[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 2, 1995]
[Pages 289-290]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Senate Action on the Balanced Budget Amendment
March 2, 1995

    Good afternoon. I have a statement I'd like to make about the vote 
on the balanced budget amendment and what happens now. And I look 
forward to taking your questions tomorrow. We're going to have a press 
conference then, and so I'll just read the statement now.
    The balanced budget amendment has been defeated because Republicans 
could not provide enough Democratic Senators with the simple guarantee 
that Social Security would be protected in any balanced budget amendment 
    Let me begin by simply congratulating the people on both sides of 
this issue who argued with great depth of conviction and sincerity and 
people on both sides who want to bring down the deficit and eliminate 
unnecessary spending but who differed on the consequences and the 
necessity of using an amendment to the Constitution to do it.
    The question we must all face now is, what happens tomorrow? We all 
know that there is no real requirement of a constitutional amendment to 
reduce unnecessary Government spending and to reduce the deficit. For 12 
years before I took office, Washington allowed the deficit to explode. 
Organized interests did well, but the public interest and the future 
suffered. Washington, during this entire period, spent too much time on 
rhetoric and gimmicks and too little time making hard, smart, specific 
budgetary decisions.
    Then, just 2 years ago, Democrats acting alone had the courage to 
pass the largest deficit reduction package in the history of the United 
States, now over $600 billion. Our annual deficit at that time was about 
5 percent of our income. It has now dropped to just over half that and 
is scheduled to go down much lower.
    A month ago, we added to that historic deficit reduction ith a 
budget that cuts spending, cuts the deficit even more, and provides for 
modest tax cuts to the middle class for education and childrearing. I am 
as ready as ever to work with the Congress to make further reductions in 
the deficit. As I have said repeatedly, it must come in the context of 
responsible health care reform because it is only the health care costs 
of the country that are going up in our budget. All other costs are flat 
or declining.
    Now the process of reducing the deficit while investing in our 
future must go forward. There is a legal process for doing just that. In 
1993, though I had never before been a part of Government in Washington, 
we presented our budget plan only 27 days into our administration. It 
has now been 57 days since the Republicans took control of the Congress. 
And even though their leadership has been here many, many more years, 
they have still not presented their budget. We passed the budget 
resolution for our plan before the legal deadline of April 15th. Now 
they must follow that process as well, telling the American people how 
they are going to keep the promises of their contract on balancing the 
budget and paying for their tax cuts by the legal deadline of April 
    When the Republicans do present their budget plan, we will carefully 
consider it. We owe them that, and we must. I have shown my commitment 
to reducing the deficit and to investing in our future. And I will 
continue to do that.

[[Page 290]]

I believe we can reduce the deficit without compromising our commitment 
to education and to our children and without undermining our commitment 
to our seniors in Social Security and basic Medicare needs. I believe we 
can do that. I believe we can do it while continuing our commitment to 
provide 100,000 police officers for this country, a program that is 
already fully paid for by spending cuts. We do not need to allow any of 
those things to be used as a bank to cut taxes for upper income 
    There are other things we can do right now, things that I agree with 
the Republican leadership on, and let me just close with this one. Let 
us now immediately take up in the Senate the line-item veto, and let's 
pass it. We can cut millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of 
dollars in spending with the line-item veto. So I urge the Senate to 
proceed immediately to take that up. And I will work as hard as I can to 
persuade members of both parties to support it and to continue the 
important work of reducing the deficit.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:17 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White