[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[November 1, 1994]
[Pages 1926-1928]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Interview With Ken Herrera and Jayne Bower of WWJ Radio, Detroit, 
November 1, 1994

    The President. Hello, Ken.
    Mr. Herrera. Can you hear me all right?
    The President. I can hear you fine, thanks.

President's Approval Rating

    Mr. Herrera. You know, I wanted to start this out with kind of a 
lengthy question. As I looked at your list of accomplishments in 
office--and let me list a few: 4.1 million new jobs in the economy in 
the first 17 months of the administration; 2 consecutive years of budget 
reductions; new tax cuts to 90 percent of small businesses; a low 
inflation rate, lowest in 20 years, in fact; the signing of the student 
loan reform act; the passage of the crime bill, including the assault 
weapons ban, millions of dollars for local law enforcement; the 
victories that you've scored in foreign policy affairs, in Haiti, the 
Persian Gulf, North Korea, the Middle East, and all that--do you ever 
find yourself sitting back at the White House and wondering, ``What the 
heck do I have to do to have high approval ratings?''
    The President. Well, you know, they're coming up. I think what you 
have to do is, the people have to know it. They have to know it, and 
they have to believe it. And I think that we had lots and lots of 
evidence that even now not all these things have been known. But as 
people know more and believe more, then they tend to want to support 
what I'm trying to do for our country and the Members of Congress who 
are supporting that direction as well. I think that if you look at just 
the things you mentioned, when I ran for President, I said that if I 
were elected, I'd try to make the Government work

[[Page 1927]]

for ordinary Americans, empower people through education and training to 
compete in a global economy, get the economy moving again, and make the 
world safer and more prosperous.
    On those scores, we're in better shape than we were 21 months ago. 
Now, there are a lot of people, to be fair, Ken, who haven't felt that. 
They still maybe feel insecure. They're insecure in their job, or 
they're afraid they'll lose their health care, or they haven't gotten a 
raise. But our country's moving in the right direction, and I think as 
more people know it, there will be more support for this direction and 
for these candidates. And I've just got to make sure that insofar as I 
can effect it, that people know about it and believe it by next Tuesday.

Youth Violence

    Ms. Bower. Mr. President, this is Jayne Bower--phone ringing 
somewhere. Maybe we can just ignore that. I'd like to speak with you as 
a parent. Now, I have two small boys myself, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-
old, and I'm frightened for them. My oldest celebrated his first 
birthday in Los Angeles as the city was burning. We're hearing about two 
kids in Chicago accused of dropping a third child out of a window. Now, 
the crime bill may be a step in the right direction, but I think I speak 
for a lot of parents when I ask you, how do we give our children some 
hope? And what's in the future for them?
    The President. Well, first let me say, you gave the right answer 
yourself. The crime bill is a move in the right direction. And if the 
people in the local communities around the country use it, they can 
lower the crime rate and lower the rate of violence. They can do it by 
using the police, the punishment, the prevention, and the prisons, all 
    But in the end, what we've got to do in this country is to get back 
to the basics of child-rearing. And those children who are not getting 
the support they need at home, who are growing up in very mean 
neighborhoods, still have to have somebody to look up to and someone to 
learn from. And what's happening is, you talked about those two kids 
that dropped that 5-year-old out of a high-rise--what is it that makes 
the heart of a 10-year-old turn to stone, feel no guilt, feel no 
remorse? What is it that makes an 11-year-old shoot another 11-year-old 
for gang reasons?
    We have got to have a system that Government can't provide alone, 
that people in every community deal with to reach out to these kids and 
make sure that they have somebody to look up to, someone to learn from 
who is a good, positive role model, and a future out there for them. I'm 
doing what I can as President by trying to get the economy in shape, 
trying to provide educational opportunities, trying to support working 
families on modest incomes with things like family leave and income tax 
cuts and other supports. But we really have got to have a grassroots sea 
change in America in every neighborhood in this country. People who can 
do it have got to be willing to step in and help these kids that aren't 
getting the support they need at home or that are spending too much time 
on the streets because they're, say, the children of single parents who 
have to be out working to try to support them.
    And if we will do that, we can then--take the prevention programs, 
for example, in the crime bill--we can take the police programs in the 
crime bill and use them to actually build up people's lives and turn 
this situation around. It is in many ways the most significant challenge 
facing our country. We cannot expect to do well over the long run if we 
continue to lose massive numbers of our children to this kind of 

Student Loan Program

    Mr. Herrera. Again, we're speaking live with President Bill Clinton 
on WWJ. Mr. President, following along those same lines, last August you 
signed the student loan reform act. In fact, you talked about it a 
little bit earlier today, authorizing the implementation of what's known 
as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. How does this differ 
from previous efforts to make sure that all those who want a higher 
education can, in fact, get a higher education in this country.
    The President. Well, what this student loan bill does is to enable 
people to borrow money to go to college at lower cost, either lower fees 
or lower interest rates or both. And then it allows them four different 
options about how to repay the money. For example, if someone gets out 
of school, and they decide to become a teacher, then the teacher--let's 
say the teacher starts and he or she has a low wage in salary in the 
early years, you can pay back the loan as a percentage of your income. 
Then let's suppose at some point in the future you get a

[[Page 1928]]

higher paying job, and you want to pay the loan off quicker so your 
interest payments would be lower, you can convert to a different system 
and repay it in that way.
    So the two different things here are, number one, it's a lower cost 
loan; number two, the repayment terms are much better. Now, in addition 
to that, we have taken huge amounts of the bureaucracy and paperwork out 
of this, and we have strengthened the ability of the Government to 
collect the loan when it's due by involving the IRS and other Federal 
agencies in the process. This was a dramatic change. And we also cut out 
a lot of the middle men in the process so that we saved $4 billion in 
Government money over 5 years and saved the borrowers $2 billion over 5 
years. It is a great program.
    And today I was at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. A lot 
of the students were talking there about how this was going to be better 
for them and their lives and their classmates. You'll get more people 
coming to college. You'll have fewer dropouts. And you'll have a higher 
repayment of the loans when they get out. It's very exciting. It's one 
of the best things we've done long-term for the United States since I've 
been President.

Midterm Elections

    Ms. Bower. Mr. President, we heard you urging people to get out and 
vote next Tuesday when you were at Cobo Center this afternoon. Does that 
low voter turnout--of course it concerns you, but what can be done to 
change that, and more importantly to change the image of politicians?
    The President. Well, if you looked at the '92 campaign, you see what 
can be done. If you have a vigorous debate on the issues and if you have 
a real hopeful campaign, if you're trying to build up not tear down, 
then people come out and vote. If these campaigns are totally dominated 
by the negative, not the positive, and by people trying to tear down, 
not build up, then a lot of voters just stay home. They turn it off. And 
then the election tends to go to the person with the most extremist 
support, which is why a lot of these extreme Republicans have worked so 
hard on their negative campaigns and to raise so much money. They want 
to drive down voter turnout, diminish confidence in the political 
process, and give the election to the extremist element in their own 
party. That's their whole goal.
    But I have to tell you, I think in the last couple of weeks, 
Americans are getting more realistic and more hopeful about their 
country again. They see that we're improving the economy, that we're 
making this Government work for ordinary people. We've got a smaller 
Government and a smaller deficit but a more active approach to facing 
the problems of this country. They see other people in other parts of 
the world, from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, to Korea, to 
Haiti, to Northern Ireland, looking to us for energy and support. And I 
think they're feeling better about themselves and their country. And if 
that happens, we'll have a higher voter turnout.
    Ms. Bower. We know you're getting ready to leave Detroit now for 
Ohio, Mr. President. We'd like to thank you very much for joining us 
this afternoon.
    The President. Thank you, I've enjoyed it.
    Ms. Bower. Thank you, President Clinton.
    The President. And I remember the interview I did back during the 
campaign when your station was supposed to be interviewing my wife, and 
she was asleep on the bus, so I took the interview.
    Ms. Bower. We got you instead.
    The President. So, I finally got one in my own right today. I 
appreciate that.
    Mr. Herrera. Thank you, Mr. President.
    The President. Thanks.

Note: The interview began at 3:08 p.m. The President spoke by telephone 
from the Westin Hotel in Detroit, MI.