Remarks in Dayton, Ohio
Thank you. Can you hear me way back there in the back? Thank you. Hello, Dayton! It's good to be back in Ohio. Thank you for being here in such large numbers.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today. I want to thank Dennis Lieberman for his enthusiastic welcome and for his leadership of the Democratic Party here in our county. I want to thank the officials and the candidates who are here with me: State Representatives Tom Roberts and Lloyd Lewis; Mariana Brown Bettman; my good friend Peter Sikora. I want to thank my longtime friend Bruce Hornsby for being here and entertaining you today. Let's give him another hand, he's great. [Applause]
I want to thank the musicians from the Omega Baptist Church who sang for us. Thank you. I want to thank those who are on the pre-program, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, David Leland; Craig Zimmers, Hugh Quill, Judy Dodge, A.J. Wagner, Senator Rhine McLin. And thank you, Tony Capizzi, for your proclamation of today and your memory of the work that was done for peace here in Dayton.
And most of all, I want to say a special word of thanks to your Congressman, Tony Hall. I know that all of you know what a good job he's done to represent you, but there may be no one in the Congress who is as admired as Tony Hall, a man who lives his faith every day, a man who takes care of his constituents in Dayton and still has enough left in his mind, in his heart, to care for the children who are hungry and homeless and dispossessed all across the world, and especially those in Bosnia who needed his help when he came to me and no one else would help them. Thank you, Tony Hall, for being a model citizen and a great Member of the United States Congress.
Again, let me say, I appreciate October 10th being Dayton Peace Accord Appreciation Day. When the world thinks of Dayton now, it thinks of peace. Here, a little more than a year ago, the leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia came together through American leadership to end the worst bloodshed in Europe since World War II. What was accomplished here turned Bosnia from war to peace. What was proved here is what was proved that we could do—what we can do when we bring adversaries face to face, when people are determined to resolve their differences instead of carrying them on.
We showed that America can be an indispensable nation for peace and freedom at the end of the cold war, in building a new world of peace and freedom and prosperity for the 21st century. And every person from this community should be very proud of the role you played in those accords.
I want to mention just a few of your citizens who were involved and that I understand are here in the audience today: Eight nuns from Dayton who were part of the Peace Chain for Bosnia; Eleanor Fluzas, the owner of the Amber Rose Restaurant, which provided food for the Bosnian group while it was in Dayton; Reverend Dale Kurtz, who sent Christmas gifts to Croatia. And I just was told right before I came up here that an Air Force man who was the loadmaster of the C-17 that flew me to Bosnia last January has been transferred to Wright-Patterson, Mark Smith. I understand he's here. If you're here, Mark—there you are—thank you very much, and God bless you. Thank you for your service. Thank you all. Give your fellow citizens a big hand now. They deserve it. [Applause]
Four years ago I came to Dayton to talk about the promise of America—not just our problems but our promise—about what we could do to get our country moving again on the right track. Last night there was a debate between the Vice President and Congressman Kemp. And I don't know how you felt about it, but Jack Kemp learned what I learned a long time ago: You don't want to get on the wrong side of an argument with Al Gore. I was very proud of the work that the Vice President did in that debate last night, talking about what we're trying to do to build America's future together.
The real question we face now is, what's our country going to be like when we march into that new century just 4 years from now? America is on the right track. I believe we have to keep it going. Just think, 4 years ago I was elected amid high unemployment and rising frustration, with a vision to change our country to go into the 21st century with the American dream alive and well for every person responsible enough to work for it, a dream that we would not be like Bosnia and so many other countries, torn apart by our racial, religious, and ethnic differences. Instead we would relish them. We'd say we're proud of our diversity, and we're all going forward together, working for that future together.
My strategy was simple: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and an American community where every one of us has a role to play and a place at the table. Then, you took me on faith; now, you have a record. And what a record it is. You have made it. You have made it, and you should be proud: 10 1/2 million new jobs, 434,000 right here in Ohio; the highest homeownership in 15 years; incomes on the rise for the first time in 10 years; the typical household's income up $1,600 after inflation since our economic plan passed; in the last year the biggest drop in poverty among our children in 20 years; the lowest poverty rate among senior citizens ever recorded. We are on the right track to the 21st century: a new minimum wage increase for 10 million workers; 4 years—4 years of declining crime rates; a million fewer victims; 1.9 million fewer people on welfare; an increase in child support collections for children of almost 50 percent. We are on the right track to the 21st century.
In the last Congress, with the help of people like Tony Hall, we stood up to the Republican majority when they tried to divide our Nation with their budget and its unnecessary cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, the environment, research, and technology. When they shut the Government down, we held fast, and we broke gridlock. And just before the Congress left, we raised the minimum wage, made it easier for small-business people to take out retirements for themselves and their employees, made it easier for people who are self-employed to pay for their health insurance, made it possible for 25 million people to say they won't lose their health insurance anymore just because they changed jobs or because somebody in their family has been sick. We gave families a $5,000 tax credit if they will adopt a child, and there a lot of children out there who need homes. We broke gridlock. We are moving in the right direction. This is the right thing to do.
We are better off than we were 4 years ago, but we've got a long way to go to build that bridge to the 21st century. And I came here to Dayton to ask you: Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
We have cut our deficit by 60 percent, it's gone down in all 4 years of my administration. No President in this century can say that. That is the record we have made. But we have to finish the job and balance our budget to keep interest rates down and the economy going, and we can do it while protecting Medicare and Medicaid, investing in education and the environment and the research of the future. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
We cut taxes for 15 million of our hardest pressed working families. Now we need a tax cut that goes broadly to all the American middle class, a tax cut for education and childrearing, a tax cut that helps people to buy their own homes or pay for health care costs. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
To help people succeed at work and at home, we passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. Twelve million families have taken a little time off from work when a baby was born or a parent was sick, a child was sick, a spouse was sick, without losing their jobs. Now we should expand family and medical leave so that people can go with their relatives to doctor's appointments, to parent-teacher appointments. We ought to give working people more choice in how they take payment for their overtime, either in cash or, if they are needed at home, in time with the family. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
We have made a good, strong beginning on health care reform by saying you can't lose your health insurance when you change jobs or when someone in your family has been sick; by ending drive-by deliveries, saying that women and their newborns can no longer be forced out of the hospital within a day of having their babies. We're finally providing some help for people whose families have mental health problems. They deserve medical insurance, too. And at long last, a bill I signed last week, too long in coming, finally says to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and whose children got spina bifida as a result, you are finally going to get the medical help and the disability you deserve. We are moving in the right direction.
But now we have to keep going. Our balanced budget plan gives families who are between jobs when they're unemployed the ability to keep their health insurance for 6 more months. It gives families that are taking care of elderly relatives with Alzheimer's disease respite care. It, in short, helps families to succeed at home and at work and when they're between jobs. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
We have the crime rate coming down 4 years in a row because the police are working with the communities to prevent crime as well as to catch criminals. The Brady bill helped, the assault weapons bill helped, putting 100,000 police on the street. We've made a good beginning at that. But now we need to finish the job and finish putting those 100,000 police on the street, target violent gangs, and ban bullets that are designed only to pierce the bulletproof vests of police officers. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
We have reduced the welfare rolls by 1.9 million and increased child support collections. We've passed historic welfare reform. But the law is just the beginning. The law says we will continue to provide for poor families, their medical care, their nutritional needs, when the parent goes to work more for child care than ever. But what used to come from the Federal Government to the States and then go to the recipients in the form of a welfare check must be turned into a paycheck within 2 years if people are able-bodied. But you can't make people go to work unless there is work. Will you help me build a million more jobs into our economy to move people from welfare to work? [Applause]
We have taken chemicals out of our air, made our drinking water safer, raised the standards of safety for our food. We have cleaned up more toxic waste dumps than the previous 12 years provided. We have done much to protect our national parks and to expand the number of national treasures we are protecting for our children and our grandchildren. But there are still 10 million American children living within 4 miles of toxic waste dumps. I want to clean up 500 more so that we can say our kids are growing up next to parks, not poison. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
Most important of all, will you help me build a bridge to the 21st century in which the education of every single American is our highest priority? [Applause]
My fellow Americans, we are going into an age in which there will be more opportunities for more people from more places than ever before. The young people who are here today in this audience—and I'm glad to see so many young people here—the young people who are here, many of you will be doing jobs that have not been invented yet. Some of you will be doing jobs that have not been imagined yet.
I'll just give you one example. We just signed a contract, the United States Government did, to do a research contract with IBM to build within the next couple of years a supercomputer that will do more calculations in one second than you can do at home on your hand-held calculator in 30,000 years. That is how fast information is exploding.
We have doubled the life expectancy for people living with HIV in the last 4 years because of the exploding knowledge. We have finally developed some medical treatments for people with strokes, the third biggest killer of Americans. We have discovered two genes that cause breast cancer, opening the possibility of cure and prevention that we never had before, in just the last 4 years. In just the last few weeks, for the first time ever, a laboratory animal with its spine completely severed had movement in its lower limbs because of a nerve transplant to the spine from another part of the body. There is no telling what we can do if we continue to move forward with education and research, pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Will you help us build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
But there are some specific things we have to do. Forty percent of the 8-year-olds in America still can't read a book on their own. And when that happens, it's hard for them to go on and learn what else they need to learn. I want to mobilize an army of 30,000 volunteers— AmeriCorps volunteers, reading tutors, people who will work with parents and with teachers— to make sure that every 8-year-old in this country by the year 2000 can hold up a book and say, "I can read this all by myself."
We have the largest number of children starting school this year in American history. I have offered the first support ever from the National Government to help our schools modernize and rebuild their facilities if they're willing to make an extra effort. If people at the local community level are willing to make an extra stretch, so should we. We need to give our children the facilities necessary for learning to take place. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
The next thing we need to do is to make sure that every classroom in every school in the United States of America and every library is hooked up to the information superhighway, with computers and training and software connected to the Internet. Now, that may not mean much to you if, like me, you're not so great on a computer. Let me tell you what it means. It means that for the first time in the history of the United States, because of the computer networks that are out there now, what we loosely call the Internet, if we could hook every classroom up to it, for the first time in history, kids in the most remote rural school districts, kids in the poorest inner-city school districts, kids in standard middle class school districts, kids in the wealthiest school districts, kids in schools, public and private, for the first time in history would all have access to the same information in the same time at the same quality; it would lead to an explosion of learning. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
Just today I proposed a new education rate so that every student in this country can get free access to that information network and every school and library in America. We are going forward.
And finally, we have to open the doors of college education to all Americans. I propose to do three things that I want you to support. Number one, we need to make 2 years of college in the next 4 years just as universal as a high school diploma is today. Here's how we can do that—no bureaucracy, no program. I propose to give you a tax credit, a dollar-for-dollar reduction on the tax bill for the cost of tuition at the typical community college in America. It would revolutionize opportunity for people of any age.
Number two, I propose to let more American families save through an IRA, an individual retirement account, save more, save at even higher income levels, and then withdraw from that account, tax-free, if the money is being used to pay for a college education, a medical emergency, or to buy a first home. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
And finally, I believe that Americans should be able to deduct up to $10,000 a year for the cost of any college tuition for any people of any age at any place of higher education in the entire United States. Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? [Applause]
Folks, we need to build a country where every 8-year-old can read independently, where every 12-year-old can log on to the Internet, where every 18-year-old can go to college, and where every 18-year-old's parent can go back to college if that's what we need in this country. And I want you to help me build that bridge to the 21st century.
That is the choice in this election: a bridge to the future, a bridge where everyone can walk across, a bridge where we walk across hand in hand, not divided but united toward America's best days. In 26 days we must make the decision. I want you to walk with me these last 26 days to build that bridge to tomorrow.
Thank you, and God bless you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 4 p.m. at the Old Montgomery County Courthouse Square. In his remarks, he referred to Dennis Lieberman, chairman, Montgomery County Democratic Party; Mariana Brown Bettman and Peter Sikora, candidates for Ohio State supreme court justice; musician Bruce Hornsby; Craig Zimmers, Montgomery County clerk of courts; Hugh Quill, Montgomery County recorder; Judy Dodge, candidate for Montgomery County recorder; A.J. Wagner, candidate for Montgomery County commissioner; Rhine McLin, State senator; and Tony Capizzi, Dayton city commissioner.
William J. Clinton, Remarks in Dayton, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221881