THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||April 23, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO SUPPORTERS OF 1993 BUDGET
State Dining Room
8:54 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Many of you have said to metonight that this was like a reunion. I hope you have loved beinghere and enjoyed seeing each other, but you couldn't be nearly ashappy to be here as Hillary and Al and I are to have you here.
And I just want to say -- there are a couple of otherpeople I would like to mention. There are so many people in theadministration who were critical to this, but I want to add my thanksto Mack McLarty and acknowledge Gene Sperling. I want to thank LarrySummers, our Deputy Treasury Secretary; and in absentia, I'd like tothank Laura Tyson, Bob Rubin, Leon Panetta, and our friend LloydBentsen, who's been a little under the weather, and I hope we willnever forget him.
I never will forget when he came down to Arkansas beforeI got sworn in, and in that sort of dour, Texas, patrician way ofhis, and said, "Now, if we don't reduce the deficit by at least $500billion, interest rates will not go down and the market will not goup." (Laughter.)
And then they proceeded to tell me how hard it would beto do that, based on accepted scoring techniques. And then weproceeded to do what we all did.
And I want to thank you because it was so easy, therewas no arm-twisting involved. (Laughter.) Not a deal made; it wasall a high-flown sort of thing. (Laughter.) I'm so indebted to allof you. I would like to thank especially Bob Kerrey for neverreleasing the contents of our last telephone conversation.(Laughter.) And I don't know if he's here tonight, but I invited him-- I'd like to say a special word of thanks, too, to Roger Altman,who ran our war room, which helped us to keep that non-pressure up.(Laughter.)
But it was a wonderful experience. I, too, would liketo personally thank George Mitchell, who has done a magnificent jobin the Irish peace process; and Tom Foley for his work -- (applause.)And I want to thank Speaker Foley, too, who is doing a great job inJapan. And I want to join what has already been said about SenatorMoynihan and Chairman Rostenkowski. In different ways they were bothabsolutely indispensable.
You should take a lot of pride at this golden moment inAmerica's history, with the economy up and our social problems downand the deficit going to zero. All of you know that it's one ofthose rare moments, as the Vice President said, where you canliterally say that this has happened because of the energy and spiritof the American people, but also because we passed an economic planthat liberated that energy and spirit.
In every home where wages are rising and people now havejobs, in every town which was down and is now up, there are millionsof people who are in your debt. And I did mostly just want you allto be in this room so I could say on their behalf, thank you and Godbless you for what you did.
I want you to think a little bit about what this planrepresented. One of the reasons I ran for President was it seemed tome that everyone knew that something bad was wrong, but no one wasprepared to do what it took to change it; and that we had to replacedrift and deadlock with a real sense of momentum and purpose.
In the process of passing this plan, you set a newdirection for our country, forged a new identity for our party, andhelped to revitalize and redefine the whole idea of progressivegovernment for a new century and a new economy.
You know, we knew we had to bring the deficits down, andthey were enormous. But we also knew that we could do it and we hadto do it, and still invest in our future -- in education, in healthcare, in tax cuts for small businesses, and for 15 million of thehardest-pressed working people. Because youdoubled that earned income tax credit in that economic plan, whichwas a painful thing --it required us to do a lot of other things thatwere exceedingly difficult -- you need to know, tonight when you goto bed I want you to think about this, there are 2.2 million childrenwho are not in poverty because you did that. And you should be veryproud of that. (Applause.)
When you replaced trickle-down economics withinvest-and-grow economics, and let this economy spring to life, youtook a situation where we had a deficit with $290 billion and broughtit down before the bipartisan balanced budget plan, which I alsosupported and believed in -- but before that plan saved one red cent,the deficit had already been brought down by more than 90 percent --93 percent, to be exact.
The deficit used to have 11 zeros; now it will have nozeros. In fact, we're going to be in surplus.
In '92, the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent; now it'sthe lowest in 25 years. In '92, new jobs were scarce; now there are15 million more. Business investment has increased, more than any --at a rate higher than any time since the Kennedy administration.From '81 to '92, real wages fell. Last year, the average paycheck ofthe American worker rose 2.9 percent, the fastest growth in more than20 years.
Soon we will mark the longest peacetime expansion in ourhistory. Merrill Lynch says there has never been a better economy.Goldman Sachs says it's the best economy America has ever had. Andjust as important, maybe, over the long run, when you took this voteand weathered the consequences, you began to restore the faith of theAmerican people in their government.
American are always given to a healthy distrust ofgovernment, and that's good. A lot of our Constitution is structuredto prevent the abuse of power, and well it should be. But for toolong this skepticism risked running into a sort of corrosivecynicism. A lot of people had become convinced by the time I ran forPresident that the government couldn't organize a two-car parade --(laughter) -- and that everything we did that looked bold led tounintended consequences, most of which were bad.
Well, the '93 economic plan worked, and it worked forthe reasons we said it would work. So in a way, with that law, youactually enacted a law of intended consequences in American publiclife and, therefore, you helped to lift the public's appreciation forwhat we could do through representative government.
The vote you cast was probably among the most difficultever cast by members of the Congress of the United States in thehistory of our republic. You had withering partisan criticism. Ican only ask you to remember the people you helped, the families youstrengthened, the opportunity you created.
Let me just give you three examples. Karen Shepardrepresented a district in the only state where I ran third in 1992.(Laughter.) But because she took the vote she did, those people,notwithstanding the fact that sometimes they stray in their politicaljudgment -- (laughter) -- have an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent.
Karen English, because of the courage you showed in1993, Arizona has the fastest job growth in its history.
And Marjorie Mezvinsky, because you laid down your seat,your county has the fastest job growth of any county in the entirestate of Pennsylvania. Unemployment has dropped by 25 percent. Andit gave me a great deal of pleasure to have you sit with the FirstLady at the State of the Union address this year when I announcedthat. Because of the vote all of you cast, we would, in fact,balance the budget years ahead of schedule. (Applause.)
In Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy wrote thesewords: Democracy means much more than popular government andmajority rule; much more than a system of political techniques toflatter or deceive powerful blocs of voters. A democracy that has nomoment of individual conscience in a sea of popular rule is notworthy to bear that name.
Karen, Karen and Marjorie, to all the rest of you, everyone of you has a story. And I only wish I could tell them alltonight. The 103rd Congress was chock-full of profiles in courage.(Applause.) And when you add them all up, by the narrowest ofmargins, repeatedly, they led to the first balanced budget in 30years, an American economic renaissance, and a resurgent convictionon the part of our people that together we can solve our problems andseize our opportunities, and do great things; that our old-fashionedgovernment that Mr. Washington and his friends helped to start stillworks in this new-fangled age if it has the right people willing todo the right things at the right time.
It is altogether a monument to your determination, yourconscience, and overall, your love of your country. So on behalf ofyour country, again I say, thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)