NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Vice President Al Gore's Address to
The White House Conference on Small Business
Washington, D.C. June 14, 1995
P R O C E E D I N G S
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you so much for your warm welcome, and Phil Lader , thank you for your very, very generous words, and the opportunity I've had to work with you, and your outstanding leadership for small business in America, heading up SBA. Phil and I worked in the White House when he was Deputy Chief of Staff, and what he didn't say is, he was my key partner in the work of reinventing government, and he brought his experience in small business to bear very effectively as we were
launching that exercise, and we appreciate you very much, Phil.
And Allan Patrickoff [PH], who's done an outstanding job as chairman of this conference --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- keeping everything moving in the right direction. Fantastic job. Thank you very much.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And to the distinguished guests who are here, I understand that Congresswoman Jan Myers of Kansas is here. Also -- [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Jan is a long-time friend. I can't see for these spotlights, so if I'm looking in the wrong direction, that's the reason. And Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the SEC, who's really been working hard for business in America --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And Peggy Richardson, with the IRS, who spoke with you. And Milt Stewart, who is an expert on small business innovative research, and -- we appreciate your work. I was the author of the SBIR program back when I was in the House of Representatives --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And that's been a success. I appreciate the fact that you feel that way. I want to thank the Commissioners who have done such an outstanding job. Also, the staff of the White House conference. They've shown a lot of ingenuity and hard work.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Something like this doesn't just happen, as you know. You made it happen, but one of the reasons it has gone so well and so smoothly is the work of the staff, and I want to thank a long-time friend of mine, Nick Friendly, for coming up with the idea for those pennies at
the last minute. That was a pretty smart --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- pretty smart move, to have a back up. And -- ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to be relatively brief for two reasons. Number one, I realize that I am now the last remaining obstacle between you and dinner.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Number two, I'm keenly aware of, and appreciative of the fact that this is my second opportunity to speak to you. Thank you for that. I appreciate it.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I'm reminded of the story about Winston Churchill and the famous playwright George Bernard Shaw. George Bernard Shaw sent a telegram to Winston Churchill inviting him to come to the opening night of his new play in London. And he said, "Dear Winston.
Here are two tickets to the opening of my new play. Bring a friend, if you have one."
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, Churchill, who had probably the quickest wit of anybody any of us know of, immediately sent a telegram back. "Dear Mr. Shaw. I'm sorry that I cannot attend the opening night of your new play. I will come on the second night, if there is one."
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I appreciate this second night performance very much. I guarantee you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And I was talking with some of my friends who are among your Commissioners. Clark Jones, from my home state, and Peggy Zoan Fisher --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And Merrill Chambers, and some of the others. And I was reminded by Clark Jones that the last time he and I were together talking about small business was a few months ago, and I was on crutches. And I'm so glad to get off those crutches, and being as tonight is the -- is one of the basketball games, I thought -- it reminded me -- [Cheers]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: It reminded me --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, was that a crowd from Houston or Orlando?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. Well, anyway. I tore my Achilles tendon playing basketball, and for those of you who follow the game so closely, you'll know this terminology. Others, ask them. I hurt myself
doing one of those helicopter dunks.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And I caught my elbow on the rim
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- coming down, and --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I finally -- I got out of the cast, although the doctors tell me that I'll have to wear the old full body cast for several more years.
[Laughter and applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: You know, I got used to stories like that when I went out around the country. It's no secret I ran for President in 1988, although it seemed like one at the time.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That was a character-building experience. I learned a lot of new jokes, actually.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: How can you tell Al Gore from a room full of Secret Service agents? He's the stiff one.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: If you --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: If you use a strobe light, it looks like Al Gore is, moving.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Al Gore is so boring his Secret Service code name is Al Gore.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, you know, it's all right. I've heard most of them by now. [Laughter]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But every time I hear a new one, I always have the same reaction. "Very funny, Tipper."
[Laughter and applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: It was in order to escape that demeaning ridicule and reclaim my dignity that I decided to run for Vice President of the United States.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, let me say a few words, because this group has really made history and brought about changes, and anybody who thinks there's anything small about small business in America should have learned differently in the last three days, because the one word --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: The one word that I would use to decide you best is big: big dreams. Or you wouldn't have started your own business in the first place. Big measures of courage and tenacity, or you wouldn't still be in business. Big frustrations with a government that should be in your corner and not in your face.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And big clout with the Clinton-Gore Administration, I guarantee you. [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I hope that you know by now that President Clinton, and I, and all the Cabinet members and agency heads who've been here at this conference are paying close attention to you. And I hope you know by now that we mean business and we mean to bring you results.
That's what this conference is really aimed at.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I already told you about results like EPA's new common sense approach, and you heard it from Carol Browner, too. The new approach that small business owner Stu McMichael says let's him get advice from EPA without worrying about getting cited for a violation and
fined at the same time. And I told you about the new, simpler rules on drugs and medical devices, and about the new OSHA.
You saw some more results with your own eyes on Monday morning when the President brought that 16,000 stack of dead regulations, and thousands more pages that are being injected with big doses of common sense. And you saw some more results, I hope, with your own eyes, if you heard the
common sense last night about balancing this budget in America, and doing it in the right way.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Bipartisanship.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And you saw some more results right here at the conference, and in the business section of this morning's USA Today, which had an article about our new on line computer service that we call the U.S. Business Advisor -- did anybody see that in the newspaper this morning?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Good. Many of you have tested it already. We worked very hard on that. The SBA, under Phil Later and our National Performance Review, with the Reinventing Government Task Force, with Elaine Kaymark [PH], who's my chief of staff on that effort and the outstanding team that's worked hard on that. Let me give you a little news. They told me not to announce this, because it is so new, but just on the basis of this one article in USA Today this morning on this on line U.S.
business advisor? All day long, we have had an average of 50,000 hits per hour.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: From one article. And one of our national laboratories, Lawrence Livermore, is helping us with this, with their Super Computer capacity. They've had to move a new Super Computer on, to help out. And we're going to -- we'll -- we've got more contacts that we
really thought. And so -- but we're going to accommodate them. Here's what's behind this small business advisor. Sixty different agencies either regulate or provide service to business. Even the biggest companies have a hard time finding what they need in that thicket, and the task is virtually impossible for a start up company. So the goal of the business advisory is to give you one stop InterNet access to every service, and every bit of information that government provides to business. You can already get regulatory information. You can get some advice. You can download tax forms. You can even get the names and telephone numbers of the federal workers who write regulations. We're not quite
ready to give you their home addresses.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But they do want to work in partnership with business. One of your conference members, Paul Condit, who runs a John Deere dealership in West Texas, came to town last week to witness some other results. He helped President Clinton and me unveil a new proposal
paving the way for businesses to send in a single report on wages and taxes, eliminating the need for costly multiple reports to IRS and Labor and Social Security and a list of state and local agencies.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: One report, and then we do the rest. And here's something brand new. Within a month, the first U.S. General Store for small business will open its doors in Houston, Texas.
We're test marketing a whole new concept of retail government. It's not just a place to find out what regulations apply to your business. The people there will tell you how to deal with the rules. How to solve tax problems. How to get a loan. And all kinds of services. And it doesn't matter whether the rules or the assistance comes from SBA, or IRS, or OSHA, or PA, or whomever. You will not have to go door to door. You will not get the runaround. The people at the General Store will know how to help you whatever the relationship you're trying to deal with concerning government is. You just call, or stop by. If this U.S. General Store for small business is a success -- and our measure of success is if its customers become raving fans -- if that happens, we will make it a national chain, and substitute it for some of the approaches that do not work. About -- so help us out with this. [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: About the same time that that first General Store opens its doors, every regulatory agency in Washington will hit a deadline and publish its detailed report on how it is complying with President Clinton's orders, some of which he talked about when he was here. Every one of them is right now cutting regulations focusing on results instead of red tape, and on partnership instead of punishment. Every one of them is cutting back on the number of reports that you have to file.
We've given them that mandate. Every one of them will let small business use their money to fix problems instead of paying fines. [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And President Clinton wants all of the government's top regulators to get out of Washington again and discuss the reforms with you, and with the state and local delegates who did not have the opportunity to come here to this conference. And with all the other Americans who are now the government's partners in this new philosophy and this new approach. Well, as I mentioned last night while you were here in Washington for this historic conference, President Clinton announced his plan for one of the very best things of all for American business: a new approach that has the realistic prospect of moving beyond partisanship and bringing Democrats and Republicans and independents together on an
approach that will create a balanced federal budget. [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: We believe that is extremely important for the future of this country.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: President Clinton's balanced budget plan also has special features designed specifically to help small businesses. It was only a five-minute address last night, but all of the documentation that was released to flesh it out today makes it clear, we will make it easier for you
to get lower cost health insurance, and it will let you deduct more of that cost from your taxes. And we -- which is needed by small business that has that expense.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And we will invest more money to help the nation's 380,000 small manufacturers develop more high tech products and adopt modern manufacturing technologies to become more competitive and get a better market share.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: So you can see that we've been working a pretty full agenda on behalf of your small businesses, and getting results, even before you all came to town. In fact, we've already implemented, because we were listening -- as I said the other day, we were listening to the
regional and state conferences, we have already implemented more of your recommendations than previous administrations, Democrat and Republican, implemented after their small business conferences. We're proud of that record, and we're going to try to improve on it. [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Believe me, all the time and money and effort that you have spent to come here and to be a part of this conference is going to have a big pay off for our country and for small business. The list of recommendations that you voted on is going to keep us on track, and
all the energy and passion for reform that you brought to Washington is spurring us on to change the government even faster. These White House small business conferences have an impressive track record, and working with you, President Clinton and I pledged to do our dead level best to
make this conference the most influential of all the ones that have taken place.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, where do we go from here? We're going to concentrate on results, as I said. And I want to tell you ahead of time that we're going to follow up and keep in touch, and we'd like to ask you to do the same. We will send you a report card so that you know how
we're doing on your recommendations in Washington.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Every one of you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And we would like to know from you what improvements you're seeing back in your home towns. Now, specifically, before you close the conference, I'd like to make a deal with you. The government agency that ranks number one on the small business hit list --
I said hit list -- is OSHA.
VOICES : Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And our side of the bargain -- our side of the bargain is this. We will change OSHA where you live this year. I have talked this over with Joe Deere --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I've talked this over with Joe Deere. We see eye to eye on it. No more OSHA "Gotcha." No more OSHA In Your Face. Instead, OSHA will join in a partnership with you, a partnership that will help your business grow more profitable by keeping your workers safe
and healthy, and OSHA's already proven to themselves what you already knew: namely, that partnership gets an awful lot better results than punishment and "gotcha." They proved it in Maine, and you heard a little bit about that, and they're taking it nationwide. And so that's what we propose to do. We'll change OSHA where you live, this year. Now, here's what I would like from you, in your part of this deal. When you see that OSHA has changed, when you see that they're doing the right thing, if and when you see with your own eyes that OSHA has changed, and you feel the difference, I would like you to tell people about it. I would like you -- [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's all I ask. Just --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's all I ask. Just refrain from telling your favorite old stories about the old, outrageous OSHA, and start telling people -- if you see it with your own eyes -- that OSHA has changed, and start telling them that you have seen one example of government doing the right thing. Now, there's a reason why I'd like to make that deal with you. It's because I believe deeply that we as Americans, as a free self-governing people have an obligation to restore America's faith in our ability to solve problems even where they must be solved by working together through the institutions of self-government. That faith in ourselves and in this republic that we have has dangerously eroded. And I'm not talking about the bizarre and evil example that saddened us all and stunned us all recently in Oklahoma City. I'm talking about something that's happened over the last thirty years. Thirty years ago, when Americans were asked this question: "Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time?" Thirty years ago, 70 percent of Americans said yes. Now, when that same question is asked, less than 20 percent say yes. And the drop off has been among Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, men, women -- whatever the background, race, religion, or whatever. Now, if we, as Americans, don't believe that we can work effectively through self- government, then how will we solve serious problems that can only be addressed by working together through self-government? And we've got some. Crime is an example. Racism. What about the people who really and truly cannot do for themselves, and really and truly need help, and there are some. No matter what impression is sometimes created. If we don't believe that we can work effectively through government, then how can we tackle some of these problems? Like providing a world-class education in the public school system.
How can we gain the upper hand in some of these parts of the world competitive marketplace where other countries are pitching in and giving their businesses a leg up, and in order to really compete effectively, we've got to give it an extra effort.
There are all kinds of examples that you could cite, also. Even as we limit the role of government and reduce the role of government, and cut back, and pare down, and make government smaller so it will work better and cost less, even as we do all that, we know all of us, deep down, that we also face challenges that we've got to be able to have confidence in ourselves that we can face together. And so I believe we've got to pay attention to restoring America's faith in the power of self-government.
If we content ourselves just to attack and criticize, we may not feel an obligation to get in there and really try to fix it. But those of us who really believe what I was saying a minute ago, that we have got to have an ability to address things, have the extra obligation to get in there and try to solve the problems, and fix it, and make it work the way it's supposed to work -- [Applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- the way it wants to work, the way we know it can work.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And the only way to restore America's faith in self-government is the way you build faith in your business: one customer at a time. That's what reinventing government is all about. Restoring faith one citizen at a time.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: So we've got a deal, right? We'll change OSHA. You'll tell people if you see it with your own eyes?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. One thing in closing --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: One thing in closing. Let's make it more than just a deal. Let's make it a partnership. Let's work together to reunite the American people with their government, their self-government, restore our faith in the institutions of representative democracy, and show the whole
rest of the world what we have never really seriously doubted in America: namely, that there is no better way than the American Way. And small business can lead the way.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for all you've done. Thank you. [Applause]
[End of proceedings as recorded.]