[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[September 18, 1995]
[Pages 1368-1373]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Fundraiser in Philadelphia
September 18, 1995

    Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here 
tonight and for all your support. I want to thank, obviously, Tom 
Leonard and Ken Jarin and Alan Kessler and Bill Batoff and Lynn Barrick 
and everyone else who worked so hard on this. Mr. Mayor, we're delighted 
to be back in your city. I thank my good friends from Pittsburgh for 
being here and from throughout the State, the State legislators and 
others, and of course, the four distinguished Members of the House of 
Representatives who are here, without whom a lot of the accomplishments 
the Vice President just reeled off would not have occurred.
    I'd also like to say a special word of thanks to two 
Pennsylvanians--one of who is here and one of whom is not--to my good 
friend Harris Wofford for helping me to give birth to national service 
and for now, his willingness to lead the fight to preserve national 
service and to increase it; and to Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky for her 
wonderful leadership in Beijing, China. I thank you.
    I came up here, and the Vice President had just concluded and 
introduced me. I said, ``Al, whatever I say now, I'm going to be behind. 
Why don't you just keep on talking; it sounds pretty good.'' I'd 
forgotten we did half the stuff he talked about.
    I say that only half in jest. You know, when I asked Al Gore to 
become the nominee for Vice President on our Democratic ticket, I did it 
after we had a long set of talks, and we agreed that we were going into 
an uncertain time when we had to make difficult decisions rooted in what 
was best for the United States over a 10- or a 20- or a 30-year period, 
that might not be popular in the short run, that might not even be able 
to be easily explained in the short run. We knew that.
    And we and our wonderful spouses made a commitment to an 
administration that would always look toward the future, that would 
always embrace new ideas, that would have the highest standards of 
excellence, but most important of all, would seek to find common ground 
in the things we all believe in: the preservation of the American dream, 
bringing Americans together around work and responsibility and family 
and community, leading the world into a new era of peace and prosperity, 
and giving our children the opportunity to have a better future in the 
21st century. And I am very grateful for that.
    One of the reasons I like dealing with people like your mayor is 
that they're open to new ideas and to changing things. And thanks to the 
Vice President, we've done a lot of those things he talked about. It may 
take 10 more

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years, but some day America will develop what we call in our 
administration a clean car, one that will get triple or quadruple the 
mileage that automobiles get today and produce less air pollution and 
contribute less to the global warming that we all now see all the 
scientists in the world saying is a problem. There may not be a single 
vote in it, but our children will live in a better world because Al Gore 
made a partnership with the auto companies for a clean car and a cleaner 
future. That is the sort of thing that we have tried to do.
    When we started this work on reinventing Government, I said, you 
know, there's never been a single incident when a President or an 
administration generated any popular support for changing the way the 
Government works. But we are going into a new age, and we can no longer 
have a top-down bureaucracy that is too heavy with management, that 
delivers too few services, and is too oriented toward yesterday's top-
down regulation. It may not be any sort of political benefit in it, but 
10 years from now, our country will be better off because we have 
downsized the Government, because we have abolished regulations, because 
we have forged new partnerships with people to do the right things 
because they want to do the right things, not because someone in 
Washington is figuring out 900 different ways to tell them how to do it.
    These are the kinds of things that we have tried to do. And I say 
that simply to make this point, that I really have appreciated the kind 
of partnership that the mayor discussed that the Vice President and I 
have enjoyed. We've done a lot of things that no other administration 
has done. And we have been told we were politically crazy for doing it. 
We were advised not to liberate Haiti, but we did it and it worked out 
all right.
    We were advised that if I became the first sitting President to take 
on the NRA over the issues of the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban 
that it would be a terrible political mistake. And it turned out to be a 
terrible political mistake for a lot of brave Members of the House of 
Representatives who laid down their seats in Congress so that we could 
keep Uzis out of schools and off the street and keep kids from being 
shot down in drive-by shootings, but it was the right thing to do.
    And let me tell you, we were told that we had no business becoming 
the first administration to ever take on the powerful tobacco companies 
in our campaign to reduce teenage smoking. But 3,000 kids start smoking 
every day, and 1,000 of them will have their lives shortened as a 
result. And who cares what the political consequences are? It is the 
right thing to do. And that is the kind of thing we are trying to do.
    I say that to make this general point about why it is so important 
that you're here today. This is an incredible country that we have been 
given, and we happen to have been given the responsibility to live in 
this country at a remarkable moment in history.
    When I ran for President in 1991 and 1992, I did so believing that 
the end of the cold war and the dawn of this new global economy 
presented us with challenges which would require us to change the way we 
conducted our business, both personally as families and communities and 
as a country, and that we had to break out of a lot of the established 
ideas that both parties had advanced. And I wanted to do that. I did not 
imagine, even though I thought I understood it well, the absolute scope 
and sweep and depth of those changes.
    And I come here tonight to tell you that I believe we are living 
through the period of most profound change in the way we live and work 
as Americans that we have experienced in 100 years.
    It was about 100 years ago when we basically became an industrial 
and more urbanized country, shifting from an agricultural and rural 
country. And we had to decide what that meant about how we were going to 
treat each other. For when we became an industrial country, a lot of 
people were getting fabulously wealthy, and it was a time of incredible 
opportunity. But a lot of the ties that bound people together were 
uprooted; families were uprooted; whole communities began to disappear. 
People came to great urban centers looking for opportunities. Immigrants 
came here from other countries looking for opportunities. And those that 
found them were doing very well. But we also saw children working 10, 
12, 14 hours a day, 6 days a week in the mines and the factories of this 
country. We saw an absolute disregard for the preservation of our 
natural resources.
    And for about 20 years we had this raging debate, and we decided 
that the National Government should promote genuine competition, if it 
meant breaking up monopolies; should pro-

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tect children from the abuses of child labor that were then present; 
should attempt to preserve our natural resources; and should, in common, 
promote the personal well-being and the development of our people. Those 
decisions were made about 100 years ago, from roughly 1895 to about 
    And what happened after that was the most dramatic, breathtaking 
period of economic and social progress in the United States ever 
experienced by any country. Yes, we had to get through the Great 
Depression; yes, we had to win a great world war; yes, we had to make 
good on the promise of the Civil War and the amendments thereafter to 
liberate ourselves from legalized racial discrimination. But it all 
happened because we decided that we were going to be one country, that 
we were going to live up to the promise of the Constitution and our best 
values in a new time.
    We are now going through all that all over again. When you hear 
these radical debates in Washington, you hear people say things you 
think are half crazy. You should not be surprised; it is because we are 
being kind of uprooted again, for we are moving from an industrial 
economy to one based on information and technology, even manufacturing 
more based on information and technology. We are moving from a cold war 
arrangement among the nations, where we're divided into two armed camps 
of nation-states looking across the Iron Curtain at each other, into a 
global economy where the borders of all nations are becoming more porous 
as money and technology and trade flee around the world at rapid paces; 
where we're becoming more integrated economically, but in every country 
there are pressures for disintegration as the global economy makes it 
more difficult for families and communities to keep going and as radical 
political groups tend to arise capturing the benefits of the frustration 
of ordinary people. And you see it all across the globe.
    We don't now fear a bomb dropping on us from the Soviet Union. I am 
proud to say that since I've been President, for the first time since 
the dawn of the nuclear age there are no Russian missiles pointed at the 
people of the United States. And you should be proud of that.
    But we do see the development of organized terrorism all around the 
world, whether it is someone blowing up the Federal building in Oklahoma 
City or someone blowing up a school bus of innocent people in Israel or 
someone breaking open a vial of poison sarin gas in a subway in Tokyo.
    So we're living now in a world that is in transition, that is full 
of incredible possibilities, exhilarating hope, and troubling change. It 
is against that background that this election in 1996 must occur. It is 
our duty to preserve the American dream for our children. It is our duty 
to bring the American people together around our common values of work 
and family and responsibility and community. It is our duty to lead the 
world to a new era of peace and prosperity. And we ought to be happy 
about doing our duty.
    We also have to understand that in a period like this, it is hard 
for a lot of people to sort out what's going on and that we cannot worry 
about what is popular in the short run. We have to do what we think is 
right 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. There is no political roadmap. We 
must create the future consistent with our values, not based on what we 
think is popular in the moment.
    So I say to you, I have loved the opportunity to serve as your 
President. I have been frustrated from time to time when there was no 
clear answer. And in the end, I have tried to do what I thought was 
right. The Vice President's account of our record would indicate that, 
more often than not, it's come out all right.
    But we have to look to the future. What is our job in the future? 
Let's look at the economy. Let's just begin with that. If I had told you 
30 months ago that in the space of 2\1/2\ years we would have 7\1/2\ 
million new jobs, 2\1/2\ million new homeowners, 2 million new small 
businesses, a record number of new self-made millionaires in America, 
the stock market would go over 4,700, we'd have record corporate 
profits, the African-American unemployment rate would drop below 10 
percent for the first time in more than two decades but the median wage 
of Americans, the guy in the middle, would drop in the midst of all 
this, it would have seemed impossible. But that's exactly what happened.
    Why? Because only some of us are doing well in this global economy; 
because we live in a world where what you earn depends on what you can 
learn; because there are some people who are caught in the transition 
from a defense to a domestic economy. That's why we had the meeting 
about what's going to happen at the Philadelphia shipyard today, because 
there are some places that have been ignored in all this

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entrepreneurial explosion and no one is investing in our best economic 
opportunity, which is all the working people of America who live in poor 
communities. That's why we have the empowerment zone program. But it's 
not surprising when you hear all this fabulous economic news and you 
realize it hasn't reached everybody. So it is our duty to see that it 
reaches everybody.
    If you look at our social situation, believe it or not, in almost 
every major area in America the crime rate is down, the murder rate is 
down, the welfare rolls are down, the food stamp rolls are down, divorce 
is down, and abortion is down. Almost everywhere we are coming back to 
our roots. But we still know it's way too high. And we're afraid of 
losing our children because juvenile crime is up, people under 18 are 
committing more crime, because casual marijuana use among young children 
is up, because they don't know if they've got a future.
    So what we have to do is to say, ``Hey, look at what's going on good 
in this country. We can do it. We can make it.'' And we have to have the 
discipline and courage to spread those good things to everybody in this 
society. I honestly believe if we do our job in this period of 
transition, our best days are before us. But we have to remember what 
we're trying to do.
    Now, if you look at the budget debate in that context, to me, what 
we ought to do becomes easier, and it's not so partisan or political. 
Should we balance the budget? You bet we should. This country never had 
a permanent deficit unrelated to economy slowdowns until 1981. It was 
only 12 years ago--or 12 years before I became President--that there was 
a political decision made or not made, that it was easy to cut taxes and 
increase spending and then too hard to do anything about it, so we just 
run a deficit from now to kingdom come.
    Always before, the country borrowed money for two reasons: One is, 
there was an economic slowdown and we needed to pump things up. And that 
was a good thing to do. The other is, we needed to borrow money as a 
nation the way you borrow money as a family or a business, the same way 
you'd borrow money to buy a home or start a business. We didn't borrow 
money to go out to dinner on until 12 years before I became President. 
And in only 12 years, we quadrupled the debt of the country.
    The Democratic Party should work with the Republican Party to get 
rid of this. It is a bad precedent. We're spending more and more money 
on interest on the debt. It we don't balance the budget next year, we'll 
spend more on interest than we do on defense. This year, the budget 
would be in balance but for the interest we pay on the debt run up in 
the 12 years before I took office. And we've taken the deficit from $290 
billion to $160 billion a year, and we ought to go all the way until we 
get the job done. America should invest in the future, not squander the 
present. And we should all be for that.
    But we should do it consistent with our values. Why are we going to 
do it? Because we want America to be stronger in the 21st century. We 
want our kids to have the American dream like we had. What does that 
mean for how you balance the budget? It means, number one, don't cut 
education, don't cut technology, don't cut defense conversion, don't cut 
research and development. All together, it's a small part of our budget.
    But if we want to grow the economy and give children a chance, why 
would we reduce the number of people on Head Start? Why would we reduce 
the number of schools in the safe and drug-free schools program or the 
number of schools that can teach character education to kids who may not 
get it anywhere else or the number of schools who can put computers in 
their classes or have smaller classes for poor kids so they can get the 
kind of instructions they need or the number of people who can get low-
interest college loans on better repayment terms or scholarships? No, we 
should balance the budget, and we can have a tax cut. But we can't 
balance the budget in 7 years with a tax cut that the Congress proposes 
without cutting education. And cutting education would be like cutting 
the defense budget at the height of the cold war. It's our national 
security. We ought not to do it. We ought to avoid that.
    And I say--not because it's money but because of the way the money 
is being invested now--high standards, high expectations, high 
accountability, that's what we're doing now, grassroots reform. It is 
different than it used to be. It's not just throwing money at the 
    The same thing about Medicare. Our administration warned 2 years ago 
that the Trust Fund which finances hospital care for Medicare was

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close to running out of money. We warned that. And we said, here's a 
plan to give it more life. And the people now in the majority in 
Congress said we were wrong, said we were crazy, said we didn't know 
what we were doing. And so without any help, we added 3 years to the 
life of the Medicare Trust Fund. Then, in health care reform, we 
proposed to do some more. And they said, ``Oh, you can't cut Medicare by 
that much. You'll wreck the system.'' Now that they're in the majority, 
they've proposed to cut it more than twice as much as we ever did.
    Now, do we have to slow the rate of health care inflation to 
preserve Medicare for future generations? Yes, we do. Yes, we do. We 
absolutely should. Do seniors who have the ability to pay a little bit 
more have a responsibility to do it because they have very high incomes? 
I think you can make that case.
    But here is what is going on, folks. Under the guise of bailing out 
the Medicare Trust Fund, people in Congress are trying to require 
elderly people who make less than $24,000 a year--don't forget, three-
quarters of all the people on Medicare in this country make less than 
$24,000 a year--they want them to pay more in their own premiums. And 
what they don't tell you is, not a single penny of that money goes into 
the Trust Fund. The premium money goes to pay for things like doctor 
bills, and that's paid for out of the general budget. So what they're 
saying is, we want to charge elderly people with incomes of less than 
$24,000 a year more so we can pay for this tax cut and balance the 
budget in 7 years.
    I say, let's save Medicare. But let's don't take money away from 
older people with less than $24,000 to give it to people like me who 
have not even asked for a tax cut but do want their budget balanced. 
Let's do it consistent with America's values and what we owe to the 
people of this country who have made us what we are.
    The Vice President talked about the environment. You know, my family 
and I just took a vacation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National 
Parks. And every day, we benefit from what our country has done for 
public health and the environment that we don't even think about, 
cleaner air, clean water, safe food. Now there are those who say, 
``Well, we shouldn't even have the Government involved in this.'' The 
House of Representatives actually defeated an amendment twice to say, 
``Well, at least give us the money to go ahead and regulate things like 
arsenic in water.'' They defeated once an amendment that said, ``At 
least give us the chance to keep things like cryptosporidium out of 
municipal water supplies.'' That's what killed all those people in 
Milwaukee about a year ago.
    Now, folks, Al Gore, since he's been Vice President, running our 
reinventing Government project, has helped us to eliminate 16,000 pages 
of Federal regulations. We have cut regulations at the Small Business 
Administration in half. We cut the budget of the Small Business 
Administration by 40 percent and doubled the loan volume, doubled the 
loan volume. We kept the loan volume the same to white males and 
dramatically increased it to females and minorities and never changed 
the standards. We're committed to less regulation. e've cut the 
regulations at the Department of Education on school districts by 40 
percent. We're cutting the time people have to fool with the EPA by 25 
percent. We want to get rid of regulation, but somebody has to show up 
every day to make sure that your children have clean water, clean air, 
and safe food. We should not cut that to balance the budget.
    You heard the Vice President talking about crime. The crime bill we 
adopted was rooted in the advice we got from prosecutors and police 
officers. It was bipartisan. Mayor Rendell came down with Mayor Guiliani 
from New York several times to lobby for the crime bill. It has 
punishment. We just convicted the second ``three strikes and you're 
out'' felon, five serious felonies. For once, the guy is going to jail 
for life so he can't hurt anybody anymore. We have more police officers 
on the street, and we have more prevention to give our children 
something to say yes to.
    There are those who say, ``Well, let's just get rid of it. Send a 
check to the States.'' I say, we had a solemn commitment to 100,000 
police. This is a small part of the bill. We paid for it entirely by 
personnel cuts in the Federal Government. That is not the way to balance 
the budget.
    I could give you a lot of examples. I just want to give you one 
more, because to me it represents the most important thing of all. In 
the world toward which we're moving, it's going to be harder and harder 
to keep families together. More and more parents are working, more and 
more two-parent families are working. The most important job of any 
society is still

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to raise children in an appropriate way. We therefore have no more 
important obligation than to enable people to succeed as parents and as 
workers. I think we would all admit that. That's why the family leave 
law was so important.
    Another thing that we did in that budget last year was to cut taxes 
on 15 million American working families with over 50 million Americans, 
almost 20 percent of our people, through something called the earned-
income tax credit, the family tax credit. You heard the Vice President 
talking about it. Eventually, it will lower taxes for families of four 
with incomes of under $30,000 or $31,000 a year. For families of four 
with incomes of $11,000 a year, they can get up to $3,000 back. Why? 
Because we believe no one should be taxed into poverty.
    If you want people to move from welfare to work, if you believe in 
family, work, and responsibility, then people who are willing to go out 
there and work full-time and still do the best they can with their kids 
and they're making all they can make, should not be taxed into poverty. 
The tax system should lift them up, not tear them down.
    Now, in this budget fight, there are those who believe that they 
should get rid of this earned-income tax credit or cut it in half or cut 
it by a third. How in the world can we justify raising taxes on low-
income working people, lowering taxes on folks like me, and then telling 
them, ``Don't you be on welfare. You get out there and work. You do your 
    This is not about money. This is about who we are. What are our 
obligations to one another? How are we going to give our kids the 
American dream? I'm telling you, I will say again: This is a very great 
country. We wouldn't be around here after almost 220 years if this were 
not a great country and if more than half the time we didn't make the 
right decisions. We have a set of 100-year decisions to make, 100-year 
decisions. You know that, deep in your bones, you know how much change 
we're going through. But what works is what has always worked for us. 
When we look to the future, when we work together, when we try to give 
people the ability to make the most of their own lives, when we try to 
be a force for peace and freedom throughout the world, we do just fine.
    So I say to you, this is not an ordinary election. And this election 
cannot be won by sound bites. And this election cannot be run on the 
politics of resentment. This election must be won by the mind and the 
heart and the vision of Americans looking down the road to the next 
generation and saying, I want the 21st century to be an American 
century, too. I want the American dream to be alive and well.
    When I was born, in my home State the per capita income was 56 
percent of the national average. I was the first person in my family 
ever to go to college. I was raised by a grandfather with a 6th-grade 
education. I became President of the United States not because of my 
hard work and my innate goodness but because I had the help of a country 
that cared about the old-fashioned things and wanted every single 
American to have access to them.
    So I say to you, if we do this election right, if we make these 100-
year decisions right, the best is yet to be.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:05 p.m. at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza 
Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Philadelphia Democratic 
fundraisers Thomas A. Leonard, Kenneth M. Jarin, Alan C. Kessler, 
William Batoff, and Lynn Barrick; Mayor Edward Rendell of Philadelphia; 
and Mayor Rudolph Guiliani of New York City.