remarks of the President to Senate 2000 Lunch
                                THE WHITE HOUSE

                         Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Coral Gables, Florida)

                                                                  For
Immediate Release   October 3, 2000


                            REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         TO NEW YORK SENATE 2000 LUNCH

                               Private Residence
                                 Miami, Florida


1:50 P.M. EDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much for coming and for coming on
such short notice, in this typically Florida sunny day.  (Laughter.)
Actually, on the way over here, Chris, I was speculating about whether this
beautiful pond of yours out here would come into the house if the rain came
-- (laughter.)

     So I want to thank you.  And thank you, Irene, for opening your home
to me once again.  And I want to thank Philip and Michael and Stuart and
Alex and all the others who worked on this event today.  I'll be quite
brief.  I hope you're all going to watch the debate tonight.  I think it
will go well.

     This has been a very interesting election to me, because the American
people have an unusual decision to make in every one of these Senate races
and House races and in the White House, because things are going very well
for the country.  The economy is moving in the right direction, the society
is moving in the right direction.  In every major area of our national life
there has been substantial progress in the last eight years.

     And what the people of every state and the people of our nation have
to decide is what do we intend to make of this moment.  And it's very
interesting to me that the political rhetoric of our friends in the other
party has changed rather dramatically, so they're now arguing over whether
they or we are the real new thing, instead of whether we should take some
big move to the right, which was their preferred line of rhetoric until the
voters decisively rejected it over and over again.

     And I can just tell you, I see this everywhere.  But there are these
big issues out there.  Are we going to have a tax cut we can afford, that
will permit us to save Social Security and Medicare for the baby boom
generation, continue to invest in the education of the largest number of
children in American history in our schools, and meet our responsibilities
to the future by paying down the debt?  Or are we going to say times are
good, I want my mine now and have a combination tax cut and Social Security
privatization plan that will throw us back into deficits, raise interest
rates and get this country in trouble?  You listen and see if that's
adequately debated tonight.

     I am telling you, I've spent a lot -- I think that I have earned the
right to make comments about the state of the American economy.  I believe
I have.  (Applause.)  And people ask me all the time, well, it's amazing
what's happened here.  What great new innovation did you bring to economic
policy making?  And I always smile and say, arithmetic.  (Laughter.)

     I remember back in '92, when the then presidential candidate, George
Bush, used to refer to me in disparaging terms as the governor of a small,
southern state.  Remember that, when he used to say that?  I was so naive,
I thought it was a compliment.  (Laughter.)  And I still do.  (Laughter.)

     But I knew something about arithmetic, and not having rosy scenarios
and not pretending money was there that was wasn't.  So we brought
arithmetic back and made a lot of people mad doing it.  In 1993, I had an
economic plan that raised taxes and cut spending so that it displeased
everyone.  But it got rid of the deficit.  This year, we had a surplus of
$230 billion, instead of the deficit of $290 billion I inherited.  When I
leave office, we will have actually paid the national debt down by $360
billion.  (Applause.)  That's worth about $2,000 a year on a home mortgage,
average home mortgage.  It's stunning.  So all I can tell you is, I think
that this is a big issue.  It's a big issue in the New York Senate race,
it's a big issue in the national presidential race.

     Second thing I think is a big issue is health care.  And we're having
this huge debate which I think has been muddied -- our friends in the
Republican Party have desperately tried to muddy up the debate over this
Medicare prescription drug issue.  Look, here's the deal.  The
pharmaceutical companies, mostly Americans, but sometimes the Europeans,
have helped to develop drugs that lengthen and improve the quality of life.
Everybody knows that.  The older you live, the older you get, the more
likely you are to need medicine.  Everybody knows that, right?

     If you get to be 65 in America, you have a life expectancy of over 82
years, the longest in the world.  Everybody knows that.  What a lot of
people don't know is that more than half the people in this country who are
over 65 cannot afford the medicine that their doctors prescribe for them,
to either lengthen or improve the quality of their life.

     So the question is, what are we going to do about it?  For the most of
the time when I was around here, our friends in the other party said
nothing.  At one time we had a chance to give drugs at least to poor
people, when we had a deficit, and they said no.  So now we've got a
surplus, and our position is, led by the Vice President and Hillary and
others, is that we ought to have a Medicare-based prescription drug benefit
that goes to everyone who needs it; that the poorest people ought to get it
for free, and others ought to pay in proportion to their ability to pay a
little  bit, but that we ought to provide it to everyone who needs it.

     Their position is that we ought to subsidize the cost for up to 150
percent of the poverty rate, after which people ought to buy insurance.
And their position is therefore, with heavy money from the drug companies
to attack our position as being a huge expansion of big government.  Now
here are the facts.  Did you ever follow this debate and wonder what's
really going on?  It's hard to figure out what's really going on, right?
Like, why in the wide world would they be against people getting these drug
benefits?

     Over half the people who can't afford their drug prescriptions have
incomes above 150 percent of the poverty line, which is about, as I
remember, it's about $16,000 for a couple or something.  Hardly a king's
ransom.  Now, why would they be against this?  And why would they call it a
big government program, since Medicare is government financing of private
medicine, right?  That's what we propose, public financing of private
medicine.  That's what Medicare is.  It has an administrative cost of 1.5
percent, as compared with an average administrative cost in private health
insurance companies of about 12 percent to 14 percent.  It is not big
government.  It's private medicine, financed by the American people.

     Now, why are they for what they're for, and why are we for what we're
for?  Here's the problem.  You see all these stories about people going to
Canada to buy drugs, and now we may pass legislation which says that you
can -- that our pharmacies in America can re-import drugs from Canada, made
in America, and sell them cheaper.  Do you ever wonder what that's about?
Here's what that's about.

     We are blessed to have these pharmaceutical companies in America.
They do great things.  They hire tens of thousands of people and give them
great jobs.  They uncover medical miracles.  It costs a lot of money to
develop these drugs, and then they spend a whole lot of money to advertise
them, once they develop them, while they're still brand named, before they
become generic.  And every other place they would like to sell their drugs
has price controls, which means they have to recover from Americans only,
100 percent of the cost of developing the drug and advertising the drug.

     Once they do that, it then becomes profitable for them to sell the
same drug a lot cheaper in Canada or Europe.  Now, they are afraid, the
drug companies are, if all the seniors in the country can get their drugs
through Medicare, that Medicare as a big buyer will acquire so much power
in the market, we could buy drugs for our seniors made in America almost as
cheaply as seniors in Canada can buy drugs made in America.  And they don't
want that to happen.  Why?  Because they're afraid they can't recover all
their costs and their profits.

     Now, they have a legitimate problem, because they labor under price
controls in Europe.  But the answer to their problem is not to keep seniors
in Florida and throughout the United States away from the medicine they
need to lengthen their lives.  That's what this whole thing is about.
You're never going to read that in a newspaper.  That is what this is
about.  That's why the drug companies are putting millions and millions of
dollars into the Republican campaigns from President on down.

     Now, I'm not demonizing them.  I'm glad there are American companies.
I'm glad we've got them in our country.  I understand they've got a problem
because there are price controls in Europe and Canada and other places.
But their idea is, it is an acceptable price to pay to maintain the status
quo to keep the senior citizens of this country without the medicine they
need and they're wrong about that.  The Republicans are with them and Al
Gore, Hillary and the other Democrats are with the people of this country,
and I think we're right about it.  (Applause.)

     What I would do, if I were still in office, I'd go to them and say,
look, this is not a way to solve your problems.  Sticking it to the
American senior citizens is not a legitimate way to solve your problem.
This insurance deal is phoney.  Let me just tell you -- I've got to say
something nice about the health insurance companies, after all the fights
I've had with them.

     The health insurance companies, to be absolutely fair to them, told
the Republicans from the get-go their idea would not work.  They told them
that they could not write an insurance policy that people could afford to
pay the premiums on that would provide adequate drug coverage.  They told
them that.

     Nevada, the state of Nevada -- a small place, a laboratory of
democracy, that's what our founders said the state should be
-- passed the Republican plan.  You know how many insurance companies have
offered the insurance to buy the drugs?  Zero.  We've got some state
legislators here, ask them.  Zero; not one.  Why?  Because it doesn't work
economically for them.  And they're not going to do it.

     So this really comes down to the fact that the Republicans would help
a few of our seniors, because we've moved the debate so far and they don't
want to be out there, three sheets to the wind, lost in it.   But they
don't want to help all of them, because they're afraid that if Medicare can
buy drugs for seniors in the private marketplace, they will have so much
market power they'll get the price down and it will cut their profit
margins because they can't make up any of the cost of production in Europe
or Canada.

     My view is, let's take care of the American citizens and then the drug
companies will find a way to get all the rest of us to help solve their
problem.  We'll find a way to solve their problem.  They're not going
anywhere and they're not going broke. And I'm proud they're in America and
I'm proud of what they do.  I'm not demonizing them.  But they're wrong
about this.  Their idea is the only way to maintain their profit margins is
to keep the American people from making sure the senior citizens of this
country have the medicine they need.  They're wrong about it.  Let's solve
their problem once we fix the health care needs of the seniors.  This is a
huge issue.

     Same thing on the patients' bill of rights.  Health insurance
companies don't want it because every now and then they'll have a big
settlement when somebody gets the shaft.  Well, that's the whole point of
protecting people.  But even the Republicans admit it will cost less than
$2 a month per premium, per health insurance premium -- less than $2 a
month to have the protections of the patients' bill of rights.  You get to
see a specialist if your doctor says so.  If you've got a doctor for cancer
treatment or an obstetrician and you're pregnant and you change jobs before
the treatment is over, you get to keep your doctor.  If you get hit by a
car going out of here, you get to go to the nearest emergency room, you
don't have to pass up three other hospitals to get to the emergency room 40
miles away that your health care plan covers.  If you get hurt, you get to
sue, otherwise the Bill of Rights is just a bill of suggestions.

     Now, that's what we say.  They say it will add to the cost of health
care.  It will.  I did it for the federal government.  You know how much it
cost us?  I put in all these rights for everybody insured by the federal
government -- Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Employees -- do you know how
much it cost?  One dollar a month.  So they say -- and even the Republicans
admit it will cost less than $2 a month.  Now, would you spend $1.80 a
month to make sure that if one of the other people here at this event got
hit by a car, God forbid, on the way out of here, could go to the nearest
hospital?  I would.  And I think most Americans would.

     Now, that's what this debate is about.  And so the American people
have got to decide.  There are big differences on education, there are big
differences on all these issues.  And I want you to watch the debate
tonight.  And I thank you for helping Hillary.  As you know, there's a lot
of interests that would like to whip her, and I think half of them think
it's their last chance at me.  (Laughter.)  But she's doing well, she did
well in her debate.  I'm immensely -- I'm so proud of her.  But it's very
important that she not be out-spent, three to one, on the way in.

     In politics, you can get out-spent.  But you have to have enough to
get your message out and to answer all the incoming fire.  And you've
helped make that possible today.  And one thing I have learned is every one
of these Senate and House seats is important.  This is not just important
to me, although, obviously, it is.  It's important to you and to the
American people.

     The last thing I'd like to say is, I took a little time today on the
economy and on the patients' bill of rights and on the drugs to make a
point.  The American people are very oriented toward the issues this year.
They want to make an intelligent choice.  Clarity of choice is our friend.
I think our friends in the other party have moderated their rhetoric a lot
from the Gingrich years, but a lot of their policies haven't changed all
that much.

     So in order for the American people to make the right decision, they
need to be quite clear on what their choices are.  And while most people
are very issue-oriented, how many people do you know who could tell you the
real difference in Gore's economic plan and Bush's?  In Gore's position on
Medicare, drugs, and patients' bill of rights, and Bush's?  It may be more
important in Florida even than the senior issue and Gore's education plan
and Bush's.  I read the papers, and sometimes I see people writing about it
who don't really understand what the differences are.

     So the last thing I'd like to ask you -- I thank you for helping
Hillary.  If you know anybody else who's not here and would want to help us
in the last month, ask them.  (Laughter.)  But after this debate tonight,
every one of you knows people who don't come to events like this, who have
never been to a political fundraiser, who have never been involved in
public service.

     I want to thank Buddy MacKay for being here, for doing such a good
job.  (Applause.)  Let me just say, in his service as our Special Envoy to
the Americas, we passed an historic Caribbean trade initiative, and we
passed the sweeping plan to help Colombia, and the nations bordering
Colombia, to try to roll back the tide of the narco traffickers, and their
relationship with others that are trying to bring down democracy in that
country.  So I'm very proud of him.

     You all know people.  Chris said that he had somebody mining the
store, because he didn't like to come to political events.  But you know
people that are going to show up and vote on election day, because they're
patriotic, they love their country, they think they ought to be there when
the voting comes.  But they'll never come to an event like this.  Maybe
they can't afford to come, maybe it doesn't interest them, but they will
sure vote.

     So the last thing I want to ask you is, you know, I think that the
Clinton-Gore administration has done a good job for Florida.  We moved the
Southern Command here.  We had the Summit of the Americas here, the first
one in 30 years.  We have worked very hard with all the affected interests
to save the Everglades, and that's just the beginning.  I think we've dealt
well with all the natural disasters.

     I just wish that you would do what you can, every day, to make sure
people understand where we were in '92, and where we are today, what we've
done in Florida, and what the real differences are.  And I only dealt with
two today, on health care and the economy, but as I said, I could have gone
on about the environment, and education, and nuclear arms control -- where
the differences are breathtaking, and I think very troubling.  Very
important to our future.

     So I ask you, do what you can.  This is a close race.  By the nature
of things, if you look at all of American history, when you have this kind
of set up, unless one candidate can preform reverse plastic surgery on
another, the way George Bush did to Michael Dukakis in '88, these kinds of
races tend to be quite close.  But the Vice President and our party, we've
got the record, we've got the ideas, we've got the issues.  What we need is
clarity, clarity.  So please -- please -- go out and tell people that.

     And the last point I want to make is this:  there's an overriding
philosophy behind everything that I've tried to do.  I like the fact that
there are more people than ever that can afford to live in homes like this.
But I also think the people that are catering this event ought to have the
same chance to send their kids to college that Chris and Irene do, and
Democrats believe that.  We believe everybody counts, everybody has a role
to play, and we all do better when we help each other.

     So if you can get the issues out, and that simple message, I think
we'll have a good night on election night.

     Thank you and God bless you.  (Applause.)

     END  1:08 P.M. EDT


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