Remarks to the Community in Honolulu
The President. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you, Mayor Fasi, Congressman Abercrombie, Congresswoman Mink, Senator Akaka, my longtime and good friend Governor Waihee. When I look out here at this wonderful scene tonight, it is almost impossible for me to remember that in the snows of New Hampshire in 1992, when many people thought I had no chance to be elected President, John Waihee left this scene and came to that snow to campaign for me, and I'll never forget it. Thank you very much.
I want to thank all of you for coming out and all the people behind me. I can't turn around and face them or the sound will go off. I am so glad to be home. How's this? [Applause] Like that. [Applause]
It is wonderful to be home after my first trip overseas as your President. I went to Asia to a meeting of the world's seven great industrial nations. I also went to meet in Japan and Korea and here today in Hawaii with the people who are in charge of the national security interests of the United States in Asia and the Pacific region. This morning I ended that trip with a visit to the Arizona Memorial and a briefing by the commander in chief of our forces in the Pacific and his senior officers.
As Hillary said, yesterday we were in Korea along the Demilitarized Zone. And I walked out further than any American President ever had onto the Bridge of No Return, about 10 yards from the line separating South and North Korea. And with my binoculars I looked into the other side, and I saw some young North Korean soldiers looking back at me. And I thought to myself, I wish you could walk over this bridge, and I hope it won't be long until you can, until we put down the threat of nuclear war and open up the hand of friendship.
You would be very proud if you could see what I saw in Korea, in Japan, see the young men and women who voluntarily have joined our Nation's Armed Forces and gone there and represent us with great ability and enormous enthusiasm, I might add, young people from every State in this country. And I was proud of them, and you can feel better about your country just seeing and knowing that they're there.
The other thing I did on this trip was to worry about what I could do abroad to help our economy here at home. There is a direct connection, as the people of Hawaii know as well as any people in America, between how well America does and how well the rest of the world does. We have been in a period of slow economic growth with great problems in creating new jobs, in raising incomes. But I went to Japan, which is having its lowest period of economic performance in 20 years, to meet with leaders from Europe, where every nation has a higher unemployment rate than we do and many countries are in their lowest period of economic performance in 30 or 40 years. There is a global economic slowdown, and we have to turn it around to open opportunities for Americans.
To be sure, there are things we can do here, and we have made a beginning, a serious beginning at bringing the terrible budget deficit down and spending less on things we shouldn't spend on and investing more in education, in technology, in defense conversion, and building a stronger future for the American people.
We are building new partnerships with people in their private capacities. Something I did as President when I was overseas was to meet with over 350 Americans representing business interests in Japan and then meeting with the executive board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea to talk about what we could do together to create opportunities for American businesses and American workers.
And we are making some progress. We have interest rates at a 20-year low, millions of people refinancing their homes and their business loans, almost one million new jobs in the American economy since January. That compares with only a million new jobs in 3 years before then. We are making some progress, but we've got a long way to go.
I want to tell you what this trip meant for America and what it means for Hawaii. First of all, we agreed among ourselves, these seven nations, that we would support the reduction in tariffs in the trade of manufacturing goods all across the world on a level that we have not seen in many years. That could mean literally millions of jobs in the global economy, hundreds of thousands of jobs in the American economy where manufacturing is coming back. We are now the high-quality, low-cost producer of many products and services again. Our automobiles are regaining market share here in America and are more attractive than they have been in decades.
The second thing we did was to agree to invest some money, including some of your money, to keep democracy and a free market going in Russia. Why? Because it's in our interests for them to reduce their nuclear arsenals instead of build them up, because it's in our interests for all those people over there to become customers for United States products and travelers to Hawaii someday.
And finally, in what could prove to be an historic breakthrough, we agreed on a framework to change the terms of trade between the United States and Japan. The Japanese made a good-faith commitment to bring down the enormous trade surplus between the United States and Japan and to help work with us to sell more products and more services and to equalize the imbalance in the global economy. They have been saying to us for 10 years, "you've got to bring your budget deficit down." I went to Japan and I said, "OK, we did that. Now bring your trade surplus down." And they said yes. They said yes.
And let me say again, this can affect you. No State is more closely tied to Japan than Hawaii. How many Japanese visitors come to these shores every year? If we have a more open economic system and consumer goods and services cost less in Japan, then the Japanese people will have more of the benefits of their hard work and their efforts, their incomes will go further, and more of them than ever before will be able to travel to the United States of America and to Hawaii, to integrate the global economy in a way that is positive and good.
That is what we were doing. Two-thirds of the jobs that have been created in the United States of America since 1987 have come from trade. We are in an increasingly smaller global economy, and we have to find ways to live together on this planet in ways that help us all. That is what I was trying to do, to help America by going to Japan. And I believe it was a good trip.
Finally, since Presidents don't often come to Hawaii, let me make a couple of remarks about this wonderful State. Let me say first, thanks for the support you gave to me and to the Vice President in the last election. Thank you for setting a model for health care and in many other areas. And let me say that I have been benefited enormously by the work that your congressional representatives have done in informing me about issues of concern to Hawaii. And I want to just mention two, if I might.
Number one, my wife, as she said, is going to Kauai to view the hurricane damage in a couple of days. Just a few days ago, I signed a bill to provide $40 million in extra assistance to the victims of the hurricane in Hawaii. And I have instructed the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to devote an enormous amount of his time to work to repair the damage here. And he will be doing that as well as taking some of the money that they have to rebuild some of the houses on that troubled island. So we hope we can be good partners with you in rebuilding Hawaii.
The next thing I would like to say is that, as Governor Waihee said, this is the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Your Governor has talked to me for months and months, going way back last year, about issues of concern to native Hawaiians. And I pledge to you that I will work with him, with Senator Inouye, with Senator Akaka, with Congressman Abercrombie and Congresswoman Mink to address these concerns in a positive way. We will not forget them.
Finally, let me say that, as Hillary said, we have learned a lot from Hawaii's health care system, but you should know that your Governor has asked us to give him permission to do some more things to fully cover all Hawaiians and to manage this system better.
And so I want to close with this thought: We will never bring the Government's budget deficit down to zero, we will never restore full health to the American economy until we find a way to provide basic health security to all American families and bring the cost of health care in line with inflation. It is the single biggest long-term drag on our budget deficit and our economic performance. And I pledge to you, building on the example of Hawaii, preserving the right of people to choose their doctor and to keep the medical system that works so well, we will find a solution to this problem, and we will begin soon. We must do it to bring the American people together and restore the economic health of America.
Audience members. Justice for Hawaii! Justice for Hawaii! Justice for Hawaii!
The President. I hope we can provide it. Thank you for being here in such numbers. We want to get out and visit with you. This is probably the longest political speech any of you ever listened to on a vacation in your lives.
So to close, I'll give you a laugh. I told my mother about this trip, and I said, "You know, Mother, when we come back we pick up 19 hours, and I'll have two whole Sundays." And she said over the phone, "Son, you need it." [Laughter]
Thank you all, and God bless you. I'm glad to see you.
NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Frank F. Fasi of Honolulu.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Community in Honolulu Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219713