Remarks at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio
Thank you very much. Good morning. I won't let the rain bother me if you don't let it bother you; how's that? Thank you so much, all of you, for being here. I'm going to put on my raincoat. I cheat a little bit.
First let me thank Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton and all the people here at this wonderful community college for hosting us. Thank you, Senator Glenn. Thank you, Mayor Gerald Boldt. I'm glad to be back in Parma. Thank you, sir. I'm the only President in history who has ever come to Parma twice just to eat pierogies, but I'm—[laughter]. We're going to do a little work today.
Thank you, Cleveland Mayor Mike White. Thank you, Dennis Kucinich, for that great speech. He sounded like a Congressman to me. Thank you, Mayor Tom Coyne, for running for Congress. Thank you, Congressmen Tom Sawyer and Sherrod Brown, for being here. Thank you, Representative Jane Campbell, David Leland. Thank you, Mayor Dimora, for being here.
And let me say a special thanks to the Valley Forge High School Band for being here. I am not so old that I do not remember what it's like to try to play one of those instruments in the rain. It's not easy, and let's give them another hand. Come on. [Applause] I also want to thank all the other students who are here. There is a group of students back here—[Applause]—there is a group of students in the back over there with a sign that says they got out of school and I have to sign their permission slip. So I will do that for the ones in the back.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here. Thanks for that "Ohio Republicans for Clinton/Gore" sign. That looks good to me. I am delighted to be back here.
Let me say, all of you know that 4 years ago when I ran for President we had a time of high unemployment and rising frustration. And all of you know that compared to 4 years ago, we are better off. We have 10 1/2 million more jobs. The unemployment rate in Ohio has gone from 7 percent to 4.8 percent. Average family income in the last 2 years is up $1,600 after inflation, after being stagnant for a decade. We are moving in the right direction. The crime rate has come down for 4 years in a row. The welfare rolls have dropped. Child support collections are up almost 50 percent. We're moving in the right direction.
This election will determine what direction we take into the 21st century. That is the decision before all of you. Will you help me build a bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
If you compare the work we've done in the last month since you had your voices heard, compared to the last 2 years, when I vetoed a budget that would have cut education for the first time in American history, weakened environmental protection, undermined the commitments of Medicare and Medicaid—and you stood by me and made your voices heard. Now, in the last month, we raised the minimum wage for 10 million working Americans. We passed the Kennedy-Kassebaum health care reform bill that says you cannot lose your health insurance anymore because somebody in your family has been sick or because you changed jobs. We gave a $5,000 tax credit to families that would adopt some of these hundreds of thousands of children out there who need a home and support of a family. And we made it easier for small-business people to take out pensions for themselves and their employees. We are moving in the right direction.
But now you have to make a decision in about 2 weeks. Your vote will decide whether we balance our budget and protect Medicare and Medicaid, education and the environment, and give targeted tax cuts to families to help them raise their children and educate them, to help them save for that first-time home or deal with medical costs, or whether we blow a hole in the deficit with a risky tax scheme that will raise taxes on the 9 million working people, increase the deficit, and cut education again. I think the answer is clear.
Your vote will decide whether we continue to support families, whether we continue to fight crime, whether we really finish the job of reforming welfare. Yes, we passed a bill that says people on welfare have 2 years to turn that welfare check into a paycheck. Now we have to make sure the jobs are there so that they can take the jobs and build good families.
Your vote will decide whether we continue to clean up the environment or give in to those who say we have to weaken our environment to grow our economy. You know better than that. I want to clean up 500 more toxic waste dumps in this country so every American child will be growing up next to parks, not poison, and I think you do, too.
Most of all, your vote will decide whether we continue our struggle for world-class education for the schoolchildren who are here, whether we continue to expand Head Start, whether we continue to raise standards, whether we hook up every single classroom in the United States of America to the information superhighway—the Internet, the World Wide Web— by the year 2000, so that for the first time in history every child in America, in a private, parochial, or a public school, whether in a rich, a middle class, or a very poor district—for the first time ever we'll have every child able to hook into the same amount of learning in the same time in the same way from all over the world. It will revolutionize opportunity for every child in the United States.
And above all, your vote will decide whether we make the opportunities you enjoy here available to all Americans. In the last 4 years we've had the biggest increase in Pell grant scholarships in 20 years. We had a huge increase in work-study in just the last month approved. We created the AmeriCorps program, which has helped 69,000 young people to serve their community and work their way through college. We have created the school-to-work program for young people who don't go to 4-year colleges, and that includes the Cuyahoga Community College's Tech Prep program right here. That's the kind of thing we have tried to do.
Now, what I want to tell you is we have more to do. One of the things we did that you heard your president talk about is pass the direct loan program. It made it quicker and cheaper for young people to get college loans. Sixteen hundred schools now participate in that program, including Cuyahoga Community College and 69 others in Ohio. And what that has meant is that 10 million Americans have saved an average of $190 each on their college loan. And even more important, it means you can borrow money to go to college without worrying about how you're going to pay it back, because you cannot be required to pay more than a certain percentage of your income every year. That means every young person in this program can afford to borrow the money to go to college. But there is more to do. I propose the following three things. It's a big part of your decision on November 5th.
Number one, look around you here. I want to make 2 years of education after high school as universal in America by the year 2000 as a high school diploma is today. And there's a simple way to do it. I propose to give every family a $1,500 tax credit—that's the cost of a typical community college tuition—a dollarfor-dollar reduction on their tax bill if they're going to a community college or another 2-year institution. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
And I propose to give every family a tax deduction of up to $10,000 a year for the cost of any college tuition, undergraduate, graduate, you name it. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
Finally, I propose to let families save more in IRA's and withdraw from them without any penalty if the money is being used for a college education or for health care or to buy a first home. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
Folks, even in the rain we know that the key to our future is investing in the minds of our people. This decision, more than anything else, will determine whether we together as a nation recommit ourselves to the proposition that in the 21st century if we want every American to live up to the fullest of his or her Godgiven ability, we must guarantee every American a world-class education, and I need your help to do that. Will you help? [Applause] Will you support that? [Applause]
The program that I have outlined altogether will make sure that the money saved by a middle class family for college need never be taxed, that we are going to invest together in a college education.
Now, as all of you know, my opponent has a different view. He opposed the creation of the Department of Education, and now he says that he and Speaker Gingrich will eliminate it. I believe they're wrong and we're right. We need a Department of Education. Just imagine what it would be like in the United States, alone of all the great nations, to start the 21st century with no one in the President's Cabinet to speak up for the education of our children. I say let's keep it, let's make it better, let's expand educational opportunity for all of our children.
Thirty-one years ago, my opponent voted against the creation of the student loan program in the first place. Three years ago, he opposed the direct lending program, which your president just praised and which you know has improved college loans right here at Cuyahoga Community College. He's tried to cut it back and cripple it ever since.
And the budget I vetoed last year would have cut Pell grant scholarships for hundreds of thousands of students for the first time ever. Instead, we fought them back and we got the biggest increase in Pell grants in 20 years. Will you support the direction we are taking for education for all Americans? [Applause]
I want you to be clear about that. Your vote is going to decide whether we continue to expand access to college and student loans or whether we eliminate the Department of Education, cut college aid, and tell our young people to fend for themselves. I don't know what all the family circumstances of all those young people in the band are over there, but I know one thing: All of us will be better off if every single one of them, without regard to their family income, can get a college education. And I want you to help me do that.
I want you to help me make sure we have an America in 4 years at the dawn of a new century where every 8-year-old can read, every 12-year-old can log on to the Internet, and every 18-year-old in America can go on to college. We just have 2 weeks and a day. Will you help me for 2 weeks and a day build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:20 a.m. on the Campus Green. In his remarks, he referred to Jerry Sue Thornton, president, Cuyahoga Community College; Mayor Gerald M. Boldt of Parma; Dennis Kucinich, candidate for Ohio's 10th Congressional District; Mayor Thomas J. Coyne, Jr., of Brookpark, OH, candidate for Ohio's 19th Congressional District; State Representative Jane L. Campbell; David Leland, chair, Ohio Democratic Party; and Mayor Jimmy Dimora of Bedford Heights, OH.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/222113