[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 3, 1998]
[Pages 158-160]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 158]]

Remarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico
February 3, 1998

    Thank you. I want to begin by thanking the University of New Mexico 
Band. They have been wonderful tonight. And I might say, I saw the end 
of your basketball game the other night; it was pretty impressive, too.
    Mr. Mayor, Senator Bingaman, Secretary Pena; Evangeline 
Trujillo, thank you for your 
wonderful remarks and your even more important example. Didn't she do a 
terrific job tonight? [Applause]
    I'm also delighted that we are joined tonight by Congressman 
Redmond, Attorney General Udall, Treasurer Montoya, Secretary 
of State Gonzales, State Auditor Robert 
Vigil; former Governors King, Anaya, and Apodaca--all friends of mine--thank you for being here; Sam 
Vigil, Commissioner of the President's Advisory 
Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Education; and at 
least two of our tribal leaders, Governors Pasqual and Tortalita.  Thank you 
all for being here tonight.
    Let me say there is one person who would love to be here who can't 
be, and I promised him that I would say hello to you, New Mexico's own 
and America's very great Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill 
    I'd also like to recognize two New Mexicans who work at the Sandia 
National Laboratories in Albuquerque, who have not been properly 
recognized. Chris Cherry and Rod 
Owenby, in 1996, assisted FBI and ATF agents 
during the search of Theodore Kaczynski's residence in Montana. They, at considerable risk to 
themselves, helped lead to the capture and the conviction of Mr. 
Kaczynski and put an end to his deadly attacks. They live among you. 
They have never gotten credit for what they did, and I think we ought to 
express our thanks to them tonight.
    Thank you for coming out. I want to especially thank the children 
for being here tonight. Thank you for coming, and all of you who brought 
them. I'm glad to be back in New Mexico and on this very spot to talk 
about how we are going to strengthen our Nation for a new century by 
balancing the budget while investing in our people and preparing for our 
    I'll never forget back in 1992, on election day, at 3 a.m. in the 
morning, what Hillary and I saw at the hangar at the Albuquerque 
International Airport. That hangar was filled with people who were tired 
and cold but warm with hope. At 3 o'clock in the morning, Bruce 
King brought me a Mexican breakfast, which I 
loved. And I was saying to the people there in the early morning hours, 
before the polls had opened and when the outcome of the election was 
still uncertain, that America faced a profound choice between hope and 
fear, between whether we would or would not have the courage to change. 
In 1992 the people of the United States and the people of New Mexico 
gave Bill Clinton and Al Gore a chance to chart a new course for 
America's future. I thank you, and I believe it is working.
    We have worked hard to move past the sterile debate between those 
who say that Government is the enemy and those who claimed it could 
solve all our problems, to build a new kind of Government; to take what 
some have called a third way; to give you a Government that is smaller, 
that is more flexible, that is less bureaucratic, that promotes new 
ideas and, most of all, tries to give all of you and all your fellow 
Americans the tools you need to make the most of your own lives in a 
very new world.
    Ladies and gentlemen, we are committed to building a 21st century 
America with an economy based on opportunity, a society full of 
responsibility, an America that lives together across racial and 
religious lines as one American community.
    I think that we all know this approach is working. Compared to 5 
years ago, our deficit is down by more than 90 percent. We have 14 
million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 24 years, the lowest 
inflation in 30 years, the highest homeownership in history. And 
yesterday I submitted to Congress the first balanced budget in 30 years.
    Not so very long ago our deficit was so large it had 11 zeros. Now 
it is going to be simply zero. And you should all be proud of that. 
Balancing the budget can mark the beginning of a new era of opportunity 
for America, a new era of achievement, a new era of wholeness

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to our public national life in the 21st century. What are we going to do 
with this opportunity? That's what I want to say to you again tonight.
    First, we must know we can balance the budget and save Social 
Security in the 21st century. And that is important. Now, all of you 
here know that when the baby boomers--and I know about this because I'm 
the oldest of the baby boomers--that when we retire there will be a lot 
more people retired, compared to people working, than there ever have 
been before in American history. And we know that will put new burdens 
on the Social Security system. But if we begin now to prepare for that, 
with all we know and all we can find out, and if we don't make this a 
political thing, if we make it an American crusade across party lines 
and age lines and income lines, we know that we can save Social Security 
for the 21st century in such a way that my generation does not expect to 
bankrupt our children to take care of us and impair our children's 
ability to take care of our grandchildren. We can do that.
    And all I have asked of the Congress is that when we balance the 
budget--it is then projected that we will begin to run surpluses for the 
first time in a coon's age, since anybody can remember. Nobody can 
remember when that happened. It is projected now that we could have 
surpluses as high as $200 billion over the next 5 years. And what I say 
to you is, the easy thing is for us to take the money back in tax cuts 
or spending programs. But I want you to commit to me that you will 
support the Congress in saying, don't do anything with the money until 
you fix Social Security first.
    We can balance the budget and give Americans the finest education in 
the world. Perhaps the proudest achievement of the balanced budget 
agreement last year was that it opened the doors of college to all 
Americans: over 200,000 new Pell grants in the last 3 years; 300,000 new 
work-study positions; education IRA's you can save for a college 
education for yourselves or your children and withdraw from them tax 
free; a $1,500 tax cut; a HOPE scholarship tax credit for the first 2 
years of college; and a lifetime learning tax cut for the 3d and 4th 
years, for graduate school, for adults who have to go back for job 
training. If you want to go to college, you can go now. Don't let 
anybody tell you you can't.
    But now we have to make sure that the years of education before 
college are as good as the college education is in America. Everybody 
knows America has the finest system of higher education in the entire 
world. I will never be satisfied until we know we have the finest system 
of elementary and secondary education in the entire world.
    We can balance the budget and put 100,000 more teachers in the first 
3 grades to lower average class size to 18, so all our kids have a 
chance to learn. We can balance the budget and build or repair 5,000 
more schools, because if there are more kids and more teachers, you have 
to have more classrooms. We can balance the budget and help the poorest, 
most underprivileged communities in rural and urban areas to achieve 
high standards of excellence, to end social promotion but to get a 
second chance to really learn what all our children are fully capable of 
    We can balance the budget and make an unprecedented commitment to 
improving the quality of Hispanic education and reducing the 
unacceptably high dropout rate among Hispanic-American students. This 
commitment--hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several 
years--will build on the progress of the President's Advisory Commission 
on Excellence in Hispanic Education to lower the dropout rate and help 
young Hispanic-Americans to succeed in school. I want to thank Sam 
Vigil, who is here with us today, and Senator 
Bingaman, who has worked so hard on this 
issue. We cannot have an America where there is a huge racial disparity 
in the dropout rate. All of our kids need to finish high school, and all 
of our kids can finish high school.
    We can balance the budget and deal with the challenge that Mayor 
Baca talked about earlier. I am very happy and proud of the work that 
our administration has done in partnership with local law enforcement 
and citizen groups to have a big 5-year decline in the crime rate. But 
if you have been following it closely, you know that the juvenile crime 
rate has not gone down as much as the adult crime rate has. There's 
still too many of our kids getting in trouble, and most of that trouble 
happens between the time school closes, about 3, and the time all the 
parents get home, about 8, from work. We must give our children 
something positive to do in those hours, and we can balance the budget 
and do that and keep our kids out of trouble.

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    We can balance the budget and help millions of Americans to provide 
child care to their children that is of good quality, that is 
affordable, and that helps people to balance the demands of school and 
work. We can balance the budget and extend health care coverage to more 
hard-working Americans. I'll bet you anything there are people in this 
audience tonight, between the ages of 55 and 65, where your spouse has 
gone on Medicare but you're not old enough for it yet; or you lost a job 
and you haven't gotten another one, so you don't have health care; or 
you took early retirement from a company that promised you health 
insurance coverage and then didn't deliver. I say we should let those 
people have the opportunity to buy into the Medicare program early. It 
won't cost Medicare a dime, and it will be worth all the money in the 
world to them.
    We can balance the budget and continue to clean our environment. 
Compared to 5 years ago, the air is cleaner; the water is cleaner; the 
food is safer in America; there are fewer toxic waste dumps. But we have 
more to do. We have got to deal with the crisis of climate change, do 
something about global warming, and bring our people the benefits of a 
growing economy and a cleaner environment. In New Mexico, you know we 
can do that. Help us lead the way in America.
    And we can balance the budget and invest in the science and 
technology that can revolutionize our way of life; whether it is in 
cleaning the environment, finding cures for diseases, solving practical 
problems in America, we can do it. I announced today at Los Alamos that 
our balanced budget will put over $500 million into developing the 
fastest supercomputers in human history, 1,000 times faster than the 
fastest one when I took office 5 years ago. We are going to develop a 
computer that will do more calculations in a second than you can with 
your hand-held computer in 30 million years. That is on the verge of 
    But the last thing I want to say to you is, we can balance the 
budget, and we can do all that, but we have to remember we're living in 
a smaller and smaller world where we're more interconnected, whether we 
like it or not, with people all around the world, not just economically 
but also in terms of the spread of disease or our vulnerability to 
terrorism or drug traffickers or our vulnerability to common, shared 
environmental problems. And yet we can do so much more when we work 
    In a world like this, there is no nation better suited to do well in 
the 21st century than our United States. Why? Because here the price of 
citizenship is believing in America. It is not a function of your race; 
it is not a function of your religion; it is not a function of where you 
were born; it is not a function of how much money you have; all you have 
to do is to be willing to work hard, obey the law, and say you believe 
in the things that have made our country great.
    And I'm telling you, folks, you just look around this crowd today 
and you think about what it means to be in a global society. I tell you, 
we can build one America. We can balance the budget. We can invest in 
our future. And if we do, all these little children today, they will be 
living in the greatest days the United States has ever known. Help us do 
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:25 p.m. at the Civic Plaza. In his 
remarks, he referred to Mayor Jim Baca of Albuquerque; Evangeline 
Sandoval Trujillo, director, Mathematics, Engineering, Science 
Association, who introduced the President; New Mexico State Treasurer 
Michael Montoya; New Mexico Secretary of State Stephanie Gonzales; 
former New Mexico Governors Bruce King, Toney Anaya, and Jerry Apodaca; 
Acama Pueblo Governor Reginald Pasqual; Santo Domingo Pueblo Governor 
Tony Tortalita; and convicted Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski.