Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Framingham
Thank you so much for this wonderful, warm, enthusiastic, passionate welcome. And thank you for your commitment to reelect Senator Ted Kennedy on November 8th. I want you to send Kevin O'Sullivan and John Tierney down there to help us in the House of Representatives to move this country forward. And I want to congratulate Mark Roosevelt on giving debating lessons to the Republican Party in the last few days.
I loved Ed Markey's speech, except he said everything that Ted and I wanted to say. [Laughter] And he said it very well. It was a great defense of a great record by a great supporter of progress in this country. I thank Ed Markey.
I want to say one thing a lot of you may not know. This is serious. I want to thank Ed Markey because last spring he called my attention to the fact that we had one million military assault-style weapons coming into this country from China. And he said we ought to stop it, and we did. And I thank him for that. And I also want to thank him for paving the way for the information superhighway in Framingham and all along Route 128, the birthplace of high technology and the future of the information superhighway. Thank you, Ed.
Ladies and gentlemen, until the last few days this had the earmarks of an unusual election, where people were in danger of voting against what they're for and for what they're against because of the inordinate success of our opponents in talking things to death and confusing things, but the fog is beginning to clear in America.
Twenty-one months ago, you sent me to Washington to try to change this country, to make Government work for ordinary people, to bring the economy back, to make the world more peaceful and more prosperous, and basically to make us feel like we were going in the right direction again and that we were coming together again, that we could recover the American dream, that we could get to the next century with all the children in this room looking at America's best days ahead of us. And I come here to tell you that we've still got a long way to go, but America's in better shape than it was 20 months ago.
I know there are a lot of people who want jobs who still don't have them. I know there are a lot of people who are working hard who haven't gotten a raise. I know that another million Americans in working families lost their health insurance last year. I know we still have crime problems and social problems. But I ask you to think of this: the social problems, the crime, the drugs, the family breakdown, the things that are gripping this country, they've been developing over 30 years. The economic stagnation of working people, wage earners, has been a problem for 20 years. We had 12 years of trickle-down economics, of failed economic policy that ignored the problems or made them worse.
And in 21 months, we've got more jobs, lower deficit, the Government working for ordinary people, a serious assault on crime. We are moving in the right direction. We don't need to turn back now. We need to go forward into the future.
I believe most Americans, without regard to their party, support the family and medical leave law. I believe they do. In Massachusetts alone, 11⁄4 million working people in Massachusetts alone can now take some time off when there's a baby born or a family member sick or an elderly person in trouble in your family without losing your job. I believe most people are for it. Well, we voted for it. Most of them were against it. I believe most people in this State and this country think the Brady bill is right, think it is right that we're immunizing all the children in this country under the age of 2 by 1996, believe it is right to expand Head Start. I believe they like these things.
These are the changes we are bringing. I believe most people in this country think that Senator Kennedy's bill to provide national service to give kids a chance to work in their communities and solve problems at the grassroots level and earn money for a college education is a good thing that looks to the future. It is not a relic of the past.
I believe most people in this country like the fact that we have reformed the student loan program and made 20 million Americans eligible for lower interest rates and longer repayment terms on their college loans, for middle class Americans; 840,000 people in Massachusetts alone eligible to benefit from this program immediately. I think most Americans are for it. Every single Republican in the United States Congress voted against it. And we gave it to the United States, and I think the people are with us and not with them.
I believe most people in the United States think it was right for us to lower the taxes of 15 million working families, people working full time with children in the home, because they had modest wages. No one should work full time and raise kids and be in poverty. We can do better than that. I think people are for that. In Massachusetts, 184,000 working families had their taxes lowered under our economic plan. And every one of the Members of Congress of the opposite party voted against it.
Now, they said if our economic approach passed, instead of what we said, the deficit would explode and jobs would go away. That's what they said. Well, we've had plenty of time now, and what have we got? It was the Democrats, not the Republicans, under our approach that reduced the size of the Federal Government, that lowered the deficit 3 years in a row for the first time since Truman, that oversaw an economic recovery that produced 4.6 million new jobs—and a 2 1/2 point decline in the unemployment rate in Massachusetts alone. They were wrong in what they said.
Now, do we still have problems? You bet we do. There are still environmental challenges. There is still political reform. There is still welfare reform, And yes, there is still health care reform to face. But you should vote for the agents of change, not the agents of yesterday.
I want to tell you something, folks. The ironies of this election continue to abound. Imagine this: Suppose Massachusetts had a Republican Senator—no, wait, wait, wait; no, listen— suppose Massachusetts had a Republican Senator who had voted for legislation to make the Federal Government the smallest it's been since John Kennedy was President, to reduce the deficit 3 years in a row, for economic recovery that produced an explosion of new jobs, for the toughest crime bill in a generation to be paid for by reducing the Federal Government, not with new taxes. The Republicans would be building a statue to this person. They should be building one to Ted Kennedy because that's what he voted for.
So when you hear them spouting their liberal epithets, you know, "Liberal, liberal, liberal," you say, "All we know is, you guys didn't reduce the size of the Federal Government. We did. You guys talked about a crime bill. We passed one. You guys badmouthed the deficit. We lowered it. You guys talked about the economy. Our economy is coming back." Let us reward the agent of change. Let us reward people like Senator Ted Kennedy.
Now, let me ask you this. I want you to draw this clear contrast. I was talking to several people just in the last week about Senator Kennedy, you know, because they say, "Oh, he's been there too long." I'll tell you something, you talk to anybody in Washington of either party who will tell you the truth, and they will tell you two things about your Senator. Number one, there is not a single, solitary Member of the United States Senate more interested in new ideas than he is, new ideas for the economy, new ideas for education, new ideas for the future. And the second thing they will tell you is that in the most partisan atmosphere in modern history, he is absolutely the ablest Member of the Congress at getting Republicans to vote with him and work with him to make this country a better place.
Now, that is the choice you face: a program that's working, new ideas, an approach that is fair to people of all parties. What is the alternative? Look at what they did in the last week of the legislative session. They said no to environmental legislation. They said no to political reform. They, the Republican Senators, killed the Superfund bill to clean up toxic waste dumps. Everybody in America was for it, the chemical companies, the labor unions, the Sierra Club. We never had a bill that all those people agreed on. They couldn't agree on when the sun comes up in the morning. There was literally—there was nobody in America against the Superfund bill except more than 40 Republican Senators. And why? Because they would have rather left the poison in the ground than let Ted Kennedy come home and say he helped to clean it up. That is wrong. We can do better than that. We must go forward. We can do better.
And let me tell you this: You take this contract on America they put out very seriously, and you look at it. You look at what it does. They promise you—listen to this, it sounds great, made my ears perk up when I heard it—"Give us power, give us power, and we will increase defense, revitalize Star Wars, give everybody a tax cut—mostly to the wealthy, but we'll tell you about that later—and balance the budget." Presto.
Does that sound familiar? It's a trillion dollar deal. Now, folks, this is election year. It is almost election time. I would love to make you a trillion dollars' worth of promises. And with a trillion dollars' worth of hot checks, I could show everybody in this house a good time tonight. [Laughter] We could have a good time.
But the job of people and responsibility is to do right, not hold out false hopes. It is not to sacrifice the future of our children to give people a quick fix today. This is wrong, this contract, and we must say it is wrong, and we must vote against it, and we must stand against it. This is wrong.
If you let them do this, they will take us back to where—do you remember what it was like in Massachusetts and New England in the eighties? They will explode the deficit. You'll have cuts in Medicare. You won't have any more statements like, "I'm helping you with your water rates, or your sewer rates." They will never fund this crime bill to bring the police to the streets of your communities to make them safer. These things will not happen. We'll start shipping jobs overseas again, and they'll put the economy right back in the ditch, all the time trying to find somebody else to blame.
Stand up against this contract. Stand up against the naysayers. Stand up for somebody who said yes to America, yes to the future, yes to our children. Don't go back. Reelect Ted Kennedy. Stand up for America. Go to the future. God bless you. We can do it.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in Nevins Hall at the Framingham Memorial Building. In his remarks, he referred to Mark Roosevelt, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, and Representative Ed Markey.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Framingham Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218908