Remarks to the Community in Atlanta, Georgia
Thank you so much. Thank you for being here and in such large numbers and with such enthusiasm. Thank you, Mayor, for that wonderful introduction. Thank you, Governor and Mrs. Miller and Secretary of State Cleland, Commissioner, Congressman Lewis, Congresswoman McKinney, and ladies and gentlemen. Thank the Wings of Faith Choir and the Morehouse College Glee Club and all those who sang for us, thank you.
It is good to be back in Georgia and Atlanta again. I went running the other day with a number of members of the United States Olympic Team for the Winter Olympics. My wife and daughter represented us there in Lillehammer, and I could at least keep up with the winter Olympians. I don't think I can keep up with the summer Olympians, but I'll be here in 1996 to cheer them on along with you.
I want to thank all of you who came here with these "America Back On Track" signs. You know, I ran for President because I thought our country was not on the right track; because I was worried about my daughter growing up to be part of the first generation of Americans that did not do better than their parents; because I thought our country was being too divided by party, by race, by region, with arguments about what was right or left or liberal or conservative, obscuring the truth, the facts, and a way to the future.
Frankly, there is still a lot of that in our politics and too much of that in Washington, where people scream at each other across the divide and try to confuse you folks out here in the country with negative images and useless rhetoric. But there are some things that do not change. In the end, we will all be judged on whether we have done what is right to bring this country together and to move this country forward, to make it possible for every man and woman, every boy and girl to live to the fullest of their God-given capacities. That is our common obligation and our great opportunity. And I am doing my best to seize it for you as President of the United States.
I asked the United States Congress last year to pass an economic plan that would bring the deficit down and drive investment up, that would drive interest rates down, keep inflation down, create jobs, and move this country forward. And the Congress did it in the face of withering, withering hot air and rhetoric. And all the people who were against it said, "Well, if you do this, all the middle class people in America will have their income taxes go up, and the economy will collapse." Well, what happened?
The economic plan passed. Interest rates went down; investment went up. Last year, in the first 14 months of our administration, 2 1/2 million new jobs were created, more than the previous 4 years. And we are moving this country forward.
It is true that 1.2 percent of the American people paid more in income taxes, but it all went to pay down the deficit. And we cut even more in spending. And this year, one in six working families will get an income tax cut so that they will not fall into poverty and be tempted to choose welfare over work. We are going to choose work over welfare by not taxing people into welfare, but lifting them out for work.
And I have now presented a budget to the Congress which eliminates 100 Government programs, cuts over 200 more, has no tax increases, and if adopted, will give us 3 years of declining deficits for the first time since Harry Truman was the President of the United States of America.
That is not partisan rhetoric, my fellow Americans. And that's not all that liberal and conservative talk in the air. That's just the facts. We are doing it. And what we need in America is more people to leave aside the hot air, roll up their sleeves, and go to work on the promise and the problems of this country in that way.
They said when I took office all the Democrats were for big Government. Well, let me tell you something. The budget I gave to the Congress does provide more money for Head Start, more money for new technologies and job training, more money for education and training our people in the future. But you know what? It still reduces domestic spending in everything but health care for the first time since 1969. No other President has been able to do that. If the Congress adopts it, we'll do it for the first time since '69.
This is not a partisan issue. It's a question of whether we're going to do what it takes to get this country going again so those little children will have a future. That is what is at stake.
And now we have many challenges before us. We must keep this economy strong. The economy of Georgia last year—in the last year— has produced 150,000 new jobs, the fastest growing economy east of the Mississippi River. You have benefited from this, and we have to keep it going.
If you look ahead to this year—I came here today to be part of a remarkable thing that CNN is sponsoring, making you the telecommunications capital of the world. Tonight I will be talking with people not only all across America but with 75 million people, at least, in over 100 other countries, people asking questions about what this world is going to be like and what America's role is in it. And I want to say something that you know here: We cannot withdraw from the world. Last year, we made more progress in opening America's borders to new trade, new investment, and reaching out to the rest of the world, than had been made in a generation. This year, the Congress has got to adopt the new world trade agreement. This year we have got to adopt new systems for educating and training our people so they can compete in that global economy. We're going to be challenged to do that.
Tomorrow I'm going back to the White House to sign a bill that will, for the first time, put in place a national system for all the young people in our country who don't go on to 4year colleges but do need more education and training, so they can move from school to work with high skills and better opportunity in the future.
And then we are going to take up a bill to totally change the unemployment system. You know, a lot of you here can identify with this. It used to be when people lost their jobs, they were just laid off for a while, and then they were called back to their old jobs. so the unemployment system gave them enough to live on while that happened. Now, most people who are laid off do not get called back to their old jobs; should not be allowed to wait month after month after month but instead should be able, from the day they are laid off, to immediately start a training program and a new set of job searches. And that's what we're trying to do with this reemployment system, instead of an unemployment program.
We are working on a crime bill in Washington which mirrors a lot of what Governor Miller and the legislature have done here: to put more police officers on the street; to help cities like Atlanta have community police officers who walk the streets, know the kids, know the neighbors, and can reduce crime as well as catch criminals; one that has tougher penalties but also alternative punishments, like boot camps for firsttime offenders; one that will give us a chance to have drug treatment as well as tougher punishment. These are the kinds of things that we need to do to make this country safe again. And we're going to do it this year in Washington, just as you've been trying to do it in Georgia.
Soon I will present to the Congress a welfare reform program designed to begin the process of ending the whole welfare system as we know it. And a lot of that welfare reform program is like what you are doing here in Georgia. People want to be independent, not dependent. People want to succeed as parents and workers. And we have to give them the tools, the incentives, and, if necessary, the requirements to do just that. And I believe we can. And I think the American people want us to do it.
Finally, let me say that when you look at all this, it all brings you back to the beginning. We are moving into a new and different and very exciting time in which the young people here will be able to grow up, if we complete our work at dismantling the nuclear arsenals of other countries, unafraid of nuclear war. I was so proud to be able to go to Russia and sign an agreement where we agreed that for the first time in decades we would no longer even point our missiles at each other. That is a good thing.
But if you look all over the world, with the end of the cold war and the opening up of new technologies and the increasing entrepreneurialism and the more rapid pace of change, there are dangers there, too. Because now countries instead of invading each other are fighting from within, from Bosnia to Rwanda. And even countries that are trying to promote democracy are made more vulnerable by high technology and organized criminal activity, from organized crime in Russia to the drug kingpins in Mexico and South America to the gangs that terrorize the streets of the United States of America.
We have great tests and challenges before us, each of us within our borders and across our borders. But the next century can be the best time America has ever known. And the young people in this audience can have the best life any group of Americans has ever known if we have the courage and the vision and the wisdom to cool down the traditional politicsas-usual, to reduce the gridlock, to reduce the hot air, to reduce the name-calling, and instead think about the people that live in this country and do something to bring them together and move them forward. That is my promise to you.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:12 p.m. in the CNN Center Atrium. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta; Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia; Max Cleland, Georgia secretary of state; and Thomas T. Irvin, Georgia agriculture commissioner.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Community in Atlanta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219363