Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in Los Alamitos, California

November 04, 1994

Thank you very much. First I want to thank Julia. You know, I was looking at her make that talk and thinking a couple of things. One is, she's the sort of person that makes this country great. And the second thing is, as long as we've got people like her and people like you, we're going to be all right, and don't you let anybody tell you any different. I am delighted to be here with Bob Hood. You already heard him talk about the trip that he made to China with the Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown. I'm delighted to be here with Congresswoman Harman, Senator Boxer, and of course with Senator Feinstein. I appreciate the comments that Senator Feinstein made on behalf of all of us about the importance of this agreement.

This agreement was signed just a couple of hours ago by John McDonnell, your chairman, and Li Lanqing, the Vice Premier of China, with whom I met yesterday at the White House. It is a part of our ongoing efforts to expand trade in ways that maintain high-wage jobs in the United States, increase jobs in the United States, and help other countries to grow so that they can buy more and more of our products and provide better lives for their people as well. I am delighted by the fact that these jobs will be preserved in California and that others in Connecticut and other States will benefit.

It would not have been possible, notwithstanding the trip to China by Secretary Brown and by Bob Hood, but for the work of the McDonnell Douglas employees and the continued commitment of all of you to become more and more competitive, more and more productive, more and more successful.

I want to take just a minute—we've already celebrated, and I want us to celebrate, but I want you to understand from my point of view how this fits into America's future and to your future. Twenty-one months ago when I went to Washington to try to turn this economy around and rebuild our country, the unemployment rate here in California was 9.4 percent. You had suffered because of the national recession, but you had also suffered because with only 12 percent of America's population, you had 21 percent of our defense sector, and you had taken a disproportionate hit, about 40 percent of the impact of the base closures to date, as Senator Feinstein had said.

It was obvious to me that we had to do something to turn this situation around. And we began the implementation of a comprehensive, long-term economic strategy that was very different from what had been pursued in previous years. First we decided we needed to reduce the deficit of the United States, to free up more money to invest in the private sector to create jobs in the private sector and to drive interest rates down. Then we decided we had to remove controls on American exports, especially of hightech products which are disproportionately produced in California. Then we decided we had to increase our number of trade agreements, like NAFTA and the GATT world trade agreement, to open up new markets. We decided we needed to make a special effort to invest in new technologies and to invest in defense conversion, which obviously had a big impact here. Now, in California that meant that onethird of all the funds we've invested to try to help defense contractors move from defense to domestic production or to commercial production for the United States and the world, onethird of all that money was spent in investments here in California. We also decided that we needed a clear, sharp view about what kind of defense posture we needed to take ourselves into the 21st century with the strongest military in the world.

I want to mention just a word about the C-17 contract because it's been mentioned by others. We had to fight like crazy to preserve the C-17. And I hope we won't ever have to fight like that again, because the C-17 is important not to your jobs, your jobs are incidental to the fact that it's important to the national security of the United States of America.

And I just want to mention one thing. I think all Americans were filled with pride when they saw the comprehensive United States operation that brought President Aristide back and democracy back to Haiti with no casualties. I think they were filled with pride when they saw the lightning-like response of the United States to Saddam Hussein's aggression in the Persian Gulf. Others were amazed that we moved as quickly as we did. Why is that? Because we learned after the Gulf war, in which the United States took 4 1/2 months to position our soldiers, our airmen, our marines, our naval personnel, and all of our equipment, that we had to move more quickly. And one of the things we have to have is much more enhanced airlift and sealift capacity. That is what the C-17 means. That is what we are developing.

So if you like what you saw in Haiti, if you like what you saw in the Persian Gulf, then continue to support the C-17, not only because of the jobs in California but because of the job it allows the finest military in the entire world to do for the United States of America.

We have a long way to go in California. But the unemployment rate has dropped, as Senator Boxer said, from 9.4 percent to 7.7 percent. The unemployment rate in America is at a 4year low. Jobs are growing at 5 times the rate they did in the previous 4 years. The United States has just been voted at the annual panel of international economists as the most productive economy in the world for the first time in 9 years. For the first time in 15 years, America's autoworkers will make and sell more cars around the world than their Japanese competitors. We are moving in the right direction.

Here in California, in addition to the C-17 and this contract, I want to point out again the work that's being done in defense conversion. We are turning Norton Air Force Base over to the community. The Presidio has been turned into a national park. Up in northern California, the Alameda Naval Station will be turned over to the Port of Oakland. We are moving on a massive attempt to revive the capacity of Americans to build ships, which is benefiting the shipbuilding industry in San Diego that I'm sure all of you are familiar with.

These are the kinds of things we need to continue to push ahead with. And there are high-technology investments, from the physics experiment at Stanford to the work that's just been contracted at Livermore Labs, to the continuing effort of our administration to promote the space station, something that also benefits the workers of California, that will take us into the 21st century with a defense that is smaller but still adequate to our responsibilities in the world and with a job base that is preserved.

If you look around this crowd today, you will see everything that is best about America. What makes a country strong? Abroad, it's strong security, more trade, standing up for freedom and peace. At home, it's strong families. It's strong education systems. it's safe streets. It's good jobs. That is the true strength of America. That is what we are here to celebrate today.

And I want to tell you that the economic strategy that we have pursued that is making a difference in this country would simply not have been possible without the support of your Congresswoman, Jane Harman, and your Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. It is a partnership. And the partnership we have with the private sector is in many ways, as I'm sure Bob Hood will tell you, virtually unprecedented. Abroad, we are working hard without relief, and we will continue to work until we have this economy turned around again and until every Julia Clayton in the United States can not only be a great-grandmother but can also look forward to an American economy for her great-grandchildren that will be the envy of the world.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:45 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Julia Clayton, McDonnell Douglas employee, and Bob Hood, president, Douglas Aircraft, and to an amended agreement providing for U.S. assembly of 20 McDonnell Douglas aircraft to be purchased by China and originally to be assembled in China.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in Los Alamitos, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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