2000-09/14 President of the United States REMARKS AT IMPAC/BENTSEN RECEPTION
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release               September 14, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                      AT IMPAC 2000/BENTSEN RECEPTION

                            The Hay Adams Hotel
                             Washington, D.C.

7:50 P.M.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Well first of all, I want to
thank all of you for supporting this endeavor, and I want to thank, as
David did -- Ken, thank you.  I have -- you have come a long way since we
had that dinner.  I think it was what we ate that night that did it.

     I want to thank Martin for all the work that he's done, and as your
predecessor and also as Patrick Kennedy's predecessor.  He was seven feet
tall when he started this job.  And thank you, Vic Fazio, my longtime
friend.  I want to say a special word of appreciation to David Bonior.  I
did not know him very well when I got elected President, and one of the
things that I will always treasure about these last eight years is the
relationship that he and I developed.

     I like him and I admire his wife so much, and I feel about him a
little bit the way I do about Nancy Pelosi.  I love them when they are with
me and I love them when they are not.  (Laughter.)  Because, you know, both
of them are so convicted, and they believe things and they care about
things, and they stick their necks out.  And it's especially hard for him
because he's in a district where he has to pay a price for every vote of
conscience he casts, and he does it anyway.  I want to thank you.

     Probably more than anyone in America, I know how important this
endeavor is.  That's why I showed up tonight, besides the fact that I told
Ken I would.  (Laughter.)  When we had a majority in the Congress, we
passed the economic plan that started this whole roll we've been on.  The
crime bill that played a major role in getting us the lowest violent crime
rate in 27 years.  The Brady Bill, which has kept guns out of the hands of
half a million felons, fugitives and stalkers.

     The AmeriCorps Bill, which has now given way over 150,000 young people
a chance to serve in their community, and earn money to go to college.  The
Family Medical Leave Act, which has helped about 25 million Americans to
take some time off when a newborn baby was in the family or a parent was
sick, without losing their job, and the beginning of one of the
lesser-known achievements that we've made together, which is a systematic
attempt to reform federal education policy, to concentrate on standards and
results and effective investment in reform.

     And I know what a difference it makes.  This is an unusual and, in
effect, a really kind of a wonderful time in my life.  Earlier this year, I
got to cast what well may be my last vote as a citizen of my native state
for Al Gore for President, in the Democratic primary, and Tuesday I got to
vote for my wife for the first time, which was an immense thrill.

     And last night, when I watched the debate, I realize now what she went
through all those years watching me.  Is he going to fall over, is he going
to smile?  Should he slug back, should he just keep smiling?  (Laughter.)
It's amazing, it's really been -- so, now, my family has a new candidate,
my party has a new leader, and I have become the Cheerleader-In-Chief, and
I like it.

     But I just want to say, all of you know how important this is, or you
wouldn't be here.  But what Ken said is really worth remembering.  I think
we're going to do well in these elections if we can continue to clarify the
choices, because the American people want this prosperity to continue, but
they don't want us to be in idle.  They want us to take on the big
challenges out there.

     I think we have an excellent chance, and I've worked as hard as I
could for the Senate candidates, for the House candidates, for the two
committees, as well as to help our party and our nominees.  But what I can
tell you is that in spite of all the good things that have happened, the
challenges that are out there are really big, and they cannot -- and no
American should expect President Gore, Vice President Lieberman and a
Democratic House and Senate to deal with them all in a year.

     You know, when all the baby boomers retire, which will start in about
eight years, for the ones that take early Social Security, and go on for 18
to 20 more years, there will only be two people working for every one
person on Social Security, although the Congress, thank you very much, took
the earnings limit off Social Security and now more people will be able to
work in their later years, and that's good.

     We have to -- and with all these advances in health care, we're going
to have huge challenges to figure out, how do we redefine aging in America?
Yes, how do we save Social Security, how do we save Medicare, how do we add
a prescription drug benefit.  It's unconscionable that it doesn't exist
already; we would have it now, if we had a Democratic Congress.

     But, how are we going to deal with a country, that is, in terms of age
distribution, radically different from anything we've ever known, and will
be for 20 years, maybe 30 years, and then it will all start to get back to
a normal distribution.  We've got the most diverse student population we've
ever had.  It's a wonder, and we have actually learned how to turn around
failing schools.  We know how to do it now, and it took probably 15 years
of serious effort.

     But, I was in a school in New York the other day, a grade school
where, two years ago -- listen to this, two years ago, 80 percent of the
kids were doing reading and math below grade level in Harlem.  Two years
later, 76 percent of the kids are doing reading and math at or above grade
level.  In just two years.

     We know how to do this.  But America has never succeeded, ever, in
guaranteeing quality education for all of our kids, and now we've got the
most diverse group of kids we've ever had.  Just across the river in
Alexandria, there are children from 180 different national and ethnic
groups, whose parents speak over 100 different languages as their first
language.  This is great for us in this global economy, if, but only if, we
can figure out how to give all these kids a world class education.

     We've had more millionaires and more billionaires in the last eight
years than in any time in history, and I like that, and I hope the next
administration can keep it going.  Maybe I can become one of them.  But we
still have too many people working hard for too little, and having a really
hard time making ends meet.

     What kind of tax policy should we have for them?  What kind of laws
should we have to make sure that as more and more parents are working, they
can work and still have time for their kids, and save enough to make sure
their kids can go to college?  These are big questions and this just
scratches the iceberg.  I didn't get into all the global questions.

     The point I'm trying to make is, it would be tragic if we have a very
good election this time, and just because of the distribution of the
governorships, which we can't get a majority of back until 2002, just
because there aren't many up this year, and because we didn't do a good job
in the legislative races, and because we weren't legally prepared, we lost
what we won, notwithstanding the fact that a plain majority of the American
people agree with the direction in which we want to take the country.

     Now, if they disagree with us and they want to vote us out, that's
their perfect right, but we shouldn't loose the Congress if a majority of
the people are still with us.  That's the important thing.  We Democrats
would never say we should stay if office whether they're for us or not,
because we want to jiggle the lines around, but we should have an honest,
open, legal, constitutional redistricting process so that if we can win
this time and if we can maintain the confidence of the country, we can stay
in the saddle because that's what the people want.

     So this is profoundly important, and I spend a lot of time -- I try to
spend a significant amount of time every single week I was President,
thinking about what America would be like, not just a month or a year from
now, but five and 10 and 20 years from now.  And that's very, very

     So I just want you to know, these members here, I believe in them.
Nothing good I achieved, including when they were in the minority, would
have been possible if it hadn't been for them.  In spite of all the good
things that have happened in this country, I really believe that the next
eight years can be even more exciting, even more interesting, even more
productive if we just stick with the philosophy that says we want to make
sure everybody has a chance, that everybody matters, and we all do better
when we work together.  That's basically what we Democrats believe.

     And you've made it possible, if the American people stick with us, to
make sure that they can continue to do their job.  That is very, very

     Thank you very much.

                        END      8:00 P.M. EDT

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