Public Papers - 1992
Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Departure for Camp David, Maryland
The President. I have two subjects I want to address very briefly before we leave here.
First, on the unemployment extension bill. This afternoon the House passed an unemployment bill, and the Senate is expected to act shortly; it may have already moved. But the bill that came out of the House-Senate conference is a good one. It took the best of the House and Senate positions. It's paid for, and it does not violate the budget agreement. And it preserves the fiscal discipline that is so vital to our economic recovery. There are no new taxes in the bill. It doesn't raise unemployment taxes or raise the unemployment wage-base. Most of the objectionable policies were dropped from it. The extra benefits will give unemployed Americans as much as 52 weeks of unemployment insurance. This is an important safeguard for workers who still can't find jobs as the economy continues to grow. And I'm glad that we were able to work it out with the Congress in the last couple of days.
The current program runs out on Saturday. I want to make sure that people keep getting these extended benefits. Therefore, I will sign this bill as soon as it reaches my desk. And I might say at the end of this statement, once again, I was very pleased to see the Fed move to reduce the rates because clearly that will have an economic stimulus that will help get this country back to work real fast.
The second subject: I have just concluded another meeting on AIDS. And with me is Bishop Swing, who ministers to many AIDS patients, is in the forefront of the struggle against AIDS. He comes from San Francisco, a friend to Barbara and to me. Also there was Dr. Burt Lee, my own personal physician but who's had an active role in AIDS -- he was on the AIDS Commission before he came here; Mary Fisher, who is personally involved with the disease; Dr. Fauci, one of our Nation's leading researchers out at NIH. And I mentioned, I think, Dr. Sullivan of HHS.
But we met in there, and I was asking them, how can I better convey the concern that I feel, and what can I do better to convey what we are doing? And I believe that I must have the Nation know that we're all enmeshed in the pain that people feel about this disease, whether they have the disease, afflicted by it, or whether they're people who just want to help.
I think it's important to emphasize that progress has been made. And we listened to Dr. Fauci talk about the progress that's been made, the hope that he and the other great researchers and scientists in this country have for progress on the vaccines, for example; the fact there are three different ways now to try to contain this disease.
And then the third point is the determination that we all feel that we must win this battle. And the bishop and Dr. Fauci pointed out to me something that I do know and perhaps have not articulated it, and that is that the United States has a key leadership role here. It's a worldwide problem. And our science is on the cutting edge. Our researchers aren't the only ones doing the job, but they are doing a superb job. I just want others around the world to know that we share their concerns, and we want to share our science with anyone we possibly can help. And so it was that area. We talked a little bit, Lou did, Lou Sullivan brought up the point he makes about the ADA bill where we are opposed to discrimination. And that bill, that forward civil rights legislation, addressed itself to that.
So it was a good meeting. And I will continue to find ways to take to the Nation the concern that I feel, that Barbara feels on this dreaded disease. It affects so many families. And we've got to make sure that we remain doing everything we can. As we all know, the funding for research is substantially up and the requests for next year very strong. But I wish there was more even. But we'll keep doing our job. And I have learned a lot from my dear friend Bishop Swing, again. And also, I'm grateful to those others that attended the meeting.
Thank you all very much.
Proposed Family Life Executive Order
Q. Have you received the letter from the Baptists concerning the position that you've taken with -- their objection to your position on ``20/20'' about hiring homosexuals? Not making a litmus test?
The President. I didn't hear anything about that. I didn't see anything.
Q. The Christian Life Commission has sent you a letter that said it's too late for meetings and that action is required on this policy. They're asking you -- --
The President. What is that?
Q. They're asking you to sign the proposed Executive order on family life -- the definition, sir?
The President. Well, I'll have to take a look at what we're talking about here.
Q. What about Magic Johnson's concerns that he's raised?
The President. I think my position on family life is pretty well known to this country.
Q. Have you had any more communication with Magic?
The President. No, and we've tried to get in touch with him. I asked Dr. Sullivan about that again. And I don't know that -- I know I haven't been. But we have tried to get in touch with Magic Johnson. He's a part of the Commission. We know their reservations. But there's no hostility here. Anybody that has suggestions as to how I can do my job better in expressing the concerns that we feel as a Nation, so much the better. But I don't know what his latest position is on this. But I'd be very anxious to hear from him and to understand more clearly what his concerns are.
Q. Are you open to a possible change in the immigration law, sir? That's been one of the major points of criticism.
The President. Well, we discussed it a little bit. And I know there's some concern on that. But I'd want to get some recommendations from our expert before I committed myself on that.
Q. Mr. President, since you've staked so much of your reelection on the economic recovery, doesn't the lagging unemployment, if it lags all the way to November, doesn't that decrease your chances for reelection?
The President. I don't know, Jim [Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News]. I hear so many things that decrease, or some that increase, my chances. I feel that we all have a stake, regardless of the politics, in an improved economy. All I know is that we would not have unemployment at this level if I could have gotten our investment incentives passed by the Congress. And I say that not to blame anybody, but what I've felt has been necessary all along is economic stimulus. That's why we had a specific program proposed, and most of it is languishing on Capitol Hill.
Having said that, the economy is growing. Having said that, I am very much concerned about the unemployment figures. I still maintain that unemployment is a lagging indicator because there are other things that are quite positive, including the fact that interest rates are even lower now than they've been. And that, inevitably, spurs investment and jobs.
So, there are mixed reports. One day we'll get a good statistic; another day we'll have one that isn't so good. But when it involves human life, when it involves somebody wanting to work that doesn't have a job, then of course we're concerned about that. I don't know about the political implications, but I am convinced that the economy is continuing to improve.
I've got to go.
Note: The President spoke at 6:05 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rev. William E. Swing, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of San Francisco.