[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[November 2, 1995]
[Pages 1704-1708]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Forum
November 2, 1995

    Thank you, Jim, my good friend Jim Burke. Thank you for devoting 
your life to this cause. Thank you, Alvah Chapman, CADCA's founding 
chair, who first talked to me about this some years ago now. Thank you, 
Lee Brown, for your distinguished work for all Americans and all 
American children. Thank you, Marni Vliet. I thank all the families who 
are here today who have sustained losses. And I want to say a special 
word of thanks to Lori Plank for having the courage to be here, just 2 
weeks after she lost her husband, along with her husband's parents and 
her beautiful child. I thank them for coming and for devoting themselves 
to the proposition that the best way they can honor Ed Plank is to do 
whatever can be done to stop this madness from killing more Americans.
    Let me say to all of you that this issue is especially close to me. 
Most of you, because of what you do, probably know I grew up in an 
alcoholic home, and I have a brother I love very much who could have 
been killed by the cocaine habit he had. This is madness, pure and 
simple. And we all have to do whatever we can to get it out of our 
    We have to deal with the question of law enforcement and punishment. 
We have to deal with education and treatment and prevention. We have to 
deal with all those things that can be done by the President and all 
those things that can be done by legislators at the national, State, and 
local level. But in the end, this problem will be changed when America 
changes, when we assume responsibility for ourselves, our families, and 
our communities. And therefore, what you are doing--what you are doing--
and what other Americans are doing in attempting to assert that sort of 
responsibility over their own lives for their families and for their 
communities is the most important thing that can be done in America 
today. And it is up to the rest of us to support you as well as we 
possibly can.
    Of course, parents have a special role to play because we all know 
that the best crime prevention, the best antidrug program in this 
country always has been a good family with strong parents. We know that 
it is the Government's job to uphold the law, to promote order, but 
parents must teach right from wrong, and we must all support that. And 
where the parents are not there or cannot do it, then the community must 
step in and do their best, which is what so many of you are trying to 
    I want to say again that I thank Lee Brown for the work he has done 
to get the urgent message out to our young people that they are wrong if 
they think that drug use is not dan-

[[Page 1705]]

gerous as well as illegal and that they have the power to do something 
about it. That message has to be repeated over and over and over again. 
It is one of the cruel ironies of this battle that drug use has 
stabilized or is actually declining among young adults, but casual drug 
use, especially marijuana, continues to go up among teenagers. We have 
to get that message out there. We owe it to the generation of young 
people, some of whom are in this audience today.
    I also want to say that we know that here in Washington, there are 
things that we can and must do to try to deal with the problems of the 
drug supply as well as the law enforcement problems in our country. And 
we have developed a strategy to tackle this problem from top to bottom. 
We began by taking on the notorious Cali cartel, the biggest drug cartel 
in the world. For years, the Cali cartel pumped drugs into the American 
economy and into the veins of the American people with impunity. But 
after years of operating largely untouched by Colombian law enforcement, 
I am proud to say that seven of the eight top drug traffickers in the 
Cali cocaine cartel were arrested by Colombian authorities with our 
support and cooperation in 1995.
    Investigative activity by United States enforcement agencies 
provided much of the evidence against the Cali kingpins. We are also 
using our military and our law enforcement activities beyond our borders 
in other ways. We are working more closely together among ourselves and 
with other countries. We are beginning to have a real impact.
    But we know that cutting off the supply is only half the equation. 
As long as the demand remains great in America, people will figure out 
how to provide some supply. We have to take more steps here in this 
country to reduce demand. We have to take more steps to punish people 
who are making a killing by killing other people. And we have to take 
more steps to empower people like you to do the education, the 
treatment, and the prevention work that will turn this generation of 
young people away from this madness.
    A year ago with the enactment of the crime bill, we attempted to 
give the American people the tools they need to do what has to be done 
here at home. We put more police on the street, and we did more to get 
guns and drugs and children off the street.
    The 100,000 police commitment of the Federal Government is running 
ahead of schedule and under budget. The crime rate is down in almost 
every State in America, in no small measure because people are out there 
in uniform, walking the streets in the communities, doing what they can 
to help prevent crime. More and more law enforcement officers are in our 
schools through programs like the D.A.R.E. program, trying to help 
educate children and prevent the drug problem from taking hold.
    ``Three strikes and you're out'' is now the law of the land, and 
more and more career criminals are being tried under it and convicted 
under it. We are taking steps against the terrible problems of violence 
against women. And the crime bill, together with the education bills 
that were passed in our budget, have increased our commitment to drug 
treatment as well as to education and other prevention strategies, which 
is also important.
    Throughout, there has been an emphasis on community empowerment. If 
you think about what your National Government does directly--well, we do 
the national defense directly. We do some law enforcement directly. We 
do some things directly through the mail, the Social Security checks, 
the Medicare checks. But a lot of what we do--in the form of education, 
in the form of protecting the environment, in the form of promoting law 
enforcement and safe streets, in the form of growing the economy--a lot 
of what we do, we do in partnership with individuals at the community 
level. And we have tried to focus on that very sharply. So we've tried 
to bring down the size of the Federal bureaucracy but to increase the 
commitment of the Federal Government at the grassroots level so you 
could do what needs to be done.
    You know, this is beginning to work. We know that for the first time 
in a long time, as I said, the crime rate is down. There is a greater 
responsibility ethic in the country. There's a stronger sense of family 
in the country. There's a stronger sense of community in the country.
    In addition to the crime rate being down, you might be interested to 
know that over the last 3 years, the welfare rolls are down, the food 
stamp rolls are down, the teen pregnancy rate has come down 2 years in a 
row, and the poverty rate is down. Child support payments are up 40 
percent, and the college loan delinquency rate is down by 50 percent. 
There is a real sense that this country is coming back

[[Page 1706]]

together around core values, and that's very important.
    Having said that, we know that crime, welfare, poverty, violence, 
and drug abuse are still far too high. We know that random juvenile 
violence and casual juvenile drug use are both going up, even as the 
overall statistics seem to be getting better. There's still too many of 
our children out there raising themselves. There are too many kids out 
there who aren't a part of something wholesome and positive and bigger 
than themselves; the people are not taking responsibility for their 
future and trying to help them take responsibility for themselves. And 
there is still way too much violence in this country, as the tragic 
example of the Plank family shows.
    So let me say--and Jim made a reference to it, but it is in this 
context that I want you all to see and make your own judgments about the 
budget battle now raging in Washington. We do have to continue to bring 
this deficit down, and we do need to balance our budget. I'm proud of 
the fact that it's gone from a $290 billion a year budget to $164 
billion a year budget in just 3 years. And I'm--you might be interested 
to know that as a percentage of our income, the United States now has 
the lowest budget deficit of any industrial country in the world, except 
for Norway, in the entire world today.
    Now, that doesn't mean that we don't need to do more. We built up 
such a huge debt in the 1980's and early nineties. We need to do more. 
But it means we have to do it in a way that's consistent with our 
values. Why do we need to eliminate the deficit? Because we want to grow 
the economy and raise incomes and give our children a brighter future. 
But we have to do it in a way that looks to our values, give people a 
chance to make the most of their own lives, to strengthen families, to 
reward work and family, and to help communities solve their problems. 
That is the purpose of this.
    That's why I have said repeatedly I think it is a mistake to balance 
the budget if we cut education or if we harm the health care system or 
undermine the environment or weaken law enforcement or raise taxes on 
working families. I don't think those should be options. If you look at 
the work at which you are involved, you are doing this work, but it 
makes a difference if the Nation is contributing to law enforcement. It 
makes a difference if the Nation is contributing to drug education. It 
makes a real difference if the Nation is contributing to the treatment 
programs. All these things matter.
    We simply cannot balance the budget in a way that puts our children 
at risk or that weakens our resolve to fight the drug problem. And we do 
not have to do that. We cannot walk away from the fight against drugs 
and violence. We have to walk right into it. If the Plank family, 
bearing the burden of their grief only 2 weeks old, have the courage to 
come here and stand up for making America a better place to live, a 
drug-free place to live, a violence-free place to live, if these other 
families that have sustained their terrible losses have the courage to 
come here, surely the rest of us can have the courage and vision and 
wisdom to say, we can deal with our budget problems in Washington 
without walking away from our values and our responsibilities.
    Let me say that one of the things that concerns me most as President 
is to see the economy coming back and all these indicators that society 
is getting healthier, and then to see underneath it that juvenile 
violence is still going up and that casual juvenile drug use is still 
going up. If we don't turn that around, then all of these directions 
could be brought to a screeching halt as more and more of these 
juveniles become adults.
    And I told the Attorney General that in terms of law enforcement we 
need to focus on the problem of juvenile violence more than ever before 
to see what can be done there. We can't tolerate the killing of an 
innocent child by gang members simply because her parents drove down the 
wrong street. We can't tolerate the killing of innocent children in 
schools or what happened in Maryland not very long ago, an honor student 
standing at a bus stop just happened to be in the way, in the crossfire 
of two gangs that took a notion to shoot at each other. We can't 
tolerate the shooting of one youth by another simply because the killer 
felt that he was shown disrespect and therefore had a right to shoot 
another child. That is not the America I grew up in. That is not the 
America that won World War II or the cold war or that stood for freedom 
and opportunity for the whole world. And that is not the America we can 
afford to leave to our children.
    We also have to deal with this whole problem of casual drug use. You 
heard Jim Burke talk

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about it; you heard Lee Brown talk about it. There's a lot of evidence 
that young people simply have--starting in about 1991, began to believe 
that some kinds of casual drug use simply weren't dangerous and didn't 
have to be countenanced very seriously. That is not true. It is not true 
because as a pure medical matter, marijuana is more toxic than ever 
before, because people who do it are now mixing it with other things, 
like huffing all these dangerous fumes, because very often they get into 
other drugs. We have got to do something about it.
    Most of our children are busy building good lives. Most of our kids 
are more than happy to show up for activities like this. They're not 
involved in violent activities. They're doing well in their schools. 
They, I would say, should be applauded. I think that we forget 
sometimes--[applause]--what we need to ask these young people to do is 
what these young people are doing here. If the kids are doing well--and 
the vast majority are--if the kids are emphasizing the importance of 
staying in school and staying drug-free--as the vast majority are--we 
need to ask more of them to do what these young people are, to be an 
example to their peers, because many of them can have far more influence 
over young people their age than the rest of us old fogies can. 
[Laughter] And we need to applaud them and give them encouragement.
    The other thing I want to say, just to reemphasize what Jim Copple 
said and what Jim Burke said, we need every community in America to be a 
part of this alliance. Every community in America should have a group 
that's a part of this alliance, because we know that we can make a 
difference. It is simply not true that you cannot whip this problem. And 
a lot of you are living evidence of that.
    The citizens of Pierce County, Washington, for example, who have the 
safe streets campaign to combat illegal drug and gang activity and 
violence that accompanies these problems, they know their efforts are 
making a difference. They have closed down over 600 drug dealing 
locations in 12 communities and reduced calls to 911 by 23,000. Not just 
an urban problem, Hamilton, Missouri, citizens are banding together, 
using such innovations as a youth peer court in conflict mediation 
beginning in the 4th grade to educate and empower young people.
    There's a lot of things you folks are doing that are working. And as 
I look out at this whole array of energetic, wide-eyed, upbeat, positive 
people, I think to myself: The real problem we have in America is that 
we have not learned yet to figure out how to take a solution that works 
in one community and put it into every community which is not doing 
anything. So I want to say to you, I want you to keep up the good work, 
but we have to find a way to say to every community in America, ``If 
something is working somewhere else, you're really doing your children 
and your future a disservice if you haven't done it in your community.'' 
Every community in America should be a part of this alliance.
    In an attempt to facilitate greater progress in dealing with the 
problems of juvenile violence and juvenile drug use, I will convene a 
White House Leadership Conference on Adolescent Drug Use and Violence in 
January. We want to bring together people like you to highlight 
successes in local communities, and we want to help you build a true, 
national coalition to combat drugs and violence. You'll be hearing more 
about that in the coming weeks.
    One of the things we want to highlight is the positive role the 
media can play in the fight against drugs. Every day, as many of us have 
said, the children of this country are bombarded with messages that tell 
them it's cool, sexy, attractive to drink and smoke and do drugs. But 
conversely, let's not forget, that the media can also play a very 
positive role in influencing the attitudes of our young people about the 
harmfulness and the unacceptability of using drugs. The Partnership for 
a Drug-Free America, which Jim Burke has led so ably, has proven that 
over and over again. The media has donated over $2 billion in support of 
partnership antidrug messages on television and radio, in print and 
outdoor billboards. Lee Brown has been able to enlist the support of a 
number of sports and television celebrities in new TV and radio public 
service campaign spots aimed at our Nation's youth, telling them they do 
have the power to stay drug-free.
    So these messages are working to change attitudes. They can make a 
difference. So what I want to say is, just like I want every community 
in the country to have an organization that's a member of CADCA, and I 
want you to go out to all them and get it done, just as I want the vast 
majority of our young people who are doing the right thing with their 
lives to do what these young people are doing and reach out to other 
kids and help them. We ask the media

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across this Nation, when it comes to the fight against drugs, turn up 
the volume.
    I also ask you not to forget that the media is not a national thing 
entirely. Lee Brown and Bill Clinton and Jim Burke and Jim Copple and 
all the rest, we can go to the networks and to the large media centers 
and say, ``Will you help us do this?'' But the media in America is a 
many-faceted thing. And there are things that can be done in your 
community by people who are more than willing to help if you ask them to 
do it.
    Oftentimes, too many of our young people spend too much time 
relating to the media as opposed to other people. They don't have enough 
time for a lot of things that time ought to be spent on, and too much 
time sitting in front of the television. We need to ask for help to turn 
up the volume. I have been profoundly impressed by the number of 
positive things that our media has done to help us in this battle. We 
need to come up with systematic plans in every community to do more.
    So that's it. I feel pretty good about the future of this country, 
and you should, too. This is a very great country. We go through 
difficult periods from time to time. We will always have some bad 
people, as any society does. There will always be a measure of tragedy, 
as is the lot of human nature, as the Scripture teaches us. But America 
is coming back together. America is moving forward economically. But 
America dare not forget that our children are the future of this 
country. And if we want America to be the strongest, greatest nation in 
the world in the 21st century, we have got, we have got to stamp out 
this madness.
    And you have to do your part; I have to do mine. In the end, we know 
that what you do to get people to take control of their own lives, their 
families' lives, and their community lives will tell the tale.
    I think we are moving in the right direction. We know we've just got 
too many kids out there that are still raising themselves, and we have 
to help that. But if we do it, if we do it, we can make the service and 
the sacrifice of people like Trooper Plank a shining memory in the life 
of our country. We owe it to them. Let's deliver.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. at the J.W. Marriott Hotel. In 
his remarks, he referred to Lori Plank, widow of Maryland State Trooper 
Edward A. Plank, Jr., who was killed in the line of duty by an alleged 
drug runner; and James E. Copple, president, and Marni Vliet, board 
chair, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.