Good morning. This was a good week for America, as we Americans were reminded again not just of our problems but of the immense possibilities of our times and our country.
First, here at the White House, two brave leaders, King Hussein of Jordan and Prime Minister Rabin of Israel, put an end to their state of war and declared their intention to work together to promote lasting peace between their peoples.
Meanwhile, President Boris Yeltsin announced this week that Russian troops would leave Estonia by August 31st. With this withdrawal, all Russian troops will be out of Central and Eastern Europe for the first time since the end of World War II, a major goal of our policy with Russia for the last 18 months.
I'm proud of everything our country has done to further the march of hope over despair around the world. In times of historic change, America has always risen to great challenges at home as well as abroad.
Yesterday it was announced that our economy grew 3.7 percent in the second quarter of this year. Jobless claims were down dramatically again. We've got strong growth with low inflation.
In the last 18 months, we've begun the work of renewing the American dream. Our national economic strategy, with $255 billion of budget cuts, tax breaks for small business and 15 million working American families, new investments in education and training and expansion of trade, and a reduction in the Federal bureaucracy to its smallest level in 30 years, has produced 3 years of deficit reduction for the first time since Harry Truman was President, 3.8 million new jobs in our economy, the largest number of new businesses formed in any year since World War II, and a 1 1/2 percent drop in the unemployment rate. We're moving in the right direction.
And this week, after 6 years of delay, congressional leaders finally reached agreement on the toughest, largest, smartest Federal attack on crime in the history of our country.
I sought the Presidency because I was concerned about the direction of our Nation. I was concerned that we were losing the American dream for our children and that we had to restore the economy, rebuild our communities, and empower individuals to assume responsibilities for their future. To do that, we had to have a Government that worked for ordinary Americans. And none of that is possible as long as crime and violence threaten the safety of our streets, the sanctity of our homes and schools, and the innocence of our children. That's why the American people have demanded that we take action against crime.
This crime bill will put 100,000 more police on our street, a 20 percent increase. It will ban assault weapons. It will prohibit possession of handguns by minors. It will put violent career criminals behind bars by making "three strikes and you're out" the law of the land. And it answers the calls of hundreds of thousands of police officers who want big increases in crime prevention programs to give our young people something to say yes to as well as something to say no to.
This month, we have learned that our children are more at risk from crime and violence than any other portion of the population. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are 5 times more likely than the rest of us to suffer from violent crimes like rape and aggravated assault. This is madness, and we must stop it.
The crime bill is about to reach a final vote in both Houses of the Congress. Unbelievably, there are still those who are trying to kill it with old debates about whether we ought to be going after criminals or guns, whether we ought to be tough or compassionate. Well, the law enforcement community has told us we have to do all these things and we have to do it now.
Tell your Senators and Representatives to pass the crime bill. I want it on my desk within 2 weeks. I want to sign it before our children go back to school. We owe them a future of hope, not fear.
If 6 years is long enough to wait for a crime bill, then 60 years is certainly long enough to wait for health care coverage for every American. Now it's time for us to move forward to yet another historic front, one that seven Presidents of both parties have sought: guaranteeing every American health coverage that can never be taken away.
Soon Congress will deliberate on bills to provide health security, the first time ever that such bills have even been voted out of congressional committees. We know from our experience only one way that really works, the way that works for the great majority of our families already, getting health insurance on the job.
It's a way that's worked in Hawaii for 20 years, where health insurance is cheaper than it is in the rest of the country. It's the way that relies on the private sector, not government; that rewards work, not welfare; that builds on shared responsibilities between employers and employees.
Many other partial reforms sound good and aren't as controversial to implement and have been tried elsewhere. But the experience is that often these more limited reforms actually reduce the number of people with health insurance and increase rates. In Hawaii, where everyone contributed so that everyone could be covered, insurance rates went down and coverage went up.
Some in Congress are trying to kill health care reform altogether. If we don't act this year, 3 million more working Americans will lose their health coverage next year. Five million more Americans are uninsured now than were insured 5 years ago. The American people don't need more hemming and hawing. They need health care they can count on so they can get on with building their lives.
Later today I'll be in Independence, Missouri, the home of President Harry Truman, to talk about health care. President Truman believed in the common sense and the common decency of the American people, and he tried very hard to get health care security for all Americans. It's time for us to fulfill Harry Truman's mission, to act with his vision and courage, to do what he always believed we should do: guarantee health security for all Americans.
Let's continue to build a land of limitless hope and to remain an inspiration to the world.
Thanks for listening.