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Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Members of the House Budget Committee

March 01, 1994

The Economy

Q. How do you like the economy, Mr. President?

The President. Well, I'm encouraged by the growth figures and by the fact that all the indicators are that there's no significant increase in inflation. So it's good to have that information.

I think it's plain—if you look at what happened in the fourth quarter of last year, we had the normal increase in consumer spending because of the holidays, and the accumulated impact of low interest rates bringing more and more investment. And so what we've got to try to do is to keep working to bring the deficit down, to keep interest rates down, to make targeted investments with public money where our country needs it the most, and to try to keep this climate down. We have more investments coming in so we've created more jobs. It's very encouraging. It's a good sign.

Northern Ireland

Q. Have you given any second thoughts about having Gerry Adams come to this country since what he has said, since he has made his comments, since——

The President. No, I don't know yet, I don't think we can draw a conclusion yet that it will in the long run be a positive thing for the peace process, but I don't think we can say it's negative, either. I think that we made a judgment call that we ought to try to encourage them to move towards the joint declaration and to try to make peace. I think it was a good judgment call. I think it was well-founded, and I still believe that.

Health Care Reform

Q. Are you beginning to have a sense of where Congress is going now on the health care plan? And do you have any ideas about where some of the major compromises are coming right now?

The President. No, because they're still in the subcommittees. I don't, but I will before long.

Balanced Budget Amendment

Q. Have you got the votes to beat the balanced budget?

The President. I don't know. We've got a record that ought to defeat it. I mean, the problem with the amendment if you read it is, on its terms, if it's carried out, it will require either a large tax increase or big cuts in defense and domestic programs critical to our job growth or both. And if it's ignored, it will—by ignoring it, that is if you say, "Well, we can't do this; we're going to suspend it," then you put the whole future of the country in the hands of the 40 percent plus one vote in both Houses of Congress. And I don't think that's a very good thing.

Under the plan we're now following, if the Congress adopts this budget with its spending limits, we'll have the first 3 years since the Truman Presidency a declining deficit. We're moving in the right direction. I think that's very important. So I hope that the Senate will not adopt it. I know it's politically popular, but I don't think it's good policy.

And I'd like to point out for the point of view of the American people who say, "Well, State and local governments do it," all State and local governments make sharp distinctions between long-term capital investments and current expenditures. And this balanced budget amendment makes absolutely no distinction. So it would be far more severe than State and local balanced budget laws and with a very uncertain economic impact. So I'm hoping the Senate will reject it.

NOTE: The exchange began at 11:21 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Members of the House Budget Committee Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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