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Remarks on the Federal Budget and an Exchange with Reporters

September 26, 1995

The President. First of all, let me say, as you can see here, I am meeting with the Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee. I am delighted to be here with them to discuss the budget decisions that have to be made in the next few weeks.

As you know, I strongly favor balancing the budget to lift the burden of debt off of our children and to strengthen our economy. But I think we have to do it in a way that is consistent with our values, giving people the chance to make the most of their own lives, strengthening our families, protecting our children, honoring our parents, growing the middle class, and shrinking the under class. Those are the values that we ought to be making these decisions on.

In my judgment, the congressional budget that the Republican majority has offered violates those values. And the American people need to be a part of this, and they need to ask some basic questions: Do we want to support that budget when it will deny 300,000 elderly people the right to be in nursing homes that they have today? Do we really want to eliminate all the quality standards for nursing homes?

What about—can anybody remember what it was like to go in those places when there were no quality standards? Do we really want to tax 17 million working families and put millions of them back into poverty even though they're working? Do we want to say to a woman whose husband has to go to a nursing home, "In order for your husband to qualify for any assistance you have to sell your car, your house; you have to spend all your life savings; you have to be totally impoverished"? And do we want to let corporations loot their pension funds and compromise the retirement of their workers' future? How can we forget—it just was a couple of years ago when we had all these pension funds going broke. Do we really want to go and make that mistake all over again? Now, this budget does all those things. Those are the choices.

I have offered the Congress a budget that balances the budget without destroying education, without undermining our commitment to the environment, and without violating our commitments to working families, the elderly, and poor children.

It seems to me that we have to ask these questions. We have to move beyond the level of rhetoric to the values that are embodied in the choices that are being made. And I want to see us make the right choices for America. We need to balance the budget, but we need to do it in a way that strengthens our families, strengthens opportunity, and honors our obligations. That's the only way to help this country, and I am determined to see that we work together to do that in the next few weeks.

Ross Perot

Q. Mr. President, what do you think about Ross Perot's decision to form a third party?

Congressman. Give us a break, will you? [Laughter]

Q. How about the President?

The President. I try to balance the budget, and I'm an ardent promoter of political reform, as you know. But he'll have to do whatever he wants to do, and the American people can make their judgment.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:20 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House, prior to a meeting with Members of Congress. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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

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