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Remarks at an Illinois Victory '94 Fundraising Dinner in Chicago, Illinois

June 16, 1994

Thank you. I thought when I got here you'd be saying, "Bill, make it short; we're about to starve." [Laughter] I want to thank you for waiting. I want to thank you for your enthusiasm, for your dedication, for your support. You know, I had to stay in Washington a little longer to do my job, the one you elected me to. And I was hoping you'd still be here when I got here tonight, and I was glad to see you.

I want to thank Mayor Daley for his leadership of this city and for his strong support. I thank Chairman Wilhelm for that rousing introduction and his hard work. You know, he's just like a flower at night; when he comes to Chicago, he just blooms and starts talking. I may have to send four or five of you on the road with him everywhere, so you can pump him up like that. [Laughter] I thank Senator Simon and Senator Moseley-Braun and Congresswoman Collins and Congressman Bobby Rush. They are in a very real sense my partners for change, and I want to say a little more about that in a moment. I want to thank my former colleague and good friend Governor Evan Bayh, who has done a better job as chairman of the Democratic Governors than anybody in history. And I can say that because I used to have the job, and he's done a better job than anybody in history doing it.

I want to say a special word of thanks, too, to one of my Cabinet members who is here tonight, to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Henry Cisneros. I want to thank him for the work he's done with the mayor and Vince Lane and everybody else to try to bring safety and sanity to public housing in Chicago and throughout the United States.

We're going out to Robert Taylor Homes tomorrow to stick up for the right of people to be safe in their homes and to raise their children in safety.

I am delighted to be here with this entire Democratic ticket and your State chair, Gary LaPaille, and especially with Dawn Clark Netsch. Boy, she's something, isn't she? [Applause] I think the Straight Shooter is going to replace the Comeback Kid as the great marquee of 1994. [Laughter]

I want to try to tell you a little bit about why I think this race for Governor here is important, and partly in terms of what we're going through in Washington. You heard David talk a little bit about how the odds are stacked against change; they always have been, you know. Back in the Middle Ages, the great political philosopher Machiavelli said, there is nothing so difficult in all of human affairs than to change the established order of things, because the people who stand to lose know what they're going to lose, and the people who have a hope that things will be better are always afraid that it really won't work out that way. That has always been true.

It is worse in America today because people have been disappointed for so long, because they have been through difficulties, and because we have a political environment in which things are often communicated to us in the most negative possible way. Those of us who are the forces of change and who believe in the prospect of a better tomorrow, therefore, have a heavy responsibility to keep our hearts up, our heads up, and to keep on fighting for what we believe in.

When I first came to Illinois, running for President, I knew two things. One is, I knew that even if I won in the South on Super Tuesday, I had to win in Illinois the next week or I couldn't be nominated for President. The other thing I knew is what Dawn Clark Netsch said, which was even more important, was that I needed to have a reason to want to be President. You need to know why you want these jobs. And when you do and when you work for it and when that drives you every day, then you can fight for change and you can live with the misunderstandings and you can fight through the ups and downs and you can keep on going because you're not doing it for you, you're doing it—for you. [Laughter]

And I looked at her up here giving that speech, and I told Mayor Daley, I said, "You know something? She's really got it." She has really got it, because she has a reason that is bigger than herself to be Governor and because she is trying to build, not tear down; to unite, not divide; to talk about something good, not something bad. This matters. And it is what our country desperately needs today.

We are still fighting through this, because every time we win a victory it's a one-day story, and the problems and the process are a oneweek story. And we are dealing with an opposition that is deeply skilled at placing blame and claiming credit and running away when the tough decisions have to be made. Sometimes they remind me in Washington of that old sign I tell everybody about that I once saw on a back road in my State. It said, a sign that was waving on a fence, it said, "George Jones, veterinarian/taxidermist—either way, you get your dog back." [Laughter] They don't really care as long as they can put blame and escape responsibility. Well, I ran for President to end blame-placing and to assume responsibility. And I relish in the controversy change causes as long as we are moving.

We were told last year by several nonpartisan surveys that the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States working together in 1993 accomplished more in the first year of a Presidency than had been done in any time since World War II, except President Eisenhower and President Johnson's first year. We had to fight partisan gridlock, special interests, and deeply embedded cynicism to do the things I ran for President to do: to try to restore the economy, to try to empower ordinary citizens and ask of them more responsibility in their citizenship, to try to rebuild the American community across the lines of race and income and region, and to try to make Government work for ordinary people again. And we're off to an awful good start.

Look what's happened to this economy. After years and years and years in which the deficit got bigger every year because nobody had the guts to make the tough decisions to bring it down, thanks to the people standing behind me in the Congress and the work we did together— with no help, not a single solitary vote, not one, not one from the other side—we reversed 12 years of favoritism for the wealthiest Americans, explosion of the debt, mortgaging our children's future, to turn that around.

And what has happened? You know, they hate to admit it, they just scream, "Tax and spend." They're like a broken old record; they can't think of anything else to say. But the truth is, the deficit began to come down; interest rates went down last year; the economy began to move. And look what the record is: We've had 3.4 million new jobs in this economy in 17 months, 90 percent of them in the private sector, not Government jobs. The deficit is going down. And when the Congress passes this bill, this budget, we will have 3 years of consecutive reduction in the Government deficit, not under a Republican but with a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, for the first time since Harry Truman was the President of the United States; 3 years in a row the deficit will go down. And this Congress did it while increasing spending on education, increasing spending on Head Start, increasing spending on women's health research, increasing spending on new technologies for the 21st century to give us a better economy. That's the record that we have established. I will gladly run on it and defend it.

They call it tax and spend. They believe they can just keep on saying the same old thing and somebody will believe it even if there are no facts to support it. I'll tell you what tax and spend was in this last budget: 1.2 percent of the American people paid higher income taxes, and one in six working American families got an income tax cut so they could keep working and stay off welfare and raise their children. That is what we did. More than 10 times as many Americans got a tax cut as got a tax increase.

They talk about big Government all the time. You know what the Democrats did? In 6 years we're going to reduce the size of the Federal Government by 252,000. In 1997, the Federal Government will be smaller than it has been at any time since John Kennedy was the President of the United States. And we are going to spend all that money—we are going to spend all that money to finance the most important anticrime bill in the history of this country and put 100,000 police back on the streets of the United States of America.

Oh, I know all about gridlock, and you may still think it's alive and well. But I'm telling you, it took 7 years to pass the Brady bill, but we passed it last year. Seven years, family and medical leave languished, but we passed it last year. Six years for the crime bill. Seven years for the worldwide trade agreement. We are breaking gridlock.

And now we are facing the biggest gridlock of all: We're going to try to see if we can reverse 60 years of failed attempts to bring America into the ranks of every other advanced country in the world and provide affordable health care to every American citizen.

My fellow Americans, it won't be easy. We have achieved some remarkable successes, passing the national service bill that will enable us— 3 years from now there will be 100,000 young people in America working their way through college by revolutionizing America at the grassroots level. We reorganized the student loan program. We are revolutionizing the unemployment system. We're going to pass important welfare reform.

But it's very hard to change the health care system. Why? Because we are spending more money than any other country in the world and doing less with it. And why? Why? Because a lot of that money is going for things that have nothing to do with health care. And the $40 million or so that's been spent to convince the American people that our plan is bad for small business, is going to take something away from you and cost you more, is a pittance compared to what they are making out of it.

But let me ask you this: If our system is so good, why are we spending $60 to $80 billion a year more on paperwork than any other system in the world? Why can't we figure out how to cover everybody? Why do we have so many children born into this world who don't have primary and preventive health care? Why do we have 81 million Americans living in families where, because somebody has been sick in that family, they can't get health insurance or they can't afford what they're being asked to pay or they can never change a job? Why do we have tens of millions of Americans knowing at any time the hammer could come down and they would lose it?

I'll tell you why. I'll tell you why. Because every time we get close to doing it, the interest groups that are so entrenched in the way things are doing scare the living daylights out of good, honest small business people and other people and tell them, "Oh, this is going to be a terrible thing."

Let me tell you something, folks. Before we got into this, before we ever asked Congress to pass a bill, we spent months and months and months, and I had already worked for years on this issue. We consulted thousands of doctors and nurses and business people, and we constructed a plan that would be good for small business, good for jobs, and most important, good for American families.

So I want you to help us pass health care and welfare reform and the crime bill and keep the change going and prove that we can break gridlock. Yes, we'll take on a lot of special interests. And yes, in the process we'll be misunderstood. And yes, there will be good days and bad days and good weeks and bad weeks. Why? Because when you are doing something, you don't have time to spend all your time trying to maneuver how you look. All I want to know is, when it's all said and done, what we did— what we did.

Now, the reason Dawn Clark Netsch ought to be Governor of Illinois is because if you hire her, she'll do something, sure as the world. She will do something.

With our adversaries all over America increasingly in the grip of extremists on the right, increasingly willing to say or do anything to demean and defame their opponents, increasingly willing to try to frighten the voters and obscure the facts and make politics about something other than bringing out the best in us and working together, we better stick with the doers and the fighters.

The people that cut and run are going to be vanquished. The people who stand and fight for what's best in this country are going to be rewarded. You stick with us, and we'll have a victory in November.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:16 p.m. at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago; David Wilhelm, chairman, Democratic National Committee; and Vince Lane, chairman, Chicago Housing Authority.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at an Illinois Victory '94 Fundraising Dinner in Chicago, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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