[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[February 18, 1993]
[Pages 122-125]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Economic Program in St. Louis, Missouri
February 18, 1993

    Thank you. I love these signs: ``Our children's future starts 
today.'' ``Health care for all.'' ``No guts, no glory: Stop gridlock.'' 
``The Devil's in the details.'' That's right, too. [Laughter] ``Divided 
we'll go down the tubes.'' ``We want real recovery.'' I love these 
signs, and I thank you all for being here today.
    Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed flying down here with 
Congressman Clay and Congressman Gephardt and with Congressman Volkmer 
and Congresswoman Danner; they're here, too. They are part of the engine 
for change that you're going to see move through our Congress. I thank 
Bill Clay for hosting us in his district, and I want to congratulate him 
on the passage and this time the signing, not the veto, of the Family 
and Medical Leave Act.
    I want to say how glad I am to be back in St. Louis with your 
Governor, my longtime friend and early supporter. And I know that he 
will be a great success, and I'm going to do what I can to be his 
partner in Washington. I know from clear experience that we don't have 
all the answers, and I'll do what I can to see that we make as many 
decisions as possible out here in the Governor's offices where the 
rubber meets the road. And I thank him for being here.
    I want to recognize two of the groups that performed, the Fox High 
School Band and Harris-Stowe College Choir.
    Let me say a word if I might about our majority leader, Dick 
Gephardt. There is no way that I can convey to the people of St. Louis 
and Missouri how important he is to the Nation. But I can tell you this: 
I'm not sure we could do any of the things we have to do if it were not 
for his leadership. If you knew all the times that he had brought 
together the other Members of the House of Representatives on the 
Democratic side and told them they were going to have to cut spending as 
well as raise money, told them we were going to have to change our 
priorities, told them we were going to have to stick together to turn 
this country around, and been a force for moral leadership within the 
United States Congress, the heart of every person not just in his 
district but this whole State would swell with pride to know that you're 
represented by somebody like that.
    If you knew all the times that I heard him stick up in private for 
the men and women who build the cars and build the airplanes and brew 
the beer and provide the backbone of America, you would know that he 
doesn't just say things in public and then behave differently in 
private. He is the same everywhere. And I am very glad that he is my 
full partner in this crusade to change our country.
    You know, St. Louis is a special place for me. It's here where we 
ended the first of our wonderful bus trips across America and where we 
had a rally of about 40,000 people. It was the biggest crowd we'd had at 
that time in the campaign. And we started our second bus trip over in 
east St. Louis. And then we had the first Presidential debate here. So I 
think it's only fitting that I would come to my neighboring State in the 
heartland of America to start day one of America's new direction.
    I was in Missouri on the other side of the State on Labor Day, and I 
went to Harry Truman's home town. I guess in some ways the talk I gave 
to Congress last night was like one of President Truman's talks. Some of 
it was just off the top of my head and from the bottom of my heart. It 
was sort of plain spoken, and I couldn't figure out how else to say what 
I think is the plain truth about where we are.
    This is a country of enormous promise, of unlimited potential, of a 
great future burdened by big problems. I think everybody knows that. And 
we also know, I think, that some mistakes have been made in the course 
we have taken. The fundamental problems we have are because of big, 
sweeping changes in history: America being pushed into a global economy, 
all of us being subject to changes at a far more rapid

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rate than ever before.
    But we know that the responses we have taken have not worked. There 
are too many people who are unemployed. There are too many people who 
are underemployed. There are too many people who have lost good jobs, 
that cannot get jobs at that income left. There are too many people with 
no health insurance and too many others terrified of losing it. There 
are too many people who don't have access to the education over a 
lifetime that they need to continually be retrained. There are too many 
places where we are not investing in the future. There are too many 
industries, like the aerospace industry in Missouri and throughout the 
country, that we know will produce a huge portion of the high-wage jobs 
of the future all over the world, and yet, they're dying on the vine 
here in America. These things don't make sense.
    What we have been doing has not worked. We need to take a new 
direction that will build a high-wage, high-growth, secure future where 
people can be educated, where there is affordable health care for all, 
and where Americans have a fair chance to compete and win. That's what 
this is all about.
    I want to repeat to you what I said to the Congress last night. I 
remember in 1981 when President Reagan said if you stacked 1,000-dollar 
bills on top of each other, our national debt would go 67 miles into the 
sky. If you did it today, it would go 267 miles into the sky. I say that 
not to blame him, not to blame my predecessor, not to blame anybody. 
Goodness knows, there's enough blame to go around, both parties and the 
Presidency and the Congress, but what good is it going to do us? Let us 
forget about blame and take responsibility for our future. Let's do it 
together. I don't care who gets the credit, I just want us to go 
    There are already people who are saying that we really can't make 
fundamental changes. There are people who are saying, ``Well, you can't 
bring the deficit down,'' or ``Well, nobody will hang in there and make 
these tough budget cuts the President's proposing,'' or ``Well, you 
can't really reform the health care system,'' even though we're paying 
more and getting less for ours than any country on the face of the 
Earth. I'm tired of all the nay-sayers. I think we can make some 
changes. But we need your help.
    We need your help in two ways: Number one, we need you to show up 
like this, and we need you to tell your Members of Congress that we will 
support you if you make the honest, tough, hard decisions. We know we 
didn't get into this mess overnight. We're not going to get out of it 
overnight. But we cannot keep doing the same old thing. The price of 
doing the same thing is higher than the price of change.
    The second thing you can do is to support your Members of Congress 
by demanding real political reform that will protect them in making 
courageous changes. Tell them you want a campaign finance reform bill 
that will limit the cost of congressional campaigns, limit the influence 
of special interests, and open this process to all people.
    Tell them you want something done to make sure all of the lobbyists 
in Washington have to register and report on their activities; two-
thirds of them don't. Tell them you support our bill to remove the tax 
deduction for lobbying activities. You are subsidizing interests that 
together undermine your future. Individually they've all got a good 
story to tell, but collectively they help to paralyze the political 
process. And you, at least, should not subsidize it with your tax 
dollars because you don't have comparable deductions.
    My fellow Americans, last night I tried to lay out to the Congress 
and to the American people a plan that will change the direction of this 
country and give us a genuine economic strategy, a plan to produce more 
jobs, higher income, deal with the health care crisis, provide a 
lifetime system of education, and reduce the national debt. We have to 
begin with the Government, and at the top with the President.
    So I have tried to set an example. I have cut the White House staff 
by 25 percent. That will be in my budget for the White House. I have cut 
the administrative costs of the executive branch in my budget 14 percent 
over the next 4 years, over and above the cuts in the White House, and 
we'll reduce employment, not by firing people but by attrition, by 
100,000 over the next 4 years. That will save $9 billion. And yesterday 
the leaders of the House and the Senate announced that the Congress 
would follow our lead and cut their budgets by that much, which I think 
is good.
    There are 150 other specific cuts in this budget, including some 
that were very tough for me to recommend, some in programs that don't 
make any sense anymore. For example, do you remember when we had the 
Bicentennial cele-

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bration in 1976? There is still a Bicentennial Commission. Our 
Government's great at starting things and not very good at stopping 
things. So we eliminated a lot of things that ought to be stopped.
    The second thing we did was to reduce our investment in programs 
that have done a lot of good, but where the amount you're spending can't 
be justified anymore, including one that was really close to my heart. 
We recommended a reduction in the Federal subsidy to the Rural Electric 
Administration, something that serves a lot of people in my State and 
yours. But America is 100 percent electrified now, and we ought not to 
have the full subsidy continued from all of the rest of the people who 
get their electricity from someplace else.
    We recommended some unwarranted subsidies be eliminated because the 
need for the work is much less or nonexistent anymore. For example, we 
recommended a big cutback in a lot of programs related to the nuclear 
industry and the elimination of a nuclear research program that is 
inconsistent with our new energy future.
    We recommended some big changes in the environmental Superfund 
program: one, to make the polluters pay more and the taxpayers pay less 
and the second, to get the money freed up so that we can use the money 
to clean up pollution. It's all going to lawyer fees now, because people 
don't want anything to happen. We're going to try to make it work.
    Finally, I recommended--and this was difficult for me because I 
can't do anything as your President in the end without the support of 
the fine people in the Federal work force--but we recommended a freeze 
on Federal pay raises for a year and modest pay raises for the next 3, 
because that saves billions of dollars that we don't have to take out of 
the rest of the people in taxes to reduce the deficit.
    So there are 150 tough cuts. Now, let me say I've already heard some 
people on the other side of the aisle say, ``Well, he should have cut 
more.'' And my answer is: Show me where, but be specific. No hot air. 
Show me where, and be specific.
    And since I am here in Missouri, I think I will repeat that. Show 
me. And I say that not in the spirit of partisanship but in the spirit 
of genuine challenge. I know there is more that we can eliminate. I am 
honestly looking. I've just been there 4 weeks and a day, and I'm 
nowhere near through. And I want you to help me, and I want them to help 
    Let me say also, the burdens in terms of taxes I think are imposed 
in a fair way. The rates of 98.9 percent of Americans will not be 
raised. Late in the last election, the New York Times carried a front-
page story showing that 70 percent of the gains of the 1980's had been 
reaped by the top one percent of the people. This plan asked the top 1.2 
percent of the people to have an income tax increase. This plan asked 
companies with incomes of over $10 million to match that income tax 
    This plan raises over 70 percent of the funds from people with 
incomes above $100,000. This plan raises no money from people with 
incomes below $30,000. And indeed, because we increased the refundable 
income tax credit, this plan, if it passes, will enable us to do 
something I would think every American would be proud of. For the first 
time ever, if this plan passes, we can say to the people of this 
country: Look, we are rewarding work and family. If you work full-time 
and you've got a kid in your house, you won't live in poverty because of 
the changes we're going to have in the tax system.
    People making $40,000, $50,000, in that range, will pay about $17 a 
month under this plan. But let me tell you, a lot of those people, many 
of whom are in this station today, may wind up not being out any more 
money for this reason: Just since the election, since I said we're going 
to have a tough plan to reduce this debt, long-term interest rates have 
gone down. If you take only the reduction in interest rates which have 
occurred from the election day until this day, for everybody who gets 
the benefit of those lower interest rates in a home mortgage, a car 
payment, consumer credit, you will make more in lower interest rates 
than you'll pay in the energy tax if we can show that we're serious 
about cutting spending and cutting this deficit. We've got to do it.
    One final thing which you'll also hear about from people who oppose 
this plan: I do propose to spend some more money, but not in the old 
way. Look at what we spend it for. We have reduced Government 
consumption. We have reduced inessential programs. But we increase 
spending on jobs: a jobs program to create a half a million jobs 
starting right now in building roads, repairing streets, fixing 
airports, cleaning up the environment with water systems and sewer 
systems; a million summer jobs for

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young people, if I could get the private sector to contribute to the 
700,000 we're going to create in the Government.
    This program invests in opening the doors of college education to 
all people and giving them a chance to pay the loan back on favorable 
terms or to pay it back with service to our country. This plan will put 
100,000 police officers on the streets of America over the next 4 years. 
This plan will give us a chance to invest in the new technologies that 
will create jobs for the people who have lost their jobs in the defense 
industries and in other big industries that have been downscaling.
    We have got to create some new jobs in this country, for goodness 
sakes. You can have all the other programs in the world, and unless we 
do it, we're going to be in trouble.
    And this plan will reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of 
dollars over the next 5 years. And I ask you, I ask you to support it 
not just for you but for us, not just for narrow interest but for the 
national interest. I believe it will be good for virtually every 
    Today as we speak, a lot of big corporate executives are endorsing 
this plan, even though their income tax bills will go up, their 
companies' bills will go up, because they want a healthy, strong, well-
educated, vibrant America with an investment climate that's good, with 
stable interest rates, with a declining deficit, with a health care 
issue addressed, and with a country that can grow into the 21st century. 
So a lot of the people who are paying this bill are going to support it 
because they trust us.
    And let me say this: We need you to hold our feet to the fire. No 
raising taxes unless we cut spending.
    We've got to do this in a package, and we've got to do it together. 
I need your help. I'm delighted to see you here today. With your help we 
can make the spirit of St. Louis the spirit of America.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:59 p.m. at Union Station. In his remarks, 
he referred to Gov. Mel Carnahan of Missouri.