Public Papers - 1992
Remarks to the Community in Clearwater, Florida
Thank you all very, very much. Please be seated. At long last he's made his intentions clear. I'm delighted that Sidney will not be a candidate for President of the United States. [Laughter] It's a confusing enough year with the way it is. But thank you, sir, to you and your family for this introduction. Sidney and I go back a while, and he's been a loyal and strong friend and supporter. He's certainly been a marvelous citizen of this community and of our great State of Florida. So thank you very much.
Allow me quickly to single out a couple of others: Sandra, thank you, and best of luck to you; we have Bill Grant with us, another friend, and I want to see some real changes in the Congress, and he's running for the Senate; and Jeanie Austin, the vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, sitting over here, a Floridian; and Marian Keith, longtime GOP volunteer and a resident of On Top of the World, right back there. And a special welcome to Gerald McRaney. He's a great campaigner, a man of principle, and I'm very proud to have him at my side. Mac will be traveling with us all across Florida today, and we love having him along. Except every time I get going on a little too long, he makes me drop in the aisle of Air Force One and do 50 pushups. [Laughter]
But in honor of the ``Major's'' presence, I'd like to start this morning with an announcement related to the area, regarding MacDill Air Force Base. As you know, MacDill played a big role in bringing an end to the cold war and certainly in Desert Storm. Now I'm pleased to announce that the Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, will work together to make MacDill a major center for NOAA's fleet of research aircraft. This is a good decision. It represents a big victory for Senator Connie Mack and Congressman Bill Young, who are both back in Washington today. And also to give credit, I want to single out Al Austin, the chairman of the MacDill Response Group, a Floridian who played a big role in finding a use for MacDill that will serve the national interest and also provide a major boost to the area's economy. So it's good news, and I'm glad to be able to announce it here in Florida today.
Now about this little matter of an election a month from today. This campaign, like every campaign, is about a simple question: What kind of America do we want for our kids and for our grandkids? My opponent says that America is over the hill. At the Democratic Convention, he said he saw the U.S. sliding down the list of nations, somewhere past Germany and heading for Sri Lanka.
Well, maybe he ought to open his eyes. Maybe he ought to look at the respect with which we're held all around the world. Maybe the Governor needs to walk the streets of Europe and talk to the people of Asia, and they'd remind him of a few facts: Americans are still the most educated people in the world. In spite of our difficulties, the American economy is still the most dynamic in the world, American workers still the most productive. Any way you measure it, America is still on top of the world. That's the way it is.
So how do we stay number one? That's the question. I've laid out an Agenda for American Renewal, a comprehensive, integrated agenda to create in America the world's very first trillion economy. My agenda for renewal demands that we open new markets for American products because that is the way we are going to create the new jobs for American workers. My agenda prepares our young people to excel in science and math and English because that's the way they will outperform the Japanese and the Germans. My agenda helps strengthen the American family because we must never forget: Family is still the foundation of our Nation.
I might just say, I'm a little prejudiced, but I think we have one of the great First Ladies of all time. I wish Barbara were here, because she feels as I do on strengthening family. When she sits there in the Diplomatic Entrance of the White House and reads to those kids, it's sending a signal to parents to help your children. When she holds an AIDS baby in her arms, it sends the compassion that we all ought to feel, one for another. She feels as strongly as I do that we've got to find ways to strengthen the fabric of society by strengthening the American family.
This agenda for America's renewal promotes savings and investment, because in America the future is our children's birthright. So here's what I'm fighting for: To reinvent, literally reinvent American education and give every American the fundamental right to choose the best school for their children. Fighting to reform our crazy legal system, because as a nation we must sue each other less and care for each other more. These suits are out of hand.
Then to use market and competition to cut the cost of health care and make it available to all your neighbors. And it seems to me if you see a doctor once, you shouldn't have to go back a month later when you get the bill to be treated for aftershock. [Laughter] So we have a good new health reform program, and I think it's time to bring some sanity to our health care system.
I want to bring real change to Washington by limiting the terms of the Members of Congress and give the power back to real people. The President's terms are limited; why not limit the terms of some of those old geezers up there that have been for about 50 years?
Finally, I'm fighting for economic security for every man and woman in America. And I know that Social Security and Medicare are important to all of you, to all of us. And I'm sure some of you have heard my opponent's ads on the subject. Understand, Governor Clinton's a very ambitious politician. That's fine. But in his first try on the national scene he's using the oldest trick in the world, trying to scare America's seniors.
Here are the facts: I have proposed a comprehensive program to reform our health care system, to improve health care for all Americans. The only proposal I've made to -- will affect Medicare benefits is to give people with highest incomes a smaller Government subsidy. But I believe we can get big savings by cutting the fat out of an inefficient system, by going after things like the billion in potential savings in malpractice insurance. But we can reform health care without cutting your health benefits. I have protected them as President, and I'm going to continue to protect them.
Bill Clinton's got a different idea. He wants the Government to get involved in setting prices, setting health care prices. But the experts said it could force people to wait in lines for treatment they want and need. Governor Clinton's plan would require 8 billion in cuts in Medicaid and Medicare over the next 5 years. So at the same time he's scaring you, he will not tell the seniors across this State and across the country where he's going to get the over 0 billion in savings that he wants. I think you deserve an answer to this.
These are the facts. They are pure and simple facts. It's the same with Social Security. In 1983, most people will probably remember this, in 1983, we took steps to make sure Social Security would stay financially sound, and we have kept it that way. No matter what Governor Clinton says, as long as I am President, Social Security will remain safe and sound. As I said in the State of the Union Message, and I repeat it here, I will not mess with Social Security, and I will not let Congress mess with Social Security. I will not let anyone take a knife to your Medicare benefits.
Now, ultimately none of us will be secure without a strong economy. And that's a fundamental issue of the campaign. And the differences in approach couldn't be more dramatic. I know America's endured some very tough economic times. But understand, we are being affected, and most people know this, by a global economic slowdown. Our competitors in Europe would trade places with us in a minute. Yet Governor Clinton offers America the European social welfare state policies: more Government, more special interest spending, more taxes on the middle class.
As Governor, Bill Clinton raised and extended the sales tax, including a tax on vegetables and other groceries. He raised the gas tax. He taxed mobile homes. He even taxed cable TV, taxes that hit the middle class and seniors the hardest. Now in this campaign, he says he's changed his ways. He's proposing at least 0 billion in new taxes plus at least 0 billion in new spending. But don't worry, he says, I'll get it all from the rich, the people who make over 0,000, that top 2 percent.
Well, yesterday in the Washington Post, his economic spokesman was quoted admitting to a reporter that the top 2 percent is not people over 0,000. He said that was just shorthand. Well, he's right. It's shorthand. Governor Clinton's plan is shorthand for socking it to the nurses and the teachers and the cab drivers and the middle class people who always get the shaft. I am not going to let it happen. We're going to take this case to the American people.
To get the money, to get the money that he needs for this plan, the 0 billion that he's promised in new taxes, he would have to get his money from every individual with taxable income over ,600. That is a fact. These aren't the folks you see on ``Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.'' They work hard, and they deserve a break.
But that's just a start, because hardly a day goes by when candidate Clinton isn't signing on some plea for some new Government spending program. Before he's done, Bill Clinton is going to need hundreds of billions of dollars more to pay for all the programs he's promised. You've got every right to say, well, who will pay? The same people who always pay, the people who work hard and sweat it out at tax time. Bill Clinton wants you to sweat harder for the tax man, and I say his ideas deserve a cold shower.
Just some examples: Let's say your daughter's a third grade teacher with about ,000 a year in taxable income. She already pays about ,300 in taxes. Governor Clinton could have her fork over another 0 a year to the tax man; that is, if he's going to pay for all the social programs and pay for the additional spending that he's already proposed. I say that that woman ought to be able to use that money to pay for the grandkids' education or pay the mortgage on her house, not to send it back to the IRS.
Bill Clinton can protest all he wants, but his numbers do not add up. I'm not going to let him take the difference out of your income.
Now, whenever I say this, Governor Clinton says it's outrageous. He'd never consider taxing the middle class. He's, quote, here's what he says about himself, ``a different kind of Democrat.'' Well, there's nothing different about 0 billion in new taxes right out of the chute. There's nothing different about at least 0 billion in new Government spending, spending he's already proposed. There's nothing different in Bill Clinton's record in Arkansas where he's treated the middle class like a piggy bank to pay for all his programs.
Remember Mike Dukakis, the tank driver? [Laughter] Well, Bill Clinton nominated him for President 4 years ago. This year, according to an article in the New York Times, 39 of Governor Clinton's economic proposals are virtually identical to the ideas Governor Dukakis was pushing: higher taxes, more spending, a bigger deficit. I say simply: These things are wrong for America. We've got fundamental differences here. I'm getting warmed up on you, because I think we're going to have three debates; so I'm practicing here today.
Governor Clinton wants you to believe that the American economy will improve if you turn full control of your paycheck over to the crew that already runs the Congress. He wants the tax-and-spend Government planners to have total control over the executive branch, too. Last time they tried this, we ended up with double-digit inflation and rising interest rates and a ``misery index,'' inflation and unemployment, over 20 percent.
Think about what inflation does to people on fixed incomes. Bill Clinton and his friends in Congress would let the lion of inflation out of its cage. I say, let's lock it away; keep it from your bank account; keep your savings sacrosanct, not to be wiped out by inflation.
So my case to the American people is this: At this time in our history, we simply cannot take the risk on a President with no national experience and a miserable Arkansas record to run on.
Since I've been in the Oval Office I've faced some very difficult decisions. That's what you pay me to do. And yes, I've made some mistakes. When I make a mistake, I'll admit it. But I believe I've been a good leader. I've tried to make the tough calls. I've tried to make the tough calls, willing to tell people not what they want to hear but what they need to hear. And I stand before you today asking for your support so that we can get to work with a new Congress to fix the problems that stand in the way of this country, and so that we reform our health care system, that we literally reinvent our schools, so that we can retrain workers from one generation and create jobs for the next, and so that we can cut Government spending and cut taxes to get this economy moving again, and so that we can limit terms of Members of the Congress and give Government back to the people.
If you're looking for a leader of experience and ideas, a leader who shares your values, a leader who knows that America's heartbeat can be found not in Washington but in places like Clearwater and Largo and St. Pete and Tampa, then I hope I can count on your support on November 3d.
Thank you all very, very much. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you all. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 9:25 a.m. at the On Top of the World community. In his remarks, he referred to Sidney Colen, chairman of the community's board; Sandra Mortham, Florida State representative; actor Gerald McRaney; and Al Austin, chairman, Hillsborough County Victory '92.