[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[April 24, 1995]
[Pages 586-589]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Arrival in Des Moines, Iowa
April 24, 1995

    Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Senator Harkin, and thank 
you, ladies and gentlemen, for that wonderful welcome. It's great to be 
back in Iowa when it's dry. [Laughter] I am glad to be here.
    I want to thank the State officials who came here to greet me at the 
plane. Standing behind me, your attorney general, Tom Miller; your 
secretary of state, Paul Pate; your State treasurer, Mike Fitzgerald; 
your State auditor, Richard Johnson; and your secretary of agriculture, 
Dale Cochran, I thank them all for coming. I am also glad to see some 
old friends here. Your former Congressman, Neal Smith, who's been a 
great friend of mine, I'm glad to see him.
    I'm glad to see all those folks from the United Rubber Workers 
Union, Local 310 here. Good luck to you. And I want to say a special 
word of welcome and thanks to the young national service AmeriCorps 
volunteers for their work. Thank you. I'd like to thank the base 
commander here, General Don Armington, for welcoming me and for making 
available this facility.
    And as Tom Harkin said, I'm here for the National Rural Conference. 
I want to say to all of you before I begin that, how much I appreciate 
what Senator Harkin said and the response that you had to the terrible 
tragedy that the people of Oklahoma City have been through and that our 
entire Nation has been through. You, I know, are very proud of them for 
the way they have responded, the work they have done, and the courage 
they have shown. It was a very profoundly moving day yesterday.
    Today and in all the days ahead, as we help them to rebuild and as 
we continue to search for total justice in that case, which we will see 
carried out, I ask all of you to remember what I said yesterday. This is 
a country where we fight and where people have died to preserve 
everyone's right to free speech, indeed, to all the freedoms of the Bill 
of Rights, the freedom of speech, the freedom to associate with whom-

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ever we please, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to be treated 
fairly and without arbitrary action by your Government, all those 
    But we're around here after 200 years because of people like the 
people in Iowa, because we know that with all freedom comes 
responsibility. And the freer you are, the more responsible you have to 
be. We are the freest Nation on Earth after over 200 years because over 
time we have always been the most responsible Nation on Earth.
    So when you hear people say things that they are legally entitled to 
say, if you think they're outrageous, if you think they either 
explicitly or implicitly encourage violence and division and things that 
would undermine our freedoms in America, then your free speech and your 
responsibility requires you to speak up against it and say, ``That's not 
the America I'm trying to build for my children and my grandchildren. 
That's not what we want.''
    You know, the America we're trying to build is an old-fashioned 
America of common sense where hard work is rewarded, where families can 
be strong, where people can live in the way they want to live if they 
work hard and play by the rules.
    I got tickled when Tom Harkin said, reminded me--I'd forgotten 
this--that Harry Truman said no one ought to be President who doesn't 
know anything about hogs. [Laughter] And I thought, now, how many hogs 
jokes do I know that I can actually tell in front of this crowd? 
[Laughter] One of the things that you have to know is how far you can go 
if you live on the farm and when you're going too far. I'll tell you one 
hog story about that.
    When the famous, or infamous, Huey Long was Governor of Louisiana 
and the country was in a depression, Huey was trying to convince 
everybody that the answer was to just take the wealth away from 
everybody who had it and give it to people who didn't. And President 
Roosevelt was following a much more moderate but commonsense course to 
try to put the people back to work again.
    So Huey Long was out on a country crossroads saying--he was giving 
his speech about how we ought to share the wealth, and he saw this 
fellow out in the crowd he recognized, and he said, ``Brother Jones, if 
you had three Cadillacs, wouldn't you give up one of them so we could go 
'round to all these places and gather up the little children and take 
them to school during the week and to church on Sunday?'' And the guy 
said, ``Well, of course I would.'' And he said, ``Brother Jones, if you 
had $3 million, wouldn't you give up a million dollars just so all these 
people around here could have a decent roof over their head and good 
food to eat?'' He said, ``Well, of course I would.''  And he said, ``And 
Brother Jones, if you had three hogs--'' And he said, ``Now, wait a 
minute, Governor. I've got three hogs.'' [Laughter] So one of the things 
that you learn in a sensible rural environment is when not to go too 
    I wanted to have this rural conference here, and we'd indeed planned 
to have it a few months earlier, but as Senator Harkin knows, along 
toward the end of last year we had a very important vote on the GATT 
trade treaty and whether we would be able to open more markets to 
American farm products and whether we'd be able to require our trading 
partners and competitors in Europe to reduce their farm subsidies to 
levels that are fair with us. And so because we were fighting that 
battle, a battle important to you, we had to put off the rural 
    But we're back here, and we're back here for a very clear reason. We 
know that in spite of the fact that the overall statistics for the 
American economy look good, there are still profound challenges in the 
American economy. And I'll just give you a few.
    We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation 
we've had in 25 years. That's the good news, and it's something we can 
be proud of.
    But in spite of that, we know that we're continuing to have 
problems. I'll just give you two studies that have come out in the last 
month, one showing that in spite of all this economic growth, in spite 
of over 6.3 million new jobs in the last 2 years, inequality is 
increasing in America among working people. Why is that? Because we've 
got a global economy and a technological revolution that have driven 
down wages for people with relatively low skills, because a smaller 
percentage of our work force is unionized today, because we have not let 
the minimum wage keep up with inflation, and because we have not 
invested in the continued education and training and skills of our 
people. The second study shows that this is more pronounced in rural 
America, where the population is likely to be older with a lower income 

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more and more young people are having a hard time making it.
    I just left Senator Harkin's colleague, Senator Paul Wellstone, who 
told me that--he and Mrs. Wellstone told me that they have a child who 
is married, about to have a baby, living on a dairy farm, trying to make 
a living as dairy farmers. And that's the hardest work in the world, you 
know. It's 7 days a week, 24 hours a day; somebody's got to be there all 
the time. The milk doesn't quit coming just because you want to go to 
church or a basketball game on the weekend. But they were talking about 
how at a hard time they were making it. So this inequality, this wage 
stagnation we're seeing in America is much more severe in rural America. 
Part of it is a farm problem, but it goes beyond that. Most Americans, 
most Iowans who live in rural America do not live on the farm.
    And so we have great challenges today: How can we keep the economic 
recovery going? How can we work together to do that, but how can we 
overcome this inequality by getting wages up again? And how can we 
overcome the difference in opportunity between rural and urban America? 
Because I think we all know that a lot of the problems that urban 
America has would be smaller if more people could make a good living in 
small towns and rural areas, that a lot of the aggravated problems of 
the urban life in the United States, and I might add, throughout the 
world, are as difficult as they are because it's harder and harder and 
harder for people to make a living and raise families and have a stable 
life in rural areas.
    So we thought we ought to come to Iowa to talk about these things. 
Yes, a lot of the conversation tomorrow will be about the new farm bill, 
and there will be a lot of talk about--there's been a lot of talk about 
it. And I don't want to get into all the details today except to tell 
you this: I did not work for 2 years to get our competitors to lower 
their farm subsidies to a rate that would make it possible for us to 
compete with them, to turn around and one more time on our own destroy 
all the farm supports in this country, so once again we give our 
competitors the advantage. I don't think that's how we should proceed.
    I believe the American farmers that I know would gladly give up all 
their Government support if they thought all their competitors would. 
But we are in a global economic environment, trying to preserve the 
quality of rural life, and this is very important. So we need to talk 
about that.
    We also need to talk about education. We need to talk about 
technology. We need to talk about crime. We need to talk about health 
care. We have a lot of things we need to talk about.
    And what we're going to try to do is to create an environment in 
which we can build a bipartisan consensus for a strategy for rural 
America that will be part of the farm bill, yes, but also part of 
everything else that unfolds in Washington over the next 2 years. That 
is my goal.
    In times past, these issues have not necessarily been partisan 
issues. I am doing my best to reach out the hand of good faith, 
cooperation with the Congress. I hope that we can achieve it in many 
areas: in reducing the deficit, in giving more responsibility back to 
the States, while preserving the national obligation to support our 
children and to support education, in trying to work toward having a 
safer and more secure country--I know that all of you care about that--
and in trying to have a balanced view toward the things that we all have 
to support, including the quality of life in our rural States and our 
rural areas.
    So I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I'm glad we're going to 
do it here. I think the people of Iowa know that our administration has 
worked hard to try to support the interests of rural America. After all, 
even with Senator Harkin, we needed Vice President Gore to break the tie 
so that we could support our ethanol position. And I'm glad he could do 
    I ask all of you to remember now that here's where we are in 
America. You look at these fellows with their caps on; you look at all 
these children out here; you look at these young people who are going to 
work in their communities so they can earn some money to further their 
own education. There is a fault line in America today, and it basically 
is determined by education, along with where you live and what sector of 
the economy you work in. We have to preserve the American dream for all 
of these kids who are here, going into the 21st century. All these 
children, we have to hand it back to them.
    And we have literally been in the first economic recovery since 
World War II where jobs went up, the economy seemed to be growing, 
inflation was down, but over half of the ordinary Americans did not feel 
any personal improvement in either their job security or their per-

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sonal income. So the challenge today is for us to figure out how to keep 
the deficit coming down, how to keep the economy growing and producing 
jobs, how to keep inflation down, but how to do those things that we 
know we have to do to raise incomes and to bring this country back 
together again.
    We have to believe that we are coming together when we work hard and 
we play by the rules. That is my goal and that will be the heart and 
soul of what is at stake tomorrow in this National Rural Conference 
which ought to be here in Iowa.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 3:50 p.m. in the National Guard hangar at 
Des Moines International Airport.