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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks on Arrival in Appleton, Wisconsin


Thank you all for this marvelous turnout. I do have an official announcement I want to make today. I first want to salute Governor Thompson, Senator Kasten, and our distinguished Members of the United States House of Representatives. Great to be back in this State that's built on faith and family and freedom. Wisconsin is a great example to the rest of America, just as America is to the entire world. And today I'm very proud to be in a place where programs like Learnfare and Workfare and the Parental Responsibility Act all tell America: Watch Wisconsin because Wisconsin works.

Governor Thompson wants Wisconsin to work even better, and that's why he's joined my crusade to reform our welfare system. Let's face it, we know the system has failed the people. It doesn't lift families from poverty; it traps them there. Welfare discourages families from staying together. And when the system rips families apart, it's time to rip apart that system.

Now, Americans yearn to keep families whole and give our kids the learning skills and, yes, track down parents who run out on their kids. They know that if America doesn't change the welfare system for the better, the welfare system is going to change America for the worse. That means trying, therefore, new plans, new ideas, a new kind of reform. Only then can we break the cycle of dependency.

In my State of the Union Address last January, I made a commitment to far-reaching reform. I acted because I believe we can no longer afford the existing welfare system. Our recipients can't afford to be dependent on government for their livelihood, and our taxpayers can't afford to pay the welfare bill, and our economy can't afford the lost productivity.

I also acted because I trust the American people and because I believe that those on welfare, what they really want is a piece of the American dream: homeownership, a good job, opportunities for their children, and strong, loving families. And therefore, I am determined to make it quicker and easier for States who choose to reform their welfare systems to get the Federal waivers that they need to help the people help themselves.

Last April my administration signed a first waiver for Wisconsin. And today it will sign a second giving Governor Thompson the freedom to further reform this State's welfare program. Governor Thompson's ultimate goal is to break the cycle of dependency that traps so many people and create incentives for recipients to work and learn. He understands that more important than having an America that helps people in need is building an America where fewer people need to be helped.

Today I want to challenge other States in our country to follow Wisconsin's lead in bringing new ideas to our welfare system. Last week we approved New Jersey's Family Development Program, whose reforms in the State welfare program reward work and unite families. And I am confident other States will now do what America does best, bring local genius to local needs.

In coming months, we are going to watch Wisconsin to see how Wisconsin works. Together, we can help change that welfare system and, in doing so, change America. I'm proud to sign this waiver. I congratulate Governor Thompson and the people of Wisconsin.

Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:19 p.m. at the Outagamie County Airport.

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