[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[February 22, 1993]
[Pages 180-183]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to Boeing Employees in Everett, Washington
February 22, 1993

    Thank you very much, Chairman Shrontz, Speaker Foley, Senator 
Murray, Governor Lowrey, and Member of the congressional delegation, and 
most of all to the men and women of Boeing. I have looked forward to 
coming here for a long time. And I guess what I ought to begin by saying 
is, thank you for Air Force One.
    You know, everywhere I go in that airplane, I am the second most 
important celebrity. People really just want to see the plane. 
[Laughter] And I know I can make all my friends and supporters happy, 
even my mother, just by taking them on the plane and letting them look 
at your magnificent work.
    You should also know that it enables me on these flights across the 
country and going across the world to continue to work with a full staff 
almost as if I had never left the office. And it is a real tribute to 
all of you, and a magnificent set of planes--you know, there are two of 
them. I know a lot of you made them both, so you know that. But I'm 
grateful to you for that.
    I also think you may know, but I should say that after this meeting 
with you, I'm going to go to another room and meet with a lot of folks 
who have come here to meet with me and with our national leaders about 
the health of the airline industry, about the commercial airline 
companies themselves, and about the airline manufacturers, the chief of 
which obviously is Boeing, but including other companies as well. So 
when I leave you, I'm going to go and meet with them for about an hour 
to talk about where we're going from here.
    I want to begin by saying that there's an interesting book, which 
has been written by a very famous economics writer named Lester Thurow 
called ``Head to Head.'' And Thurow's argument in this book is--it 
affects your lives, so I'm going to tell you about it--his argument is 
that there may be a limited number of highway jobs available over the 
next 20 years, and that seven major technologies will provide most of 
the growth in those jobs, a lot of them are, as you might suspect, in 
the computer and electronics field.
    I was just down in Silicon Valley before I came here at a 
magnificent little company named Silicon Graphics that does some work 
for you, to talk about a technology policy to accelerate the growth in 
areas where we're doing well. But one of those seven areas is aero-

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nautics and the manufacturer of airplanes and in the provision of 
airline services to commercial travelers.
    It is indeed ironic that the United States which, for so long has 
led the world in the production of airplanes and in the development of 
sophisticated consumer-oriented services through commercial carriers, 
has had 3 years in which more money has been lost than was made in the 
previous history of the airline industry. And I can tell you from my 
study, very little of that is your fault. A lot of it has to do with the 
fact that other nations follow targeted strategies of partnerships to 
pierce markets which you had dominated under a free market system but 
with which you could not compete in Europe's subsidized airbus to the 
tune of $26 billion, for example.
    I want to talk to you today about the whole economic plan, the tough 
parts as well as the good parts. But I want you to know that one big 
part of my economic strategy is to try to identify all those areas that 
can really provide high-wage, high-growth futures for Americans and 
their families and make sure that we are there, competing and winning, 
that people have a chance to work and make a living. And we can't begin 
by giving up on the production of aircraft, which is what we have come 
dangerously close to doing by sitting by and letting our competitors do 
things that we did not do to meet the competition. And I believe we can 
do better. I hope this meeting today is the first step in that regard.
    I also want to say a special word of appreciation to the Speaker and 
to the leaders of Congress. In the next few days, the Congress will 
produce a bill establishing a national commission on the condition of 
the airlines industries in America; one that will require the House and 
the Senate to appoint five members each and the President to appoint 
five members; and unlike a lot of commissions, will require them to 
report back within 90 days with a tight time table with a specific set 
of recommendations to take to the country to preserve and promote the 
economic health of the industry that you've done so much to make the 
world's best.
    The second thing I want to say is that my trade ambassador, Mickey 
Kantor, will be closely monitoring the agreement which was made finally 
last year with regard to limiting European subsidies to airbus to allow 
a level playing field. We'll be seeking tough new discipline on those 
subsidies, both in our attempts to get an agreement on the general 
agreement on trade, as well as the specific aircraft code.
    You know, I've seen these agreements made for years. I've seen 
people promise us they'd do this, that, and the other thing, and then 
nothing ever happens. And I think you and I know deep in our heart that 
most of these layoffs--maybe not all, because the airline industry 
itself has problems which are bleeding back on to you, the commercial 
carriers--but a lot of these layoffs would not have been announced had 
it not been for the $26 billion that the United States sat by and let 
Europe plow into airbus over the last several years. So we're going to 
try to change the rules of the game.
    I can't promise you overnight miracles. We didn't get into this fix 
overnight. But I can say that we have to turn the direction of this 
country around, and we need a commitment, not to shield ourselves from 
competition but to reward ourselves when we fairly compete and win.
    We need a commitment to meet the competition around the world in a 
global economy in which the things that really pay off are high levels 
of education and skills, high levels of investment in appropriate 
technologies, a very close amount of cooperation within each workplace 
among workers and between workers and management, and in the national 
sense between Government and business and labor. The countries which do 
that win; those which don't are punished. And we can no longer afford to 
wait for 10 years while someone does something to us that we do not 
respond to. And I want to turn that around, not with overnight miracles 
but with a disciplined approach to put the American people and their 
economic future first in the policymaking of the United States 
Government. It's your country, and I'm doing my best to give it back to 
    I ask each of you to express to your Congressmen and your Senators 
support for the national economic plan which I announced to the Congress 
on last Wednesday. It is a plan which seeks to do two things that we've 
never done in the history of America before at the same time. It seeks 
to reduce this awful Government debt and to increase investment in our 
future at the same time. And it's hard to cut your debts and increase 
your investment at the same time. It's hard if you're Boeing. It's hard 
if you're the United States Government.
    But we have no choice, because in the last

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12 years, we have quadrupled the debt of the Government, which means 
we're spending 15 cents of every dollar you give us in taxes right now 
just paying interest on yesterday's debt, 15 cents of every dollar you 
pay in taxes that we can't put into an investment incentive for an 
airline company, for an education for your children, for better health 
care for America.
    It also means we're taking so much money out of the pool of money 
available that if Boeing or a small business or somebody wanting to buy 
a car or a home has to borrow money, their interest rates are higher 
than they otherwise would be. So we've got to bring the debt down, but 
we also have to look over the last 12 years. Your country has reduced 
its investment while our competitors have increased their investments in 
critical areas of education and training and new technologies and in 
building the kinds of things that put people to work and make a country 
rich. So to do it, we have to cut spending, raise some more tax money, 
and target some new investments, not in consuming things but in things 
that will build jobs and incomes in the years ahead.
    I have offered the Congress in good faith an honest spending cut 
program with 150 specific reductions in spending cuts, including a 25 
percent cut in my own staff, the biggest, as far as I can tell, in the 
history of the Republic, certainly in the 20th century, and a $9 billion 
cut in the administrative costs to the Federal Government, and asking 
the Federal employees who work for you to have a pay freeze this year 
and to have their pay go up at less than the rate of inflation for the 
next 3 years, which will save that much again. We are cutting spending 
where we can.
    I have also made it clear that I don't want to raise one penny of 
tax dollars until I know those cuts are in effect. We shouldn't raise 
money until we cut spending. We should do them together.
    Seventy percent of the burden of this tax program will fall on 
people whose taxable income, not net income, taxable income is above 
$100,000. But some of it will fall on people with incomes of between 
$30,000 and $100,000, and I want to level with you about that. For years 
there have been those who say we ought to reduce the deficit by raising 
the gas tax a whole lot. That's fine if you live in the city and ride 
mass transit to work. It's not so good if you live in the country and 
drive yourself to work. There are a lot of working people in America 
today that have no access to mass transit and can't carpool; so I 
rejected a big gas tax.
    Then there were people who said, ``Well, the best thing to do 
environmentally is to tax carbon.'' That's a funny way of saying coal. 
The problem with that is, there's a lot of people just like you in 
Pennsylvania and West Virginia and places like that who make their 
livings in and around the coal mines. And it didn't seem fair to me to 
put such a burden on them that they would be in trouble.
    So we decided to pick what seems to be the environmentally best 
thing that doesn't hurt so many people, and that is a tax on the energy 
capacity of all forms of fuel, of gas and oil and coal, called a BTU 
tax, which amounts to about 2 cents on a gallon of gasoline, and will 
cost the average family with an income of $50,000 about 15 bucks a month 
at the outside if they have a family of four and drive a lot. And I 
think that is a fair way to go.
    I didn't want to even do that, but after the election I was told 
that the Government deficit was going to be about $50 billion a year 
bigger than we had been told before the election. And so my choice was 
not to ask for an additional contribution from the middle class, let the 
deficit get out of hand, and have your interest rates go up, or try to 
deal with this debt and try to face the fact that we need to invest some 
more money too. I hope you'll support that.
    But I also hope you will support spending some more money in the 
areas that will create jobs. And let me just mention two or three. This 
plan contains tax incentives to business and direct investments in 
things like roads and environmental cleanup and airport construction 
that will create a half a million jobs in the next year and a half. This 
plan contains $8 billion in new investments in aeronautics, in 
technology, in research and development, the development of new products 
over the next 5 years. It contains a major new general technology 
initiative that the Vice President and I announced today in Silicon 
Valley to create high-wage jobs. It contains $9 billion in new 
investments in high-tech products all across the Government, including 
the attempt to develop an environmentally clean car and new high speed 
rail technology that could dramatically alter the economics of living on 
the Pacific Rim of our country. It contains new incentives to businesses 
to cre-

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ate jobs and especially to small business.
    Let me tell you that all the big companies in the country together 
reduced jobs all during the 1980's, but little companies created more 
jobs than big companies lost until about 2 years ago when the cost of 
health care, the unavailability of credit, and the decline of the 
economy stopped small business in its tracks. So we have to not only 
help big manufacturing operations; we've got to have a climate where 
people can start small businesses and keep them going. Because we know 
that even if we do very well in the aerospace industry, for example, 
there will be other very big companies that will have to downsize and 
restructure. And we've got to do something for small business to try to 
help them to go and to grow.
    These things are very important. And let me say one other thing that 
affects Boeing, at least a little bit, and that is we propose to put a 
lot more money into the space program, but to restructure it so that we 
not only have a space station but we also have a lot of new investments 
in other kinds of aeronautics research that will generate even more jobs 
in America in the years ahead. And we've proposed to spend more money on 
domestic research and development than we reduce in defense research and 
    These are the things that made your company great, and these are the 
kinds of things that will make America great again. And so I ask you to 
support not just the spending cuts, the revenue increases, and the 
deficit reduction but also these very targeted investments in our 
    I also ask you to support immunizing every child before the age of 2 
in America, for a change, Head Start for the kids that need it, and 
making college loans available to all middle class, as well as low-
income people, and letting them pay those loans off as a percentage of 
their income.
    Now, a lot of people will say--there's a lot of ways you can debate 
this--a lot of people will say, I didn't cut spending enough. To them, I 
say give me more spending cuts. I've just been there 4 weeks, and I'm 
sure there are more, and I'll find more. Then there will be those that 
say we cut too much. Some will say we didn't raise enough money. Some 
will say we've raised too much. And then some will say you shouldn't 
spend any new money.
    But remember what I said: A country now is like a big company in the 
global economy. If you don't invest in the right things, you don't grow. 
So we not only have to reduce this deficit; we've got to turn our 
spending priorities on their head. We've got to invest more and consume 
less so the country can grow, just like you want this company to grow.
    I believe with all my heart that the years ahead can still be the 
best years this country ever had. But you know what you're going through 
now. Just look at it. We are living in a world where change is the law 
of life, where the average 18-year-old will change work eight times in a 
lifetime. And we will be judged harshly by our children if we permit the 
kinds of things to go on that are happening today, which make change our 
enemy and not our friend.
    My whole goal in this economic program is to try to change the 
priorities of this country so people can pursue what the Founding 
Fathers wanted, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, by making 
change our friend. I can't promise you and no politician can, to repeal 
the laws of global competition. I can't promise you that you won't have 
to work not only harder but smarter than ever before. Nobody can do 
    But I think you know that your Government has been inadequate to the 
task of preparing you to win if you play by the rules, if you do your 
part, if you're highly productive. That's my job. That's what this 
plan's designed to do. I hope you will support it. I think it will 
secure the American dream for you and your children.
    Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

[At this point, the President was presented with a gift.]

    Thank you.
    I want to say two things. First of all, it was very diplomatic of 
you not to give me a bigger shirt than you gave Vice President Gore. 
[Laughter] And secondly, I don't think anyone who sees me running in 
this will really believe I'm about to fly. [Laughter] But I will wear it 
and enjoy it every day.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:02 p.m. in Hangar 40-23 at Boeing. In his 
remarks, he referred to Frank Shrontz, company president and chief 
executive officer.