Remarks in Santa Ana, California
Thank you. Good morning. What a crowd! Thank you for being here. Thank you. Mayor Pulido, thank you for that wonderful welcome. Thank you for your leadership of this great city. And let me say that the mayor was a little too modest. I want to brag on him a little more. We have had a great partnership with this city. Among other things, our program to put 100,000 police on our street has brought 54 here, and the crime rate has gone down by 50 percent in Santa Ana. Thank you, Mayor, for your leadership and your work here. I'd like to thank Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis for being here. Senator Chris Dodd is here, all the way from Connecticut, the chairman of the Democratic Party. Thank you, sir, for being here. Thank you, Art Torres, our Democratic Party chair, for being here.
I'd like to say a special word of thanks to the mayor of Tustin, Tracy Worley, for being here. She spoke earlier. Thank you, Mayor. God bless you, and thank you so much. I'd like to thank the other congressional candidates who are here, Sally Alexander, Tina Louise Laine, Dan Farrell. I thank Stephen Weber for speaking earlier. And I want to thank the Santa Ana High School Marching Band, the Saddleback High School Road Runners. Thank you both for being here. Thank you both. Thank you.
I'd like to thank all the young AmeriCorps volunteers who are here for the work you're doing to make our country a better place. Thank you, Lou Correa, for your speech and for what you're doing. Give him a hand, folks. He did a good job. [Applause] And I was watching Loretta Sanchez give her speech, and I thought, boy, I'm glad she's not running against me. [Laughter] Thank you for running for Congress. Thank you for your commitment to give this congressional seat back to all the people of this congressional district. Thank you, Loretta Sanchez.
Ladies and gentlemen, a lot of people have asked me what I thought about the debate last night. And what I thought was that everybody in California should be very proud of those 123 citizens from San Diego and the surrounding area. They did a fine job, and they spoke for all of America, and I was very proud of them. I know you were, too.
When I came to Orange County in 1992, many people said, "Why are you going there? It's the most Republican county in the country." And I said, "Because I'm trying to change our country, and Orange County has got to be a big part of America's future." I came because I was tired of the politics of blame and division and name calling that had dominated Washington for far too long, because people being put into little boxes and labeled gave everyone an excuse not to work together to solve our problems and move this country forward. I did it because I believed that you could go beyond the tired rhetoric of yesterday's politics, that the real issue was how you could be both good for business and good for working people, how you could both grow the economy and protect the environment. I believe that you could be a fiscal conservative and still be progressive enough to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow for all these young people in the audience. That's what I believed then; that's what I believe now.
And so, in 1992, I came to California and Orange County saying that I wanted to create a country in which there's opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and an American community in which everyone has a place.
Do you feel that we're better off than we were 4 years ago? [Applause] You know 4 years ago, the people of California had to take me on faith, but now there is a record. There has never been a partnership between the National Government and the people of any State like the one we have forged over the last 4 years. A lot of it was born of necessity, of earthquakes and fires and floods, of the economic dislocation caused by defense cutbacks, of the terrible recession you were facing when I came here. But little by little, day by day, month by month, we worked together to meet the challenges the people of California faced. And look at the difference 4 years can make.
Four years ago, we had high unemployment and rising frustration. We still have a lot of challenges, but compared to 4 years ago, we have lower unemployment, 10 1/2 million new jobs, a 15-year high in homeownership, the biggest drop in childhood poverty in 20 years, the biggest drop in inequality among working Americans in 27 years, the lowest rates combined of unemployment, inflation, and home mortgage interest rates in 27 years. We are on the right track to the 21st century.
After inflation, the typical family's income is up over $1,600. Nearly 2 million people have moved from welfare to work. The crime rates have gone down for 4 years in a row. And we have invested more money in education and research and in environmental protection while holding Government spending to slower growth than my two Republican predecessors did. And we brought the deficit down every year for 4 years, the first time in the 20th century any administration has done that.
Our friends on the other side, they complain about Government all the time. They set it up as the enemy; it's Government versus the people. The last time I checked, the Constitution said, of the people, by the people, and for the people. That's what the Declaration of Independence says. That's why, even though we have abolished more regulations, ended more programs, and reduced the size of the Government more than our predecessors did, we have also done more to create opportunity, to reinforce responsibility, and to bring the American people into a community together instead of always dividing us. I am tired of that. I want us to go forward together, and I think you do, too.
Let me say, I was just looking at this magnificent new courthouse that's coming up up here, and I want to give special credit to one citizen of Orange County, a Republican, Roger Johnson, who worked in our administration and had a lot to do with the progress of the last 4 years. He's not here today, but I want to thank him for what he did.
Ladies and gentlemen, the FBI reported last week that our crime rate is at a 10-year low. In California, it's dropped to a 25-year low. We can change this country. You don't have to wonder anymore about whether what we do and you do together can make a difference to make life better. Four years ago, it was simply a matter of faith. Today you have a record.
Now, I'm glad we've got some of our friends in the opposition over there, and I understand why they have to try to shout us down every now and then, because for them the evidence hurts. But let's talk about the evidence and welcome them here.
But the question is not what have we done, but what will we do? Last night, I was so moved by the questions, because repeatedly what people wanted to know was, what are you going to do about this, that, or the other thing; how does what you do affect how I live; how does what you do, Mr. President, affect the world my children will live in.
And I was so impressed because the people who asked questions were not just concerned about what's going to happen next week or next month, they were also worried about what the world would be like in 20 years, in 30 years. And I tell you what I try to think about every day—and I recommend this to all of you, before you vote on November 5th, you ought to try this: Every day I ask myself, can I say in 30 seconds or a minute what my vision is for America in the 21st century? Can I say in a minute what I want my country to look like when my daughter is my age, when our children are our age? What do you want to be able to say about America and be absolutely sure it's true when we go roaring into this new century?
The young people in this audience today, many of them will be doing jobs that have not been invented yet. Some of them will be doing work that has not even been imagined yet. And what we have to do is to create a world that will enable all of them to live up to the fullest of their God-given potential, a world in which all citizens take responsibility not only for themselves and their own families but for bringing us together and moving us forward.
As I said, I think you saw two very different visions of the future last night, two honestly different visions. We need not say bad things about our opponents to say we just have different views. We just have different views.
I believe the most important things in all of our lives are the personal things—that your individual life, your family life is clearly the most important thing. I believe many things have to be done at the grassroots level by people in the private sector, by religious and community organizations and civic organizations, by local government. But I believe the National Government is not your enemy; it is your servant, your partner. I believe it does take a village to raise our children and build our future.
And let me say to you, what does that mean in practical terms? It means I'm proud of the fact that we lowered the deficit for 4 years in a row, but I want to finish the job of balancing the budget, to keep interest rates down and the economy growing. California has not come all the way back. Not everybody who wants a good job has one. We've got to balance the budget, but we do not have to wreck Medicare or Medicaid or cut education or environmental protection or research and turn our back on our future to do it. And we should not blow a hole in it with his $550 billion tax scheme. We should keep going.
I believe we have to help our families. I go all over the country talking to people, and whenever I go home, I also spend a fair amount of time talking to people I grew up with. Most of them are just solid middle class citizens leading the lives that we all assumed we would lead when we were children. And everybody I talk to, when they talk about their real concerns, somehow or another it always gets around to: Can I succeed at home and at work? Can I raise a successful family and have a good career? Will I be able to do well enough financially to take care of my family, but will I have enough time with my family so that the money means something to me? I hear it everywhere in different ways. That's why I'm proud the first bill I signed was the Family and Medical Leave Act, an honest difference between my opponent and me.
So what are we going to do about it? First of all, we ought to have a tax cut, but it ought to be one we can afford and still balance the budget, one targeted to childrearing, to education, to buying a home, to dealing with medical costs.
Secondly, we ought to keep working to protect our children from the dangers of crime and guns and gangs and drugs and tobacco. We need to finish the job. We have only funded about half of those 100,000 police. The opposition believes we're making a mistake putting these police on the street. The mayor knows better. I say let's finish the job of putting 100,000 police on the street. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
The second thing we ought to do—we passed the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban and this country is safer because of it. But our police officers are not as safe as they ought to be, and we ought to ban bullets whose only purpose is to pierce the bulletproof vests that police officers wear, and protect them.
We ought to continue to expand the safe and drug-free schools program so that in every grade school in this country there's a D.A.R.E. officer, there's somebody in a uniform telling our kids that drugs are wrong, drugs can kill you, giving them somebody to look up to. We shouldn't cut that program back for 23 million kids, as our adversaries tried to do. I say let's stay with the safe and drug-free schools program. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
We ought to continue until we have finally put into effect a set of legally binding rules that will stop tobacco companies from advertising and distributing tobacco to children. Three thousand kids a day start smoking illegally; 1,000 will die sooner because of it. It is illegal. It is wrong. We should not reverse course. That's another difference between me and our friends on the other side. Will you help us prevail in that fight? Will you stick up for our future? [Applause]
We ought to expand the family and medical leave law so parents can take a little time off from work without losing their jobs to take their children to regular doctors' appointments and to go to parent-teacher conferences at the schools. That's important, too, and our economy will be stronger if our parents are happier at work because they know their kids are doing better. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
We passed health care reform to say you can't have your health insurance taken away just because you changed jobs or someone in your family gets sick. Twenty-five million Americans could be helped by it. We stopped insurance companies from forcing hospitals to kick mothers and newborn babies out of the hospital after just a day. They can't do that anymore.
But we have more to do. Our balanced budget plan will provide coverage to families when they're between jobs for up to 6 months, will add another million children to the ranks of health-insured instead of uninsured, will provide mammograms for women on Medicare, and will help families who are caring for a member with Alzheimer's. And it's all paid for in the balanced budget. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
We've worked with States all over the country, without regard to party, including California, to move nearly 2 million people from welfare to work. I signed a welfare reform bill that says, we'll still guarantee to poor families health care and nutrition, but the money that the Federal Government used to send to the States for a welfare check now has to be turned into a paycheck within 2 years for able-bodied people. That's a good thing to say, but you have to have the jobs there if you're going to make people take them. I have a plan to say that this is the beginning, not the end of welfare reform. We have to create at least another million jobs in the private sector with tax incentives and other support. Will you help me do that? [Applause]
We have made the air and the water cleaner. We have made our food safer. We have cleaned up more toxic waste sites in 3 years than the previous administrations did in 12. But 10 million American children still live within 4 miles of a toxic waste dump, and that is wrong. We have a plan, paid for in our balanced budget plan, to clean up the 500 worst sites in this country so that we can say, by the 21st century, the children of America—rich, poor, or middle class—are going to grow up next to parks, not poison. Will you help us do that? [Applause]
And finally, and most important of all, we have got to guarantee that every child in this country has access to the finest educational opportunities in the entire world. In part because we are more than ever a nation of immigrants, 40 percent of our children cannot read independently by the third grade. That means that everything they try to learn later on in life, they are handicapped in learning. It is wrong for us to permit children to leave the third grade not being able to read on their own.
I have a plan to mobilize 30,000 trained reading tutors, including AmeriCorps volunteers, to enlist a million volunteers across America so that we can go into the schools of America and teach our children. We did this in a rural county in Kentucky, and within a year the average child had increased their reading level by 3 years— 3 years. We can do this.
So I ask you, will you help me put a million people out there so that every 8-year-old can say, "This is a book, and I can read it all by myself"? Will you help me? Will you help us to hook up every classroom and library and every school in the United States—free access to the Internet, to the World Wide Web, so that every child in America can be part of this new technology age? [Applause] And to grownups here who aren't as expert in computers as a lot of the kids are, let me tell you what that means. That means—if we can say that every 12-year-old in America can log on to the Internet, let me tell you what that means in practical terms. It means for the first time in the entire history of the United States, for the very first time, we can say that every child in America—rich, poor, or middle class—in every community in America, now has access to the same learning at the same level of quality at the same time. It will revolutionize education in America. Will you help me do it? [Applause]
And finally, we must open the doors of college education to all Americans of any age who need further education. I want to give every family the ability to save for an IRA but withdraw tax-free if the money's used to pay for college or health care or buying a first home. I want to make 2 years of education after high school just as universal as a high school diploma is today. And we can do it in only 4 years if we'll simply say we're going to let you deduct from your tax bill, dollar for dollar, the cost of a typical community college tuition. Will you help me do that? [Applause] And we should make any college cost, any college tuition tax deductible up to $10,000 a year for any Americans of any age, including older people who need to go back and get school. Will you help us do that? [Applause]
Now, this election is 19 days away. And they always tell you when you're 19 days away, just come in like this, give a whoop-dee-doo speech, talk 3 minutes, leave—no more issues. But I'm telling you, the big question is 19 days is, who's going to show up. Are you going to show up? Are you going to show up? [Applause]
And example, after example, after example— some of which I was able to cite last night— the people of the State of California can say, "There is a direct consequences between the vote I cast, the person who is in charge in Washington, and the decisions made here on the streets of Santa Ana and every other city in this State that affect my life."
So I ask you—I talk a lot about our responsibilities—it is your responsibility to go vote, your responsibility as a citizen, your responsibility to be there, your responsibility to build that bridge to the 21st century. In 19 days let's do it.
Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:26 a.m. at the Old Orange County Courthouse. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana; Sally Alexander, Tina Louise Laine, Dan Farrell, and Loretta Sanchez, candidates for California's 45th, 47th, 48th, and 46th Congressional Districts, respectively; actor Stephen Weber; Lou Correa, State Assembly candidate; and Roger Johnson, former Administrator of General Services.
William J. Clinton, Remarks in Santa Ana, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/222010