remarks at reception for Debbie Stabenow
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Bingham Farms, Michigan)
For Immediate Release                  August 22, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                             Private Residence
                                 Bingham Farms, Michigan

6:55 P.M. EDT

          THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very, very much.  I want to begin by
saying thank you to Brian and Jennifer for opening their home.  This is
such a beautiful place.  And the backyard is wonderful, and the weather has
cooperated.  It's an omen, Debbie.  (Applause.)

          I want to thank Senator Carl Levin for being here.  I wi tell you
all the times over the last eight years that I have seen Carl Levin time
and time again stand up on the floor of the Senate and do the right thing
not only for Michigan, but for the people of the United States.  He is a
magnificent United States senator and he deserves a good fight --

          I don't know if John Conyers is here.  I heard he was coming.
Hello, John, it's nice to see you.  Let me say that one of the corollary
benefits of electing five more, six more Democrats to the House of
Representatives is that John Conyers will be the chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee and it will be a credit to the United States.  And I
thank you.  (Applause.)

          Millie, I'm glad to see you.  You look good in that Medal of
Freedom.  (Laughter.)  And you earned it.  And I want to say a special word
of thanks to Doreen and David Hermelin for nine years of friendship and
support, for doing such a magnificent job in Norway, and David has made me
laugh from Michigan to Washington to Oslo.  And I suspect I'm not the only
person in this crowd besides your family that feels deeply indebted to you
for being a magnificent human being.  And I thank you so much.  (Applause.)

          Now, this is an unusual election for me -- it's the first time in
26 years they've had one that I'm not running for something.  (Laughter.)
Most days I'm okay about it.  (Laughter.)  My family has a new candidate,
making Debbie my second favorite Senate candidate who is a woman running in
America today.  (Laughter.)  And I thank the Hermelins for helping her, as

          My party has a new leader, and I thought he did a magnificent job
last Thursday night.  (Applause.)  And Michigan is very, very important to
what happens this year.  It is not an accident that early Tuesday morning
Hillary and I got up in Los Angeles and flew across the country to drive to
Monroe, Michigan, for the symbolic handoff with the Vice President and
Tipper Gore.  It is profoundly important.  It's also important because of
this Senate race.

          I admire Debbie Stabenow.  I admire her for the work she's done
in the Congress.  I admire her for standing up for what she believes.  I
admire her for leaving the confines of a safe House seat and the prospect
of being in the majority in the House of Representatives to take a step of
challenging an incumbent senator.  I want her to win, and she can win and
she should win if all of you will do what you can to help her between now
and November.  (Applause.)

          Now, as I said the other night in Los Angeles, this is a big
election.  And every Senate seat, every House seat is important.  And
obviously the White House is a profoundly important thing.  But the only
thing I'm worried about in this election is that we might get all the way
to November and people might not understand because things are going so
well that it is a big election with big choices and big differences.

          I am absolutely convinced if the people of Michigan understand
what the choices are and what the consequences to them and their families
are, that Debbie will be elected and that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will be
elected.  That's what I believe.  (Applause.)  I believe that -- and so I
thank you for your contributions; I thank you for coming here.  But I just
want to take two minutes to say what I tried to hammer home last night and
to make a couple of other points -- or last week.

          Number one, we started eight years ago with a simple vision that
America in the 21st century ought to be a place where opportunity is alive
for every responsible citizen; where, without regard to our backgrounds and
our differences, we are coming together, not being driven apart; and where
we're still the world's leading force for peace and freedom.

          Now, we had a strategy -- prepare people for this new era by
creating the conditions and giving the people the tools to make the most of
their own lives, and giving everybody a chance.  Get the roadblocks out of
the way and give people a hand up who needed it.  We just got fresh
evidence today that that's working.  Today we got the four-year results on
our welfare reform efforts -- welfare rolls now are at a 35-year low in the
United States of America -- something you can all be proud of.  (Applause.)

          But I want to reiterate something else I said.  I believe all the
best things -- for all the good things that have happened in America the
last eight years, even greater achievements are out there if, but only if,
we focus on the big challenges and make the right choices.  And there's
some big challenges out there:  If we have the longest economic expansion
in history, how are we going to keep the prosperity going and extend its
benefits to people in places left behind?  How are we going to get America
out of debt for the first time since 1835?  How are we going to meet the
challenge of the aging of America? When the baby boomers like me are all
over 65, there will only be two people working for every one person drawing
Social Security.

          How are we going to meet the challenge of the children of
America, the largest and most diverse group of children we have ever had?
Will they all get a world-class education, or not?  How are we going to
meet the challenge of balancing work and family in a world where most
parents have to work?

          How are we going to meet the challenge of staying ahead in
science and technology, and protecting our values, when all your medical
and financial records are on the Internet, when all of us have a little
gene card that says everything that's wrong with us, how are we going to
protect our privacy and keep people from depriving others of health
insurance or a job?

          How are we going to meet the challenge of global warming and
still keep the economy going?  How are we going to deal with even greater
racial, religious, ethnic and other diversities?  And what will it take for
us to continue to lead the world toward the kind of peace I've worked so
hard for, from the Middle East to Northern Ireland to the Balkans?  What
will it take?  (Applause.)

          Now, don't let anybody tell you there are no big issues in this
election.  This is big stuff.  And how a country deals with its prosperity
in good times is just as stern a test of its judgment, its values, its
character as how you deal with adversity.  After all, when I came to
Michigan in 1992, and asked the people to vote for me, it didn't take a
stroke of genius to understand that we had to do something different.  As
Al Gore used to say, everything that should be up was down, everything that
should be down was up.  We couldn't keep doing the same things.

          Now we have to think about how to meet these challenges.  And I
just want to mention two or three things that I think are profoundly
important.  I could talk about a dozen, but I'll just mention three.
First, on health care.  This United States senator would vote for, not
against, the patients' bill of rights; would vote for a Medicare drug
program that all of our seniors who need it could have access to.  That is

          The second thing I want to talk about a little bit is the
economy, and that relates to the attack that's been leveled against her by
her opponent.  I saw the other day -- I was reading the papers, getting
ready to come here that her opponent says, well, you know, she'll go vote
for that big drug program, she and Carl Levin, there's just going to be
like a $600 million tax or a billion tax, it's just going to be terrible.
I heard all that.  It's like, we're going to spend too much money.

          Now, I want you to listen to this because this is the most
important distinction that will affect everybody that I think is not well
understood.  What are we going to do with our surplus and how is it going
to affect the economy?  Here's our position.  Our position is we have a
large projected surplus; we should, however, not spend it all today --
first, because it hasn't come in, it's a projected surplus.  So what should
we do with it?  Here's what we say.  We say we want to give the American
people a tax cut we can afford, that includes marriage penalty relief,
college tuition deduction, help for child care, for long-term care for an
elderly or disabled relative, for saving for retirement.

          We think we have to save some money back to invest in education
and in health care, including this Medicare prescription drug program.  We
think we have to save some money back so that we can lengthen the life of
Social Security and Medicare, to get it out beyond the life expectancy of
the baby boom generation, so that when we retire we don't bankrupt our kids
and their ability to raise our grandchildren.  And if we do it that way, we
can get this country out of debt over the next 10 or 12 years, for the
first time since 1835, a year before Arkansas and Michigan became states.

          Now, that's our position.  Their position sounds better the first
time you hear it and it doesn't take as long to say it.  Their position is,
hey, we've got this big projected surplus; it's your money, vote for us,
we're going to give it all back to you.  Sounds great.  Doesn't take as
long to say.  Here's the problem.

          It is literally true that their combined tax cut promises spend
all the projected surplus and then some, leaving nothing for education,
health care, the environment, nothing for emergencies, nothing for their
own spending promises -- their Star Wars promise, their promise to
partially privatize Social Security, which alone would cost a trillion
dollars.  And most important of all, the money is not there yet.

          Now, look, this is a big deal.  The Council of Economic Advisors
has estimated that even if all this money comes in, the plan that Debbie
and Carl would vote for would keep interest rates one percent lower every
year for a decade than their plan, if all the money comes in.  In other
words, best case.  You know what that's worth to you -- $250 billion in
lower home mortgages, $30 billion in lower car payments, $15 billion in
lower college loan payments.  In other words, another $300 billion tax cut.

          Our plan costs way less than half of what theirs does and gives
more money to two-thirds of the American people.  Now, nearly everybody in
this room would be better off under their plan the first year, because it
helps people who can afford to go to fundraisers like this.  (Laughter.)
And I hope I'll be one of them next year.  (Laughter.)  But what's the
problem?  Every one of you will be worse off as soon as those interest
rates started going up and the stock market started going down and the
economy started getting weaker.

          This is a huge deal, not widely understood.  You have to find a
way to tell your friends and neighbors we have worked too hard to get this
country out of the ditch; we have worked too hard to get rid of this
deficit; we can't show up next year and say, here's our projected surplus,
let's give it all away in a tax cut.  And the drug program that she
supports can easily be funded to help every senior citizen who needs it in
this country and still have a tax cut, and still get us out of debt.

          And if all the money doesn't come in, we've got a cushion built
into ours.  Now, you've got to hammer this home.  Think how hard we've
worked together as a country to turn it around economically, to get
interest rates down, to make investments pay off, to generate jobs and
create hope and opportunity.  And in some blinding flash should we just
throw it away by giving away all of our projected income?

          I say all the time it really reminds me of these letters I used
to get back when I was a civilian -- in the mail from the Publishers
Clearinghouse, those sweepstakes letters, signed by Ed McMahon -- "You may
have won $10 million."  That's what your projected income is -- "you may
have won $10 million."  Well, if you spent the money the next day, you
probably shouldn't vote for her.  (Laughter.)  But if you didn't, you
should vote for Debbie Stabenow, you should vote for Al Gore and Joe
Lieberman, and support Carl Levin, and keep this prosperity going.  This is
a profoundly important issue.  (Applause.)

          The last thing I want to say is this:  A United States senator
has to cast important votes that are more important than economics, that go
to the heart of who we are as a people and how we live, and whether we're
going to be one America, whether we're going to respect everybody's privacy
and everybody's rights and everybody's diversity -- the hate crimes
legislation, the employment nondiscrimination legislation, and maybe most
important of all, ratifying or failing to approve justices appointed to the
United States Supreme Court.  (Applause.)

          Now, the next President of the United States will have between
two and four appointments to the Supreme Court.  I had two in my first
term, and I'm proud of the job they're doing.  And I never asked them to
reflect every view I had, but I do think it is important that we have a
President who will appoint justices that will stick up for basic civil
rights, including the right to choose, and senators who will vote to ratify
such judges.  (Applause.)

          And if this is an important issue to friends and neighbors of
yours and people you know, you cannot let them pretend that the vote in the
Senate race or the vote in the President's race is not going to have an
impact on this.

          So I will say again, if you believe in the patients' bill of
rights and the Medicare drug benefits that all seniors can afford, you've
got to vote for Debbie and Al and Joe.  If you believe that we should get
this country out of debt and keep prosperity going and save some money to
invest in education and health care and have a tax cut we can afford,
you've got to vote for Debbie and Al and Joe.  If you believe in a woman's
right to choose and if you believe in the hate crimes legislation and
building one America that we can all be a part of, you've got to vote for
Debbie and for Al and for Joe.

          That is clear.  And you have to do what you can.  This is the
most important thing of all.  I know I am, if I might use an expression out
of my faith, I know I am preaching to the saved today.  But what I'm trying
to say to you is it is not good enough even for you to come here to this
fundraiser.  Every one of you, every one of you, has friends who may not
even be Democrats, but they certainly aren't as interested in politics as
you are.  They never come to fundraisers like this.  They don't think about
this stuff all the time.  But they're good citizens and they will show up
and vote.  And they have to understand it's a big election with big
choices, with big differences that have huge consequences to the lives our
children will have.

          So I implore you, if you believe in what you did in coming here
today, go out there and tell people if they want to keep the prosperity
going and extend it, if they want to get this country out of debt, if they
want to see all our seniors have the medicine they need as more and more of
us grow older, if they want to preserve a right to choose for a woman and
the right to build one America without regard to all the differences that
make this a great and interesting country, there is only one choice in this
election -- Debbie Stabenow, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

          Thank you and God bless you.  (Applause.)

                            END        7:15 P.M. EDT

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E