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Teleconference With Mayors and an Exchange With Reporters

February 09, 1994

The President. Hello. Mayor Daley, Mayor White, Mayor Rice, Mayor Minor, welcome to the telephone conversation. I'm here with the Attorney General and with our Director of Drug Policy, Lee Brown. And we're glad to visit with you.

Today I'm happy to announce that the four cities you represent and 30 others and towns across our country will receive the second round of grants to put more police on the street and to expand community policing.

The Justice Department has now received applications from 3,000 communities across the country and awarded grants in more than 100 cities and towns. It's obvious that every community in our country is coming to the same conclusion, that more police officers on the street, properly trained and properly placed, will reduce the crime rate. And these grants today are another downpayment on our pledge to put 100,000 new officers on the streets.

I've asked Congress, as I think all of you know, to send me a comprehensive crime bill as soon as possible that does that, that puts 100,000 police officers on the street, bans assault weapons, expands boot camps, prisons, and drug courts, and says to violent offenders, "Three strikes and you're out."

I've also provided funding for that crime bill in this budget through the 5-year, $22 billion violent crime reduction trust fund that takes the money we're going to save from reducing the Federal bureaucracy by 250,000 over 5 years and pays for the police officers.

Earlier today, Lee Brown and I announced our new drug control strategy, which expands drug treatment programs as well as provides more police officers on the street. These two items in our budget got bigger increases than almost anything else. Community policing went up $1.7 billion. The drug budget went up $1 billion, even though we were cutting half the Government Departments and 60 percent of the line items in the budget.

So I am very encouraged that at least we're beginning to make our contribution to this effort. I want to thank all of you for what you're doing to fight crime in your communities. I want to give you a chance to be heard today. And as I said, Lee Brown and Janet Reno and I are here, we want to support you, and we want to do everything we can to help you succeed.

Mayor Daley.

[At this point, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, IL, and Mayor Michael White of Cleveland, OH, spoke in support of community policing, and Mayor White expressed support for the President's crime bill.]

The President. Thank you very much. We need your support for the crime bill. We need you up here going door to door. And we also need your support for the drug budget because the two things go together.

[Mayor Norman Rice of Seattle, WA; Mayor Tom Minor of San Bernardino, CA; Attorney General Janet Reno; and Director of National Drug Control Policy Lee Brown made brief remarks.]

The President. One thing I want to say as I sign off is that to all of those hundreds of communities who applied for these grants who haven't been given funds, that's why we need to pass the crime bill. If we do that, then we'll be able to help cities all over America. We'll be able to meet the demand, and we'll be able to lower the crime rate. And I appreciate the support that all of you have given to that. And thank you for your example. We'll just keep working together.

Thank you, and goodbye.

[At this point, the teleconference ended, and the President took questions from reporters.]


Q. Mr. President, have you had any up-date on the situation in Bosnia?

Q. Mr. President, are the allies on board on a new Bosnia strategy?

The President. Well, we've made a lot of progress, but I don't have a final word from Brussels yet. They're meeting and they're talking. So far we've got a good report back, but they haven't finalized their discussions. I expect, oh, in a couple of hours, later this afternoon I'll have more to say about it.

Q. Does the Serbian agreement to pull back their guns from the hills of Sarajevo meet the conditions that you are hoping to lay out at the end of this meeting?

The President. I can't say. I want to wait until I get the final report from Brussels. I should be able to give you a clearer answer on that. It's a good thing that they have—a good beginning, but it shows—again, every time NATO shows a little resolve there, we get some results.

Q. What's different about the proposals that you and the French have put forward than with previous threats? There have been lots of threats to launch air strikes.

The President. Well, let's wait and see what action is taken. Again, I'll try to give you some good comments before your deadlines this evening, but I think I should wait until the meeting is concluded.

Q. Can you tell us, are you backing off in your support for the Bosnian Moslems at all?

The President. Oh, no. That's not what this is about at all.

Health Care Reform

Q. Now that you've had a chance to reflect a little bit on what the CBO said about your health care numbers, do you have any other comments?

The President. No, I feel even better about it. I mean, the CBO said that we could have guaranteed private health insurance for all Americans, that it would reduce the Government deficit and reduce Government spending over the long run, that it wouldn't cost jobs for the American economy. I mean, I think the big-picture message is absolutely right.

I think in terms of the differences, I'm studying now the differences in their calculations and ours in the next 5 or 6 years, and basically, they agree with us about how much it will cost. They think there will be more savings on the business side and fewer savings for the taxpayers in the short run. That's really the only difference as nearly as I can see.

But those are all things that we can work out. Those are relatively minor budgetary considerations and other things that we can work through to get our numbers in harmony with theirs. So I'm not at all concerned.

And I don't have anything else to say to what I said yesterday. I just think that to say that a private insurance payment from one private party to another should be on the Government budget—I just don't agree with that. I mean, otherwise every State in the country would have to put workers' compensation payments on their budget, and every State would have to put their mandatory drivers liability insurance on their budget. I just don't agree with—I mean, I understand the argument, but again, I think that's something we can fix with the drafting of the bill. So I'm not concerned about it.

Q. You're not worried about the short-term— impact?

The President. Oh, but when I had a chance to study it further, I felt even better about their analysis because if you look at their analysis, they basically agree with us about how much the program will cost and how it will impact. They think in the short run more savings will flow to private sector—to businesses and purchases, direct purchases of health care—and less savings to the Government. And over a 5-year period, Senator Moynihan at the beginning of the day said the Government will spend $7.5 trillion or something in the next 5 years. This $70 billion, it's a big number, but spread out over 5 years we can easily work through it. I think we can reconcile that. I'm not worried about it.

President Boris Yeltsin of Russia

Q. Have you spoken to President Yeltsin on the Bosnia situation, Mr. President?

The President. Not yet. We're trying to set up telephone calls sometime today, and I think we'll talk today.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:54 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. The exchange portion of this item could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

William J. Clinton, Teleconference With Mayors and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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