Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Democratic National Committee Reception in Aspen
The President. Thank you. That was better than I can do, Michael. Thank you very much. Thank you and thank you, Ana, for welcoming all of us into your home. And I want to thank my long, longtime friend Roy Romer for being willing to keep his day job and take on another job as well for our party.
Since you mentioned the Brady bill, I think what I'd like to do is maybe just talk just for a few minutes and then, probably to the chagrin of all the people who came here with me, take a few minutes, if any of you have any questions or comments or you want to give a speech to me, I'll listen to that. But if—you think about it, if you've got any questions you want to ask.
But you heard the example Michael gave you of the Brady bill, and if you ask me about what I have tried to do through and with our Democratic Party and as President that makes it worthy of the support of thoughtful Americans, many of whom might have even been Republicans before, I would say two things.
First of all, I've tried to move our party and to move our country and, hardest of all, to move Washington, DC, away from sort of yesterday's categorical, partisan name calling toward a genuine debate over new ideas, because we are living in a new and different time that, coincidentally, is at the turn of the century and the turn of the millennium, but is indisputably different. It is different because the way we work and live and relate to each other and the rest of the world is different. It is different because the nature of the challenges we face, among other things, in relating to the natural environment are profoundly different than any previous generation. So that's the first thing; it is different.
The second thing I would say is that I have tried to redefine what it means for Americans to be engaged in what our Founding Fathers said would be our permanent mission, forming a more perfect Union. And the Brady bill is about as good an example as any I can think of for what the difference is today, in Washington at least—not so much out in the country maybe but certainly in Washington—between the two parties.
If you go back to the beginning of the Republic, the people who got us started were very smart people; they understood that they weren't perfect. Thomas Jefferson said when he thought of slavery, he trembled to think that God was just and might judge him justly. So they knew they weren't perfect even then. And then they knew there would be new and uncharted challenges in the future. But they essentially—if you go back and read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it all comes down to the fact that they believe that God gave everybody the inherent right to life, liberty, and the pursuit—not the guarantee but the pursuit—of happiness, and that in those shared rights we were created equal, not with equal abilities, not with equal tastes, not all the same, but equal in a fundamental human sense.
And then the second thing that distinguishes the Democrats from the Republicans even today, I think—even more today than in the last 50 years—the Founding Fathers said, "Look, we can't pursue these objectives completely by ourselves. We can't protect or enhance the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness unless we band together and form a government. But governments ought to be limited. They ought to be limited in scope, limited in power, limited in reach, but they should do those things that we cannot do alone." And sometimes, in order to advance our collective life, liberty, and happiness, individually we have to make a few sacrifices. That's really what the Brady bill is all about.
You know, in a country with 200 million guns, where last year, with our zero tolerance for guns, we sent home—6,100 kids got sent home from school because they brought guns to school, and you've seen in the series of murders in the schools the consequences of failure when that policy either doesn't work or isn't enough, the Brady bill, by requiring a background check and making people wait 5 days between the time they order and get a handgun, has kept a quarter of a million people with criminal records, stalking records, or records of mental health instability from getting handguns. That's one of the reasons that crime is at a 25-year low, and murder has dropped even more.
Now, did it inconvenience some people to wait 5 days? Doubtless so; maybe some people that were mad at other people who cooled down after they waited 5 days. Is it an unconstitutional abridgement of the right to keep and bear arms? Not on your life.
In 1996 one of the most moving encounters I had in the campaign was when I went back to New Hampshire, the State that basically allowed me to go on when the first, we now know, Republican-inspired assault was waged against me in 1991 and '92 in New Hampshire. And they gave me a good vote, and I got to go on, so I went back there. Then they voted for me in 1992 for President. And in 1996 they voted for me again, which is unheard of because it's an overwhelmingly Republican State in elections.
But I went into an area of people who are big sportsmen, and they had defeated a Congressman who supported our crime bill with the ban on assault weapons and the Brady bill. And I had all these hunters there, and I'd been going to see them a long time. And I said, "I'll tell you what, remember back in '94 when you beat that Congressman because the NRA told you that the President was trying to take your guns away with the assault weapons ban, and the NRA?" I said, "Well, you beat him last time." I said, "Now, every one of you who lost your hunting rifle, I expect you to vote against me this time. But," I said, "if you didn't, they lied to you, and you ought to get even." [Laughter] And you could have heard a pin drop there, because they realized all of a sudden that this sort of radical individualism, meaning you have no responsibilities to collective citizenship, was wrong. And they could perfectly well pursue their heritage that's deeply a part of New Hampshire, where people could hunt and fish and do whatever they want, and still have sufficient restraints to try to keep our children alive. And that's just one example. And I could give you countless others.
But as you look ahead in a world where we have done our best to promote global markets, to promote efficient enterprise, we still have to recognize that there are some obligations we have to each other we have to fulfill together. And as you look ahead, let me just mention two or three—and I won't mention them all, but two or three.
One is, as presently structured, both the Social Security system and the Medicare system are unsustainable once all the baby boomers retire. And I look at all these young people who are working here and young enough, most of them, to be, for most of us, to be our children. Not very long ago I went home to Arkansas because we had a terrible tornado. And after I toured the damaged area, I got a bunch of people I went to high school with to come out and have dinner with me. We ate barbecue from a place we've been eating at 40 years and sat around and talked. Now, most of my high school classmates had never been to Aspen. Most of my high school classmates are just middle class people with modest incomes, doing the best they can to raise their kids. But every one of them said to me, "You've got to do something to modify the Social Security system. Make it as strong for us as you can; do the best you can; but we are obsessed with not bankrupting our children and their ability to raise our grandchildren because the baby boom generation is so big that by the time we're all in it, there will be only two people working for every one person drawing."
Now, I personally believe, since the Democratic Party created Social Security and Medicare and since they, I believe, they've been great for America, that we should take the responsibility of constructively reforming them rather than going into denial and pretending that it doesn't have to be done. That's one example.
Example number two: We've got the best system of college education in the world, but nobody thinks we have the best elementary and secondary education system in the world. Ninety percent of the kids in this country are in public schools. We have got to modernize these schools, raise the standards, and do a thousand things that are necessary that Governor Romer and I have been working on for 20 years now if we expect America to grow together in the 21st century.
Example number three—and then I'll quit after this, although there are more, but I think it's important here in Colorado, especially in Aspen—we've got to prove that we can grow the economy and improve the environment, not just preserve it the way it is but actually make it better. We have to make energy use like electricity and other things in the next 50 years the way electronics has been in the last 50, where everything gets smaller and smaller and smaller, with more and more power.
I mentioned this at the previous dinner, but I'll say it again: The main reason we have a year 2000 problem with all these computers, you know, where everybody is afraid that we'll flip into—at the stroke of midnight, December 31st, January 1st, 1999, 2000, we'll all go back to 1900 and everything will stop, is because we computerized early in America. And when we computerized, these chips that hold memory were rudimentary by today's standards. And so they had all the numbers they did on dates, they just had the last 2 years; they didn't have 4 years. So they're not capable of making this transition. Today, it's a no-brainer. If you were building something today, the power of these chips is so great, nobody would even think about making it possible to have four digits on there and you could go right on until the year 9999.
So we've got to deal with this education challenge, and we've got to prove that we can do it. And then the second thing we have to do on this is to prove that we can do with energy what we have done with electronics and the computer chip.
The best example of that, that all of you will be able to access within 3 or 4 years, is a fuelinjection engine. Where today about 70 percent of the heat value of gasoline is lost as it works its way through a regular engine, when the fuel can be directly injected into the process of turning the engine over you will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75 to 80 percent and triple mileage. And that's just one example. I was in a low-income housing development in California a couple weeks ago where the windows let in twice as much light and kept out twice as much heat and cold. All of this is designed to do in energy what we have already done in electronics and so many other things. This is a huge challenge.
I was pleased to wake up just the other morning and look at CNN; the first story was on climate change because of all the scorching heat in the South and the fires in Florida, pointing out that the 9 hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the last 11 years; the 5 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred in the 1990's; 1997 was the hottest year ever recorded; and each and every month of 1998 has broken that month's record for 1997.
This is not a game. We cannot afford to go into denial about this. We have to find a way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and still keep growing the economy, not just for America but for China, for India, for all the people that are looking for their future. These are just three examples.
Last point: 50 years ago tomorrow—I had this on my mind because I dedicated the aircraft carrier, the Harry Truman, today; some of you may have seen it on TV tonight—50 years ago tomorrow Harry Truman signed the Executive order ending segregation in the United States military. And 50 years later—there are a lot of people who whined and squalled about it and said it was the end of the world and how awful it would be—50 years later we have the finest military in the world, in no small measure because it is the most racially diverse military in the world, where everybody meets uniform standards of excellence.
Today we have one school district in Washington—across the river from Washington, DC, with children from 180 different national and ethnic groups, speaking over 100 different native languages—one school district.
So that's the last point I will make. It is particularly important that we figure out how to live together and work together, to relish our differences but understand that what binds us together is more important. When you look at Kosovo and Bosnia, when you look at Northern Ireland and the Middle East, when you look at the tribal warfare in Rwanda and elsewhere, you look at the way the whole world is bedeviled by not being able to get along because of their racial, ethnic, and religious differences, if you want America to do a good job in the rest of the world, we have to be good at home.
Those are some of the things I think we should be thinking about. And I believe politics should be about this. So if when you turn on the television at night and you hear reports about what's being discussed in Washington, the tone in which it's being discussed, and the alternatives that are being presented, you hardly ever hear this, do you? You ought to ask yourself why. I can tell you this: You help more of our guys get in—what you're doing by your presence here—you'll have more of this kind of discussion, and I think America will be better in the 21st century.
Thank you very much.
Q. As you know, I'm a Houstonian, but I have a house down the street from my friends the Goldbergs. I want to say that in your last trimester of your stewardship, I remember sitting on a bus with Senator John Breaux, my boyhood friend, and you talked about your plans for America. And I haven't seen this in the paper lately, but I guess I want to tell you that we recognize low unemployment; we recognize low interest rates; we recognize low inflation and, I think, a booming economy. And I think with that track record, that I should be reading that in the paper more. But I want to tell you that I thank you, and I think all these people here thank you.
The President. Thank you. If I could just say one thing about it—as you well know, because you work all over the world, the economy is a constantly moving target. And I am very grateful we have the lowest unemployment rate in 28 years and the lowest percentage of people on welfare in 29 years and the lowest inflation in 32 years and the highest homeownership ever. That's the good news.
About a third of our economic growth has come from exports. About a third to 40 percent of our export growth—40 percent—has gone in Asia. If Asia goes down, our export growth goes down; our economic growth goes down. That is already happening. So one of the things that I think is very important to do is that we impress upon the Members of Congress, both Republican and Democratic, that we have to do those things which are designed to keep the rest of the world growing. Otherwise, we can't grow.
We are 4 percent of the world's population; we have 20 percent of the world's income. It does not require much mathematical computation to realize that if we want to sustain our income, we have to sell more to the other 96 percent of the people in the world.
And that's why I've been in such a big fight in Washington to fund America's dues to the International Monetary Fund to modernize and strengthen and restore growth in these economies, why I want to see us continue to be engaged with Japan, why I went to China: because a strong economy will cure a lot of social problems. And very few social problems can be cured in a democracy in the absence of a strong economy because the middle class becomes preoccupied with its own problems. But in this day and age, we can't sustain a strong economy without a strong foreign policy that commits us to be constructively involved with the rest of the world.
And one of the things that I worry most about in Washington is, in various ways, there are elements that are still—some in our party but more in the other party—still pulling away from our constructive engagement in the rest of the world. We cannot become what we ought to become unless we continue to get more deeply involved, not less involved, with the rest of the world. But I thank you for what you said.
Q. You mentioned Harry Truman, and I still remember those headlines, "Dewey Wins," right? And in fact it was Harry that won. And my question is, I believe—I am not smart enough to know exactly why, but I believe that one of the reasons he won is he said, "That do-nothing 80th Congress"—is that the right number, 80, I hope?—"and we're going to really show them." When are we going to—when do your advisers say it's time to start talking in the parts of matter, instead of more that sort of global thing where we are all going to be together and be all a happy family?
The President. Well, I have been hitting them pretty hard over the way they killed the tobacco bill, the way they are so far killing the Patients' Bill of Rights, the way they killed campaign finance reform, the way they are endangering our future economic prosperity by walking away from our dues to the International Monetary Fund. You know I haven't attacked them personally in the way they have attacked me, but I've tried to make it clear that I think there are serious risks being played with America's future there.
But I frankly believe that we have to wait until—see what happens in the first 2 weeks after the August recess. They're about to go out. Then they'll come back, and they'll have to make a final decision whether they are going to work with us to get something done for America or whether they're just going to play politics. And I believe the American people will have an extremely negative reaction if they walk away as a do-nothing Congress.
So far—one of the major papers called them a "done-nothing" Congress. They said, so far, they're a "done-nothing" Congress. They're not yet a do-nothing Congress because they still have a few days left. But they're not meeting very much this year and so far—I just think that they believe that conventional wisdom is that when times are good, incumbents all win, so what they really have to do is to keep their base happy. And in this case, the base is the most ideologically conservative people in the country. And I think they think they can keep them happy just by banging on me and doing a few other things.
And I basically disagree with that because I do not think, as good as times are, I don't think this is an inherently stable time—I mean, stable is wrong—I think it's stable but not status quo. I think all you have to look—5 years ago, Japan thought they had a permanent formula for prosperity. Now they've had 5 years of no growth, and their stock market has lost half its value.
But one of the reasons that our country is working so well is that the private sector, the entrepreneurs in this country, can stay in constant motion. There are opportunities out there. They can see things that are changing, and they can move and everything. And we've got to equip more people to do that.
But I guess I'm having a vigorous agreement with you, but I think the Republican political analysis is that they can get by this election by doing nothing because times are so good that all incumbents will benefit, even if the President is more benefited than others.
My belief is that the good times impose on us a special responsibility to bear down and take on these long-term challenges because good times never last forever and because things inherently change more rapidly now than they ever have before. So I think they're making probably a political miscalculation and certainly a miscalculation in terms of what's best for our country. And I think you'll hear more of it in the last 6 weeks before the election.
Q. The Republican Party has clearly been captured by the conservative ideologues. The Christian right, the religious right, knows what they're doing; they know what they believe; they're well organized; and I think they are probably the most—[inaudible]—that we have. On the other hand, Democrats, we have a— all of us have a tradition of understanding and of tolerance for the discrepancies and the differences in opinions across the party; we're not so well organized. How do we face this——
The President. Well, first of all——
Q. ——election against people who are as determined, as well organized, and as well funded as the conservative right is?
The President. Well, we are working hard to get better organized. And I think we are going to be better organized than we ever have been.
We were quite well organized in '96, and we did well. We would have won the House in '96, but for the fact that in the last 10 days of the election, in the 20 closest races they outspent us 4 1/2 to one—in the last 10 days. Over and above that, you had all these third party groups like the Christian Coalition groups doing mass mailings into these districts, basically talking about what heathens our candidates were. And I think the Democrats are just going to have to decide whether they're going to be tough enough to handle that. I mean, we don't—but I think we will be better organized. I think we will be better funded this time. They did their best to bankrupt us the last 2 years, and it didn't work.
So I think if we're better organized and better funded and we train our candidates better, then what we have to do is be ready for that last 10-day onslaught where the Christian Coalition and the other far right groups do these heavy, heavy mailings basically trying to convince the people they're mailing to that we're cultural aliens and that we don't have good values and we don't support families and the country will come apart at the seams if we become the majority again. And if we're tough enough to handle that, I think we've got a chance to do pretty well.
We were doing fine in '96; we just didn't have enough ammunition at the end. We were so far down in '95 that we had to spend a lot of our party money to get back up, and then the last 10 days they just blew us away. But you've helped a lot by being here, and I think we know now that you don't have to descend to the level of personal meanness that your attackers do, but you do have to show a similar level of vigor, with a strategy that will work.
My own view is that we've got a strategy that will work; we've got a message that will play. And you asked about the partisanship thing—the most effective partisan attack, and a truthful one, is to say that they are being partisan in preventing us from making progress. It's not just to say Democrats are better than Republicans. It's to say they're being partisan; they're preventing us from making progress. Here are our ideas. Now, what are their ideas; measure them up. Two-thirds of the American people will pick ours.
So if they don't stampede us with fear and money, we'll do fine. And that's the ultimate answer to the question you asked.
International Environmental Issues
Q. Mr. President, first of all, I think it's really wonderful—you've had a long day, and you're answering our questions. That's really the American way. Thank you.
The President. It's 1:15 a.m. our time.
Q. [Inaudible]—you're doing incredible things worldwide. I read the newspapers where you even got those two suspected terrorists, and they may end up getting tried in The Hague. And that's wonderful. And NAFTA was the greatest thing. I know you have to give and take, Mr. President, but during NAFTA I know one of the things you had to kind of give on a bit was to let the Mexican fishermen take up to 10,000 dolphins and kill them. Is there any way in the last year and a half we could take a couple of these ecological issues and maybe readdress them again to help make the world a better place to live?
The President. Well, we've got a lot of—one of the reasons we did that is that we finally got the Mexicans to agree to at least end some of the unsanitary conditions under which people were living along the border. And we tried to build up a border commission that would allow us to invest in the environment and elevate the public health of the people in the Maquilladora areas along the border.
I think that you will see, I predict, a number of areas where there will be advances in wildlife protection and the environment in the last 2 years. We're doing our best to get a much broader agreement, for example, on all kinds of efforts to restore the oceans generally. There's been a significant and alarming deterioration in the oceans, not unrelated to climate change and global warming but caused by forces in addition to that. There is a dead spot the size of the State of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico outside the mouth of the Mississippi, for example. And we're trying to address all those.
I believe the American people—I think within a decade you'll see an overwhelming majority of the American people for operational environmentalism. Today we have 70 percent of our people are environmentalists. And almost all little children are—it's something they have to be taught to abandon—their instincts are to preserve the planet. But I think that people still believe something I don't anymore, which is that you have to give up all this if you want to grow the economy. I just don't believe that. And I think that you will see a steady movement toward more aggressive environmental policies which will come to dominate both parties, I believe, in the next 10 years. And I hope before I leave office I can do more.
I even had somebody from Utah come up to me tonight and thank me for saving the Red Rocks, the Grand Staircase Escalante, you know, who said they didn't think it was right when I did it before.
Moderator. Mr. President, I know your schedule. Would you mind taking just a couple more?
The President. Go ahead.
Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia
Q. Mr. President, I've got a question about foreign policy. Do you have any concern about India and Pakistan, South Asia, what's happening over there and what kind of leadership role you can take to bring peace over there or even float the idea of creating an independent country of Kashmir, because that's the biggest problem there? What can you do about it?
The President. Well, one of the problems we've had—I thought—I actually feel bad about this because I had a trip set up for the fall to India and Pakistan. And in 1993, when I took office, I got all of our people—actually, before I took office—and I said, "Let's look at the major foreign policy challenges this country faces and figure out how we're going to deal with them and in what order." And as you might imagine, we went through the Middle East and Bosnia, and then we had Haiti on the list. We went through the idea that we had to build a trade alliance with Latin America, that we needed a systematic outreach to Africa, that the big issues were how were Russia and China going to define their future greatness and could we avoid a destructive future. And we worked hard on that.
But I told everybody at the time, I said, one of the things that never gets in the newspapers in America is the relationship between India and Pakistan and what happens on the Indian subcontinent, where they already—India already has a population of over 900 million; in 30 years it will be more populous than China; it already has the world's biggest middle class. And Pakistan has well over 100 million people, and so does Bangladesh. So it's an amazing place.
So I had planned to go there with plans to try to help resolve the conflicts between the two countries. One big problem is India steadfastly resists having any third party, whether it's the United States or the United Nations or anybody else, try to mediate on Kashmir. It's not surprising. India is bigger than Pakistan, but there are more Muslims than Hindus in Kashmir. I mean, it's not—the same reason that Pakistan, on the flipside, is dying to have international mediation because of the way the numbers work.
What I think we have to do is go back to find a series of confidence-building measure which will enable these two nations to work together and trust each other more and to move back from the brink of military confrontation and from nuclear confrontation. And we have to find a way to involve the Russians and the Chinese, because the Indians always say they're building nuclear power because of China being a nuclear power and the border disputes they've had with China—and oh, by the way, we happen to have this Pakistani problem.
So I have spent a lot of time on that, even though it hasn't achieved a lot of notoriety in the press. And I'm still hopeful that before the year is over, we'll be able to put them back on the right path toward more constructive relations.
I mean, India, interestingly enough, is a democracy just as diverse, if not more diverse, than America. Almost no one knows this. But most—most, but not all—the various minority groups in India live along the borders of India in the north. And it's just—it would be, I think, a terrible tragedy if Hindu nationalism led to both estrangement with the Muslim countries on the border and the minorities—Muslim and otherwise—within the borders of India, when Gandhi basically set the country up as a model of what we would all like to be, and when India's democracy has survived for 50 years under the most adverse circumstances conceivable and is now, I believe, in a position to really build a level of prosperity that has not been possible before.
I feel the same thing with the Pakistanis. I think if they could somehow—they're much more vulnerable to these economic sanctions than the Indians are. If they could somehow ease their concerns which are leading to such enormous military expenditures and put it into people expenditures, we could build a different future there. I don't know if I can do any good with it, but I certainly intend to try because I think, whether we like it or not, I think that the one good thing that the nuclear tests have done is that they have awakened the West, and Americans in particular, to the idea that a lot of our children's future will depend on what happens in the Indian subcontinent.
Q. How about if you called their Prime Ministers here?
The President. Well, I can't force a settlement on them, but I can—that's why I say because of their relationships with India and China, we need their help as well. And so far—excuse me—with Russia and China. And so far, the Russians and the Chinese have been very helpful to me in trying to work out a policy that we can pursue. But I'm working on it. Believe me, if I thought it would work, I would do it tomorrow, and I will continue to explore every conceivable option.
Q. That's great. Thank you very much.
The President. Thanks. One last question. Go ahead.
Intellectual Property Rights
Q. I'm an intellectual property owner. I represent a lot of entrepreneurial and independent—[inaudible]—interests against a lot of the large multinational companies. I know what it's like to be on the nose cone of a missile pretty much. And these interests can tell us that basically that black is white in Congress and try to weaken the patent system and protection of intellectual property. But Governor Romer's son is one of the most vocal spokesmen for—the thing that differentiates us from the rest of the world is intellectual property, and I'd be interested in your views on this.
The President. Well, it's interesting that you'd say that. First of all, I don't think we should weaken the system. And secondly, I think we should continue to aggressively pursue those protections in our trade relations. I have spent an enormous amount of time with the Chinese, for example, trying to protect against pirated CD's of all kinds and other technology.
And the consequences are far greater than they used to be. And we always had a lot of this in Asia. We had Gucci handbags and the Rolex watches and then when I first went to Taiwan 20 years ago, you could buy all the latest hardcover books for $1.50; that was something that was done. But the volume and level of trade and the interconnections and the sophistication of what was being copied were nowhere near what they are today, where you're talking about billions and billions and billions of dollars that can literally undermine the creative enterprise of whole sectors of our economy.
So I think it's important, first, to keep the legal protections there, but secondly, it's important that the United States make this a big part of our foreign policy and all of our trade policy. And we try to do it. I spent a huge amount of time on it myself.
Q. Mr. President, recently Massachusetts had some ugly test scores from its teachers; they couldn't pass 10th grade equivalency. And there's a problem, I guess, in other States, as well. Is there any way that the education of the kids won't take another generation to upgrade the teaching in the public schools?
The President. Well, first of all, yes, I think— I advocate—I think what Massachusetts did was a good thing, not a bad thing. Most people, every time they read bad news think this is a bad thing. Sometimes when you read bad news, it's a good thing, because otherwise how are you going to make it better if you don't know what the facts are? So the first thing I'd like to say is we ought to give Massachusetts a pat on the back for having the guts to have the teacher testing, get the facts out, and deal with them.
Now, what I think should happen is, I think every State should do this for first-time teachers just the way they do it for lawyers and doctors. Then I believe there should be a much more vigorous system for trying to support and improve teaching as we go along, trying to bring like retired people with degrees in science and mathematics and other things into the teacher corps, which is very uneven across the country.
And there's also something called the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards, which certifies master teachers every year, people who have great academic knowledge, could knock the socks off that test, and people who have proven ability in the classroom. And one of the things that I've got in my budget is enough money to fund 100,000 of those master teachers, which would be enough to put one master teacher in every school building in the country. And if you look at—I don't want to embarrass him, but Tony Robbins standing here, if you ever listen to his tapes or look at him on television, you know he's a teacher. He's teaching people to change how they behave.
Well, it just stands to reason that if you could get one really great teacher in every class, in every school building in America, you would change the culture of that school building if they had mentoring as part of their responsibility. So I think this is a huge deal.
But let me say, there's a lot more to do. You have to recognize, too, that we have to do more to get young people into teaching, even if they only stay a few years—really bright young people. One of the proposals I've got before the Congress today would fund several thousand young people going into inner-city schools and other underserved areas to teach just for a couple of years and they would, in turn, get a lot of their college costs knocked off for doing it. Congress hasn't adopted it yet, but I think that's another important avenue to consider. You've got to—the quality of teaching matters.
Now, I won't go through my whole education agenda with you, but the other thing that you have to remember, whether you're in Colorado or anyplace else, is that when most of us who are my age at least were children, the smartest women were teaching because they couldn't do anything else for a living. And they weren't making much for doing it, but it was all they could do.
And now, a smart woman can run a big company, can create a company and then take it public and be worth several hundred million dollars, can be elected to the United States Senate and, before you know it, will be President of the United States. So that means if you want good young people to be teachers, we're going to have to pay them more. And that's—everybody nods their head and then nobody wants to come up with the bread to do it, but you've got to do it. I mean, there's no question about it. If you really want to maintain quality over a long period of time, you have to do—you have to pay people; you have to improve the pay scales.
The best short-run fix is to get really smart people who did other things and now have good retirement income to come in because they don't need the salary as much, or to get really smart young people to do it for a few years as soon as they get out of college by helping them cover their college costs.
Moderator. Mr. President, Michael Goldberg promised me he would show me some reruns of his brother, the wrestler, on winning his championship after you were done speaking.
The President. I'm really impressed by that.
Moderator. You're running me out of my time on watching that wrestling. [Laughter]
The President. Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:58 p.m. at a private residence. In his remarks, he referred to dinner hosts Michael and Ana Goldberg; Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, general chair, Democratic National Committee; and motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on July 26.
William J. Clinton, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Democratic National Committee Reception in Aspen Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/226489