Remarks to Nobel Prize Recipients and an Exchange With Reporters
The President. Ladies and gentlemen, I am here this afternoon to honor these winners of the 1992 Nobel Prize. I take great pride in their being recognized in their lifelong efforts to contribute to science and technology and to better the human condition.
Dr. Gary Becker received the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his expansion of economic analysis to aspects of human behavior that had not before been analyzed with economic principles of our other social science disciplines. For example, in the 1950's, Dr. Becker made a groundbreaking proposal by concluding that racial and ethnic bias could exist only where markets were not fully competitive. Dr. Becker currently is a professor at the University of Chicago. He is to my immediate left.
To my right are Dr. Edmond Fisher and Dr. Edwin Krebs. They are joint winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine. In the 1950's they discovered a cellular regulatory mechanism that controls a variety of metabolic processes. The Nobel selection committee stated that this discovery, and I quote, "concerns almost all processes important to life and opened up one of the most active areas of scientific research." Dr. Fisher and Dr. Krebs are professors at the University of Washington in Seattle.
To my left, Dr. Rudolph Marcus received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his mathematical analysis of the cause and effect of electronic changes among molecules. The Nobel committee said that this work helped to explain many complicated chemical reactions, including photosynthesis, that are fundamental to life's processes. Dr. Marcus currently is a professor at the California Institute of Technology. He told me that it took 20 years to actually prove the theories that he developed. And I told him that I was beginning to think that being President was more and more like being a scientist. [Laughter]
We are very proud of these Nobel laureates. I salute their successes and their contributions, not only as President but clearly on behalf of all the American people. And I thank them and their spouses for coming to the White House today.
Thank you very much.
Do you, any of you, want to give a speech?
Q. What does it feel like to win a Nobel Prize?
Edwin Krebs. A big surprise.
Q. [Inaudible]—better if it could be your economic policies, Mr. President.
The President. You got me, but at least it's more people-centered.
Health Care Reform
Q. Might you ask Dr. Becker whether your health care plans are economically feasible?
The President. He probably wants to read it first.
Gary Becker. I haven't seen them yet. I'm looking forward to it. But clearly we need a great deal of reform in the health care area. So I'm looking forward with anticipation to see what they're like.
Q. Will a sin tax be part of that, sir——
Q. ——my segue.
The President. I'm against sin, aren't you? [Laughter]
Let me say one thing, since you asked Dr. Becker the question. There has been an assumption in many of the business articles about the health care plan that it was necessary because too many people don't have health insurance and in any given 2- or 3-year period about one in five or one in four Americans will be without it. But the assumption is that it will be a job drain. That assumes that we will pile costs on top of what is already the most expensive system in the world by a good long ways.
I believe that this will be a job generator if we implement it sensibly and gradually and over time we slow the rate of growth of health care costs. Right now we have to compete with other countries that are spending under 9 percent of their income on health care and covering everyone with outcomes and life expectancy and health that are as good or better than ours, and we're over 14 percent. If we don't change, we'll be up to 19 percent by the end of the decade without covering everybody and with no improvements in the present problem.
So my judgment is that if we do this right, it will be a job creator. So I think you have two things here, we have better health care and more security for American families and a better economic environment over the long run.
I've already talked more than I meant to. Maybe I'll win a Nobel Prize for that theory. [Laughter]
Q. Is the assumption about costs on top incorrect, Mr. President?
The President. I don't know what the assumption is.
NOTE: The President spoke at 4:11 p.m. in the Blue Room at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to Nobel Prize Recipients and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/217366