Good morning. My job here is to make America work well for all of you who work hard. I ran for President to restore the American dream of opportunity for all, the American value of responsibility from all, and to bring the American people together as a community, not to permit us to continue to be divided and weakened. To do this we need a Government that empowers our people to make the most of their own lives but is smaller and less bureaucratic and less burdensome than it has been.
So we've got to cut regulations that impose unnecessary redtape or they just plain don't make sense. And we have to change the way regulators regulate, if that is abusive or it doesn't make sense. But as we cut, we have to remember that we have a responsibility to protect our citizens from things that threaten their safety and their health. Those are goals we all support, and we can accomplish them in a reasonable, responsible, bipartisan way.
Our administration is taking the lead. We've already reduced Government positions by 150,000, cut hundreds of Government programs, eliminated 16,000 pages of regulations. We've cut the Small Business Administration regulations by 50 percent, the Department of Education regulations by 40 percent, the time it takes to fill out the EPA regulations by 25 percent. We're changing the way we enforce the regulations. We want less hassle. We want more compliance and less citations and fines. In other words, we've got to get out the worst problems of big Government and still keep protecting the public health and safety.
Right now, Republicans in the Congress are pushing a very different approach to regulation. I believe it poses a real danger to the health and safety of our families. They call it regulatory reform, but I don't think it's reform at all. It will force Government agencies to jump through all kinds of hoops, waste time, risk lives whenever the agency acts to protect people's health and safety. It will slow down, tangle up, and seriously hinder our ability to look out for the welfare of American families.
It will create just the kind of bureaucratic burdens that Republicans for years have said they hate. It will be more time for rulemaking, more opportunities for special interests to stop the public interest, and many, many more lawsuits. I want a Government that's leaner and faster, that has a real partnership between the private sector and the Government. They want more bureaucracy, slower rulemaking, and a worsening of the adversarial relationship between Government and business that shifts the burden and the balance of power.
If the Republican Congress' bill had become law years ago—listen to this—it would have taken longer than it did to get airbags in cars; schoolbuses might not have ever had to install those sideview mirrors that help drivers see children crossing in front. The longer we waited to do these things, the more lives it would have cost.
Now, let me tell you what the world would look like in the future under these extreme proposals. You've probably heard about the cryptosporidium bacteria that contaminated drinking water in Milwaukee. It made 400,000 people sick; it killed 100 Americans. It will be very difficult to prevent that kind of danger from finding its way into our water and to control it when it does if these rules take effect.
If the new system Congress proposes takes effect it will take much longer to impose new safety standards to prevent commuter airline crashes, like the five that happened last year. We've proposed standards in that area, and they're being resisted. And it will be far less certain that we can use microscopes to examine meat and stop contaminated meat from being sold.
You may think that's amazing, but listen to this story. If we lived in a world like the one Congress is suggesting, there would be more tragedies like what happened to Eric Mueller. In 1993, Eric was a 13-year-old young man in California, the president of his class, the captain of his soccer team, an honor student. One day, like millions of other kids, he ordered a hamburger at a fast food restaurant. But he died a few days later because he was poisoned by an invisible bacteria, E. coli, that contaminated the hamburger. Dozens of others also died. And just last week, five more people in Tennessee, including an 11-year-old boy, got sick again because of E. coli.
How did this happen? Because the Federal Government has been inspecting meat the same old way since the turn of the century. Believe it or not, inspectors basically use the same methods to inspect meat that dogs use. They touch it and smell it to see if it's safe, instead of using microscopes and high technology. That's crazy, and for the last 2 years we have been working hard to change that, to reform the meat inspection rules so that Americans can be confident they're protected.
And believe it or not, while we're working to bring meat inspection into the 20th century, some special interests are trying to stop it, in spite of the fact that people have died from E. coli, and this Congress is willing to help them. We're trying to make our drinking water cleaner, but this Congress is willing to adopt a regulatory system that would let polluters delay and sometimes even control the rules that affect them.
In the last 6 months, we've seen these socalled regulatory reform bills actually being written by lobbyists for the regulated industries. The Congress even brought the lobbyists into the hearings to explain what the bills did. After all, they had to; the lobbyists had written the bills. I don't think that's right. I know it's not in the best interest of the American people, and it ought to be stopped.
No one has done more than our administration to streamline and reform a regulatory system. You'll never catch me defending a dumb regulation or an abusive Government regulator. The 16,000 pages of Federal regulations we have cut are enough to stretch 5 miles. We say to small business, if you have a problem and you fix it, you can forget the fine.
I want to sign a real regulatory reform bill. And there is a good alternative sponsored by Senator Glenn and Senator Chafee. It provides a good starting point and—listen to this—it includes a 45-day waiting period in which Congress can review and reject any Government regulation that doesn't make sense. Now, isn't that a lot better than letting the interest groups actually delay these regulations forever, even though we need them for our health and safety?
I want Democrats and Republicans in Congress to show the American people that we can reform without rolling back. We can cut redtape, reduce paperwork, make life easier for business without endangering our families or our workers. We do have a responsibility to cut regulation, but we also have a responsibility to protect our families and our future. We can and must do both.
Thanks for listening.