[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[October 31, 1997]
[Pages 1461-1463]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the Tropical Shipping Company in Palm Beach, Florida
October 31, 1997

    The President. Thank you. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. 
As you can see, we are slightly delayed. [Laughter] When I took off this 
morning at 6:30 from the White House it was clear and beautiful. We had 
our normal 15-minute helicopter ride to Andrews Air Force Base, which 
was shrouded in fog. We flew around for 20 minutes in the airplane. When 
we got on the ground, it was like being in a sci-fi movie. It took us 
another 20 minutes to find Air Force One. [Laughter] You couldn't see 
your hand before you. And then we sat and sat and sat. So thanks for 
waiting. And Happy Halloween. [Laughter]
    Now, your leader here told me about your normal Halloween dress. And 
I feel cheated that you didn't wear your costumes this morning. 
[Laughter] I used to do that, but since I became President they have 
relegated me to a small pin. [Laughter] But I hope you have a good time 
when we get out of here.
    As you can tell, my voice has given out on me, and therefore, most 
of my remarks are going to be delivered by our fine Secretary of 
Commerce, Bill Daley, who is from Chicago, my wife's hometown, where 
they just--[applause]--somebody is from Chicago out there. They had a 
birthday celebration for Hillary's 50th birthday there. And I didn't 
think anything could make that a pleasant occurrence, but it actually 
did, and she was happy with it. [Laughter]
    Secretary Daley just came back from our trip to Latin America with 
me, and he'll have some more to say about fast track. But before I 
introduce him, and before I completely lose my voice, I want to say that 
I have worked very hard so that there'd be more stories like Deborah 
Braziel's in this country. And in the last 5 years, we have vigorously 
pursued an economic strategy that would move us away from big deficits 
and move us away from living day-by-day, to have long-term, stable 
growth that hard-working Americans could participate in and benefit 
    We've had a commitment to reduce the deficit and balance the budget, 
to educate and train people and invest more in that and in technology, 
and to sell more American products and services around the world. That's 
been our strategy, and it's worked.
    And I want to say a special word of thanks to Congressman Foley and 
Congressman Deutsch here, a Republican and a Democrat, for helping us to 
pass the historic balanced budget agreement that passed the Congress 
last summer. We haven't had a balanced budget since 1969, but the 
deficit has gone from $290 billion to $22\1/2\ billion in the last 4 
years, and now we're going to balance the thing. It's going to be good 
for us.
    We just learned today that over the past year our economy has grown 
at 4 percent. That's the fastest rate of growth in a decade, and one big 
reason is $125 billion in new exports. You helped the American economy 
to grow. You helped the American economy to create over 13 million jobs, 
and I thank you for it.
    This strategy is working, and we have to continue to pursue it all. 
Yes, we reduced the deficit by 90 percent, but we needed that bill last 
August to balance the budget because our costs will keep going up if we 
don't continue to cut. We also need to invest more in education, and 
we've done more to open the doors of college than ever before, with tax 
credits and scholarships and better loans and education IRA's. And a lot 
of your children will now be able to take advantage of that, and maybe 
some of you will want to take advantage of that.

[[Page 1462]]

    But it's a three-legged stool; we have got to have the exports. This 
fast-track debate in Washington is totally, I think, off the radar 
screen for most Americans. I bet, if you ask most people what fast track 
was, they'd say it's a new television series or maybe a new offensive 
football strategy. It's simply the same authority that Presidents have 
had for the last 20-odd years to negotiate agreements, take them back to 
Congress, and have them vote up or down.
    If I go and make an agreement with somebody who lives in a different 
system of government, they don't understand if--they can understand if 
the Congress rejects the agreement, but they don't want to have to 
negotiate it again with 535 people after they negotiate it with my 
representatives. So most countries simply won't enter into agreements 
with us unless I have the authority to make an agreement and say, ``Now, 
the Congress is the ultimate decider here. They've got to vote up or 
down. If it's bad for America, they're not going to vote for it. But at 
least you won't have it rewritten. We'll vote it up or down.'' That's 
all this bill does, and that's why Presidents have had it for the last 
20-something years.
    So I hope you will stick with us. I hope you'll urge the Congressmen 
and Senators to vote for it. And I hope you'll tell them that without 
regard to party, this is an American issue. It's helped to create jobs 
here at Tropical. It will help to take us into the 21st century. And if 
they'll stick with you on this, you will stick with them.
    Thank you very much. Now I'd like to ask Secretary Daley to come up 
and say what I wish I had the strength to say.
    Secretary Daley.
    Thank you, and God bless you.
    Secretary Daley. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, ladies and 
gentlemen, for your patience. Even with an unbelievably bad voice, he is 
better than anyone else who could stand up here, so it is difficult.
    I thank you also for not being cheered out after the great victory 
by the Marlins and being here. I thank you for putting up with this late 
substitution. On Halloween, I know you're all expecting quite a treat, 
but instead you have gotten a trick, and I'm sorry about that. 
[Laughter] But I think we could all sympathize with the President. And, 
Mr. President, I do feel your pain. [Laughter]
    If you'll all bear with me, the President has asked me to read his 
remarks that he would have given. This is a rather awkward situation for 
me to stand here in front of him and read his remarks. There's probably 
only one person in this entire audience who is truly happy that this is 
occurring, and that's the President's speechwriter, because this will be 
the first time his entire text has ever been read. [Laughter] So let me 
    ``Six years ago, when I announced my candidacy for President, I said 
that America had a vital mission for the 21st century, and that was to 
keep the American dream alive for every person responsible enough to 
work for it; to keep America the world's strongest force for peace, 
freedom, and prosperity; and to bring our people together, across all 
the lines that divide us, into one America.
    ``We started with a new economic policy for the new economy, putting 
in place a bold three-part strategy to shrink the deficit, invest in our 
people, and lower unfair trade barriers to our goods. And this strategy 
has succeeded: strong annual growth and low inflation; more than 13 
million new jobs; the deficit down 90 percent, even before the balanced 
budget law saves a single penny; America is leading the world in auto 
production once again; and unemployment is below 5 percent.
    ``We have made tremendous progress. But we have much more to do to 
prepare America for the 21st century. And Congress faces a decisive 
choice, whether to continue with a strategy that has helped give America 
the strongest economy in a generation. For one week from today, the 
House of Representatives will decide whether or not to keep America's 
exports growing with its vote on fast track. I applaud Speaker Gingrich 
for scheduling this vote and for his commitment to work in a bipartisan 
basis to enact this most important legislation this year.
    ``The arithmetic of the new economy is the following: We have 4 
percent of the world's population and 20 percent of its income; 96 
percent of the world's consumers live outside the United States; and the 
developing countries are growing 3 times as fast as the developed 
countries. So if we want to keep our income with our population base, we 
have to sell even more to the other 96 percent, especially those who are 
growing so rapidly.
    ``The workers here at Tropical Shipping know that more than anyone. 
And so do the workers

[[Page 1463]]

throughout this great State of Florida. For the exports from Florida 
have increased over the past 4 years by more than 50 percent, to over 
$30 billion. And that's one reason why this economy in Florida has been 
able to create a million new jobs during that same period. And here in 
West Palm Beach, Boca Raton metropolitan area, exports are up over $200 
million since 1993.
    ``But there is still much, much more to do and many barriers to 
those American products. So we owe it to the working men and women of 
America and around our entire country to level the playing field for 
trade so that when our workers are given a fair chance, they can and 
they do outcompete anyone anyplace in the world.
    ``Congress must take this opportunity--it must not take this 
opportunity away from the American people to compete. For more than 20 
years''--as the President stated--``every President, Democrat or 
Republican, has had this authority. If Congress grants this authority, 
we can use it to open trade where American firms are leading, such as 
computer software, medical equipment, environmental technologies. 
America can use it to open the markets of Chile and other Latin American 
countries to our goods and also our services.
    ``We all know we must do better to raise the living standards and 
environmental standards throughout the world. This trade authority will 
give me the leverage to negotiate agreements that do exactly that.
    ``The bills now waiting for a vote on the floor of the House and 
Senate offer the most detailed and concrete authority to negotiate these 
issues which have ever been included in this sort of legislation. And 
because we know that expanded world trade does not always benefit all 
Americans equally, we're working with Members of Congress to develop new 
initiatives to bring more Americans into this winner's circle. And with 
these initiatives we will increase our investment in communities that 
suffer from dislocation and in those workers who lose their jobs because 
of trade agreements, technology, or any other reason.
    ``So let's all be clear. Walking away from this opportunity will not 
create or save a single American job. It will not help a child in any 
country of the world come out of a sweatshop. It will not clean up a 
single toxic site in any nation. Turning away will not expand our 
economy, it will not enhance our competitiveness, and it will not 
empower our workers. It will give away markets, and it will give away 
jobs. It will jeopardize America's preeminent role and position in this 
    ``Fast track is the key to U.S. leadership in the world economy, and 
now is not the time to raise questions about that leadership. Over the 
past 4\1/2\ years, our three-part strategy for security and growth has 
worked better than anyone had imagined. We have reduced the deficit to 
the lowest levels since the early 1970's. We have invested in our people 
with historic new commitments to education and health for all Americans. 
And we have raised American living standards by opening new markets to 
quality American goods and services. And thanks to this strategy and the 
hard work of American people, we stand poised at the threshold of a new 
century, stronger than ever before.
    ``America must not retreat on the strategy that has brought us to 
this place of promise. America must not return to a mind-set which is 
rooted in the past. Instead, America must move forward on all three 
crucial elements to our strategy. As you are doing here in south 
Florida, America must boldly seize the opportunities that stand before 
us into this next great century.
    ``Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless America.''

Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. in the warehouse. In his 
remarks, he referred to Deborah Braziel, Tropical Shipping Co. employee, 
who introduced the President.