[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[September 5, 1998]
[Pages 1536-1537]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
September 5, 1998

    Good morning. On this Labor Day weekend, when we celebrate the 
dignity of work and enjoy the fruits of our labor, I want to talk to you 
about the continuing strength of America's economy and what we must do 
to continue our progress in the face of increasing uncertainty in the 
global economy.
    As you know, I am just completing a trip to Russia, which has had a 
great deal of difficulty as a result of the loss of investment from 
overseas, and to Ireland, which has done much, much better because of 
its commitment to open trade and its ability to attract investment from 
all around the world.
    At home, yesterday we learned that the unemployment rate remained at 
4.5 percent, more evidence of the continued health of the American 
economy, at the same time as financial turmoil has struck several 
countries, particularly in Asia and in Russia, and is now being felt in 
our own stock market.
    This proves the point I have made again and again since taking 
office: We are in a global economy, and we are affected by events beyond 
our shores. We cannot ignore them. And when we do things to help others 
meet their economic challenges, we are helping ourselves.
    Earlier this week I asked the Chair of my Economic Council of 
Advisers, Dr. Janet Yellen, to report to me on the overall state of the 
American economy today. What I heard from Dr. Yellen should be 
reassuring to America's families. While the Asian crisis has dampened 
exports, especially for our farmers, and caused losses for some 
financial institutions, the pillars of our prosperity stands solid: 
Inflation and unemployment are still at their lowest levels and consumer 
confidence near its highest level in 30 years; we still have an historic 
boom in business investment; and we're still creating jobs, 365,000 last 
month alone.
    Perhaps most important, standards of living continue to rise. Wages 
are growing at twice the rate of inflation, the strongest real wage 
growth in over 20 years. After decades in which incomes stagnated in our 
country, a growing economy means real opportunity for millions of 
families, the opportunity to buy a home, take

[[Page 1537]]

a vacation, know your children will be educated, save for your 
retirement, live out the American dream.
    The bottom line is, for all the quicksilver volatility in the 
world's financial markets, the American economy is on the right track. 
From autos to computers, from biotech to construction, our industries 
continue to lead the world. But we have an obligation to keep America on 
the right track and a duty to press forward with the strategy that has 
helped turn our economy around.
    First, in this time of financial uncertainty, we must maintain 
America's hard-won fiscal discipline. Our economic expansion is built 
not on the illusion of Government debt but on the solid foundation of 
private sector growth spurred by low interest rates. Now we must use 
these good times to build a secure retirement for the baby boomers and a 
secure future for our children. Again, I will insist that we set aside 
every penny of any budget surplus until we save the Social Security 
system first. I'll resist any tax cut or any new spending plan that 
squanders the surplus before we've even had one year of black ink after 
29 years of deficits.
    Second, we must invest in the skills of our people. That's the key 
to long-term prosperity. I'll work with the Congress in coming weeks to 
enact our agenda to make American education the best in the world, for 
more teachers and smaller classes in the early grades, to extra help 
with early reading, modernizing our schools, connecting all of our 
classrooms and libraries to the Internet by the year 2000.
    Third, we must master the complex realities of the new global 
economy. It can be a source of tremendous strength for America. Indeed, 
about 30 percent of the remarkable growth we've enjoyed in the last 5\1/
2\ years has come as a result of our expanding trade. I've said to 
Russia and our Asian trading partners, ``If you take the tough steps to 
reform yourselves and restore economic confidence, America will work 
with the international community to help you get back on your feet.''
    I ask Congress to step up to its responsibility for growth at home 
and financial stability abroad by meeting our obligation to the 
International Monetary Fund. There is no substitute for action and no 
reason for delay. The International Monetary Fund is a critical device 
to get countries to reform and do the right things and return to growth. 
Without it, they won't be able to buy America's exports, and we won't be 
able to do as well as we otherwise could do.
    Markets rise and fall. But our economy is the strongest it's been in 
a generation, and its fundamentals are sound. Let's stay on the right 
track and take strong steps to steer our Nation through the new global 
economy so that we can continue to widen the circle of opportunity as we 
approach the 21st century.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at approximately 6:05 p.m. on September 4 
at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Dublin, Ireland, for broadcast at 
10:06 a.m. on September 5. The transcript was made available by the 
Office of the Press Secretary on September 4 but was embargoed for 
release until the broadcast.