[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 23, 1998]
[Pages 608-610]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception for Supporters of the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1993
April 23, 1998

    Thank you. Many of you have said to me tonight that this was like a 
reunion. I hope you have loved being here and enjoyed seeing each other, 
but you couldn't be nearly as happy to be here as Hillary and Al and I 
are to have you here.
    And I just want to say--there are a couple of other people I would 
like to mention. There are so many people in the administration who were 
crucial to this, but I want to add my thanks to Mack McLarty and acknowledge Gene Sperling. I want to thank Larry Summers, our Deputy Treasury Secretary; and in absentia, I'd like 
to thank Laura Tyson, Bob Rubin, Leon Panetta, and our 
friend Lloyd Bentsen, who's been a little 
under the weather, and I hope we will never forget him.
    I never will forget when he came down to Arkansas before I got sworn 
in, and in that sort of dour, Texas, patrician way of his, and said, 
``Now, if we don't reduce the deficit by at least $500 billion, interest 
rates will not go down and the market will not go up.'' [Laughter] And 
then they proceeded to tell me how hard it would be to do that, based on 
accepted scoring techniques. And then we proceeded to do what we all 
    And I want to thank you because it was so easy, there was no arm 
twisting involved. [Laughter] Not a deal made, it was all a high-flown 
sort of thing. [Laughter] I'm so indebted to all of you. I would like to 
thank especially Bob Kerrey for never 
releasing the contents of our last telephone conversation. [Laughter] 
And I don't know if he's here tonight, but I invited him. I'd like to 
say a special work of thanks, too, to Roger Altman, who ran our war room, which helped us to keep that non-
pressure up. [Laughter] But it was a wonderful experience.
    I, too, would like to personally thank George Mitchell, who has done a magnificent job in the Irish peace 
process. And I want to thank

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Speaker Foley, too, who is doing a great job 
in Japan. And I want to join what has already been said about Senator 
Moynihan and Chairman 
Rostenkowski. In different ways, they were 
both absolutely indispensable.
    You should take a lot of pride at this golden moment in America's 
history, with the economy up and our social problems down and the 
deficit going to zero. All of you know that it's one of those rare 
moments, as the Vice President said, where you can literally say that 
this has happened because of the energy and spirit of the American 
people, but also because we passed an economic plan that liberated that 
energy and spirit.
    In every home where wages are rising and people now have jobs, in 
every town which was down and is now up, there are millions of people 
who are in your debt. And I did mostly just want you all to be in this 
room so I could say on their behalf, thank you, and God bless you for 
what you did.
    I want you to think a little bit about what this plan represented. 
One of the reasons I ran for President was it seemed to me that everyone 
knew that something bad was wrong, but no one was prepared to do what it 
took to change it; and that we had to replace drift and deadlock with a 
real sense of momentum and purpose.
    In the process of passing this plan, you set a new direction for our 
country, forged a new identity for our party, and helped to revitalize 
and redefine the whole idea of progressive government for a new century 
and a new economy.
    You know, we knew we had to bring deficits down, and they were 
enormous. But we also knew that we could do it, and we had to do it, and 
still invest in our future, in education, in health care, in tax cuts 
for small businesses and for 15 million of the hardest-pressed working 
people. Because you doubled that earned-income tax credit in that 
economic plan, which was a painful thing--it required us to do a lot of 
other things that were exceedingly difficult--you need to know, tonight 
when you go to bed, I want you to think about this--there are 2.2 
million children who are not in poverty because you did that. And you 
should be very proud of that.
    When you replaced trickle-down economics with invest-and-grow 
economics and let this economy spring to life, you took a situation 
where we had a deficit with $290 billion and brought it down before the 
bipartisan balanced budget plan, which I also supported and believed in. 
But before that plan saved one red cent, the deficit had already been 
brought down by more than 90 percent, 93 percent, to be exact. The 
deficit used to have 11 zeros; now it will have no zeros. In fact, we're 
going to be in surplus.
    In '92 the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent; now it's the lowest in 
25 years. In '92 new jobs were scarce; now there are 15 million more. 
Business investment has increased, more than any--at a rate higher than 
any time since the Kennedy administration. From '81 to '92 real wages 
fell; last year the average paycheck of the American worker rose 2.9 
percent, the fastest growth in more than 20 years.
    Soon we will mark the longest peacetime expansion in our history. 
Merrill Lynch says there has never been a better economy. Goldman Sachs 
says it's the best economy America has ever had. And just as important, 
maybe, over the long run, when you took this vote and weathered the 
consequences, you began to restore the faith of the American people in 
their Government.
    Americans are always given to a healthy distrust of government, and 
that's good. A lot of our Constitution is structured to prevent the 
abuse of power, and well it should be. But for too long, this skepticism 
risked running into a sort of corrosive cynicism. A lot of people had 
become convinced by the time I ran for President that the Government 
couldn't organize a two-car parade--[laughter]--and that everything we 
did that looked bold led to unintended consequences, most of which were 
    Well, the '93 economic plan worked, and it worked for the reasons we 
said it would work. So in a way, with that law, you actually enacted a 
law of intended consequences in American public life, and therefore, you 
helped to lift the public's appreciation for what we could do through 
representative government.
    The vote you cast was probably among the most difficult ever cast by 
Members of the Congress of the United States in the history of our 
Republic. You had withering partisan criticism. I can only ask you to 
remember the people you helped, the families you strengthened, the 
opportunity you created.
    Let me just give you three examples. Karen Shephard represented a district in the only State where I ran 
third in 1992. [Laughter] But because she took the vote she did, those 

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notwithstanding the fact that sometimes they stray in their political 
judgment--[laughter]--have an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent. Karan 
English, because of the courage you showed in 1993, Arizona has the 
fastest job growth in its history. And Marjorie Mezvinsky, because you 
laid down your seat, your county has the fastest job growth of any 
county in the entire State of Pennsylvania. Unemployment has dropped by 
25 percent. And it gave me a great deal of pleasure to have you sit with 
the First Lady at the State of the Union Address this year when I 
announced that. Because of the vote all of you cast, we would in fact, 
balance the budget years ahead of schedule.
    In ``Profiles in Courage,'' President Kennedy wrote these words: 
``Democracy means much more than popular government and majority rule, 
much more than a system of political techniques to flatter or deceive 
powerful blocs of voters. A democracy that has no moment of individual 
conscience in a sea of popular rule is not worthy to bear that name.''
    Karen, Karan, and Marjorie, to all the rest of you, every one of you 
has a story. And I only wish I could tell them all tonight. The 103d 
Congress was chock-full of profiles in courage. And when you add them 
all up, by the narrowest of margins, repeatedly, they led to the first 
balanced budget in 30 years, and American economic renaissance, and a 
resurgent conviction on the part of our people that together we can 
solve our problems and seize our opportunities, and do great things; 
that our old-fashioned Government that Mr. Washington and his friends 
helped to start still works in this newfangled age if it has the right 
people willing to do the right things at the right time.
    It is altogether a monument to your determination, your conscience, 
and overall, your love of your country. So on behalf of your country, 
again I say, thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:54 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Counselor to the President 
and Special Envoy for the Americas Thomas F. (Mack) McLarty; former 
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Laura D'Andrea Tyson; 
former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Leon E. Panetta; 
former Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen; former Deputy Secretary 
of the Treasury Roger Altman; former Senator George J. Mitchell, 
independent chairman of the multiparty talks in Northern Ireland; former 
Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas S. Foley; and former 
chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dan Rostenkowski.