President Clinton Radio Address to the Nation
Learn about 'Our Story'


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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 28, 1995


The Roosevelt Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to talk to you
today about what's at stake for the American people in the great
budget debate now taking place in Washington. But first, I've got
some good news to report.

Our country is on the move. Our economy is the strongest
in the world, and it's growing. Yesterday, the official report on the
economy for the last three months showed continued strong economic
growth with very low inflation. And this week we also learned that
we've cut the budget deficit nearly in half since I became President.
It has dropped for three years in a row for the first time since
President Truman was in office. The American people should be proud
of their accomplishment.

Now it's time to finish the job and balance the budget,
so that we don't pass a mountain of debt on to our children and we
free up more funds to be invested in our economy. But we need to do
it in a way that reflects our core values: Opportunity for all
Americans to make the most of their own lives. Responsibility -- we
all must do our part; no more something for nothing. And third,
recognizing our community, our common obligations to preserve and
strengthen our families, to do our duty to our parents, to fulfill our
obligation to give our children the best future possible with good
schools and good health care and safe streets and a clean environment.
And finally, a determination to keep our nation the strongest in the

I have proposed a balanced budget that secures Medicare
into the future, that increases our investment in education and
technology, that protects the environment, that keeps our country the
strongest in the world. Because working people do deserve a tax
break, it includes a tax cut targeted at education and child rearing.
My balanced budget reflects our national values.

It's also in our national interest. We now have three
years of evidence that our economic strategy works. Reduce the
deficit, sell more American products around the world, invest in
education and technology -- it gives you more jobs, more new
businesses, more homeowners, a stronger future for all Americans. But
this week the Republican Congress voted to enact an extreme budget
that violates our values, and I believe is bad for our long-term

All Americans believe in honoring our parents and keeping
our pledge that they'll live out their last years in dignity. But the
Republican budget cuts $450 billion out of the health care system,
doubles premiums for senior citizens. And the House budget actually
repeals the rule called spousal impoverishment. What this means is
they would let a state say to an elderly couple that if the husband or
the wife has to go into a nursing home, the other has to sell the
house, the car, and clean out the bank account before there
can be any help from the government. They say, we'll then help you,
and how you get along afterward is your own problem.

The Republicans say they support Medicare. They say they
just want to reform it. But just this week we learned that the Senate
Majority Leader is bragging that he opposed Medicare from the
beginning, and the Speaker of the House admitted that his goal is to
have Medicare -- quote -- "wither on the vine." When they say those
things it's clear that the Republicans come not to praise Medicare,
but to bury it.

All Americans believe we have a fundamental duty to
provide opportunity for our young people, and to protect the world
that God gave us. But the Republican budget singles out education and
the environment for deep and devastating cuts.

And it's a basic American value to honor hard work. But
the congressional Republicans impose billions of dollars in new taxes
and fees directly on working people. On average, families who earn
less than $30,000 a year get a tax hike, not a tax cut, under their

Let me put it another way. They want to increase taxes
on working families with children living on $20,000 a year or less,
and give people in my income group a tax cut. That is wrong. A
country where Medicare withers on the vine, where our children are
denied educational opportunity, where pollution worsens, where working
people get a tax increase -- that's not the kind of America I want for
the 21st century.

I want a nation that promotes opportunity and demands
responsibility; that preserves families, increases work; that
recognizes the duty we owe to each other; and that still is the
strongest country in the world.

The more the American people see of this budget the less
they like it. That's why the Republicans in Congress have resorted to
extraordinary blackmail tactics to try to ram their program through.
They have said they won't pass a bill letting the government pay its
bills unless I accept their extreme and misguided budget priorities.

Well, for more than two centuries, through war and
depression, the United States has always paid its bills, always
honored its obligations. For all their loose talk, the congressional
leaders know that a default would have a severe impact on our country.
By making it more expensive for the government to raise money it would
expand the deficit, unsettle financial markets, and increase interest
rates. Higher interest rates mean higher mortgage rates for
homeowners, especially the 10 million of them whose mortgages are tied
to federal interest rates. Higher interest rates means higher credit
card rates for consumers and bigger borrowing costs for businesses.

Now, I'm not about to give in to that kind of blackmail.
So Congress should simply stop playing political games with the full
faith and credit of the United States of America. They should send me
the debt limit bill to sign, as every Congress has done when necessary
throughout American history.

Just yesterday, the Secretary of the Treasury once again
asked Congress to remove the debt limit from the budget bill, or, at
the very least, to extend it through mid-January. That way we can
resolve this budget impasse without hurting our economy. Even this
offer was brushed aside.

I will not let anyone hold health care, education, or the
environment hostage. If they send me a budget bill that says simply,
take our cuts or we'll let the country go into default, I will still
veto it. And hear this: Before or after a veto, I am not prepared to
discuss the destruction of Medicare and Medicaid, the gutting of our
commitment to education, the ravaging of our environment, or raising
taxes on working people.

So I say to the Republican leaders: Back off your cuts
in these vital areas. Until you do, there's nothing for us to talk
about. You say your principles are a balanced budget, a tax cut,
extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. I want all those
things. They're my principles, too. But there are other important
principles, the ones that I have outlined. They are morally right for
America, and they're good for our economy.

This is a time of genuine promise for our country. We're
on the move. Our economy is the envy of the world. No nation on
Earth is better positioned for the new century than America, because
of the diversity of the economy and our citizens; because of our
commitment to excellence; because of our technological advantages.
The 21st century will be ours if we make the right choices and do the
right thing for the American people.

Thanks for listening.



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