Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to the Community in Cutler Ridge, Florida

September 06, 1993

The President. Thank you so much. I want to thank Marty Urra and my longtime friends Governor Chiles and Senator Graham, Secretary Reich and Secretary Cisneros, who have done such a fine job coordinating our National Government's response to Hurricane Andrew over the long run down here. I'd also like to introduce a few people even on this hot day. First of all, the First Lady's here; my wife, Hillary, is down there. There she is. In addition to Senator Graham, we have four other members of your congressional delegation here: Representative Carrie Meek—five, five—Representative Peter Deutsch, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Representative Alcee Hastings. Let's get them all up here. Your Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay's been with me all day. I think he's back in the crowd again. We also have a large number of State legislators, Dade County commissioners, and other local leaders here. Let's give them all a hand, all the ones that are over here. [Applause] All the legislators and commissioners who want to come up, come on up. You've got some——

Audience member. Where's Chelsea?

The President. Chelsea's playing today. We have legislators and commissioners who lost their homes in the hurricane; they deserve to be up here, I think. Bring Larry Hawkins up here. He lost his house; he deserves to be here. That's good.

Ladies and gentlemen, one year ago this week I came here to south Dade County to see what Hurricane Andrew had wrought. A year later I come back as President, honored to see much of the work done that I ran for President to do, honored to see that people here are working together to make Government work on the real problems of real people. I want to thank again Henry Cisneros for taking the lead in coordinating our response. And I want to thank Otis Pitts from Miami for representing the administration so well and helping people overcome the impact of the flood. [Applause] Thank you.

You know, Dade County has done a lot for the Clinton administration. I got the EPA Director, Carol Browner, from Dade County. I got Jeff Watson, who used to work for the Mayor of Miami. There are a number of other people, but I guess the most famous Dade County citizen I now have is Janet Reno, your Attorney General. I want to tell you that you can be very proud of the work that she has done, and all the others. And you need to know that about three times a day, when Janet Reno says something that makes real good sense, she says that she learned it from the people of Dade County that she represented for so long.

One of the things that I wanted very much to do as President was to reestablish a partnership among business and labor and Government. I thought we had been divided for too long. I think in order to rebuild America, we have got to reunite America. We've got to reach across the barriers of race and region and income and party, and we've got to prove that we can work together on the things that we all have to deal with, if we're going to make this country what it ought to be.

I am proud of the work that has been done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the AFL-CIO in creating a partnership to invest in our communities. Now, you heard Secretary Cisneros mention it, but I want to talk a little bit more about that.

This new partnership between Government and labor will make possible the building of 102 moderate and low income housing units here in Cutler Ridge. And let me tell you how this is going to work. We'll also make it possible for a lot of people to be trained to learn the jobs of today and tomorrow, because the Labor Department is going to give the AFL-CIO some money to subsidize apprenticeship programs at this site so that we can give skill training and meaningful jobs to people who live here and need work, too.

All across the country, the AFL-CIO, supported by two Government Agencies with the funny names that many of you probably never heard of before of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are going to establish a housing investment trust fund that will provide an additional $600 million to rebuild and create affordable housing across this country, with a significant percentage of that money going to regions like this one which have been struck by hurricanes or the middle western communities devastated by the floods.

This is the kind of thing that we ought to be doing together. The Government can guarantee the security of the pension funds. The unions can put up those pension funds to invest in houses. The Labor Department can help to provide the funds to train people. We'll have more houses, more investment, more jobs, and a better America starting right here in this community. That's the sort of thing we ought to be doing.

You know, this is a day of rest and relaxation for most Americans, looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, and many of our young people are going back to school. Well, tomorrow when you return to work, you can know that in this year over one million jobs have been added to our economy. That's about as many as were added during the previous 4 years in America. We've still got a long way to go, but it's a pretty good beginning, and it's something we can build on.

President Harry Truman, who came from a State that neighbors mine, in Missouri, once said this: If the working people of our country are well off, whether they work in factories or on the farms, in offices or in stores, this country will get along all right. The reverse is also true. When the working people of our country are not all right, the rest of the country is in deep trouble.

We have got to make sure that we have policies in this Government that reward work and family for hard-working middle class people that are doing everything they can to raise their kids and make this country a better place. Since you gave me this job, that's what I've tried to do. You heard someone mention earlier the Family and Medical Leave Act. What that means is that for a change—since that law became in effect, now if somebody has a baby born or a sick parent or a child gets sick, you can take a little time off from your job without losing it. It's high time we provided for that sort of protection in America.

In the economic program that Congress just passed, we see not only the biggest reduction in the Federal deficit in the history of this country, something that will lift a burden off the children in this audience and the grandchildren, something that will make us freer to invest in our future and take control of our destiny, something that has brought us the lowest interest rates in 25 years, that is enabling young people all across America for the first time to even think about buying a home. That economic program also actually did something that, from your point of view, may be more important. It lifted the working poor out of poverty by saying: If you work 40 hours a week and you have children in the home, we will not tax you into poverty; we will use the tax system to lift you out of poverty even if it requires a refund. I haven't looked at all the figures, but I can tell you that in Carrie Meek's congressional district, for example, that means over one-third of the working families in that congressional district will be eligible for a tax reduction under the economic program that the Congress passed to promote work and family.

Over 90 percent of the small businesses in the entire United States of America are eligible for a tax cut to encourage them to hire more people, because most of the new jobs are being created by small business people. That is prowork; it is pro-family; it is not bureaucratic. It is the sort of thing that we need to be doing in this country.

Now, my fellow Americans, on this Labor Day I want to ask you, as we move ahead to other challenges, to recognize that this is a new and different world. We have here in this county people from all over the world coming here to live, trying to make a new life for themselves in an America trying to move into the 21st century. We are doing it against a backdrop where all the wealthy countries in the world are having trouble creating new jobs and raising people's incomes and giving people security. We have a lot of things we have to do, and I can tell you one thing: We will never get there unless we ask ourselves not just "What's in it for me?" but "What's in it for us?" How can we move together to make this country what it ought to be for everybody who's willing to work hard and play by the rules. That's what I saw today in Florida City and Homestead, people who said, "What's in it for us?", who worked together to rebuild our communities and put the lives of families back together. That is what we have to do as a nation.

In the next few weeks you're going to see the Congress deal with an enormous number of issues, but they all have one thing in common: We've got to deal with them to pull our country together and move our country forward. If we don't control health care costs and provide affordable health care to every American family, we'll never be the nation we ought to be.

If we don't open the doors of college education to all Americans and give all Americans who don't go to college the chance to get good training programs so they can get good jobs, we'll never be the nation we ought to be.

If we don't open new avenues of trade so that we can sell our products around the world and reinvest in this country, where the bases have been closed and the defense plants have been shut down, in putting those people back to work, we will never be the nation we ought to be.

And finally, if we don't decide once and for all we are going to have secure, strong, safe communities, free of violence and guns, where we promote independence and work, not welfare, and where everybody has a chance to raise their children in a decent, secure, safe environment, we will never be the nation we ought to be.

On Labor Day, you are doing your part by working for America. And I pledge to you that our administration will do its part by working for these goals to make this country what it ought to be.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. at the Caribbean West Apartments. In his remarks, he referred to Marty Urra, president, South Florida AFL-CIO, and Jeffrey H. Watson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Community in Cutler Ridge, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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