THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||October 30, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE ECONOMY
The South Portico
11:16 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to say a few wordstoday about the growth of our economy and important new steps we'retaking to strengthen that growth as we move toward the new century.Six years ago, our economy lagged behind the rest of the world, so wechanged course, with a new strategy for economic growth founded onfiscal discipline and lower interest rates. It has worked.
It has helped to produce an American economicrenaissance with low inflation, low unemployment low welfare rolls,rising wages, the highest rate of home ownership in history, thefirst balanced budget since Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, andthe smallest federal government since John Glenn orbited the Earth.
This morning's economic report shows that our economy iscontinuing to grow in a strong manner, at a solid 3.3 percent. It iscontinuing to expand opportunity, to create wealth, to lift the hopesof working families. In the face of worldwide economic turmoil, oureconomy remains the strongest in a generation. But to keep it goingwe must stay with the strategy that created the conditions of thisenduring economic expansion, and we must address the challenges ofthe global economy. I'd like to say a word about both.
First, we must maintain our fiscal discipline. I haveinsisted we preserve our hard-won surplus until a plan is in place tostrengthen Social Security. We stopped the Republican Majority inthe House from squandering the surplus in an election-year tax plan.They haven't given up, however. House Republican leaders havereaffirmed their desire to spend the surplus before we have a plan inplace to save Social Security. And the Republican leader in theSenate now says he may not even work with me on saving SocialSecurity.
On Tuesday the American people will choose a Congressthat will decide whether and how to save Social Security for the 21stcentury. I believe the American people need a Congress that is 100percent committed to preserving that surplus until we Social Securityfirst.
Second, to strengthen our economic growth, we mustcontinue to invest in and improve the quality of our people'seducation. The budget I signed last week invests in after-schoolprograms and makes a strong down payment on 100,000 teachers to lowerclass size in the early grades to an average of 18. But the Congressrefused to build or modernize 5,000 schools. I believe that was amistake as well.
We need a new Congress to correct that error andmodernize our schools. If we're going to have more teachers withmore students in smaller classes, they have to have someplace tomeet.
A stronger American economy also depends upon a strongerinternational economy. Growth at home increasingly depends upongrowth abroad. Our economy increasingly depends upon exports, andmany, many of our exports go to emerging markets. Those markets noware faltering. A full quarter of the world's markets, the world'spopulation, now live in countries with declining or negative economicgrowth. This presents to us the biggest financial challenge in ahalf century.
Over the last year we have pursued a comprehensivestrategy to fight the financial crisis and protect American jobs athome as well. Last month I outlined a set of specific actions tospur global growth. In the weeks since, we've been working with ourG-7 partners and with those in the emerging markets to makesignificant progress toward that goal.
Think what's happened in the last month. Japan hascommitted substantial resources to repair its banking system. TheEuropean Union has joined the G-7 in recognizing that the balance ofrisk has shifted, and that above all, now, we must spur growth. TheU.S., Japan, Canada, and several European nations have cut interestrates. America has met its obligations to the International MonetaryFund. This week Brazil announced a program to tackle its fiscalproblems. And President Cardoso has assured me that he willimplement the program swiftly.
To build on that progress, Prime Minister Blair of GreatBritain and I have been working to rally support for several newmeasures to help strengthen the international community's ability tokeep financial turmoil at bay. Secretary Rubin and ChairmanGreenspan have been deeply engaged with their counterparts in theeffort. And over the past week I've been speaking to other G-7leaders about it.
Today I'm pleased to report that the world's leadingeconomies have linked arms to contain the financial turmoil thatthreatens growth not only in emerging markets, but in all markets ofthe world. The leaders of the major industrial economies have takenthe following steps. This morning they've released a statementoutlining our common agenda.
First, we have agreed to establish a new precautionaryline of credit, anchored in the IMF, to help countries with soundeconomic policies ward off the global financial crisis in the firstplace. With substantial new resources at the IMF, this line ofcredit gives us a powerful new tool that can be used when it will dothe most good at the lowest cost, before the trouble starts.
Second, we have also agreed to establish a new WorldBank emergency fund to provide support in times of crisis to the mostvulnerable members of society and to encourage the World Bank toleverage private sector investments in countries now affected by thecrisis.
And finally, even as we act to contain the crisis, weare building a modern framework for the global markets of the 21stcentury. Today we released detailed plans for greater openness andstronger standards for finance in the international marketplace. Andwe have agreed to ask our finance ministers to make new and veryconcrete recommendations to help to tame the excessive volatility infinancial markets that can destroy hope and diminish wealth.
These steps are very, very important. Over the longrun, if America's economy is to continue to grow, the economies ofour trading partners must continue to grow. In a larger sense, ifAmerica's devotion to freedom and openness is to be met with success,we must put a human face on the global economy for the mostvulnerable people in the emerging countries when they face hardtimes.
So I feel quite good about what my fellow G-7 leadersand others have done here. I thank them for their support. I thankespecially Prime Minister Blair for his support.
Now, let me say, finally, for all of us here at theWhite House, this is not just a day of good economic news; it ispersonally a day of sad news because this is Erskine Bowles' last dayas Chief of Staff. Sometime this afternoon, while I am in New Yorkworking, he is going home to North Carolina.
I want to say again how much I appreciate theindispensable role he has played in balancing the budget anddeveloping sound economic policies, in improving our commitment toeducation in ways that will affect millions and millions ofschoolchildren, and in his conviction that we were doing the rightthing to pursue our race initiative.
Finally, he has been a marvelous role model for theyoung people who worked at the White House and for the not so youngas well, putting us together into a team, getting everyone to worktogether, thinking every day about what good can come from our commonefforts.
As all of you know, he is a very close personal friendof mine. I will miss him very much. But most of all today, I wantto acknowledge his contributions to the people of the United States.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, do you think voter turnout will beaffected by the impeachment issue?
THE PRESIDENT: The answer to your question is, I don'tknow. I know that this is no ordinary election, no ordinary time.What is at issue are big things that will affect every American andevery American family's children. What is at issue is the future ofSocial Security, whether we will have a patients' bill of rights forthe over 160 million people in managed care plans, whether we willcontinue to advance the cause of education by building andmodernizing our schools, whether we will continue the path of reform,raising the minimum wage, passing campaign finance reform, protectingour children from the dangers of tobacco. Those are the big issues.
I hope every American will go and vote, and vote in goodconscience, and vote on what is important to this country and itsfuture. All I can do is tell the American people, I know this is noordinary time, no ordinary election, and they need to vote. I haveno prediction about what the turnout will be, but I am confident thatif people understand the stakes, it will be quite impressive.