Remarks to the Community in Tallahassee, Florida
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It's about to rain on us, but I won't melt. And I'm glad to be back in Florida and glad to be in Tallahassee, and I thank you.
I want to thank Governor Chiles and Lieutenant Governor McKay and your County Commissioner Malloy and, of course, your fine mayor, all of them for meeting me, and along with my EPA Director, Florida's own Carol Browner. I'm glad to have her back here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be back in Florida, a State that embodies what I am trying to get done all across the country, a State that is committed to opportunity, committed to building strength out of diversity, and committed to our future. That's what America needs everywhere.
I wish you could have been with me in Atlanta today. We had the first of a number of regional economic conferences. I had all kinds of people talking about what's going on in the South and how we're going to get this country into the next century with the American dream alive, with opportunity and education and hope for every single citizen of this country. That's what I believe in.
I'm sure it has not escaped you that we're having a mild debate in Washington, DC, these days about what our Government ought to be doing. Now, on the one side there's people who believe that everything that's been done in the last 25 years is fine and that there's a big-Government solution for every big problem. I disagree with that.
But now all the rage in Washington is that everything the Government did was wrong and Government is the source of all of our problems and if Government would go away, everything would be like flowers blooming in the desert. I disagree with that, too.
Well, I believe, like Lawton Chiles believes, that we need a Government that is limited but effective, that is smaller, that regulates less, but that is committed to the following things: creating opportunity, empowering people through education to make the most of their own lives, and finally, enhancing the security of the American people, not only abroad as we have but also at home in our streets and in our schools and in our families. That is what we need a Government for.
And we have made a good beginning. We have reduced the deficit. We have expanded trade. We have 6 million more jobs in this country. We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation in 25 years. And I know that you know that Florida has grown more rapidly than the rest of the country. Since I became President, the unemployment rate in this State has dropped almost 3 percent. Governor Chiles whispered in my ear, said it's the lowest in 13 years, and I appreciate that.
Almost a million families in this State got an income tax cut because they're working hard for modest wages and we don't believe anybody who works full-time with a child in the house should be in poverty. We want people to leave welfare and go to work, and they shouldn't be taxed if they're working.
We have worked hard to deal with the problems of this State up and down, to maintain a strong military and a military presence in northern Florida and throughout the State. We've worked hard to make Florida a showcase of the future with the Summit of the Americas conference we had down in Miami in December.
And I know that apparently a few hours ago it leaked out that the Defense Department has just decided to move the command of the Southern Command for Central and South America away from Panama, as we're required to do under the Panama Canal Treaty, to Florida, to Dade County.
I want you to know that the Central Command, which as I said, covers all of Central and South America—I want you to know how important this is. They are working to promote democracy throughout our hemisphere, to promote cooperation with these countries, to help to defend the Panama Canal, and most important of all now, to help to protect the American people and the people of those countries from the scourge of drugs and the illegal thugs that purvey them all across our part of the world. And now the center of that effort will be in your State.
Sometimes I ask myself, well, if things are going this well, why aren't we all happy? And there's good reason. There is a good reason, because for the first time in our history, the global economy with all of its competition and the rise in technology with all of its ability to have fewer people do more work means that we have created 6 million jobs but our incomes aren't going up yet. This has never happened before, where half the American people are working longer without a raise, where there is more inequality in the middle class, with incomes splitting apart and uncertainty.
So I say to you, we've had 2 years to generate more jobs and get the economy going again. Now we've got to concentrate on growing the middle class and shrinking the under class and getting the incomes of the American people up again so they can look forward with confidence to the future.
Audience members. Four more years!
The President. Now—thank you. But let's talk about 4 more days for a minute. [Laughter]
Let me ask you this, we all know that we need a smaller and less bureaucratic Government. Lawton Chiles has got pictures in the paper all over America, being hoisted up to get rid of all those regulations. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
I am proud of the fact that Carol Browner is getting rid of 25 percent of the paperwork of the EPA to save 20 million hours for the American people every year. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the fact that a small business person in Florida can go to the SBA for a loan; instead of having to fill out a form an inch thick, it's just a page long, because we got rid of bureaucracy. I'm proud of the fact that we threw 10,000 regulations away in the Federal personnel manual. But I think you still want us to have clean water, clean air, a safe workplace, and a safe country.
If we're going to raise incomes, folks, we need a commitment to do things that will raise incomes, more good jobs. If we're going to give tax breaks, which I favor, let's give them to middle class people to educate their children so that that will lift incomes. Let's raise the minimum wage. It hasn't been raised in years, and it will help people's incomes. Let's reform welfare so that people go to work and raise their children and people who owe child support have to pay that child support to take care of their children.
And let's get rid of wasteful Government, but let's don't cut off our nose to spite our face. When we wanted to cut money out of the Department of Agriculture, we closed 1,200 offices; we did not cut the School Lunch Program.
When we wanted to cut money out of our efforts on housing, we got rid of all the regional HUD offices and consolidated these old bureaucratic programs. We didn't try to cut a program for homeless veterans. There's a right way and a wrong way to do this.
And here, with all this fine music that's been provided to us by the band and the choir from— what? From Florida A&M and Florida State, right? The last thing we need to do is to cut the college loan program and make it more expensive to go to college.
So I say to you, you stay with us. You engage in this great debate. Yes, we'll bring the size of the Government down. Yes, we'll reduce the burden of regulation. But let's remember, we've got to keep our people first. We've got to keep our eye on the future. We've got to invest in education. We've got to grow the economy. We've got to keep the American dream alive.
I want every young person, every young person here tonight, to be able to look to a future where you can do anything that your dreams and your efforts will permit you to do. I want every one of you young people to look forward with the same anticipation that all of us up here had in having your own children and raising your own families. I want you to believe in the promise of America. Let us commit to that and make sure it's real and alive here in Florida.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
NOTE: The President spoke at 7:30 p.m. at Tallahassee Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy McKay of Florida; Rudy Malloy, Leon County commissioner; and Mayor Scott Maddox of Tallahassee.
William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Community in Tallahassee, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221655