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Remarks on the Budget and an Exchange With Reporters

December 08, 1995

The President. Good morning. I am delighted to be here with a number of Governors from around our country to talk about the budget debate now in Washington. All these Governors who are here present and all those who are not have to balance the budget, but they're accountable for doing so in a way that increases opportunity for their people and holds the people together, maintains the bonds of community. That's what we're trying to do here.

Yesterday I gave the Congress a budget that balances in 7 years without devastating cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, education and the environment and that does not raise taxes on working families.

There are many differences between the budget that I vetoed, which Congress passed, and the one that I've presented. But perhaps the starkest one of all is the different treatment of Medicaid. The Republican budget would be a disaster for States and for the people who depend upon Medicaid. It would ask the States to do more and more and more for the elderly, for the disabled, for poor children and pregnant women and give them less help to do it. It would force them to make unconscionable and unnecessary choices between senior citizens and disabled people, between people with AIDS and nursing home residents.

The plan would end the guarantee of quality medical care that now exists for 26 million Americans, a guarantee that has been on the books for three decades now. The Republicans are insisting that we repeal the guarantee that no poor child, pregnant mother, poor senior citizen, or disabled person will be denied quality medical care. That would eliminate the guarantee of nursing home care for as many as 300,000 people. All told, if current patterns of coverage prevail, some 8 million people could be denied health care coverage under Medicaid, nearly half of them children. No one would want to do this in any State, but many States would have no choice under the budget now pending.

So I just want to be clear about this. I very much want to work with the Republican Congress to get a balanced budget. But I will not, I will not, permit the repeal of guaranteed medical coverage for senior citizens, for disabled people, for poor children and pregnant women. That would violate our values. It is not necessary, and therefore, if it continues to be a part of the budget, if necessary, I would veto it again.

We cannot, we must not, do this. This would do more harm to more people and do more to undermine the stability of State governments and the life of the States in our country than any other provision of this budget, in all probability, and we just cannot do it. So I want to make that clear.

On the other hand, let me say again, I am reaching out the hand of cooperation to Congress. I did yesterday. I do so again today. But there are some things that we cannot and should not change and back away from. That resolution that was passed that permitted the Government to go forward said that we would protect Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment. That's what it said. I've done my part. I've offered a 7-year budget. We cannot destroy Medicaid.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman

Q. Mr. President, are you going to reappoint Alan Greenspan, as the New York Times says?

The President. Did they say that? [Laughter] To be honest with you, that's very premature.

I haven't even given much thought to it, one way or the other. We've had a few other things on the griddle here.

Balkan Peace Process

Q. Speaking of that, Mr. President, do you think you'll have a resolution of support on Bosnia before the treaty signing in Paris next week?

The President. Will we have one? Well, I hope so. I don't know. I'm working on it, but I hope so.

Q. What do you think about half of the House Members signing a letter opposing the deployment?

The President. I hope that both Houses will vote to do it. It's the responsible thing to do. And those who paid any attention to the trip that I made to Europe last week know that all of the people in Europe are looking to see whether the United States will continue our 50year partnership with Europe for security, will continue our leadership in NATO, and will do our part. They have only asked us to do a part. They, after all, are doing two-thirds of the work on the ground in Bosnia. They have asked us as the leader of NATO and the Alliance to send about a third of the troops. And in every nation I visited, people came up to me and said that America had been able to make peace in Bosnia, and they were desperately hoping we would participate so that we could prevent any kind of a resumption of the slaughter there, prevent the conflict from spreading, and prove that Europe and the United States are still partners for security in the post-cold-war era. I feel far more strongly about it even than I did before I went last week.

It's clear to me that our Nation's ability to work with these European countries on every other security issue—reducing the nuclear threat, fighting terrorism, you name it—depends upon our partnership here. That is the issue of the day for them and for millions and millions and millions of them. And I think we have to do our part, and I'm going to do what I can to persuade the Congress of that.

Q. Is there any possibility, sir, that the Paris signing next week will slide because of what's going on there?

The President. I know of no plans to delay it. I believe it's going to go forward on time.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:38 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House prior to a meeting with Democratic Governors. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Budget and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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