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Public Papers - 1991 - December

Remarks to Tropicana Employees in Bradenton, Florida


Thank you, Feng, and thank you, Alton, and all of you. I'm sure you all were dunned for your participation in that present. But it's a beauty. And I see the medical department RN's instructing me to say hello to Barbara Bush, which I will be happy -- and she will be thrilled to see this, I'll tell you. And thank you all for the warm welcome. And Barry Brinson, thanks for the introduction. And I'm just pleased to be with you all. I'm glad to see my old friend, Edgar Bronfman, who just spoke to you; William Pietersen, Tropicana's able president; and to be here with my good friends, Senator Connie Mack and then the two Congressmen from right in here, Andy Ireland and Porter Goss, both good men, too. And to all the men and women who work here at this exciting and productive facility, thank you for your warm hospitality.

And I wish that each of you could have been with me. You've seen it a thousand times, but I love that infectious enthusiasm of the men and women that were showing me parts of this wonderful operation. They made me feel right at home, and so do all of you. Thank you very, very much.

I promise you -- please be seated out there. No, I'm going to be brief. I came here really, I mean this, to look and to listen and to learn. I'm delighted with what I've seen, a successful American company with a great work force in a fiercely competitive industry. In our household, where we have grandchildren coming and going all the time, sometimes we feel as though we're keeping both the fruit juice industry and the soft drink industry in business all by ourselves. So, I'm glad to see where it's coming from.

American consumers are big winners because of the robust competition in this business. You and your competitors have taken up the challenge to create an appetizing array of new products. Here and on other travels to workplaces around the country, I see an accelerating commitment to quality, to world-class performance. I've seen firsthand the revolution in organization and management: Companies are getting the lead out and cutting the bureaucracy and making sustainable gains in productivity, gains that will be sustained, I might add.

American companies have made an unprecedented commitment to education, to training, an effort that fits well with our America 2000 education strategy to revolutionize American education by the dawn of the new century, so that your kids are going to be able to compete with any kids anywhere in the world in terms of brainpower, in terms of education.

And I wanted to especially single this country out because, you see, our businesses are taking tough, effective measures to fight drug abuse in the workplace. They know that a drug-free workplace is another essential requirement for a competitive industry. I have the highest praise for Tropicana's anti-drug program, and I'm deeply grateful to your former president, Bob Soran, and vice president, Martin Gutfreund, for their hard work with my Presidential Drug Advisory Council.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Bob came up to Camp David, along with some other business and labor people, and came up there to Camp David to brief me on this comprehensive nationwide program to make the workplace drug-free. And you can be proud that your company is out front setting an example for companies around the world, especially in this country.

You know, American companies are expanding, working hard to expand exports. And we're succeeding. American firms are muscling their way into world markets with success and with skill and with drive. And with every billion dollars, a lot of Americans don't understand this, with every billion dollars of manufactured exports they're creating 20,000 more jobs for Americans.

In some cases the Government plays a vital role in helping companies export. The trade negotiators in our administration have worked intensely to open up, for example, Japan's consumer markets. Thanks to these free and fair trade policies and to the skills of our agriculture and trade officials, Japan will drop its prohibitive quota system on orange juice and throw its market wide open to American orange juice, effective next April. And we will be able to compete in that market. And believe me, it's going to mean more jobs right here.

I've just mentioned some of the top-priority economic business issues: The quality revolution, the educational excellence, the drug-free workplaces, successful positioning in foreign markets. And each of these does play a profoundly important role in our Nation's long-term economic well-being. Each of these stems not so much from Government machination as from private initiative, from Main Street America's sweat and muscle and brainpower and will, and from the excellence of the people that are out there on the lines doing the work.

In my younger years I was an entrepreneur. That's a big word for meaning a small business guy. And just out of college, my partners and I started a couple of really small companies, and we worked hard to help them survive and grow and create jobs in our community way out there in Odessa and Midland, Texas, in West Texas. That helped me a lot in life because I want to take my stand with the millions of entrepreneurs, small businessmen, working people who live in the real world and understand what makes this country work.

On fiscal and monetary policy, we have some good fundamentals in place. Interest rates, fortunately, are down. And I'm going to work hard to try to keep them down. Inflation seems to be under control right now, and that's good. But much more needs to be done. I'm talking now about the economy nationwide. We can't sit back and hope for the best. We all know that too many people are having a tough time right now.

And I'm hearing about it in conversations with working people. And I'm reading hardship stories in letters people write. I can't tell you I read every letter I get up there. It's a tremendous volume, but I got to see a lot of them. And I do understand. And I am concerned. And I really want to help. And I know that for a person out of a job, for that person, the unemployment rate is a hurtful 100 percent.

So, we've got to do more to get this economy on the move. And I think you probably know, I hope you do at least, that I've been fighting since 1989 for a cut in the capital gains to stimulate investment which creates new jobs. And I'm going to keep on fighting for it. This is one of the most productive tax changes one could devise. And the beneficiaries of this will be the people that are out of work looking for jobs and these small business people. And, yes, a cut in that capital gains tax will also mean more money in the pocket for Americans who sell their homes.

So capital gains relief is only part of our program. This coming week, I believe it will be this coming week, I'm going to be signing a very important transportation bill that creates new jobs while helping to rebuild the infrastructure in our country. I'm working for a research tax credit to help these new technologies create more jobs. And I believe Mr. Pietersen could assert to the importance of our staying out front, whether it's in this industry or others, on research and development.

We're working for new IRA's. I imagine a lot of you have IRA's when you try to save. We're trying to get them -- that will help the first-time homebuyer -- and bank reform legislation to help America enjoy diversified financial services designed for the next century, help out there in the future as well as now. And I'm determined to leave no stone unturned in an effort to promote economic growth.

I have enjoyed this chance to see what you're doing. I admit it's just a bird's-eye view out there, if you'll excuse the expression. But I really believe that I've learned a lot from listening to the people working in this marvelous facility, getting their thoughts about where the country is headed. Quite frankly, being with you here today refreshes me. And I am proud of your hard work, of your management skill, of your commitment to fight the drug scourge. l like the hand that the previous speaker got in terms of this, fighting these drugs. This is, oh, it's so important to the families in this country that we succeed. And when I say we, I don't mean just Washington. I mean the communities, families, points of light all across our country. We have got to beat back this scourge of drugs that are poisoning the young people in this country.

And so I am proud of your hard work and your skills, as I say, and what I mentioned earlier on, the passion and the genius that I felt from the individual workers I met and all of you for getting ever-more attractive products into a demanding market.

This is an exciting, tough time but an exciting time to be President of the United States. We're moving towards a much more peaceful world. And I take some pride that we've got a good team that have been working for that. We set back aggression halfway around the world less than a year ago when we taught Saddam Hussein a real lesson.

Now what I want to take is this new-found credibility of the United States -- and believe me, it is strong around the world -- and use it to get into these foreign markets which means more jobs for American workers, more jobs for the people of Florida. So, I'm going to keep on trying my hardest. I've learned from you.

Thank you, and may God bless the United States of America, the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you so much.

Note: The President spoke at 11 a.m. at Tropicana Products, Inc. In his remarks, the President referred to Edgar M. Bronfman, chairman and chief executive officer of the Seagrams Co., Inc.; and Tropicana employees Feng Woods, Alton Perkins, and Barry Brinson, who presented the President with a ship's wheel.

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