THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much to the citizens of Toledo. Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for making us feel so very welcome tonight. (Applause.) Now, I want to tell you, first of all, I love Toledo and I love to spend the night here, I love to run along the water here in the morning. And I'm delighted to be back. (Applause.)
I've still got my Toledo Mud Hens cap. (Applause.) And I'm glad to be back. I also want to tell you that, if you saw Senator Glenn and I talking a little while the program was going, you need to know that at some point in about 15 minutes I'm going to stop and the whole country is going to see you, because we're going to be talking back and forth to our convention in Chicago. So I want you to help me will you do that? (Applause.)
Now, in the meanwhile, I'd like to talk to you a few moments. First I want to acknowledge your Mayor and thank him for his vigorous leadership to help develop Toledo economically and to help fight the crime problem and working with us on it. (Applause.)
Secondly, let me say, there is not in the entire United States Congress another member of the Congress who is as active and energetic and aggressive and effective on behalf of the constituents as Marcy Kaptur is for you. (Applause.) She's fought for your jobs, she's fought for your welfare, she's fought for your values. You can be proud of her. (Applause.)
And let me say of Senator Glenn, I have known very few people in public life that I would say I admired as much as John Glenn. He is an American hero and a national treasure. (Applause.) He's too modest to tell you, but we did downsize the government, but we didn't put those federal employees in the street, we didn't cast them off and forget about them. We gave them early retirement. We helped them find other things to do. And we used the opportunity of the savings to do things like put 100,000 more police back on your streets, to bring your deficit down. (Applause.)
And we used ways to save money and increase the effectiveness of national defense, increase the effectiveness of our ability to respond to emergencies. We cut the budget of the Small Business Administration, for example, and doubled the loan volume. We did those kind of things, in large measure in 1993 and 1994, with the help and leadership of John Glenn. And he deserves a lot of credit for it. (Applause.)
I also a lot of Ohioans know that Senator Glenn is one of America's leaders on the problem of nuclear proliferation. That's a big old word, but I'll tell you what it means now. During this administration -- and thanks in no small measure to the leadership of John Glenn -- for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, on this night, this beautiful night, there is not a single nuclear missile pointed at a child in the United States of America. And we can be proud of that. (Applause.)
I want to thank the City Fest organization for helping this to become possible. I want to thank Lucas County Democratic Chair, Keith Burkowski (phonetic), for his work on this. (Applause.) And I want to mention two other folks -- one, the gentleman to my right who is sitting over there with Chelsea. He's one of yours. His name is Robert Wyckoff. He was wounded fighting for your country in World War II, but he had never received, after all these years, the combat medals he earned, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Well, 50 years too late, on our train tonight just before we got to Toledo, it was my great honor to pin on Robert Wyckoff the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart he earned for our country before. (Applause.)
Would you stand up, sir? (Applause.) Let's give him a hand. (Applause.) Thank you.
There's another person I want to introduce tonight who is not here, and you'll understand in a minute. Marcy gave Chelsea the keys to the jeep -- (laughter.) One of the things I'm proudest of in America's economic recovery is that for the first time in 20 years, the United States is the auto capital of the world. We're producing more cars than the Japanese and we're selling more around the world. (Applause.) And tonight -- tonight in Chicago at our convention, an autoworker from Toledo named Todd Clancy is speaking on behalf of the working people of America. And I know you can be proud of him. (Applause.)
We have had a wonderful time. We've been to West Virginia, Kentucky, we've been all over Ohio. We started this morning at the State Police Training Academy in Columbus. We've been to Arlington. We had an unbelievable rally in Bowling Green. We are having a good time taking the train across America's heartland. A train that gives me a chance to thank you for giving me the chance to serve as your President. To say that I have worked for you and to look in your eyes and tell you we've been up there for four years every day trying to help you go forward. And we'd like four more, because America is on the right track, the right track. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years, four more years
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. We're on the right track. And I'll tell you, I want you to watch our convention we're going to have a good time. And I'm glad a few of our friends from the other party showed up tonight with their signs. You're welcome here. We're glad to have you here.
THE PRESIDENT: No, don't boo them. Don't boo them. Don't boo them, we're glad to have them here. But our convention is going to be a little different. We're not going to hide our leaders, we're going to parade them out on the stage and say we're proud of them. (Applause.)
And I have read our platform. I'm proud of it and we're all glad to run on it. We're not running away from it. (Applause.) And we don't need to avoid our record or distort it. We'll just run on our record and on our ideas for the future. We're proud of it. We're proud of it. We're proud of it. (Applause.)
I want you to think about what has been going on for the last four years. When I came to see you four years ago and I asked you to take a chance on me, I had never worked as an elected official in Washington, D.C. I ran for President because I was worried about what was happening to my country, because we had high unemployment and stagnant wages, because we had a rising crime rate, a host of unsolved social challenges, a widening rift among our people, a growing sense of cynicism about the ability of political leaders to make a difference in ordinary people's lives. And I was sitting out there in my home state going to work every day as our state's governor, and I didn't like it. And I decided I'd try to make a difference. And I asked you to help me.
And on June 2, 1992, the votes of Ohio gave me a majority of the delegates I needed to be nominated. (Applause.) In July of 1992 at the National Convention, the delegation from Ohio cast the votes that put me over the top. And as John Glenn said, in November of 1992, when they called Ohio for Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the commentator said, "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. They will win the election." (Applause.)
And so tonight my friends, I come to you to make a report, to say we are on the right track, but we have more to do, to ask you to join with me for the next 70 days, to tell your friends and neighbors whether they're Democrats, Republicans or independents about what has happened in America these last four years, what the choice is in this election and what we still have to do. Look at the record. Look at the economy.
You heard Senator Glenn say that we brought the deficit down in all four years of this administration for the first time since before the Civil War. That's the last time that happened in the 1840s. (Applause.) I'm proud that our Democrats did that. I wish we had had some help from the folks in the other party. But I'm glad we did it anyway. I'm glad we did it. (Applause.) We paid a price for it, but I'm glad we did it.
Do you know that we would have a surplus in Washington today in your budget a surplus were it not for the interest run up when we quadrupled the national debt in the 12 years before I took office. If we didn't have to pay interest on the debt in the 12 years before I took office, we'd have a surplus in that budget today. We've got to keep on going until we balance it, to keep the interest rates down and the jobs coming back to America. That's what we need. (Applause.)
But we have to balance that budget in the right way. Last year, I presented a balanced budget. The congressional leaders presented their balanced budget. They passed theirs and didn't want to talk about mine. And I vetoed it because it had cuts that were too big in education and the environment, in Medicare and in the Medicaid guarantees for our people. I vetoed it because it raised taxes on the poorest working people in America. I vetoed it because it allowed workers' pensions to be raided by corporations, and we spent the whole last several years trying to secure workers pensions. So, yes, I did.
But I'm still for balancing the budget. We have cut the deficit 60 percent and we're still going to do it. But we're going to do it in the right way. They can shut the government down if they want to. I will not be blackmailed, not ever. We're going to do it in the right way. (Applause.)
Let's look at education. Today, there are more children in Head Start. Our schools have funds to promote safe and drug-free schools that they didn't have before. They have funds that help them to stay open in after hours. They have funds to stay open after hours when these kids often need someplace to go so they don't get in trouble. There are literally hundreds of thousands of young people who now have lower-cost college loans because of the initiatives we have. And the AmeriCorps program has given young people a chance to serve in their community and earn money for college. Those are things we did and we're proud of it. We're proud of it. (Applause.)
But my friends, we must do more. We ought to put a million children in Head Start. We ought to hook up every classroom in America not only with computers and qualified teachers, but hook them all up to the Information Superhighway so every child has access to the best education. (Applause.) And we need to make the first two years of education after high school as universal in the next four years as a high school education if today. If you vote for me, that's just what we're going to do. (Applause.)
I want to give a tax credit worth $1,500 to every family so you can go to a community college. And every single American will know, at a very least, we can all get a community college education whatever our age, whatever our station in life. We can all get it. (Applause.) I want to give every working family in this country a tax deduction worth $10,000 a year for the cost of college tuition for the kids or the parents to educate our people. (Applause.) That's what we still have to do.
Look where we are with health care. We've worked hard to get the inflation rate down in health care. For the first time in 30 years this year, it's running below the overall inflation rate in the economy. And right before I left to come on this trip, I signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum health care bill which says that 25 million Americans -- 25 million Americans -- no longer can you lose your health insurance because you changed jobs, and you can't be denied because somebody in your family got sick. (Applause.) It is a good bill. It is a good bill.
But we need to do more. In our budget, we also say and you know here in Toledo from your lean years, there are a lot of good people who sometimes have to be unemployed for longer than they'd like until they get another job. We think we ought to help the unemployed to keep their health insurance for at least six months, and their (applause.)
We believe older women ought to be able to get mammographies. We believe people who are caring for their parents because they've got Alzheimer's disease ought to be able to get a little help with respite care to keep the families together and keep going. We like that. We believe in that. (Applause.) And we can afford that.
If you look at where we've come in crime for four years in a row now in the United States, the crime rate, including the violent crime rate, has dropped. I am very, very proud of that and I know you are, too. (Applause.)
But you also know that the crime rate is still too high and we have to do more. We're about halfway home in putting those 100,000 police on the street. We have to finish the job. That's a big difference between the two parties, I guess a philosophical difference. They voted against the 100,000 police and they've tried to do away with it a couple of times; and I've said no every time because I know that if you've got those police on the street they're not only going to catch criminals, they're going to prevent crime, they're going to get to know the kids, they're going to get to know people that can help to work with the children and say, don't commit that crime in the first place. Let's finish the job with 100,000 police in the next four years. (Applause.)
Let's finish the job with the Brady Bill. It's kept 60,000 felons and fugitives from getting handguns. And not a single Ohio hunter has lost their weapon. (Applause.) But you know what? We ought to finish the job of protecting our police officers and people at home. I believe that if someone has committed a crime of domestic violence against a member of his or her family they ought to be covered by the Brady Bill, too. They shouldn't have a weapon they can kill somebody with. (Applause.) And I think we ought to ban those cop-killer bullets. They don't do any good on the hunting trail, but they do a lot of harm in America. (Applause.)
If you look at where we are on welfare reform, I've worked hard for four years to move people from welfare to work 75 percent of the people in this country were under welfare to work experiments before Congress passed the welfare bill I signed, and we reduced the welfare rolls by 1.5 million people. We can be proud of that. (Applause.) But now, now that we have a new law that says that you're on welfare and you're able-bodied, we'll give your children health care, we'll give you child care, we'll protect your food stamps, but you've got to go to work if you can, we've got to create work so people have the jobs they need. (Applause.)
We've worked hard to protect the environment. We've cleaned up more toxic waste dumps in three years than they did in 12, and I'm proud of that. (Applause.) Fifty million Americans are breathing cleaner air, and I'm proud of that. (Applause.) The meat standards are higher, the protection against pesticide poisoning is better, and I'm proud of that. But we have to do more. We ought to clean up two-thirds of the waste dumps in this country and keep on proving you can grow the American economy and protect the environment for our children. We know we can do that. (Applause.)
Most important of all, my fellow Americans, I have tried as hard as I know how to say that we're going to get into the 21st century with the American Dream alive for everybody who's responsible enough to work for it. We're going to get into the 21st century with America leading the world for peace and freedom and prosperity if, but only if, we make up our mind we have to go into that future together, as one community. I don't like the fact that people are too often divided here by race, by religion and by all kinds of other categories just to try to put somebody down so somebody else can be lifted up. That's not the America I want to live in. (Applause.)
You look, look at what I dealt with as your President trying to make peace in the rest of the world. Look at the Middle East, look at Bosnia, look at Northern Ireland, look at the problems in Rwanda and Burundi and Africa. You'd think in these poor countries where people don't have enough to get along they'd want to roll up their sleeves, work together and try to help lift each other up. But place after place after place, people define themselves by being able to look down on their neighbors and it's wrong. But we've got to fight it in America. That's why we've got to stand against those church burnings in the south. (Applause.) That's why if a synagogue is marked up, or an Islamic center is defaced, we've got to stand against that, too. (Applause.)
In my America you can be whatever you want to be. As long as you believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and you're willing to show up, pay your taxes, work hard and obey the law, you're a part of my America and we're going into the future together. That's what I believe. (Applause.)
And so we're on the right track to Chicago and to the 21st century. The best days of this country are still before us. Our children will do things we haven't even imagined yet. These children in this crowd tonight will have lots of jobs that haven't been invented yet if we do what we know is right to create more opportunity for all Americans, to get more responsibility from all Americans, and to go forward and grow forward as one American community. That will take America into the 21st century, that will keep Toledo growing and going, that will make us very, very strong and keep us the hope of the world. That is the commitment I want from you. Will you help me for the next 70 days?
AUDIENCE: Yessss! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Will you be there on election day?
AUDIENCE: Yessss! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We passed the Family and Medical Leave Act I love all these signs we passed the Family and Medical Leave Act to help our families. Twelve million American families got to take some time off without losing their job when a baby was born. (Applause.) Will you help us keep it and expand it? Will you stand for things like that? (Applause.)
And in the next four years, are you willing to stand up and keep helping us try to move this country forward, not only by passing laws in Washington, but by lifting people up in Toledo? (Applause.) Do you believe that we have to take responsibility for our children, and do you believe that if you're a parent you need to raise your kids and take responsibility? (Applause.) But you need help from the local teachers, from the local churches and synagogues, from the people who run the police departments and the people who look after the hospitals and the people who look after the health of your food.
I guess what I'm trying to tell you, folks, is, I think my wife was right, not them it does take a village to raise a child. (Applause.)
If you believe all that if you believe all that, you're part of the new Democratic Party. And we're going to together into the 21st century because we're on the right track, the country is on the right track and we're going to take the right track all the way into the best days America has ever, ever, ever known. (Applause.)
Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Chrysler Jeep Plant
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I'm glad to see you, and I'm glad to be here.
PERSON IN AUDIENCE: Put the hat back on!
THE PRESIDENT: I can't talk with a hat on. (Laughter.) My brain's not working. It's only it's early, you know. (Laughter.) But you'll see me with this on again. (Applause.) I'll run in it, play golf in it. (Applause.)
I want to thank Dennis Pawley for what he said out here a few minutes ago and for the leadership that he's given to Chrysler and our partnership. I want to thank your plant manager for showing me around and bragging on you. (Applause.) I thank my old friend, Rob Livertore (phonetic), for coming from Washington for Chrysler; and Lloyd Mahaffey (phonetic), and Bruce Braumhauer (phonetic) and Ron Conrad and all the people from the UAW. (Applause.)
And one of your members behind me gave me this very old UAW pin, and I'll collect it and it will have a prominent place in the White House in my collection. So I'm glad to have that. (Applause.)
I'll tell you, I was listening to the Mayor talk, listening to Marcy talk, and I thought there's more energy in Toledo than any other place in America. I never heard such (applause.)
Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for what you said and for the partnerships we've had both in building up the economy and trying to tear down crime. And in both places you've worked hard when we've worked together, and I thank you for that. Thank you, Marcy Kaptur, for being perhaps the most ferocious defender of middle class economics and middle class values in the Congress of the United States. (Applause.)
Thank you, John Glenn, for all you have done for this state and this country, for your partnership with me in helping to rebuild our economy and helping to make this a safer world.
You know, I've heard Senator Glenn introduce a lot, and two things I rarely ever hear one I want to tell you is he said we have downsized the government. We had to. We wanted to put 100,000 more police on your streets and we had a big government and we had a huge deficit, we had to find some way to pay for it. We couldn't just pay for it with a tax increase, so we reduced the size of government. But you never hear about it in America, and I'm proud of that because we did it in a good way.
Of the 250,000 fewer people that are working for the federal government today, fewer than 1,800 were involuntarily separated. We gave those folks early retirement, we helped them find other jobs, they went on to other careers in dignity, so they could support their families and go forward into the future. And I'm proud of that. (Applause.) I'm proud of that.
And John Glenn was one of the people who found ways for us to save money and to do things so we could do that, and treat people humanely. He played a major role in that, especially in the first two years of my administration. And there are families out there who can thank God that he found ways to save money, for example, in the way the Pentagon bought their purchases and deal with the personnel systems. All that's real people, and it matters.
And speaking of real people, I hope you were proud of Todd last night. He was great at the Democratic Convention. (Applause.) I've been asked several times by the press, why do we have Todd Clancy, why do we have Mike Robbins, the Chicago police officer who was riddled with bullets in an assault weapons hail on the street of Chicago after serving our country in Vietnam and Desert Storm and never being wounded. Why did we have that young Puerto Rican American woman who was an AmeriCorps volunteer and is now going to go on and be a doctor after being a high school dropout? Why do we have these people talk? Why do we have the superintendent of schools in Seattle, Washington, who is an Army general?
We need a doctor here. My doctor is here can we get somebody over here?
And I want you to we're okay, we've got somebody here now. I want you to know why we asked citizens to go to a political convention and kick it off. Why do we have Jim and Sarah Brady, lifelong Republicans, come and talk? Why do we ask Christopher Reeve, a man who's not particularly political but is a shining example of the kind of courage never to give up, to talk about the importance of government research and the importance of continuing the Medicaid program so we don't cut off middle class families who don't have a lot of money to deal with disabled people in their family and keep guaranteeing them their health care so they can keep their good jobs?
Why did we do all that? Because people lose the connection between what is done in government and what happens in your daily lives. It's easy to lose that connection. It meant an awful lot to me when Dennis Pawley talked about how I asked to meet with the representatives of the auto industry soon after my election as President, and I said we'd put a premium on that. I knew that America could not lose its auto industry. I knew we could be number one again. And I think the best way to say that and to show the connection between what we do in Washington and what you do in Toledo is to have a person like Todd Clancy tell a personal story that shows how America's life can be changed if we work together and do the right things. And I know you are proud of him, and so am I. (Applause.)
And I was proud to be here today to see the 2 millionth Jeep roll off the assembly line. I love that. (Applause.) You proved one more time that whenever we're given a chance to compete, we can be the best in the world. We can be the best in the world. And you have made us proud. That was true in World War II when that old Jeep was made.
And I want to just tell you, I'm getting a little sensitive about my age. I just became eligible for my AARP card. (Laughter.) But I am so old that when I was a little boy, six years old, the first time I ever crawled under a car, my stepfather owned a little Buick dealership in a little town in Arkansas where he came from, but we also owned a Henry J an old Henry J Kaiser (applause) and we owned a late 1940s model Jeep. And back then, the civilian Jeeps look just like the military Jeeps. Just think how rich I'd be if I'd saved that thing. I wish we had never gotten rid of it.
But I feel real nostalgic here today and I thank you. But I also want to thank you for what you're doing because I had the privilege to do something I wish everyone of you could do I went in to the showroom of an auto dealership in Japan where they were selling the Jeeps that you made here in Toledo. And I was swelling with pride. (Applause.)
And I spoke to a Japanese family who told me how grateful they were that they had a chance to look around for what they thought was the very best vehicle for their family. And believe me, these people had looked around, they knew more about that Jeep than some of us do. (Laughter.) It was amazing. And they said they were grateful they had a chance to buy the product of your hard, productive labor.
I wish everyone of you could have that experience. You would have been so proud. And I was swelling with pride for you and for our country because of what you did. And I thank you for that as well. (Applause.)
But you know, Marcy had it right the purpose of politics and the purpose of work is to enable people to live out their dreams, to enable them to raise strong families and build strong communities and advance the cause of freedom. That's the purpose of all this. And that's what we're trying to do. We've had a pretty good week and, as I've been saying on this train, we're not only on the right track to Chicago, we're on the right track to the 21st century. And we need to stay right on it. (Applause.)
Before I got on this train, last week I signed a bill that raised the minimum wage for 10 million Americans people that are working hard and deserve it. (Applause.) And while I'm at it, I'd like to pay another compliment to the labor movement not just to the UAW, but to the whole labor movement. Organized labor worked as hard as any group in America to raise the minimum wage. There are very few labor union members in any union that make the minimum wage or anything real close to it. But the laboring people of this country, through their organized leadership, labored for the minimum wage because they want all people who work for a living to have the dignity and the reward of work. And I think Americans should be grateful to the labor movement for standing up for the minimum wage. (Applause.)
That bill, by the way, also made it easier for people who work in small businesses to do something that you can do. We made it a lot easier for small businesses to take out a retirement plan and for people who work for small businesses to keep that retirement when they move from job to job. We made it easier for families to adopt children offering a $5,000 tax credit to anybody who would adopt a child, an even bigger on if the child has a disability. We remove the barriers to cross-racial adoption. That bill was pro-business, pro-labor and pro-family. It was a good day for America when it became the law of the land. (Applause.)
And I thank Congresswoman Kaptur and Senator Glenn for their strong support of it. I signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum health care bill a bill that we've needed a long time; a bill that says to 25 million Americans who'll be affected by it, nobody can deny you insurance anymore if somebody in your family's been sick and it can't be taken away from you if you have to change jobs. That is a very, very important advance for America. (Applause.)
So I feel good about what's been happening.
PERSON IN AUDIENCE: We feel good, too! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And I thank you.
This global market is a tough thing to operate in. When I became President, I decided that we didn't have an option to walk away from the trading world and we got some benefits from it. But if we were going to have free trade, it had to be fair. It had to be fair to our workers, fair to our environment, fair to our children, fair to our future. I was prepared to have us compete on a fair and equal footing with anybody, anywhere. But it had to be that way. And we worked very, very hard to enable you to reap the benefits of becoming the most productive auto industry in the world again.
You know, just four years ago, this plant exported 17,500 Cherokees, and this year 41,500. That's what you did. (Applause.) That means 700 more good middle class jobs and strong families; 700 more Americans with a success story to tell. And that's why Todd Clancy went to Chicago to talk to America to remind America that there is a connection between what we do or fail to do in Washington and how you live in Toledo and all across the United States.
Now, let me say just one or two other things. John Glenn talked about what was said or not said by our friends in San Diego. Well, that's politics; you can't expect them to be out there promoting us. (Laughter.) I mean, I didn't hold it against them. But on the other hand, it is a fact that today the unemployment rate in Ohio is under five percent. It is a fact that America has more than 10 million more jobs. It is a fact that we've got 900,000 new construction jobs. It's a fact that 4.4 million Americans have become homeowners for the first time, and 10 million more have refinanced their mortgages at lower interest rates because of what has been done. (Applause.)
It is a fact that we have negotiated 200 new trade agreements to open new markets and give American workers a fair break. It is a fact that for the first time in history we're also exporting, in addition to autos and auto parts to Japan, things like rice (applause) which I never thought I'd live to see, coming from the largest rice-producing state in the world, and cellular telephones, and all manner of other things.
And in the 21 areas covered by our Japanese trade agreements exports are up a total of 85 percent in just four years. America can compete.
And what has happened is that, thanks to you and people like you all over this country, and especially it's already been noted we have Senator Riegle, Governor Blanchard, a lot of very distinguished citizens from Michigan here. They know a little something about cars, too. (Laughter.) And thanks to the people of Ohio and Michigan and the other places where automobiles are produced, for the first time since the 1970s, America America is the number one producer and seller of automobiles again in the entire world. (Applause.)
Now, I want to say to you, we need to focus on what we're going to do to keep this going. We can't backslide; we have to go forward. It means that this trade work has got to continue. We have got we have got to do what brought you to this point. We have to keep opening more markets. We have to watch it that markets don't get closed. We do have to be prepared to impose sanctions if people don't treat our workers and their families fairly. We have to be prepared to be firm in this, to keep trying to build an open trading system that is both open and fair not only to us but to other wealthier countries, as well.
We want to lift countries up to our level. We don't want to see people dragged down to the lowest level in the global economy. We want it to lead to growth everywhere. The more other people do well, the more they will be able to buy our products. And other countries and their leaders need to know that. There is nothing in it for them to try to force down the American standard of living. They should be trying to lift the standard of living of the people in their own countries. And we will help if they will do that. (Applause.)
Let me say this is not a particularly stimulating issue, I know, but that's why it's so important that we keep bringing this deficit down to balance the budget. You need to know that it's not just a question of the debt we would leave to your children; it's a question of how you live right now.
Why? Because from the moment I announced after I was elected President that we were going to have a serious attempt to get rid of this deficit after our national debt had gone up by four times in only 12 years, interest rates started to fall. In addition to the trade agreements and your efforts, it was those falling interest rates that have helped the American economy come back. When the interest rates go down, what does that mean? That means your home mortgage payment goes down. That means your credit card payment goes down. That means people's monthly car payment goes down. That means more people buy cars, more people buy homes, more people buy other things. And they are more stable. Their income goes further.
Most important, it means that interest rates for companies like Chrysler go down, and companies big and small can borrow money, invest it, build new businesses, hire new people, and keep this economy going. We've got average wages finally going up in this country for the first time in a decade in the last year or so. We've got to keep it going. We can't turn that around. We can't turn that around. (Applause.)
Now, that's why every middle class American working family should care about financial responsibility. And that's why if we stay on a path and we balance this budget in the right way I say the right way we can have a growing economy. The right way is to do it without having crippling cuts in the things that are important to our future and important to our obligations. That means we have to balance the budget without cutting back on education, from college loans to Head Start, without eroding our protection for the environment, without eroding our obligations to people who need help families with disabilities, poor children, the elderly in nursing homes through the Medicaid program and without doing more to Medicare than is necessary to balance the budget and stabilize the Medicare program. I don't support those excessive cuts, and we don't have to have them.
It also means that we can have tax cuts for working families, but they need to be tax cuts we can afford. Because if you have one that's more than you can afford, your interest rates will go up and it will turn right back around and take away from you what you were going to get in a tax cut.
So, yes, we should give people tax relief, for children under 13 a tax credit. We should give people like you greater access to an IRA and let you withdraw from it with no penalty to buy that first home or educate your kids or deal with a medical emergency. (Applause.)
We should allow you I have proposed a tax credit that will make community college as universal as a high school education is today a $1,500 tax credit a family for the first two years of education after high school, a $10,000 deduction for the cost of all college tuition $10,000 a year. That will help a lot of you send your kids to college. (Applause.) Now, we can afford that. We can afford that. (Applause.)
But even though it's election year, I'm not going to stand up and tell you that you can have something that I don't think we can afford. You wouldn't go to the bank and borrow money to give yourself a tax cut, and you shouldn't ask me to do the same thing. (Laughter.) I am going to do what I think is right to keep this economy going. I want more stories like Toledo. (Applause.)
And let me say that for all of our talk about the role of government and my administration and my personal commitment, the real credit for this today goes to you to you and the American people who are supporting you. But you can have the best government policies in the world, but if the workers aren't productive it doesn't work. You can have the best policies in the world, but if labor and management fight all the time instead of working together, it doesn't work.
You're sitting here in the oldest automobile plant in this country. More than one story, I noted. (Laughter.) And the first question I asked your folks here in management, I said, how in the wide world can you make this plant with what do you have, 4.5 million square feet in more than one floor. I said, how can these people do this? How can you sell these Jeeps all over the world? And they said, the workers did it, they did it. They overcame the adversity, they did the production. (Applause.)
That's another thing. All that government can do and this is the role of the government the role of the government is to create the conditions and give you the tools to make the most of your own life. Not a guarantee, but a chance. There are no guarantees. That's what the communist system found out. That's why it collapsed. Not a guarantee, but a chance. You seized the chance. And the company deserves a lot of credit.
I have challenged other companies to follow this lead 70 percent of you in continuing education courses, a generous bonus program, sharing the profits. Every company ought to share the fruits of its progress with the workers who make that progress possible. (Applause.)
And I honor that. I honor that. I want everyone in America today who works hard for a living to see the example of what happened in Toledo. Because if every company worked in partnership with its workers, if every company made it possible for its workers to continue their education and become more productive, if every company were committed to sharing a fair share of the profits with labor as well as management and shareholders this country would be even stronger, we would be growing even faster, we would be going into the future in even better shape. I think that's what we have to do.
The last thing I want to say is, we have to face our common challenges together. Government can't solve a lot of these problems alone. We have had a remarkable partnership on the environment. I believe we can grow the economy and protect the environment. I think we've proved that. We've improved the quality of our drinking water, 50 million people are breathing cleaner air. We have cleaned up more toxic waste dumps in three years than were cleaned up in the previous 12. We've revolutionized the meat standards so you can have safer meat. We just decided we just overhauled the standards for pesticides going into your food so your children will have safer food.
We can do things to grow the economy and protect the environment, and we have to work together. And we can find ways, actually, to create jobs. One of the things that Marcy Kaptur said today that struck home with me the most was that we deserve, our people deserve in these city areas, with their ethnic diversity, their religious diversity, all their diversity, where so much industry has moved out, they deserve the chance to make a living. And we have got to find ways to give them that chance. (Applause.)
As hard-working Americans, I want to leave you with two thoughts about that. Number one, if we do it right, the environment gives us a chance to do that. The biggest new investment in manufacturing in the last several years is a company making recycled paper products in the Bronx. What did we do for that company? The main thing we did was just I signed an executive order directing the federal government to buy a certain percentage of its products in recycled paper. Now a lot of those urban folks are working on a way to help the environment, and they've got manufacturing jobs. That's an important thing.
The second thing I want to tell you is this: As hard-working people, I know that all of you support the idea that we ought to reform welfare in a way that enables poor folks to go to work and raise their kids just like you're trying to do. Now, we have reduced the welfare rolls by a million and a half in four years and I'm proud of that by moving people from welfare to work and requiring people who can work to go to work. (Applause.)
Now, I just signed a bill that changes structurally the way welfare works. It says at the national level we're going to guarantee poor families the health care that they need. We're going to guarantee poor children the nutrition they need. We're going to guarantee that there will be more money put into child care for working poor people, because they can't afford to pay it. But we're going to take what used to be the welfare check itself, the federal portion and the state portion, we're going to let the state decide how to spend that money to try to spend it in a way that will move more people from welfare to work and put strict time limits on the limit of time that able-bodied people can stay on welfare.
Now, that's good, but if they're going to do that, if you're going to require people to go to work, they have to have work. They have to have a job to go to. So I want you, just the way you fought for the minimum wage, to say what we want for poor families in the country is what we want for ourselves. We want people to have the dignity of work and the success of raising their kids, and we are committed to real welfare reform. Yes, require people to work, but make sure you require them to do work because the work is there.
If we will continue to work together to create an America where everybody has a chance to live up to their God-given capacities and live out their dreams, this country's best days are still ahead. If you ever doubt this country's days are still ahead, think about your story. Think about your two-millionth Jeep. Think about all the right-hand drive vehicles you're selling all over the world. Think about how far you've come. Think about the success stories that you represent. Any one of you could have done what Todd did last night, and we want every American to be able to tell that same story.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Paid for by Clinton/Gore 96 General Committee, Inc.