Good morning. My voice is coming to you this morning through the facilities of the oldest radio station in America, KDKA in Pittsburgh. I'm visiting the city to meet personally with citizens here to discuss my plans for jobs, health care, and the economy. But I wanted first to do my weekly broadcast with the American people.
I'm told this station first broadcast in 1920 when it reported that year's Presidential elections. Over the past seven decades Presidents have found ways to keep in touch with the people, from whistle-stop tours to fireside chats to the bus tour that I adopted, along with Vice President Gore, in last year's campaign.
Every Saturday morning I take this time to talk with you, my fellow Americans, about the problems on your minds and what I'm doing to try and solve them. It's my way of reporting to you and of giving you a way to hold me accountable. You sent me to Washington to get our Government and economy moving after years of paralysis in policy and a bad experiment with trickle-down economics. You know how important it is for us to make bold, comprehensive changes in the way we do business.
We live in a competitive global economy. Nations rise and fall on the skills of their workers, the competitiveness of their companies, the imagination of their industries, and the cooperative experience and spirit that exists between business, labor, and government. Although many of the economies of the industrialized world are now suffering from slow growth, they've made many of the smart investments and the tough choices which our Government has for too long ignored. That's why many of them have been moving ahead and too many of our people have been falling behind.
We have an economy today that even when it grows is not producing new jobs. We've increased the debt of our Nation by 4 times over the last 12 years, and we don't have much to show for it. We know that wages of most working people have stopped rising, that most people are working longer work weeks, and that too many families can no longer afford the escalating cost of health care.
But we also know that, given the right tools, the right incentives, and the right encouragement, our workers and businesses can make the kinds of products and profits our economy needs to expand opportunity and to make our communities better places to live.
In many critical products today Americans are the low cost, high quality producers. Our task is to make sure that we create more of those kinds of jobs.
Just 2 months ago I gave Congress my plan for long-term jobs and economic growth. It changes the old priorities in Washington and puts our emphasis where it needs to be: on people's real needs, on increasing investments and jobs and education, on cutting the Federal deficit, on stopping the waste which pays no dividends, and redirecting our precious resources toward investment that creates jobs now and lays the groundwork for robust economic growth in the future.
These new directions passed the Congress in record time and created a new sense of hope and opportunity in our country. Then the jobs plan I presented to Congress, which would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, most of them in the private sector in 1993 and 1994, passed the House of Representatives. It now has the support of a majority of the United States Senate. But it's been held up by a filibuster of a minority in the Senate, just 43 Senators. They blocked a vote that they know would result in the passage of our bill and the creation of jobs.
The issue isn't politics. The issue is people. Millions of Americans are waiting for this legislation and counting on it, counting on us in Washington. But the jobs bill has been grounded by gridlock.
I know the American people are tired of business as usual and politics as usual. I know they don't want us to spin our wheels. They want the recovery to get moving. So I have taken a first step to break this gridlock and gone the extra mile. Yesterday I offered to cut the size of this plan by 25 percent, from $16 billion to $12 billion.
It's not what I'd hoped for. With 16 million Americans looking for full-time work, I simply can't let the bill languish when I know that even a compromise bill will mean hundreds of thousands of jobs for our people. The mandate is to act to achieve change and move the country forward. By taking this initiative in the face of an unrelenting Senate talkathon, I think we can respond to your mandate and achieve a significant portion of our original goals.
First, we want to keep the programs as much as possible that are needed to generate jobs and meet human needs, including highway and road construction, summer jobs for young people, immunization for children, construction of waste water sites, and aid to small businesses. We also want to keep funding for extended unemployment compensation benefits for people who have been unemployed for a long time because the economy isn't creating jobs.
Second, I've recommended that all the other programs in the bill be cut across-the-board by a little more than 40 percent.
And third, I've recommended a new element in this program to help us immediately start our attempt to fight against crime by providing $200 million for cities and towns to rehire police officers who lost their jobs during the recession and put them back to work protecting our people. I'm also going to fight for a tough crime bill because the people of this country need it and deserve it.
Now the people who are filibustering this bill, the Republican Senators, say they won't vote for it because it increases deficit spending, because there's extra spending this year that hasn't already been approved. That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Here's what they don't say. This program is more than paid for by budget cuts over my 5-year budget, and this program is well within the spending limits already approved by the Congress this year.
It's amazing to me that many of these same Senators who are filibustering the bill voted during the previous administration for billions of dollars of the same kind of emergency spending, and much of it was not designed to put the American people to work.
This is not about deficit spending. We have offered a plan to cut the deficit. This is about where your priorities are, on people or on politics.
Keep in mind that our jobs bill is paid for dollar-for-dollar. It is paid for by budget cuts. And it's the soundest investment we can now make for ourselves and our children. I urge all Americans to take another look at this jobs and investment program, to consider again the benefits for all of us when we've helped make more American partners working to ensure the future of our Nation and the strength of our economy.
You know, if every American who wanted a job had one, we wouldn't have a lot of the other problems we have in this country today. This bill is not a miracle; it's a modest first step to try to set off a job creation explosion in this country again. But it's a step we ought to take. And it is fully paid for over the life of our budget.
Tell your lawmakers what you think. Tell them how important the bill is. If it passes, we'll all be winners.
Good morning, and thank you for listening.