Monday, September 23, 1996
ISSN: 0511-4187; Volume v32; Issue n38
Remarks in Portland, Oregon. (Pres. Bill Clinton speech)(Transcript)
Total number of pages for this article: 5 FULL TEXT
� September 20, 1996
� Thank you. Good morning, Portland. Mayor Katz, Congresswoman Furse,
Tom Bruggere, Darlene Hooley, Mike Dugan. Thank you all for being here
with us. Madame Mayor and Congresswoman Furse, thank you for making us
feel so welcome in Portland again. Maybe I come back here so often
I didn't think anyone could keep a secret in Washington. Al Gore cut a
book deal with a book full of secrets. It never leaked. Now he's telling
it all, and he wrote the book under his own name. Al Gore is doing for
the Federal Government what he did for the macarena. He is removing all
the unnecessary steps. [Laughter] Now, he's got some funny names here.
He calls for performance-based organizations - that's sort of a boring
title. I think we ought to scrap that title and substitute something
more exciting, like "Trailblazers." Would you like that? [Applause]
� I want to thank Tipper Gore and the First Lady, too, for some things
they've already talked about. You know, we've worked very hard to
improve the health care of the American people. That's a big part of
moving into the 21st century, to immunize more children, to increase
medical research, to speed the movement of drugs to market. In only 4
years we've more than doubled the life expectancy of people with HIV and
AIDS in just 4 years, as an example. Finally, we got the Congress to
pass the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill that says to 25 million Americans, you
can't lose your health insurance or have it taken away anymore just
because someone in your family gets sick or because you change jobs.
said, answer our call to tell the insurance companies that newborns and
their mothers deserve at least 48 hours in the hospital. They can't be
kicked out 8 hours after delivery anymore.
� Congress responded to the work that Tipper Gore has been doing for
years and years and years, in a bipartisan fashion that also included
Senator Domenici from New Mexico in saying that it is time to ensure
that people who need treatment for mental illness get the treatment they
need also and without discrimination.
� And finally, I want to say a special word of thanks to the work that
the Congress did in our continuing efforts to be fair to veterans and
their families who have served us in foreign theaters and may have been
exposed to dangerous chemicals, when they provided health benefits to
veterans whose children are born with spina bifida. Those were three
great things to do for America yesterday, and I thank the Congress for
� I'm happy to be back in Portland. I'll never forget what I saw here
last spring when I visited during the floods: the true spirit of
glad to hear the mayor remind me that you have 10 bridges here, and in
Oregon you want to build a bridge to the 21st century.
� In 1992, the people of Oregon supported the Vice President and me when
we came here and asked you to help us to put people first and to change
the direction of our country, to put America on the right track and to
change the way Government works, to make sure that when we enter the
21st century, as I look out at this sea of people, that every one of you
will enter a century with the American dream alive and well for every
person who is willing to work for it, that we will enter a century in
which America is coming together and embracing its diversity, not being
torn apart by it as so many other nations are all around the world, and
that we would not run away from our responsibilities to be the strongest
force for peace and freedom and security in the world.
� The best days of this country are still ahead of us if we build the
right bridge to the 21st century. Now, in this election season you will
hear a lot of rhetoric back and forth and maybe a lot of
characterizations of people's motives. I've tried to stay away from
that. I don't want to demean anybody. I want this to be an election
not who can we blame. How are we going to build this country and move it
� But I must say, there are some facts that you can't get around. It is
a fact that we have 10 1/2 million more jobs; the lowest unemployment
rate in 7 1/2 years; almost 4 1/2 million new home owners; the deficit
going down for all 4 years of an administration for the first time since
before the Civil War, in the 1840's; a record number of exports; record
small businesses. On October 1st, ten million hard-working Americans
will get an increase in their minimum wage. Every small business in the
country has been made eligible for a tax cut when they buy health
insurance or if they invest more money in their business to hire more
people and grow .and help America grow. The welfare rolls are down by
1.8 million. Child support collections are up by 40 percent - $3
billion. The drinking water is safer. The air is purer. Our food
standards are much higher. As the Vice President said, just in the last
week we have reached an agreement to restore the salmon on the Columbia
River and an agreement to protect the old growth forest in Oregon and
Washington. Just a couple of days ago I was honored to proclaim a
1.7-million-acre national monument, the Grand Staircase-Escalante
� And now we have to continue to build that bridge to the future, a
bridge where there is opportunity for all, starting with the best
education for every single American. We ought to be lifting our teachers
and our students up, not running our teachers down, as some are doing in
this election season.
� I ask you to join me in helping every classroom to be connected to the
information superhighway by the year 2000. If every classroom is tied
into the Internet and the World Wide Web, we can make sure for the first
time in history that every child in America, in the poorest rural
district, in the most devastated economic areas of the country, in
isolated inner-city districts, in middle class and wealthy districts,
that altogether, at the same time, have access to the same information
in the same way. It's never happened before. Will you help us make it
happen in the future? [Applause]
� I ask you to help me in opening the doors of college education to all
Americans who want to go. In the past 4 years, we passed the AmeriCorps
and earned their way through college. We've revolutionized the student
loan program to lower the cost and improve the repayment terms so that
anybody could borrow the money and know they wouldn't go broke trying to
pay it back. But now we have to do more. I propose to make a college
education universal by doing three things.
� Number one, saying you can save in an IRA for years and years and then
withdraw from that IRA tax-free if you're using it to pay for a college
education or a health emergency or buying a first home.
� Number two, saying we're going to make a community college education,
at least 2 years of education after high school, just as common and
universal in 4 years as a high school diploma is today. We need that to
start the new century. And here's how we're going to do it. We're going
to say to Americans, if you want to go to community college for 2 years,
all you have to do is work hard, make your grades. You can take off your
taxes, dollar for dollar, the tuition cost at the typical community
college in the United States.
� And number three, we want to say to all students of whatever age in
able to deduct from your taxes the cost of college tuition up to $10,000
� I want to build a bridge to the 21st century that keeps this economy
going strong. That means we have to pay for those tax cuts and the tax
cuts for childrearing, and for buying and selling your home in the
context of a balanced budget that continues to invest in education, in
the environment, in research, in technology, and protect our obligations
through Medicare and Medicaid. We can do that if you will help us build
that bridge to the 21st century
� The crime rate has come down for 4 years in a row, the juvenile crime
rate is starting to drop, the juvenile murder rate has come way down. We
are moving in the right direction, but I want to keep going. I want to
rebuff those in the Congress who are trying to stop us from putting
100,000 police on the street. We're halfway home, I want to finish the
� I want to see us - we passed the Brady bill. Now, we ought to extend
the Brady bill. Sixty thousand felons, fugitives, and stalkers have not
to people who beat up their spouses and their children. They shouldn't
have handguns either.
� I want to build a bridge to the 21st century where we have a stronger
American community. I am very proud that the first bill I signed after
becoming President was the family and medical leave law. Over the strong
opposition of the leaders of the other party, we passed it. They said it
would hurt the economy. They said it would weaken business. They said it
would burden small business.
� Well, 4 years later, we have 10 1/2 million new jobs, record numbers
of new small businesses, record numbers of new businesses owned by women
and minorities, and 12 million families have taken advantage of the
family and medical leave law, to have a child born, to tend to a sick
parent, a sick child, a sick spouse. I'm telling you, we're stronger
because we did that. And I want to see us expand that.
� I believe we ought to expand the family and medical leave law to say
that parents should be able to go see their children's teachers on a
regular basis and be able to take their kids and their folks to the
a stronger economy when people can care for their family members.
� And finally, we have a lot of work to do in the environment to build
the strong American community. Let me just mention one thing. We have 10
million children still living within 4 miles of a toxic waste site, even
though we've cleaned up more of them in 3 years than were cleaned up in
the 12 years before we took office. If you will give us 4 more years,
we'll clean up 500 more, so we can say our children are growing up next
to parks not poison. Will you help us build that bridge to the 21st
� Now, let me tell you the reason we decided to do this reinventing
Government announcement here is because Oregon and particularly the city
of Portland have led the way in proving you can have a Government that
actually works for people, that inspires confidence, that gets results.
� When we took office, the deficit was $290 billion a year and going
higher. We had the slowest job growth rate since the Great Depression.
You have cheered for the achievements of the administration. You have
cheered for the things we want to do. We cannot do these things, and we
not been for the leadership of the Vice President and our determination
to give you a Government that costs less and does more. That's what
reinventing Government does. It makes it possible for us to do the other
things that you have cheered for, that you are working for here today.
� And so I say to you, this book the Vice President gives me today is a
book that Americans ought to be interested in. It says we're bringing
common sense to Government. In everything from hiring people to buying
things, we've eliminated double talk and bureaucracy.
� Do you know when I became President, if you wanted to buy - if a
Government agency wanted to buy a $4 stapler, they had to do $50 worth
of paperwork. Now we can buy a $4 stapler for $4. That's $46 we can
spend on Head Start programs, on environmental protection, on investing
in medical research.
� The second thing we're doing is serving people better. We have ended
the era when people could run for office, desperate to be in Government,
by just bad-mouthing Government. A lot of our friends on the other side
have amazed me; they bad-mouth and bad-mouth and bad-mouth the
Government, but they can't bear to live outside of it.
� We have proved that you can make Government work. One woman from
Sacramento was so overwhelmed by the fast and friendly service she got
from the Social Security office, she wrote to tell us it left her, and I
quote, "dazed and confused." She could not believe that her Government
would do anything that well.
� Well, we're doing a lot of things that well. The direct student loan
program cuts the cost of college loans, but improves the repayment
terms, says you can only be required to pay it back as a percentage of
your income. So go on and borrow the money and go to college and give
yourself a better life.
� The SBA loan program, which has helped us to start a record number of
small businesses, has been cut down to one page. And we have
dramatically increased loans to women and minority business owners
without undermining the quality. We've proved that we can diversify
educational opportunities and economic opportunities and achieve
excellence in both.
managed to cut about $1,000 off the closing costs for the average
first-time home buyers and, in a time of budget cuts, to initiate
programs that decrease homelessness in communities all across America.
We can make this Government work for you, and we're determined to do it.
� Wherever they have been wiling to do it, we've used businesses as
partners. After all, what we want is cleaner air, cleaner water, safer
food. We don't want punishment. If government and business can work as
partners, we want to do it.
� And we want to be partners with communities. That's what Oregon is all
about. Let me tell you, as you think about welfare reform, the
partnership that the United States has had with Oregon and with the city
of Portland can be a model for how we can make welfare reform work. I
signed that bill because it has a new bargain for people on welfare. It
says, we'll continue to have a national guarantee for health care, for
nutrition for children. If you go to work, we'll spend more than ever on
child care. But we're going to give the money that used to be in the
welfare check to the States so they can develop community-based systems,
not only to give income to people but to move able-bodied people into
the work force.
� The only way that can be done is if there is a community-based system
where people are committed to going out and challenging employers and
saying, okay, we'll give you some help to do it, but you've been cussing
the welfare system all these years, now hire these people, give them a
job. We'll support them with child care and education. That has to
happen in the communities of America, and we trust Portland to do it. We
trust Oregon to do it. You can lead America's way in doing it.
� So yes, reinventing Government means doing more efficient things. It
means doing better things. It means doing with less. It also means
improvements in Medicare and Medicaid, in our educational programs, in
our support for small business, in our environmental protection. It
means improvements in our national parks, not selling them off, and it
means help in emergencies.
� I want to say that one of my proudest achievements as President is
reforming the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It has become such a
disaster itself that Congress even considered abolishing it. But as
Portland, as Oregon, as Washington State saw during the flood, as
Middle West where they had a 500-year flood and in the hurricanes along
the Eastern Coasts of America, we have an Emergency Management Agency
today that works with people on the ground and helps people and helps
communities to rebuild their lives. That is something that is worth
� So, I want to ask you to support us in this effort. I want you to know
that when we balance the budget in 2002, we're still going to be
spending more money on education and research and protecting the
environment. So we're going to have to have a smaller and more
productive Government. We're going to have to privatize organizations
that can now work better in the private sector, like Sallie Mae. We've
got the direct student loan program. They need to be able to do some
other things as well.
� We want hundreds of organizations to become performance-based, to be
trailblazers in increasing productivity and making their customers
happy. I don't want people to be dazed and confused if they're
well-served by the Government, like that lady in Sacramento was.
with a high-tech base. We want the patent office to become
performance-based. Today when an inventor applies for a patent, it takes
almost 600 days for the inventor to get it. When we get done, we'll be
able to give them those patents in 60 days, one-tenth of the time. That
means more progress for America, more new jobs, more advances in high
� And finally, we want to use technology to open Government to people
more. Today I want to announce that the White House home page, which
many of you have already used on the Internet - see that sign "Portland
wants Socks" - even my cat has a place on our home page. [Laughter] Now,
we're going to make it a one-stop gateway to Government service. From
now on, you can use the home page at the White House to apply for a
passport, ask about veterans' benefits, even to buy postage stamps.
Transactions, forms, information, it's all there. And it won't be like
waiting in a line. There are no lines online. This is an example of what
we can do to save money, serve you better, and free up money not only to
balance the budget but to invest in our children's future.
� If you want to build a bridge to the 21st century with a strong
children, successful families and communities, you must join us in this
commitment to say we can make our Government work for all the people.
Will you help us build that bridge in the next 6 weeks and 4 days?
� Thank you, and God bless you all.
� NOTE: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. at Lownsdale Square. In his
remarks, he referred to Mayor Vera Katz of Portland; Senatorial
candidate Tom Bruggere; and House of Representative candidates Darlene
Hooley and Mike Dugan.