Public Papers - 1992
Remarks to the Community in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
The President. Thank you, Governor Thompson. Thank all of you for that warm Fond du Lac welcome. And it's great, great to be here in your city, great to be back in the State of Wisconsin. Let me just say how pleased I am to be here with your Lieutenant Governor, Scott McCallum, who's doing a great job for the State; Anita Anderegg, the county executive here, a real leader; Cate Zeuske, the State treasurer. And let me also thank my longtime friend John MacIver, our Bush-Quayle Wisconsin chairman, for all his efforts. Unless you don't know it, you've got one of the greatest Governors in Tommy Thompson in the entire United States of America. He is an outstanding national leader. He's doing great things for this State. And he's working most cooperatively with Washington. I am very, very proud that he is my close, dear friend. And Barbara feels exactly the same way about him. I see some Tom Petri signs. We've got to reelect him to the United States Congress. He's a good man, a good Congressman. Reelect him.
Now, I understand that I'm visiting here the day before the Democratic candidates come to town.
Audience members. Boo-o-o!
The President. I can't resist saying, I don't think this is the last time that I'll be ahead of the Democratic ticket. We are going to win this election in November.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. There's been a lot of discussion in the past week about Presidential debates. I think debates are important. I think the American people deserve to see the two candidates side by side. So yesterday, down in Tennessee, I challenged my opponent to a series of four television debates, the last four Sundays before the election. I said I'd be very flexible about the format, but I was eager to have the American people compare my ideas with Governor Clinton's. We have offered to meet with Governor Clinton's campaign anywhere, anytime. And so far at least, Governor Clinton has responded to my challenge the same way he responds to issues like free trade, fuel efficiency standards, and middle class taxes: He waffles. I can't find him. He's lost. He's missing in action. He refuses on this issue to take a position one way or the other, just like on all these other issues.
So this morning I renew my challenge to Governor Clinton: Let's have our people sit down, work this out. Let's have four debates with the formats that I like and the format that you like. And I'm no Oxford debater. I didn't spend a lot of time over in Oxford, England, in the debating society. But I say let American people decide. Let's get up there and get it on, side by side.
Now, when we sit down to debate, and I hope the Governor will take a stand to agree to them, we should discuss the most important question: What kind of America do we want for the young people here today? Because of your sacrifice, because of your commitment, we have helped reduce the fear of nuclear annihilation. Today, our kids can dream the sweet dreams of peace without fear of nuclear war. And I am proud that that happened when I have been President of the United States. You listen to Governor Clinton, you might think national security of this country and foreign affairs are not important. They are. We've changed the world.
Now we face a new challenge. We must win the new global economic competition because that is the only way we'll create good jobs for our kids and our grandkids. And I've laid out my call for an Agenda for American Renewal, a comprehensive, integrated agenda to create in America by the 21st century the world's very first trillion economy. And we can do it. We are Americans.
I know that many Americans are anxious about our economy today, concerned about our future. But we need to understand that we are experiencing the impact of a global economic slowdown. It isn't just the United States. It's being felt here at home, but it's also felt in Asia and Europe. Those countries would switch with us in a minute regarding economies.
My opponent spends a lot of time cutting down America, tearing it down, telling everybody how bad he thinks things are. I would remind him of a few facts, like the fact that when you go looking for the world's most productive workers and farmers, you don't look to Japan, you don't look to Germany; you look right here in the United States of America.
We need to build on our strengths. And so my agenda starts with a commitment to free and fair trade. And I want to use my experience in international affairs to open new markets for our products and services, because the American worker never retreats; we always compete. And we always win.
The people of Fond du Lac know this, but small business is the backbone of what we call the new American entrepreneurial capitalism. Small business will create two-thirds of the new jobs in this new economy. Governor Clinton promises small business relief from taxation, regulation, and yes, litigation. But if we're going to stay with him, we better see what the record is. He has a lousy record on regulation. And he certainly has a lousy record on litigation.
Now, if we're really going to renew America, attention must be paid to our children. It is tough to be a kid in America today. The face of poverty is too often a fresh face. The ignorant mind is too often -- a young mind is too often something you can lose. And the spirit of hope and opportunity has too often been taken away from the young. We know what works to help our kids. We know, for example, that if you give a low-income kid a head start on kindergarten, they end up doing much better in school. And I am proud that today, for the very first time, every eligible kid who wants a head start can get one. That happened on my watch, and I'm very proud of it.
I am proud of our education revolution. Already 1,700 schools, including many right here in Wisconsin, have signed on to the national crusade to raise standards, to free the teachers -- God bless those teachers -- to free them from redtape, and to literally reinvent American schools. I want to go farther and give every parent the right to choose the best schools for their kids, public, private, or religious.
But if we really want to help those kids, we have to change the American system of child support. And the statistics there are not pretty: 1989, fathers were absent from 10 million families. Only a little more of half of absent parents are ordered to pay child support. Those required to pay, only half do, on time and in full. And only one in five absent parents pay for kids' health care. Each year, billion in court-ordered child support, billion, fails to reach families and kids who desperately need it.
These working parents, mostly mothers, are trying to keep their families going, trying to work, keep the kids on track, pay the bills. They need that check every month, and they deserve it. And I believe that since I took office we've made a very good start. We are now able to identify 50 percent more fathers of the kids of single moms, and we increased by more than 40 percent the cases of child support collections. With the aggressive leadership of Governors like your great Tommy Thompson, States collect over billion more in child support. And that's a whole lot of good kids who are now getting some lunch money, money that they deserve.
That's something you and Wisconsin can take pride in. But the job's not finished. Today I want to build on your success with a new initiative called Project KIDS. Project KIDS will require all States to recognize and enforce other States' child support orders. And that will make it much easier to cross borders and catch those deadbeat parents in other States. We will require organizations who receive support from the Legal Services Corporation to devote 10 percent of their Federal funds to helping mothers who need legal help track down a deadbeat dad. And we will say to deadbeat parents: If you owe child support and you haven't paid, then you're going to pay a price. You'll get no passport, no professional licenses, no housing or student loans, or any other help from the Federal Government until you do right by your children. So the bottom is, if you haven't done what's right for your kids, don't expect any help from Uncle Sam from this day forward.
Now, by taking these steps, we think we can help reduce the stress on so many families. We can help single parents. And most importantly, we can lend a big hand to kids.
Now, while we're on the subject, maybe it's worth taking just a few minutes to consider Governor Clinton's record with children. I hate to do this to you on this beautiful sunny day here in Wisconsin. But in this area as in so many others, Governor Clinton talks a good game, but his record leaves something to be desired. Welfare is a kids' issue, because the more we can get people off welfare and into work, the more we strengthen the family. Here in Wisconsin, you are the leading State. Tommy Thompson is making real progress, promoting personal responsibility. Governor Clinton talks a good game, but when you look behind the rhetoric, there's nothing there. He's got a TV ad that talks about cutting the welfare rolls in Arkansas. What he neglects to mention is that while some people were leaving welfare, even more were going onto welfare. Since Bill Clinton was elected Governor, Arkansas' welfare rolls have increased by 19 percent, 13 percent faster than the rest of the Nation.
Now, he says he wants to do for America what he's done for Arkansas.
Audience members. Boo-o-o!
The President. I don't know whether that's a promise or a threat. America deserves better than that.
Look at the facts. Look at the facts about Arkansas. In the late 1980's, Arkansas' rate of violent deaths for teenagers soared at 3 times the national average. Over the decade, child abuse reports shot up 130 percent. And behind each one of those cases is a story of heartbreak. Arkansas' kids deserve to have their hearts healed.
Arkansas faced a special crisis of abuse in the State's foster homes. For years Governor Clinton ignored the problem until he was sued by welfare advocates in his own State. And only this summer, in the middle of his campaign, did he settle a lawsuit and take any steps to improve these homes. Now he's running around our great country, claimed to be an advocate for children. I urge all Americans, young and old, to take a look not just at his rhetoric but a hard look at Governor Clinton's record. I believe America can do better, and I believe we must do better by the young people in this country.
The economy is the major issue, let's look at it, a major issue in this campaign. When Bill Clinton became Governor 12 years ago, Arkansas, yes, was one of the poorest States in America. Today, Arkansas is still stuck at the bottom. And Bill Clinton's policies are responsible. As Governor, he raised and extended the sales tax, including a tax on baby formula, vegetables, and other groceries. He raised the gas tax. He taxed mobile homes and cable TV. And just for good measure he threw in a tax on beer. Now, how do you like that one?
Audience members. Boo-o-o!
The President. I didn't think you guys would like it. Now Governor Clinton says he's seen the light. In this campaign he's proposing at least 0 billion in new spending. But don't worry, he says, ``I'm going to get it all from the rich,'' the people who make over 0,000, the top 2 percent. Well, but here's the truth, and here's the problem. To get the money he needs for his plan, the 0 billion that he's promised in new taxes, Governor Clinton would have to get his money from every individual with taxable income over ,000. Now, these are not people on the ``Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.'' You deserve a break, not a further tax increase.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Look, you see, that's just the start of the tax campaign though, campaign against the middle class. He has literally made hundreds of promises in this campaign. He hasn't said how he'll pay for any one of his new programs. But his own hometown newspaper, the Pine Bluff Commercial, says, ``If Congress followed the example that Bill Clinton set as Governor of Arkansas, it would pass a program that hit the middle class the hardest.'' We do not need that for the United States of America.
Now, the good Governor says he's going after all the millionaires, but he'll end up hitting all the nurses and teachers and cab drivers and construction workers. I say you pay enough to the tax man already. We do not need to add taxes to the working families in this country.
So it boils down to this: We cannot take a risk of a candidate with no experience, no track record, whose ideas and agenda are wrong for America. That is the basic thing: Governor Clinton is wrong for America.
Let me tell you something. In the Oval Office you face tough decisions. You cannot be on all sides of every question. You've got to call them as you see them. And I've made mistakes. Like any American, I'll admit it when I make a mistake. But I believe I've been a good, strong leader, willing to make the tough calls. I'm a leader whose ideas are right for America.
I stand before you today asking for your support so that we can change America, just as we have changed the entire world. I want a second term in office so we can continue to renew our schools, reform welfare, give our children a better shot at the American dream, and so we can continue to make lives better for American children by matching the peace around the world and by giving our kids peace of mind right here at home.
Let me say something, in conclusion, about service to country. I am very proud that I served my country in the uniform of the United States of America. I think that has helped me be a good Commander in Chief when we had to stand up against aggression halfway around the world. And that standing up against aggression has changed the world. Don't listen to the Governor who says we're less than Germany and slightly ahead of Sri Lanka. We are the most respected nation on the face of the Earth, admired by every country, the friends we have and those that used to be our foes.
So now, help me take that kind of leadership and help me change America to make life better for every single family in our great country. We are going to win Wisconsin, and we are going to win the Presidency because our ideas are right for America, this generation and generations to come.
May God bless the United States of America, the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you very, very much.
Note: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park.