Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With First-Time Homeowners
FHA Closing Costs
Q. Mr. President, don't you think the Republicans will say that reducing the FHA closing costs is just an election year gimmick?
The President. I don't know what they'll say. But we've been working on this for quite some time now, and it's a part of an ongoing strategy. And we started in 1993 by driving the interest rates down, and in that year alone, something like 5 1/2 million people refinanced their home mortgages. So many American middle class working people, starting with young people like the Kastens, have all their savings in a home. And we just feel that anything we can do to facilitate people buying their own homes and to speed the process along will increase savings in America, increase security, and support families.
So that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get—we have, I think, about 3.7 million new homeowners since I became President, and we're working on a target of 8 million by the year 2000. If we can get to 8 million, then we'll have homeownership at two-thirds of the American people; it will be the highest it's ever been in American history. That's what we're trying to do.
[At this point, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros explained administration actions to reduce closing costs for home buyers.]
Balanced Budget Amendment
Q. Mr. President, does the Senate vote today on a balanced budget amendment give Senator Dole ammunition against you? Are you standing in the way of a balanced budget?
The President. No. Look at what Senator Exon said, probably the strongest balanced budget advocate over a longer period of time than anybody in the Senate, of either party. And he's actually changing his vote, as I understand it, today because he doesn't want the gimmick of saying we're going to have a balanced budget amendment which will take forever and a day to take impact and get in the way of the fact that there are now—there are on the table, there's a Republican plan and my plan that existed when they walked away from the negotiations several months ago. Both of them would balance the budget by 2002; both of them have savings in common to do it.
And I would say again, whatever happens in that vote today—and the President doesn't sign or veto amendments—whatever happens in that vote today, the Congress ought to come back, pass the savings we have in common, give the American people a balanced budget, take the differences between them, and then take that to the voters in November. Let the voters resolve the differences; let us do what we have in common. That's the way our system is supposed to work. Representative government is supposed to take what we have in common and make progress and let the voters resolve the differences. That's how the system is supposed to work.
So I would say that however this vote comes out, it's not an excuse not to go on and balance the budget. If we did that, we'd get interest rates down some more, and we'd have more people like the Kastens buying homes next year.
Q. When are you going to buy a home? How come you don't get one?
The President. You know how much my first home cost? About $20,500—1,000 square feet, 1,100 square feet. Same sort of deal.
Q. Time to get a new one, isn't it?
The President. I hope not. [Laughter] I hope I've got a little time on that. [Laughter]
NOTE: The exchange began at 11:20 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to first-time home buyers Spencer and Lisa Kasten.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Following a Meeting With First-Time Homeowners Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/223219