Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 31, 1994

The President. Thank you. It is good to be home, and it's good to be back in Philadelphia. Thank you.

Let's give a big hand to the George Washington High School Band. [Applause] Weren't they great? Thank you. Thank you.

Senator Wofford, Lieutenant Governor Singel, Members of Congress, Mayor Rendell, City Council President Street, Democratic Chair Bob Brady, District Attorney Lynn Abraham, our State senator and nominee for Congress, Chakha Fattah, and my fellow Americans. It is wonderful to be here on behalf of these fine people.

You know, Harris Wofford doesn't always vote with me, but he always votes for you, and you ought to keep him there. I read the endorsement in your distinguished local newspaper, which said, "Harris Wofford has been America's conscience when we need it. He has the record, the heart, the vision that has done Pennsylvania proud, and he deserves reelection." I couldn't say it better than the Philadelphia Inquirer did.

And I read the endorsement of Mark Singel, which said that he has the better vision, a better program, mentioned his positions on education and welfare reform, two things I like to think I know something about, that are absolutely critical for any Governor. And it said, and I quote, "His blueprint for Pennsylvania is so much stronger, he deserves the chance to put it into action." And I hope you'll give it to him.

Just before I left for the Middle East, I challenged the American people to think hard about this election, to look at the record, to look at the future, to shine some light on a debate that had been pretty muddied up until a couple of weeks ago. Well folks, the Sun has begun to shine in this election.

Every day more Americans are beginning to know that the real issue here is, who will fight for ordinary Americans, for their future, for their families, for their jobs, their children's education, their parents' Social Security, their security? Who is going to be in this on your side for tomorrow? The answer is, we are. And you need to help us win on November 8th.

This election represents a simple choice between going forward and going back. Twentyone months ago, with the enormous help of the people of Pennsylvania and a terrific mandate from the city of Philadelphia, I moved to Washington to try to change this country, to try to make our country and our Government work for ordinary citizens, to try to get this economy going again, to try to make sure that every American was prepared to compete and win in this tough global economy.

Remember the challenges we faced when I went there? We'd had 4 years of the slowest economic growth since the Great Depression; 4 years in which Pennsylvania had lost 8,300 jobs—no gain, a loss. We were dealing with 12 years of trickle-down Reaganomics, which exploded our deficits and sent our jobs overseas, divided our people. We were dealing with 20 years of stagnant wages as people struggled just to hold on to their jobs with more and more uncertainty in a rapidly changing economy. We were dealing with 30 years of developing social problems in the family and on the streets with crime and violence and drugs and gangs. No one thought this could be turned around overnight. But I can tell you, my friends, after 21 months, we're beginning to make a difference, and we need to keep going.

Look at the record. We passed the family and medical leave law, which enables over 2 million Pennsylvania workers to be able to take some time off when there's a baby born or a sick parent. Senator Wofford voted for it; his opponent voted against it.

We passed the student loan reform law which enabled 20 million Americans, including 1.7 million in Pennsylvania, middle-class folks, to borrow money to go to college on better, more affordable terms. Senator Wofford led the fight; his opponent voted against it.

We passed the national service bill, a domestic Peace Corps, to say to the American people, look, if you'll go back to Philadelphia and you'll go to work on those streets and you'll help kids one-on-one in trouble, if you'll do something to help solve the problems of America and give some of your time to building our country from the grassroots, we'll give you some money to go to college. Senator Wofford led the fight; his opponent voted against it.

We cut income tax rates for 15 million working families, including over 500,000 families in Pennsylvania, people who work full time, have children in their homes, but have very modest wages. Why? Because we don't think anybody who works full time and has kids in the home should live in poverty. That is our policy. Senator Wofford supported it; his opponent voted against it.

We passed a budget that cuts spending by $255 billion, that cut the Federal bureaucracy by 272,000 positions. We changed the way Government buys things to make it more competitive, so you won't have to read about a system that produces those $500 hammers and $50 ashtrays anymore. Senator Wofford led the way on that.

Now, when we implemented this economic strategy last year, do you remember what they said, the other guys, the people that are opposing Harris Wofford and Mark Singel? Every one of them voted against the economic strategy. They said, "Oh, if you do this, you will ruin the economy. You will explode the deficit. You will lose jobs. America will be in terrible shape." Well, they were wrong. They have launched the most vicious attacks, often misrepresenting what was in that program, on every Member of Congress who stood up and gave America a chance to go into the future. But they were wrong.

What are they going to say? The deficit's going down 3 years in a row for the first time since Truman was President. We have a budget that is reducing the Federal Government to its smallest size since John Kennedy was President. There has been a new study, as it comes out annually, of international economists, saying that for the first time in 9 years, America has the most productive economy in the world.

You know, believe me, I know we've still got a lot to do. I read the story of the Philadelphia worker who said he was a part-timer in '92, and he wanted a full-time job. He's still got a part-time job; he doesn't know whether he should vote or not. Well, I have a message. Between '89 and January of '93, your State lost 8,300 jobs. In the last 21 months, your State has gained over 86,000 jobs. We're going in the right direction. Let's don't turn back now.

Imagine this folks, imagine if Harris Wofford were a Republican Senator running for reelection. No, don't boo. Keep in mind, we're all preaching to the saved today. You've got to go reach somebody else between now and election day. So, think of this. If Harris Wofford were a Republican Senator running for reelection, if these Members of Congress were Republican Members running for reelection, and they had voted to reduce the deficit, to shrink the size of the Federal Government, for the toughest crime bill in American history, to explode the economy after years of stagnation, the Republicans would be building statues to them and saying we were unpatriotic for opposing them. And they ought to be building statues to them anyway and reelecting them here today.

And instead, what are they doing? Now, they're trying to say no to the progress we have made. Three hundred and fifty of them went to Washington the other day and signed a Contract With America. It's a trillion dollars' worth of promises.

Now, listen to this: big tax breaks, mostly for the wealthy, billions more on defense, revive Star Wars, balance the budget. Does that sound familiar to you? We've heard that before, haven't we? And you know what will happen. If they get control of the Congress and that's their program, you'll explode the deficit, ship jobs overseas again. You'll have cuts in Medicare, cuts in student loans, cuts in veterans' benefits. We will never fund that crime bill that Ed Rendell talked about.

The worst news is that the Republican contract could devastate Social Security and senior citizens. The House Budget Committee says to meet their program, the contract they signed, they'd have to cut Social Security about $2,000 a person a year and Medicare about $1,800 a person a year. That's $3,600 a year out of the most vulnerable people in this country, people who have worked hard all their lives, people who have paid their taxes, people who have paid their dues. That is wrong. That is wrong, and we must not allow it to be done.

I know. You know, you hear something like this, it's just incredible. You can hardly believe that they did it. But don't forget, President Reagan tried to do it in '81. The House leader proposed it in '86. Mr. North, the Senate candidate of the Republicans in Virginia——

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. ——he just proposed making it voluntary Social Security, which means killing it. And now Senator Wofford's opponent says that he wants to raise the retirement age to 70, and I quote, "further if I could." Well, he can't do that if you don't let him.

So I say to you, say no to this radical attack on Social Security. Say no to billions more in tax breaks that explode the deficit and send our jobs overseas. It all sounds so good, their pretty promises, a trillion dollars' worth of promises. You know, it's a week from the election, folks. We'd all like to stand up and make you a trillion dollars' worth of promises. That's real money. We could all have a good time on a trillion dollars' worth of hot checks. [Laughter] But it would be wrong.

We need men and women in the Congress who will keep their promises to middle-class America, their promises to our future. They need people up there in Washington who understand that when you work all your life, you deserve the peace of mind that Social Security and Medicare give you because you have earned it, not a Government handout but a contract for people who say, "We've done our part," and the rest of us say, "A job well done."

So, my fellow Americans, that's it. That's your choice a week from today. This country's in better shape than it was 21 months ago. We've got more jobs, a lower deficit, a Government doing things for ordinary people in a world that is safer and more secure and more prosperous. We have a long way to go until everybody who wants a job has one, people who work hard get a raise, people who don't have health care get it, and people who have it don't lose it. We've got a lot to do, but the way to do it is to keep going forward, not to turn back.

You know, I just want to close with this thought. You know I just got back from a pretty arduous trip, and I hope I'm doing all right today. I'm still a little jet-lagged. I want to tell you something. Brave people in every part of this world are struggling and fighting for freedom, for democracy, for prosperity, for security, whether it's Israel and her Arab neighbors, the people in the Persian Gulf where our brave soldiers are, the people in Korea who want to make Korea all a nonnuclear peninsula, the people in Northern Ireland trying to bury hundreds of years of hatred, the people in South Africa trying to build their democracy, the people in Haiti welcoming home President Aristide. These people all over the world are trying to do this, and everywhere they wish to have America's support for their courage because they admire our values and they admire the strength of our system and they admire our willingness to change. They believe in us. And we need to believe in ourselves, just as much.

Folks, this country is not still here so many long years after the Founders first came here to Philadelphia because we took the easy way out, we listened to the easy promises, we let people divide us and play on our fears. We are here because we voted our hopes, because we voted for unity, because we voted for the future, because we had the courage to change, we looked to the future with hope and optimism. Others look at us that way. If we will look at ourselves that way on November 8th, you will elect Harris Wofford. You will elect Mark Singel. You will elect these Members of Congress who are here.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:43 p.m. in the Courtyard at City Hall. In his remarks, he referred to Lt. Gov. Mark Singel of Pennsylvania, Mayor Edward Rendell of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia City Council president John Street.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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