old and younger, have now just passedby the baby boom generation and now they represent that biggestgeneration in American history. And they're in crowdedclassrooms.
A lot of them are here -- and you're in crowdedclassrooms. Many are in portable classrooms. Some teachers haveas many as 35, 38 students in each classroom. I've seen placeswhere the roofs are falling in, where there are cracks in thewalls, where 1st grade teachers have to put the raincoats on 351st graders so they can walk out into the rain to get across theway from a portable classroom to go to the rest room or go tolunch and back. I was in one school that was so crowded they fedthe first shift for lunch at 9:30 a.m. -- true story.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, the question is whether ornot we are going to rise to this challenge and do for thisgeneration what the World War II vets did for the baby boomers.It is time to pass this President's agenda to invest ineducation, hire more teachers, modernize our classrooms, puteducation number one on the priority list. (Applause.)
Now, let me tell you how you're going to make all thathappen. We've got the leadership. Last night we were given theagenda. We have the vision. And the 21st century lies justbefore us. The decision will be made by you, the people of thiscountry.
When anybody brings about as much positive change insuch a short period of time as President Bill Clinton hasbrought, it's bound to discombobulate some people. (Applause.)It's bound to shake them up. (Applause.) When he says it's timeto bring blacks and whites and Hispanics together, it's bound togenerate opposition. (Applause.) When he says stop thediscrimination, they're going to try to stop him. (Applause.)
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we're at a crossroads; youknow it. We can have the future that our children deservebecause we already have the President that our country needs.(Applause.) We have to have your support. I'm asking you now tohelp us pass the agenda that President Bill Clinton outlined tothe country last night. And the way you can help us pass thatagenda is by making it loud and clear, right here in this arena,that you support the President of the United States, BillClinton. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I think you gotso excited that you melted the snow for a mile around this arena.(Applause.) Let me ask you, have you ever seen the VicePresident so fired up in your life? (Laughter and applause.) Iwant you to know that just before we came in here, we went offinto a little room and he had a quick hit of buffalo wings andFlutie flakes, that's what he did. (Applause.)
I want to thank the Mayor and Dennis Gorski and ConnieEve and the whole Eve family -- Eric worked for us for a longtime, then decided to go out and get rich -- we forgive him. Iwant to thank all the community heroes who are here. I want tothank Reverend Smith for that magnificent invocation, which Iwill remember all my life. (Applause.) I want to thank ourwonderful friend, Congressman John Lafalce, one of the mostoutstanding members in the House of Representatives, a trulywonderful human being. (Applause.) And I am delighted that Patand his son, Martin are here with us today.
I think you could see that Tipper and Al and Hillaryand I, we're sort of like a big family -- we like going placestogether. And I love it, because now I don't have to talk about90 percent of the issues anymore because they already coveredthem, which was really good. We work together. And we havetried to model what we want America to do.
You know, no one has ever spoken as passionately andconsistently for the cause of mental health as well as TipperGore has done. (Applause.) I think it's fair to say that atleast no one since Eleanor Roosevelt has done as much with theOffice of First Lady as Hillary has done. And I am grateful forthat. (Applause.)
And I am quite confident that in the entire history ofthe United States no Vice President has had remotely theresponsibility and had the positive impact on the people of theUnited States that Al Gore has had. And I am very grateful tohim. (Applause.)
Now, we are here today in this magnificent arena -- andI've just got to say one thing about that Vice President, hecompared me to the goalie for the Sabres -- I was flattered, butI thought -- you know, he kept talking about how I was swattingaway those flying hockey pucks in Washington. I was flattered,but I thought, I just wish one day they would give me a mask anda few pads when I dodge that stuff. (Applause.)
Anyway, we're delighted to be here. We're here becausewe are grateful to New York, to Western New York, to Erie County,to Buffalo -- grateful for the support we received in 1992,grateful for the support we received in 1996; and even moregrateful for the fact that this community every day is trying tolive and work in the way we want America to live and work in the21st century. (Applause.)
I know that many of you heard my speech last night. Iknow that you have listened to the previous speakers. I onlywant to speak to you about one of the issues, and that is howwe're going to meet the challenge of the aging of America,because that affects all of us -- not just the old, but the veryyoung, as well. And I want everyone to understand exactly what Iwas trying to say last night and why.
But let me make the bigger point. It was, as hasalready been said, six years ago today at noon that I took theOath of Office as President. (Applause.) And it seemsimpossible to me that those six years have flown by. They havebeen, to put it mildly, quite a venture. But I am very, verygrateful that we had the chance to serve, grateful for yoursupport, grateful the state of the union is strong.
But I want you to focus on this: You know as well as Ido the world is changing rapidly. You know this community andits economic base and the nature of its society bears not allthat much resemblance to the way it looked 30 years ago in termsof how people make a living, what the diversity of the populationis, how we relate to each other and where we imagine we're goingin the future.
So I believe that we can't afford just to sit aroundand pat ourselves on the back and say, isn't it great we've gotthe longest peacetime expansion in history; isn't it great we'vegot the lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957; isn't it greatthat we've got the lowest welfare rolls in 29 years -- that allthe social problems -- all of them, virtually, are gettingbetter. That's fine.
But the real issue is, what are we going to do withthis? Do we seriously believe the crime rate is low enough? Dowe believe the schools are good enough? Do we believe all ourkids are getting an education? Do we really believe that therate of drug use among our young people is low enough? Do webelieve all these things? I don't think so.
So what I want to say to you is, we ought to be focusedon two big things. Number one, bringing the opportunities thatthe last three years have brought to most of America to the restof America. (Applause.) We put before the American people lastnight a plan to develop more communities by putting more privatecapital in the neighborhoods that haven't received it.
Now, let me ask you something. If we've got the lowestunemployment rate in 29 years, and the lowest in peacetime in 41years, how are we supposed to keep growing the economy withoutinflation? We have to find new markets. Now, if a lot of theworld beyond our borders is in recession, where are we going tofind the new markets? I'll tell you where -- in the urbanneighborhoods and the rural counties where the unemployment rateis still twice the national average. (Applause.)
And I want to emphasize just one of the suggestions Imade last night, that we ought to have an American privateinvestment company, or a series of them, that would provideguarantees from the national government to get private capitalinto urban and rural areas where there has been under-investment-- $15 billion of it. (Applause.)
You know we have today -- wehave an Overseas Private Investment Corporation; why shouldn't wehave an American Private Investment Corporation, when our mostimportant markets are here at home? (Applause.)
I want to say just this one thing about Senator Schumer-- the Vice President mentioned him, but before I came here hereminded me -- he said, when you go to Buffalo, you have got totell the people that I pledged to them I would bring more jobsand more opportunity to Western New York. And you tell them I'mgoing to be your very best partner. So I have kept my word toSenator Schumer. (Applause.)
Now, let me give you some other examples, though.There are people in our midst who have not fully participated,even in areas which are doing well. And I'll just give you acouple of examples -- one of them has been mentioned already. Wehave millions of Americans in the work force that do not readvery well. Many of them are first-generation immigrants andtheir first language is not English.
I know Mrs. LaFalce has been very involved in an adultliteracy program. I asked last night for a huge increase infederal support to have a national campaign for adult literacy,to make sure all of our workers can read well enough to keep thejobs they've got, get better jobs, and if they lose their jobs,get new jobs. And I think that's very, very important.(Applause.)
Now, your other Senator, Senator Moynihan, isthe cosponsor of a bill that is very important to me because Ihave worked hard since I was a young governor to try to givepeople with disabilities the ability to live up to the maximumamount of independence and self-fulfillment that was possible.And one of the problems we have today is that people withdisabilities that have high medical bills cannot afford to go towork, even if they are capable of working, because under thepresent law you lose the government support for your medicalinsurance if you take a job.
So Senator Moynihan is one of the cosponsors of a billthat says, if a disabled person is able to go to work, we willlet them keep their health insurance so they can be healthy andat work. And that's good for us. (Applause.)
Now, so it's the first thing we need to do. The secondthing we need to do is to deal with the large long-termchallenges of America. The previous members of our team havetalked about the long-term environmental challenges, thelong-term health care challenges, the long-term educationchallenges, the long-term community development challenges. Iwant to talk about the aging of America. And I was pleased whenI read a lot of the stories today about my speech last night, Ithought they were very good stories, but the implication was thatI was speaking to the seniors. That's not true. The aging ofAmerica affects everybody.
Why? First of all, the seniors today, by and large,have no sweat unless they live to be 120 years, because -- old --because Social Security is fine now and we have the system thatwe need. But when we baby boomers retire, there will be a seniorboom. In 30 years, the number of senior citizens, people over65, in America is going to double. Now, that just doesn't affectthose of us who hope to live that long. That affects all of ourchildren and all of our grandchildren, and society at large.
How will we manage this? We have a lot ofresponsibilities. We've got to work harder to stay in bettershape and be healthier, so we try to minimize the burden of ourhealth care bills on the rest of you. It will be very important.There are a lot of implications to this.
But I want you to know that -- I grew up in a middleclass home in a middle class community where half of my highschool classmates, or more, didn't go on to college. And I stillkeep up with a lot of them, and most of them have very modestincomes. But every single one of us, without regard to ourincome or background, are obsessed with the notion that our agingshould not put an unbearable burden on our children and theirability to raise our grandchildren. This is an issue for allAmericans. (Applause.)
Now, here's the problem. Social Security alone keepshalf the seniors in America today out of poverty. So it's realimportant. But Social Security is not enough for the vastmajority of our seniors to have a comfortable life and maintainthe lifestyle they had before they started drawing SocialSecurity.
Medicare is subject to the same pressures that SocialSecurity is and it's cost, as more and more people retire, livelonger and use more medical care. So the trick is, how do youpreserve Social Security, how do you preserve Medicare, how doyou give seniors the ability to have other sources of income?And how do you do it in a way that's fair to their kids and theirgrandkids? And how do we get it done by the time the babyboomers start retiring? That is the issue. So, you see, it'snot just a seniors issue; it's an issue for all Americans.
Now, we're going to have a big argument about this.And we should, and I hope it will be a good debate. But Ibelieve, since we have -- as the Vice President said -- this $70billion surplus from last year and a bigger one coming this year,since it's projected that over a 25-year period we will averagesubstantial surpluses on an annual basis -- now, they'll go upand down with the economy, but the point is we have no permanentdeficit anymore, the natural condition is a surplus, okay -- sothe question is, what do we do with it?
We could give it all back to you and hope you spend itright. (Applause.) But I think -- here's the problem. If youdon't spend it right, here's what's going to happen. In 2013 --that's just 14 years away -- taxes people pay on their payrollfor Social Security will no longer cover the monthly checks. Sowe have to get into the Social Security trust fund, the savingsaccount. By 2032, it will be gone. After that, if we haven'tdone something, we can only pay a little over 70 percent of thebenefits. By then, the cost of living will be higher and it willbe devastating.
Even before that, by 2010, the Medicare fund will runout of money. Why? Because the fastest growing group of people-- this is a high-class problem, this is a high-class problem, weshould be so lucky to have only problems like this -- the fastestgrowing group of people in America are people over 80. And Ihope to be one some day, and so do you, right? (Applause.) Andso does -- I hope, every child in this audience will live to beover 80. The kids in this audience actually will have a lifeexpectancy of about 85 years if medical science keeps advancing.
But the older you get, the more you need a doctor, orthe more you need drugs or the more you need something just tokind of get through the day -- I'm finding that out already.(Laughter.) Everything kind of hurts when it's cold and you'vegot to stretch your legs more. So that's going to happen by
So what I said last night is not as popular as whatothers can tell you. Others can say, we've got this surplus now,I just want a big tax cut, I'll give it back to you, you'llfigure out what to do with it. But I believe if we save 60percent of this surplus for Social Security, here's what we cando. We can make the trust fund all right to 2055. We canprotect Social Security for 55 years. (Applause.) We have alist of other options that are all a little controversial, but ifwe can get the Republicans and Democrats to hold hands, we coulddo it. It wouldn't hurt anybody very much. They're really goodthings for the program over the long run.
And if we did that, we could protect Social Securityfor 75 years and we could reduce the poverty rate among elderlywomen on Social Security -- they're twice as likely to be poor.And we could remove the earnings test which now limits whatseniors on Social Security can earn for themselves. So I thinkthat's a good use of the surplus that will help our parents, ourchildren, our grandchildren. (Applause.)
Now, same thing with Medicare. If we just saveone-sixth -- one in very $6 of this surplus -- for 15 years, andset it aside for Medicare, then we save Medicare to 2020. Thenif we can get the Republicans and Democrats together -- and inMarch we're going to have a report from a bipartisan commissionthat will start the debate -- we can make a few other changes,save until 2020, and begin to provide for prescription drugs;it's the single, biggest need that senior citizens on Medicarehave. (Applause.)
Now, let me tell you what else you'll get. You'regoing to have everybody say that government doesn't know how tospend this money. Look, folks, Social Security and Medicarework. I'm not talking about spending this money, I'm talkingabout saving it.
Now, here's what I think about it. This is the otherthing I want you to understand. If we save three-quarters ofthis surplus for 15 years only, to solve Social Security andsolve Medicare well into the 21st century, what else will happen?We will, by holding this money -- we've got to do something withit, what do you do with this money? You buy back the privately-held debt. We will be reducing the debt of the country. We willtake the debt of America in relationship to the size of oureconomy, the level of debt held by the public, to its lowestlevel since before World War I in 1917.
Now, why should that matter to you? You say, "Fine,Mr. President, give me the money, I'd rather have a new car. Idon't care about World War I. Why does that matter?" Here's whyit should matter to you. If we keep driving the debt down, thenyou will keep interest rates down, you will keep home mortgagerates low, you will keep credit card interest rates low, you willkeep the interest rates that you pay on your car payments low,you will keep more investment coming in to Buffalo and ErieCounty, you will have more jobs here. (Applause.) And that'ssomething we have to do together. It will protect us.
You see all this financial upheaval around the world.That's because these countries, their budgets are out of balance,and if people run off with their money, they have to put theirinterest rates through the roof just to get the money to comeback. If we start paying down on our debt a little bit, which Iremind you, we quadrupled the debt, quadrupled the debt between1981 and 1993, if we just started paying down on it a little bit,saving this money, protecting Social Security and Medicare, thenyou would be somewhat more protected from these global economic
events and long after I'm gone from the White House, you wouldhave stable interest rates, affordable lives and the knowledgethat investment would come into Buffalo and Erie County to builda better future. So I hope you will support what I haveadvocated last night. (Applause.)
Now, let me just say two other things I think we oughtto do to deal with the aging of America that help not just theelderly, but the rest of us. Number one, Social Security wasnever intended to be the sole source of income. Even whenPresident Roosevelt signed it, he said we need more pensions, weneed more private savings. But a lot of people retire today anddon't have any.
And a lot of you young people today, I don't know howmany people, the young people I talk to in their twenties or lateteens, or even up to their early thirties who say, "You know,this is not going to be enough." Last night, I proposed settingaside more than 10 percent of the surplus to actually give peoplean incentive to save, a targeted tax cut to say, if you will setup this universal savings account, a USA account, the governmentwill give you, in effect, a tax cut -- we will match the money inyour savings account and you can invest it however you want foryour own retirement. (Applause.)
And if you have -- now, this is very important. Andvery low-income, working people who have great difficulty saving,it takes every penny they've got to put clothes on their kids'back and pay the utility bills and the rent and make the carpayment, we have a provision in our plan to give extra help forthose least able to save. I want every American to have asavings account and have a part of this country's wealth. Ifeverybody was a part of the wealth, you would see the incomegraph shrinking instead of growing, and that's what this isabout. (Applause.) This is a good way to have a tax cut becauseit's a tax cut that benefits you today and tomorrow and 10 yearsfrom now and 30 years from now.
So let me also say, when you hear the tax cut debate,remember: We've got tax cuts in our plan, a $1,000 tax credit --that's a $1,000 tax cut for long-term care, for seniors, fordisabled people, for ailing people or the families that care forthem. That's one of the biggest problems families have today.And with the aging of America, it will get bigger and bigger. Weought to support and give people a tax cut for long-term care.
We ought to have tax cuts for child care, including aswas said earlier, for people who provide care by beingstay-at-home parents for very young children. We ought to havethese tax cuts. We ought to give people tax incentives to dealwith our environmental problems. Every one of the tax cuts thatare in my budget we have paid for so we can keep the budgetbalanced, keep the surplus coming and deal with the long-termproblems.
So I'm sorry if I made the atmosphere too serious.We've had a lot of fun today. But I want you to think aboutthis. We cannot afford to squander this moment. When have weever had this many resources, this many things going right at onetime in this country -- it has been a long, long time. We haveto make the most of it. We have to look at the long-termchallenges facing America. (Applause.)
So I ask you to think about this. I ask you to talk toyour friends and neighbors about it. When people come out anddisagree with my approach, listen to them and sit down and have adiscussion about it. But you just remember this: We've been indebt for 30 years. And for the 12 years before I becamePresident, we were so deep in debt we couldn't even think aboutthe kind of money we've invested in Buffalo for police on thestreets, to help more housing projects, people have houses, todeal -- all the things that have been done. And we are out of
debt now, but we have a big responsibility now to think aboutthat long-term challenges.
This country is going to change in a breathtaking way.We're on the verge of finding cures, or preventions for diseasesfrom Alzheimer's to Parkinson's to arthritis to all kinds ofcancers. I think it will happen probably in my lifetime. Thereare children here in this audience who either they or theircontemporaries will be walking not on the moon, but on Mars.This world is going to change. (Applause.)
And we have to do our very best to prepare. So I willsay again -- it may sound good if somebody says, this is yoursurplus and we ought to give it back to you. But you ought toask yourself, what's America going to look like 10, 20, 30 yearsfrom now? How are all the families going to deal with theretirement of the baby boom generation? How are we going to dealwith our responsibilities for the medical care of our parentsthrough Medicare? And can we keep interest rates low and theeconomy going?
If you like this improving economy, what I'm trying todo is to give you a way that will maximize the chances that wewill have a strong economy for the next 10 to 15 to 20 years andprepare for the aging of the baby boomers.
I hope you will support it. I thank you for one of thegreat days of my presidency here. God bless you. (Applause.)
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