[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[January 5, 1995]
[Pages 18-19]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Appointment of Michael D. McCurry as Assistant to the 
President and Press Secretary and an Exchange With Reporters
January 5, 1995

    The President. This is a live event. Now listen, you all have to be 
respectful. I just saw CNN describe this as a live event. [Laughter]
    To none of your surprise, I am very pleased to announce the 
appointment of Mike McCurry as the Assistant to the President and the 
White House Press Secretary. He has done a very fine job representing 
our administration at the Department of State since I took office. He 
has dealt with the wide range of very sensitive, complicated, and 
difficult issues, and he's done it very well.
    He has almost two decades of experience here in Washington, but to 
give you an idea of the kind of person he is in spite of that, the only 
pictures on his wall are the pictures of his wife and his two children. 
And they have a third one on the way. Debra and Mike told me on the way 
out here that they were the embodiment of the family values of this 
administration. [Laughter] And let me say I appreciate the personal 
sacrifice that both of them are making for Mike to do this job.

Legislative Agenda

    Before I turn the podium over to Mr. Panetta and officially welcome 
Mike McCurry, let me say that, as all of you know, I had my first 
meeting today with the new bipartisan leadership of the Congress. I was 
very pleased with it in terms of tone and substance. I congratulated 
them in the House on passing the bill that requires Congress to live 
under the laws it imposes on the private sector. That bill passed the 
House last year by a similar margin, but it didn't pass the Senate. I 
hope it will this time, and I pledge to sign it quickly.
    I'd also like to see further movement on political reform in areas 
where we clearly agree: the line-item veto, the unfunded mandates issue. 
We can do a lot of business together for the benefit of the country.
    The other thing that happened in the meeting today that really 
impressed me was an acknowledgement by the Members of the Congress who 
have been here for years and years in both parties that they made a 
mistake back in 1981 to adopt a bidding war in the tax cuts that gave us 
what became known as ``trickle-down economics'' and quadrupled the 
national debt. And they agreed that we ought to have a limit to how much 
we cut revenues, determined by how much we can pay for that with 
spending cuts, so that there is going to be, apparently, no attempt to 
go back to what I call trickle-down economics, to exploding the deficit 
and a ratification of the work of the last 2 years in reducing the 
deficit by $700 billion, which is about $11,000 a family in this 
country. I was happy with that result.
    I think there will be a lot of other things we can do, but I hope 
now that the House has taken one vote in the reform area, they will keep 
on going with the line-item veto, with the unfunded mandates 
legislation, and hopefully, too, with lobby reform and other reforms. 
I'm sorry the lobby reform legislation didn't pass yesterday, but it can 
pass on its own merits, and it's a very important part of what we need 
to do to restore the confidence of the American people in our Government 
    Thank you very much.
    Q. President Clinton, it almost sounds as if you're saying that the 
country is better off because Republicans won the majority in Congress.
    The President. No. The country is better off because we reduced the 
deficit, produced 5 billion jobs, expanded trade by record amounts, and 
did some things to help ordinary people deal with their lives. But 
people are living through a time of great uprooting, with great changes 
in their lives. They voted to give the majority control in Congress to 
the Republicans.
    My job is not to do what they did. My job is not to stand in the way 
and be an obstructionist force. My job is not to practice the politics 
of personal destruction. My job is to work with them to try to help 
build this country. And that's what I'm going to do.
    If they want to keep bringing the deficit down, that's something we 
started. If they want to reduce the Government, that's something we 
began. If they want to pass welfare reform, if they want to deal with 
health care reform, if they want to deal with these governmental reform 
issues that I have supported for years, like

[[Page 19]]

the line-item veto, the country can be better off. Yes, the country can 
be better off if we work together than if we don't.
    But that should be taken in no way as a diminishing in my eyes of 
what happened in the last 2 years, which was terrific. Even if the 
voters didn't agree or didn't even know about it, it was good for the 
country, and the country's better off. So the country's better off today 
than it was 2 years ago.
    What our moral and legal obligation is, is to make sure that the 
country will be better off 2 years from now. I think the people are 
sick, literally sick of seeing all this partisan infighting up here. I 
just showed up here 2 years ago, and I was bewildered by it. I was 
astonished by it. And I was revolted by it. And I think the American 
people are, too.
    Now, the others who were in that room with me today, starting with 
Speaker Gingrich and Senator Dole, they've been part of the Washington 
scene for a lot longer than I have, for decades. And I understand that. 
But they said they wanted to see an end to the partisan infighting. The 
Democrats, to their everlasting credit, said that they had learned from 
the Republicans how to stop things, but they thought that was not their 
job. Their job was to make things happen. So that's what we're trying to 
do. And I'm going to do my best to make good things happen for America. 
I do not want to see a series of partisan battles.
    We need first to identify what we can agree on and move this country 
forward. And we ought to start with lobby reform and these other 
reforms. Then we ought to move on to responsible tax reform that I hope 
will focus on the middle class bill of rights and giving people 
education deductions because that will build the economy.
    This is Mike McCurry's press conference, and I've already said 
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:46 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White