Wednesday, January 20, 1999

State of the Union address (Take 4)

        Here's some good news. In the past six years, we have cut the welfare rolls nearly in half. Two years ago from this podium, I asked five companies to lead a national effort to hire people off welfare. Tonight, our Welfare to Work Partnership includes 10,000 companies who have hired hundreds of thousands of people. And our balanced budget will help another 200,000 people move to the dignity and pride of work. I hope you will support it.

        We must do more to bring the spark of private enterprise to every corner of America, to build a bridge from Wall Street to Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta to our Native American communities. With more support for community development banks, for empowerment zones; for 100,000 more vouchers for affordable housing. And I ask Congress to support our bold new plan to help businesses raise up to $15 billion in private sector capital to bring jobs and opportunities to our inner cities and rural areas — with tax credits and loan guarantees, including the new American Private Investment Companies modeled on the Overseas Private Investment Company.

        Thank you.

        Now, for years and years and years we've had this OPIC, this Overseas Private Investment Corporation, because we knew we had untapped markets overseas. But our greatest untapped markets are not overseas, they are right here at home and we should go after them.

        Now we must work hard to help bring prosperity back to the family farm. You know — as this Congress knows very well, dropping prices and the loss of foreign markets have devastated too many family farms. Last year the Congress provided substantial assistance to help stave off a disaster in American agriculture, and I am ready to work with lawmakers of both parties to create a farm safety net that will include crop insurance reform and farm income assistance.

        I actually do — I ask you to join with me and do this. This should not be a political issue. Everyone knows what an economic problem is going on out there in rural America today, and we need an appropriate means to address it. Thank you.

        We must strengthen our lead in technology. It was government investment that led to the creation of the Internet. I propose a 28 percent increase in long-term computing research.

        We also must be ready for the 21st century, from its very first moment, by solving the so-called “Y2K” computer problem. Now, we had one member of Congress stand up and applaud and we may have about that ratio out there applauding at home in front of their television sets. But remember, this is a big, big problem. And we've been working hard on it. Already we've made sure that the Social Security checks will come on time. And I — but I want all the folks at home listening to this to know that we need every state and local government, every business, large and small, to work with us to make sure that this Y2K computer bug will be remembered as the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st.

        Now, for our own prosperity, we must support economic growth abroad. You know, until recently, a third of our economic growth came from exports. But over the past year and a half, financial turmoil overseas has put that growth at risk. Today much of the world is in recession, with Asia hit especially hard.

        This is the most serious financial crisis in half a century. To meet it, the United States and other nations have reduced interest rates and strengthened the International Monetary Fund. And while the turmoil is not over, we have worked very hard with other nations to contain it.

        At the same time, we have to continue to work on the long-term project, building a global financial system for the 21st Century that promotes prosperity and tames the cycles of boom and bust that has engulfed so much of Asia. This June I will meet with other world leaders to advance this historic purpose. And I ask all of you to support our endeavors.

        I also ask you to support creating a freer and fairer trading system for 21st century America.

        I'd like to say something really serious to everyone in this chamber in both parties. I think trade has divided us and divided Americans outside this chamber for too long. Somehow we have to find a common ground on which business and workers, and environmentalists, and farmers and government can stand together. I believe these are the things we ought to all agree on. So let me try.

        First, we ought to tear down barriers, open markets and expand trade. But at the same time, we must ensure that ordinary citizens in all countries actually benefit from trade — a trade that promotes the dignity of work — and the rights of workers, and protects the environment. We must insist that international trade organizations be open to public scrutiny instead of mysterious, secret things subject to wild criticism. When you come right down to it, now that the world economy is becoming more and more integrated, we have to do in the world what we spent the better part of this century doing here at home — we have got to put a human face on the global economy.

        Now we, we must enforce our trade laws when imports unlawfully flood our nation. I have, I have already informed the government of Japan that if that nation's sudden surge of steel imports into our country is not reversed, America will respond.

        We must help all American manufacturers hit hard by the present crisis — with loan guarantees and other incentives to increase American exports by nearly $2 billion.

        I'd like to believe we can achieve a new consensus on trade based on these principles, and I ask the Congress again to join me in this common approach and to give the president the trade authority long used, and now overdue and necessary, to advance our prosperity in the 21st century. (Applause.)

        Tonight, I also issue a call to the nations of the world to join the United States in a new round of global trade negotiation to expand exports of services, manufactures and farm products.

        Tonight I say we will work with the International Labor Organization on a new initiative to raise labor standards around the world. And this year, we will lead the international community to conclude a treaty to ban abusive child labor everywhere in the world.

        If we do these things — invest in our people, our communities, our technology, and lead in the global economy — then we will begin to meet our historic responsibility to build a 21st Century prosperity for America.

        You know, no nation in history has had the opportunity and the responsibility we now have: to shape a world that is more peaceful, more secure, more free.

        All Americans can be proud that our leadership helped to bring peace in Northern Ireland. All Americans can be proud that our leadership has put Bosnia on the path to peace. And with our NATO allies, we are pressing the Serbian government to stop its brutal repression in Kosovo, to bring those — thank you, thank you, to bring those responsible to justice and to give the people of Kosovo the self-government they deserve.


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Tristate congressmen criticize spending proposals
President's issues have local impact
Social Security plan is big, bold and controversial
Clinton cites first lady's 'historic role'
Government to sue to cigarette makers to recover smoking costs
Lukewarm criticism from GOP
President out to reclaim his legacy
Text of State of the Union address
State of the Union address (Take 2)
State of the Union address (Take 3)
- State of the Union address (Take 4)
State of the Union address (Take 5)
State of the Union address (Take 6)
State of the Union address (Take 7)
Clinton's lawyer presents scathing rebuke
Both parties praise president's counsel
Chabot: Ruff got it wrong
Defense low-key till end
GOP collecting, editing queries