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Exchange With Reporters on the Stimulus Package

April 21, 1993

Q. Mr. President, any reaction to the—

The President. Well, I'm disappointed. But I knew when I came here that we'd have to change some things in Washington and that the American people won't be surprised, I guess, to think that a minority of one House could keep several hundred thousand people out of work this year. I think it's a mistake, but I'm not done. I'm going to come back next week and regroup and go forward.

We've had a real good success getting our budget plan through. We've kept interest rates down. There's going to be $100 billion in refinancing this year as a result of that. So I think that things are going basically in the right direction, but I'm very disappointed about this. And frankly, I'm a little surprised about it. It doesn't make a lot of sense. A lot of the Republican Senators told me they wanted us to work something out, and I went out of my way to meet them halfway, and then some. I don't know. But I just think that we've got to keep fighting for jobs.

I think it's so easy for people who are here, who have not been out in the country, who make these decisions, who all have jobs, to be willing to pay for unemployment but not want to invest in employment, not want to put people to work. And I just think we've got to keep fighting for it. So next week I'll regroup and try to do something else.

Q. What do you come back with next week?

The President. I don't know. We'll see. This country went in one direction solid for more than a decade. I've been here about 90 days; it's going to take a little while to turn it around. But I'm not too disheartened. I'm disappointed in this particular thing and surprised by it, genuinely surprised, but I think we can regroup and go forward.

Q. If you can't get a $16-billion stimulus package through Congress, what does it say for some of your more ambitious proposals, health care reform and the price tag that that carries with it?

The President. Well, we'll just have to see. I think that depends on, always, whether there is a majority for a proposition and then whether the minority will keep it from even being voted on. I think the American people need to know that we had a majority in both Houses of Congress, but the minority kept the issue from being voted on. I feel pretty good about it.

We passed the budget resolution, and we got the 60 votes necessary to break the debate in the Senate there, so I think we've got a real shot at a lot of reform. But it's going to be hard. And as I said, look at what's happened in the last 12 years: the deficit goes up, jobs go down, and no investment in our people. Congress passes laws it doesn't live under. We're trying to change this. And a lot of the Members of Congress have been willing to support this process of reform. This is, I hope and believe, an aberration where a minority stubbornly refused to let an issue get voted on. I'm just not going to be discouraged by it; we're just going to go on.

Q. Let me ask you, when you come back next week, are you coming back with a scaled-down jobs bill or what are you—

The Vice President. Stay tuned.

The President. I've got to talk to a lot of people, see where we are, and go forward. We've got lots of other issues we need to put out there in the Congress and, you know, we may not win them all. But I'm going to keep fighting for jobs. I'm going to wake up tomorrow knowing that I'm waging a fight to put the American people back to work and lift this economy up, and that's what I was hired to do. I'm just going to keep doing it.

Q. Is this a pretty big defeat for you, Mr. President? Isn't this a big defeat?

The President. Not a big defeat. For me, it's a big disappointment to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who would have had jobs. But I don't have to explain it; I fought for it. The people who have voted for this sort of spending repeatedly to help other countries and wouldn't do it to help their own folks and did it when the deficit was going up, and I'm bringing the deficit down, they may have to explain some things, but that's the way Washington's worked for too long. We're going to lift this thing up and change it. We've just got to get people focused on the American people and their needs and put aside all the petty politics and all the maneuvering and start thinking about what's best for the American people. I think we can change it, and I'm upbeat about it. We've just been here 90 days. And basically, the big part of the plan, the budget resolution, passed. We've just got to keep fighting it.

NOTE: The exchange began at 7:42 p.m. in the North Portico at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters on the Stimulus Package Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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