Clinton at Louisiana Superdome on Bush +quot;Taking Responsibility+quot; NEW ORLEANS, July
Clinton at Louisiana Superdome on Bush "Taking Responsibility"
NEW ORLEANS, July 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following are remarks of
Gov. Bill Clinton at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans today:
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to be here today. I
wanted to get a small crowd in this vast arena to make a statement,
and as I think you know, we're going over to U.N.O. at 5 to have a
large rally and I hope you will join us there, but I didn't want to
pass the opportunity of being in New Orleans today, and not make a
statement that I think capsulizes for me at least much of what this
election is all about.
Two weeks ago, I stood in Madison Square Garden in New York before
the Democratic National Party and accepted my party's nomination. I
promised to put the American people first, challenged us to make a
new choice based on old values, and agreed to do my best to assume
the awesome responsibility of the presidency.
Over the last two weeks, Al Gore and I, in our bus, and in our
individual travels, have seen the faces and heard the voices of an
America yearning to hope and dream and believe again. Across this
country, astonishing crowds have come out to see us, not just to see
us, but in search of something far more important -- their chance to
trust in democracy again, and to give their children a better
tomorrow. People who get up early and work all day to give their kids
a better tomorrow. People eager to roll up their sleeves and build a
better America. People who want to believe again, to begin again, to
be proud again. People who feel their government has broken its
promises and violated their trust.
Today I have come here to the Superdome to the spot where that
trail of broken promises and violated trust began. George Bush has
talked a great deal about trust lately. Today I was going to talk to
you about that very famous phrase that George Bush made in this
stadium four years ago, "Read my lips".
I was going to talk to you about his promise of 15 million new
jobs in the first four years, a promise that is 14 and a half
million jobs short. A promise of a kinder, gentler nation, a
promise that has been savaged by the political tactics and the
division of this own administration. About the only thing we can
really trust this administration to do is to give us four more years
of the same failed economic policies. But yesterday, something
happened that goes beyond even the trust issue, and the gall of this
administration to hurl the word "trust" at its opponents.
It's beyond broken promises and it's about the acceptance of
responsibility by the president. For yesterday on the day when
consumer confidence plunged to all-time lows, when home buying is
going down and unemployment is going up, Mr. Bush sent his leading
economic advisor to Capitol Hill to deliver a message to an anxious
Speaking on behalf of the president, Richard Darman denied that
the president bears any responsibility whatever for the sluggish,
stagnant economy. Mr. Darman pointed the finger of blame everywhere
but at the Oval Office. Listen to this. The president's chief
economic advisor, when asked for an explanation of why we have the
three slowest years of economic performance in 50 years since the
Great Depression, did the following things:
He blamed the Federal Reserve for the slow growth of the money
supply. He blamed the nation's lenders for the credit crunch. He
blamed Saddam Hussein for the invasion of Kuwait, which is good blame
but hardly the cause of our economic problems here at home. And he
blamed Congress for refusing to enact Mr. Bush's economic program, a
limited version of trickle-down, which was cooked up for election
year after three years of no action at all.
Yesterday, the chairman of the House Budget Committee asked the
president's chief spokesperson on the economy, "Does the president
accept any responsibility whatsoever?" And the spokesman wouldn't
accept any, not any. Even though, six different times, Mr. Bush and
his advisors have tried to take credit when they thought the economy
was moving up.
Four years ago, this president promised 15 million new jobs, no
new taxes, and a kinder, gentler nation. But most important, he
promised to be president, to accept responsibility. He said that he
saw his life in terms of "missions, missions defined, and missions
completed." The mission was an America "moving forward, always
And four years later, we're moving backward. Most Americans are
working harder for less money than they were making ten years ago.
Unemployment now numbers 10 million Americans. Ten percent of our
people are on food stamps. Other countries' economies are growing
faster than ours. Since 1980 and the beginning of trickle-down, we've
gone from first to 13th in the world in wages. We are not moving
forward, always forward. And all Mr. Bush has to offer is the
politics of blame, and more of the same.
He is still in the grip of a failed idea, still believing the only
way to make an economy grow in a tough global environment is to cut
taxes on the wealthiest one percent, raise them on the middle class,
let the deficit explode, reduce investment in our future, and stay
out of the economic battleground with other nations. Every major
economy in the world has a national economic strategy but the United
States of America.
He still believes that, when it comes to offering opportunity for
ordinary Americans, the best policy for the government is to do
nothing. He still believes that our top economic priority ought to be
an across-the-board, short-term capital gains tax cut for the
wealthiest Americans. A tax cut that gives millionaires an average
benefit of $100,000, and gives folks earning $50,000 a year or less
an average of $30. A tax cut that isn't targeted to long-term
investment in activities that create jobs and emphasize new
technologies. A tax cut just like the past 12 years of windfalls
for the wealthy without jobs for ordinary Americans.
Let's face it, when Mr. Bush stood here four years ago and said,
"Read my lips, no new taxes," what he meant to say was, "No new taxes
for the rich."
This president actually vetoed an economic package passed by
Congress this year, and fashioned, among others, by Sen. Lloyd
Bentsen of Texas, a pro-business Democrat, that included much of what
Mr. Bush says he wanted and even more -- an investment tax credit for
new plant and equipment, research and development tax credits to keep
us ahead in the race for new technologies, and other investments to
get this economy going. Why did he veto the bill? Because it paid
for those tax incentives by raising taxes on the top one percent of
Americans, whose taxes have gone down for the last 10 years, and
because it didn't include the short-term, across-the-board, capital
gains tax cuts.
We have disagreements about the economy, but the main point I want
to make to you today is that beyond the trust issue, beyond the
broken promises, beyond the bad economic policies, there is,
underneath all this, an even more fundamental issue, and that is the
failure of the president to assume responsibility for the future of
this country. The great presidents of our time have gone beyond
pointing the finger of blame to assume the burden of responsibility.
President Franklin Roosevelt, who assumed office in 1933, and
lifted us up from the confines of his wheelchair, did not tell us
that the only the fear was the Federal Reserve. He said, "The only
thing we have to fear is fear itself."
President Truman had to make the awesome decision about atomic
weapons to end World War II, and to begin the post-World War II era
in the Cold War. He didn't blame everyone else for his problems. He
didn't try to pass the buck, he had a sign on his desk that said,
"The buck stops here." He would have fired Darman for that statement
President Eisenhower didn't complain the Korean problem was a
problem he inherited. He said, "Vote for me. I will go to Korea."
And President Kennedy, even though he might have done so, did not
blame his predecessor for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He stood up there
and said, "It is my responsibility. And I will assume it."
Mr. Bush has gone from voodoo economics to can't-do economics. But
the American people are a can-do people. And we need a president who
can get the economy moving again and assume the responsibilities of
My adversaries have 100 days to rehearse and repeat their
excuses and their blame and their argument for why America shouldn't
change. They'll say the Democrats are tax-and-spend, in spite of the
fact that our program calls for a more aggressive, but leaner, and
more efficient government that reduces spending in many areas that
this president has refused to address. They'll say that the Democrats
are liberals, whatever that means, in spite of the fact that our
platform is tough on crime, pro-growth, and innovative in the most
modern and best sense, and emphasizes the personal responsibility of
And you know what they'll say. They'll say the other guy, that's
me, is a bum. They'll say, you know, they've got a sign up in
Houston, he's the failed governor of a small state. It's amazing they
don't want George Bush to take responsibility for anything that
happened in America, but they want to hold their opponents
responsible for everything that happened in their charge. Well, I'll
take responsibility, if he will.
I think the American people are tired of blame placing and
excuses. I think they want to move to responsibility. And what I want
to say to you today in this great cavernous stadium is that if this
president won't use the power of his presidency to help the ordinary
American people, I will.
He has demonstrated that he doesn't have a plan to get the economy
moving again, but I do. Put the American people first. Invest in
their potential, in their jobs, their education, their health care.
Make government a partner with business and labor and education. Help
America compete and win in the global economy. Don't read my lips,
read my plan.
Give up the idea of a capital gains tax cut that doesn't
distinguish between short-term investments in speculation and
long-term investments in new technologies and new jobs. Make America
the best educated, best trained, best paid work force in the world,
linked by the world's best systems of transportation and
communications. Invest in civilian research and development. Turn
American innovation in the laboratories into American jobs in the
factories. Open the doors of college opportunity to all Americans.
Take on health care cost increases, control health care costs, and
provide a basic package of affordable health care to every family in
this country. Reinvest every last dollar of defense cuts in
retraining defense workers, retooling plants, and reinvesting in an
American economy for the 21st century. Rebuild our cities, our
suburbs, our rural areas. Ask the wealthiest one percent of
Americans to pay their fair share of taxes again, not to soak the
rich, but to keep from drowning the middle class, so that we can all
go forward together.
My fellow Americans, we didn't get into this mess overnight. We
won't get out of it overnight. But we won't get out of it at all,
unless we change, unless we abandon trickle-down economics, not in
favor of old tax-and-spend and divide-the-pie economics, but in favor
of putting our people first and helping America to compete and win in
the world economy.
We know that investment economics works. We know that when
business and labor and education and government are on the same side
working for opportunity in the world, it works. The people of the
United States are hurting, they need a President who will do what
George Bush once promised he would do, use the power of the
presidency to help people. If he won't do it, I know someone who
will. Thank you very much.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank