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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to Sandia National Laboratories Employees in Albuquerque, New Mexico

1992-09-15

Thank you for that welcome. Thank you so very much. And it's a joy to be introduced by your great Senator, Pete Domenici, steadfast, loyal supporter of the people that sent him to Washington. He knows how he got elected, and he hasn't forgotten. And he does something unique. He votes the way in Washington that he talks in New Mexico, making him quite different than many Members of the United States Senate. And so he's doing a great job for the people of this State.

I'm also pleased to see two of our Cabinet members here: Secretary Manuel Lujan, a former Congressman from New Mexico, great American; and of course, Jim Watkins, former Chief of Naval Operations, now our Secretary of Energy; both doing a superb job in our Cabinet. And may I salute Steve Schiff and Joe Skeen. If we had more Members of Congress like them everybody wouldn't be yelling at me, ``Clean House!'' We've got two good ones right here. And Bruce Twining, the manager of the Department of Energy's Albuquerque office; and let me also especially thank Al and Sig, my two hosts here today. I love that plowshare, I love it. And it's a wonderful thing when you can think what it really signifies. It will have a special place in any library that I'm associated with in the future.

It's great to be back in Albuquerque, this beautiful city, and I understand that you'll host the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I'll leave it to you to decide whether the Presidential candidates should be invited. [Laughter]

But I came here today to talk a little bit about the future. And it's really your future. But before I look ahead, a word of thanks for the past, because I can stand before this wonderfully productive and patriotic audience this afternoon and say something no President has ever said before: The cold war is over, and freedom finished first. Where was the cold war won? Well, it was won along the trenches of Korea, on the training fields of our military academies, and inside the pockets of our taxpayers who dug deep and spent trillion over four decades to keep the Soviet bear at bay. But the cold war was won in other places, like right here in Sandia and up on the hill in Los Alamos. And let me quote someone who I'm not in the habit of quoting very often, Leonid Brezhnev. Speaking at the height of the cold war, Brezhnev said, and I quote, ``At the present stage, problems of scientific technological progresses are acquiring, quite frankly, decisive importance.'' Now, I admit that's not exactly the most memorable statement ever made. It's not exactly going to compete with ``You got the right one, baby.'' But Mr. Brezhnev was right: All the courage, all the sacrifice, all the wealth in the world would not have made a difference had we not had scientists on our side.

And so I've come here today on behalf of all Americans, on behalf of all who love freedom, to say thanks to you, thanks to the men and women of Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia. You were the scientific saviors of the free world. Now you are in the forefront of our effort to help ensure the safe and secure dismantling of former Soviet nuclear warheads. With the historic agreements I've reached with Boris Yeltsin, I know you're awfully busy lately. And yet, although we are now reducing our nuclear forces dramatically, a safe and reliable deterrent remains essential to our national security. Let's not kid ourselves: The Soviet bear may be gone, but there are still plenty of wolves in the woods. And those wolves could turn into full-fledged, fire-breathing dragons if they acquire nuclear capability. And I make this promise: I will never let these threats endanger our kids' security.

In July, I announced a comprehensive strategy to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction and discourage the use. Today I want to take the next step. With the cold war over, we can do with a smaller nuclear stockpile. And with a smaller stockpile, we need smaller amounts of tritium, an essential ingredient in nuclear weapons. Today I am announcing the immediate deferral of the Department of Energy's billion-dollar program to build a new production reactor for tritium. But the safety of our children is paramount. So I will ask the Congress to redirect 6 million to support the nuclear nonproliferation initiative I announced in July through work done at national laboratories like Sandia. You and your colleagues will develop new technologies to detect and prevent the spread of weapons on land, at sea, and in space. And once again, your scientific brilliance will help make sure that our children sleep soundly and dream the sweet dreams of peace.

Also today I'm asking Congress to reallocate 0 million in funds for the Department of Defense procurement items to provide an increase in research and advance technology programs through DARPA. This research in communications, supercom- puters, and manufacturing technology will help protect our national security and strengthen our civilian technology. And by the way, it will employ the talents and skills of more than 3,000 scientists and engineers.

You see, the end of the cold war brings more than new security challenges. It's brought a period of global economic transition. And I know you're feeling the impact right here in New Mexico. But while some will tell you America's in decline, I say the best days are yet to come. The defining challenge of our age is to win the new economic competition, to make sure that in the 21st century America remains not just a military superpower but an export superpower and an economic superpower.

Last week I laid out my Agenda for American Renewal, a comprehensive, integrated strategy to respond to the challenges of this new, more competitive world. My agenda has six parts to start. I want to aggressively pursue free trade agreements with other nations, because American workers never retreat; we always compete. And we will win.

I have a program already well underway to revolutionize our schools. Somebody was asking, what about education? Well, let me say this: You tell me why a nation that can make smart bombs cannot produce the smartest kids in the entire world. I want to sharpen the competitive edge in education. And we can do it.

I want to sharpen the edge of American business, especially small business. And that means relief from taxation, regulation, and yes, litigation.

American men and women deserve economic security. For example, I have a plan to make health care available to every working American and to cut costs through competition. The way I see it, you should only feel the pain in your head when you're at the doctor's office, not 2 months later when you get the bill at home.

America in the 21st century cannot afford to leave anyone behind. And so we need a welfare system that encourages families to stick together and fathers to stick around.

And lastly, but not in the least, we need to change the only institution in our society that has been resistant to change for so many years: the Federal Government, and the United States Congress included. And I have a plan to limit the growth of mandatory Federal spending and save almost 0 billion over the next 5 years. But while we set priorities, Government can still have an important role in responding to the challenges of a new economy.

Look what's going on right here. I got a little bird's-eye view of that in this tour I've just had at the labs right here in Sandia. The same scientific talents that won the cold war are now being put to use in the new economic competition, as we strengthen our high-tech manufacturing base, as we improve our productivity and create the high-paying jobs of the future for you and your kids. I just had a tour of your lab, and I must say I was deeply impressed by what is going on here, especially with your robotics operation. I'm just waiting for one of you to come up with a robot that can give a public speech. I'm sure it will make my life easier and also yours. And I won't ask the national press to touch that one with a 10-foot automated pole.

Listen, inside these labs you're teaching American business how to manufacture, how to take the lead in building new industries of the 21st century. And just as important, you are leading the way to a clean environment. Some say the only way to clean our air and water is with regulation, Government keeping an iron arm on business. And I say there must be a better way. In these walls and at Los Alamos you are devising new technologies in waste reduction and environmentally conscious manufacturing. These technologies will allow us to manufacture products without pollution and achieve the elusive but important balance of good jobs and a clean environment for our children.

So your work is one part of our advanced manufacturing initiative: investing a billion dollars in labs across this Nation to build new industries. And we're fighting to reform the antitrust laws to allow R D cooperatives to make their research and development tax credit permanent, to expand the small-business innovation research program and regional technology alliances, and to streamline controls on American exports. And every one of these programs is intended to build a sturdy foundation for our 21st century economy. And so if you hear a certain young and energetic Governor saying that we need a strategy to encourage manufacturing, maybe you can bring him here, bring him here to Sandia to show him that the future has already begun. You are doing this right now here in these labs.

You see, here's my belief: If we're going to reap the fruits of a high-tech harvest tomorrow, we have to plant the seeds today. Our great national labs like Los Alamos and Sandia are working in partnership already with businesses large and small to take ideas from the lab right to the marketplace. And I want to encourage this. That's why my budget for 1993 includes billion for research and development, a record amount. We are investing in basic research: programs like the National Science Foundation, whose budget I've said we must double by 1994; and in health and agricultural research; in projects like the superconducting super collider and the human genome project, through which we can revolutionize our understanding of biology and health care. And we're making a renewed commitment to applied research, spending the process -- speeding that up from when the scientist in the laboratory says ``Aha!'' to when the consumer in the store says, ``I want to buy that.'' We have special programs underway in high-performance computing, space exploration, the advanced materials sciences, and biotechnology. And we are setting priorities, holding the line on money in other areas of Government spending so that we can turn the scientific prowess of America away from creating weapons of mass destruction to creating new industries for mass employment.

Now, Pete Domenici will tell you that not everyone shares our sense of priority, this loyalty to the future. There are many Members of the Congress, mainly on the liberal side, whose idea of robotics is how they mechanically move to satisfy the special interests. And these Members are constantly cutting our investments in tomorrow, to keep dollars pumping into the pork barrel projects today. So let them, let those liberals in Congress keep trying to divert tax dollars away from research and development. I am going to keep fighting for science and fighting for our economic future.

I know this is a time of anxiety in America. Tough questions are being asked around dining room tables. But we have confronted much tougher challenges in our history, and we've won. America is always on the rise because of our incredible capacity for rebirth, regeneration, and renewal. Look what's going on right here at Sandia, the power of science turned in a new and more productive direction. If I were our economic competitors, I'd be trembling in my boots, if I knew what was going on in these great labs.

Almost a 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt led America through a period of transition much like this one, another time when the cynics asked, will tomorrow be as good as today? And Teddy Roosevelt said, ``We look across the dangers of the great future, and we rejoice as a giant refreshed. But great victories are yet to be won. The greatest deeds yet to be done.'' You helped bring peace to the world. Look at your work that way. You helped bring peace to the world. And now we turn our energy to a new deed: to build new industries and new jobs and create peace of mind here at home. For you and your colleagues across America, there are new deeds to be done. There are more victories to be won.

So thank you very much for your hard and dedicated work for your country. Thank you for listening. And may God bless the United States of America, the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you very much. Thank you all. Keep up the great work.

Note: The President spoke at 5:07 p.m. at the laboratory. In his remarks, he referred to Albert Narath, president, Sandia National Laboratories, and Siegfried Stephen Hecker, director, Los Alamos Laboratory. Mr. Narath gave the President a plowshare sculpted out of material from a dismantled nuclear weapon.

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