Title: Presidential Speech to National Gov. Assoc.

Author: White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Date: January 31, 1995


Office of the Press Secretary:

For Immediate Release

January 31, l995



The J.W. Marriott Hotel

Washington, D.C.

11:15 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Governor Dean,

Governor Thompson, fellow Governors and ladies and

gentlemen. It' s a pleasure for me to be back here.

I have enjoyed our visits in this meeting. I was

delighted to have you at the White House on Sunday

evening, and I have very, very much enjoyed our

discussion yesterday -- our discussions of welfare

reform and a whole range of other issues.

Last year, you may remember when I was here, that

Governor Carroll Campbell and I both lost our voices

before our talks, making collectively millions of

people in both parties happy. (Laughter.)

Unfortunately for you, I am fully recovered this

year and I would like to begin, if I might, by

thanking you for your vote just a few moments ago on

the Mexico stabilization package. I want to

underline the critical nature of the financial

problem in Mexico. All of you understand it, and I

applaud your vote across party and, especially,

across regional lines, because a number of you are

not at the moment as directly affected as others


This crisis poses, however, great risks to our

workers, to our economy, and to the global economy,

and it poses these risks now. We must act now. It

has gotten worse day by day since I asked for

legislative action about two weeks ago. Rather than

face further delay I met with the congressional

leadership this morning and told them that I will

act under my executive authority and I have asked

for their full support. We cannot risk further

delay, and I tell you today, frankly, that your

strong support is very, very helpful and very


The situation in Mexico continues to worsen. But the

leadership advised me that while they believe

Congress will -- or at least, might well --

eventually act, it will not do so immediately. And

therefore, it will not do so in time.

Because Congress cannot act now, I have worked with

other countries to prepare a new package. As

proposed now, it will consist of a $20 billion share

from the United States' Exchange Stabilization Fund

which we can authorize by executive action without a

new act of Congress; $17.5 billion from the

International Monetary Fund; and in addition to

that, there will be a short-term lending facility of

$10 billion from the Bank of International

Settlements. That means that in the aggregate, we

will be able to have an action that is potentially

even more aggressive than the $40 billion one I

originally proposed, with more of the load being

taken by international institutions and our trading

partners around the world which I applaud, but with

a significant part of the burden still being borne

by the United States.

This is in the interest of America, contrary to what

some have said, not because there are large

financial interests at stake, but because there are

thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of American

exports at stake, the potential of an even more

serious illegal immigration problem, the spread of

financial instability to other countries in our

hemisphere and indeed, to other developing countries

throughout the world, and the potential of a more

serious narcotics trafficking problem. All these

things are at stake in the Mexican crisis and,

therefore, I will act to protect our interests. I

have asked the bipartisan leadership of Congress to

support these actions, and I hope and believe they

will at some later point today.

The risks of inaction are greater than the risks of

decisive action. Do I know for sure that this

action will solve all the problems? I do not. Do I

believe it will? I do. Am I virtually certain that

if we do nothing, it will get much, much worse in a

hurry? I am. This is the right thing to do. You

have understood it, and I thank you very, very much

for your vote a few moments ago.

Since our first meeting two years ago, we have

enjoyed unprecedented cooperation, which have

included seven major waivers in the health care

reform area and 24 in the welfare reform area, a

partnership and a successful fight for the Crime

Bill last year which, as you know, reduces the

federal government and gives all the money back to

State and local communities to fight crime at the

grass roots level. I have had innovative and more

comprehensive agreements with the states of West

Virginia and Indiana in the area of children and

families, and the remarkable agreement that we

signed recently with the state of Oregon and seven

of our Cabinet Secretaries, ending federal micro-

management across a whole range of areas in return

for the statement by the state of Oregon of clear

goals and performance measures for the future.

This is the kind of thing that we need to be doing

for us. It's the kind of thing that I believe we are

in the process of doing on welfare reform. I was

informed of the Speaker's remarks just a few moments

before I came here, and I applaud them and I think

we have a real chance now to have a partnership

between the White House and the Congress, the

Governors and others who care deeply about this


Our next goal must be to dramatically restructure

the relationship between the federal government and

the states, to create a stronger partnership on

behalf of our people that goes to the heart of what

I have called the New Covenant of opportunity and

responsibility. I believe the federal government's

job is to expand opportunity and shrink bureaucracy.

And, therefore, I think it is clearly the thing for

us to do to try to shift more responsibility to the

states, to the localities and where appropriate to

the private sector and, therefore, give you the

opportunity to solve problems, working with your

people, that have eluded all of us for too long.

The system we inherited was based, fundamentally, on

a kind of benign distrust, from an era when -- let's

face it -- in decades past, states might not have

always done what they should have done to protect

their citizens. As a Southerner, I can tell you that

I don't know what we'd have done if the federal

government hadn't been willing to take some of the

action that it took in civil rights and in some

other areas to help poor children in my state and


So we cannot -- and we need not -- condemn the past

to say that the whole nature and character of state

government, the expertise that's there, the

knowledge that's there, the connections that are

there with volunteer groups, with community groups,

with nonprofit groups, is totally different than it

used to be. And the nature of the work to be done,

and the problems to be solved are different than

they used to be. Therefore, the system we have

inherited needs a searching reexamination; and where

it is yesterday's government and not tomorrow's, it

ought to be changed.

We have tackled this problem with energy and with

some success. We have done it with real support from

the Cabinet and some opposition from some within the

bureaucracy that have been there through Republican

and Democratic administrations alike, and some in

our Congress who have questions about what we are


But I have spent too many years of my life around

this table to have forgotten what I learned there. I

think I came to this office with a profound

understanding of the challenges that you have faced

in working with the federal government. To build on

that understanding is part of the reinventing

government initiative. The Vice President, who came

with me here today for this announcement because

he's worked so hard to make it possible, has talked

literally to thousands of state and local government

workers, and they have been among the most helpful

in shaping our reinvention blueprint.

The message is loud and clear -- they want us to

stop the micro-management, trust them to do their

jobs, hold them accountable for results where

federal money and national interests are involved.

That's why we wish to create a new federal

government and a new partnership, based on trust and

accountability. You know better than anyone that a

great deal of what our national government does is

already carried out by states, by counties, by

cities. That's why we must change their

relationships and trust them more. I believe we

should ship decision-making responsibility and

resources from bureaucracies in Washington to

communities, to states and where we can, directly to


Part of my job is to keep pushing the focus of the

national government back to grassroots America,

where we can solve so many of our problems more

effectively. We have begun that work, first by

cutting the size of the federal government. we have

already cut over a quarter of a trillion dollars in

spending, more then 300 domestic programs, more than

100,000 positions from the federal bureaucracy.

Those cuts will ultimately total, if no more laws or

budgets are passed, more than 270,000; making, when

the process is finished, your federal government the

smallest it has been since the Kennedy


But cutting government isn't enough. We also have to

make it work better; and we've done that too, in

many ways. We streamlined the Agriculture

Department, closing 1,200 field offices. We've moved

FEMA from being a disaster, to helping people in

disasters. The Department of Transportation worked

with private businesses and helped to rebuild

Southern California's fractured freeways in record

time and under budget, also with a partnership from

the state, by changing the laws and procedures and

making it work. We've cut an SBA loan form from an

inch thick to a single page. We've cut the time it

takes to get an FHA loan endorsement from four to

six weeks, to three to five days. We've reformed the

procurement system of the government so that

governments can buy the way businesses do, putting

an end to the Vice President's opportunity to go on

the Letterman Show and break $10 ashtrays that ought

to cost a dollar and a half. (Laughter.) We have

reformed the college loan system. The direct loan

program will literally save the taxpayers billions

of dollars, lower interest rates and fees and

improve repayment schedules for students, and lower

paperwork, bureaucratic time for our institutions of

higher education.

Much of this work is simple common sense. The Bureau

of Reclamation used to require 20 people to sign off

on building special fish ladders in Northern

California, taking three and a half years. The fish

were dead by then. But at least the ladder was

approved. Well, we removed 18 approval layers and

cut the time down to six months, and timed it for

the fish to spawn, to their great relief .

(Laughter.) I say this to make the point that a lot

of this is common sense, and an enormous amount of

this still remains to be done.

I suppose I have gotten more comments from you in

these last two days, pro and con, about the process

of federal regulation, than anything else. Some of

you said, well, I'm getting better cooperation from

the EPA than every before, thank you very much.

Others have said, what the policy is sounds good,

but there's nothing happening in our state to make

it better. And we have a long way to go, but we can

do this. And we ought to do it not simply with

general rhetoric, but also taking these issues one

by one by one, until we make it right.

I've asked the Vice President in Phase II of his

review, to continue to shrink federal departments;

and we're making sure that the remaining government

will be more economical, more entrepreneurial, less

bureaucratic, and less dictatorial.

A year ago I signed an executive order to encourage

creative partnerships with the private sector in the

ownership, financing and construction of

infrastructure, responding to your insistence that

you needed the same kind of flexibility the private

sector has when you raise funds for major

infrastructure projects. Today I'm happy to say that

Secretary Pena is announcing a series of 35 new

infrastructure projects in 21 states that will

mobilize almost $2 million in investment capital to

build roads, bridges and other infrastructure,

relying on trust and accountability, not rules and

bureaucracy. (Applause.)

Tens of thousands of new jobs will be created this

year not by rocket science, but by simply adopting

the financing techniques the private sector uses all

the time. We wouldn't have any of these projects if

we followed the old rules and allowed them to get in

the way of innovation. In the budget I'm submitting

to Congress I will propose turning this approach

into national policy by building performance

partnerships with state and local governments. We

want to consolidate categorical funding and call on

you to take responsibility for meeting the

performance standards. Trust and accountability are

the foundation of these new partnerships. We have to

trust you, our partners, to make the right choices

in spending public funds. And even though you'll

have more flexibility to solve your problems, you

must be held accountable for how you spend the

federal money.

I'm excited because this approach gives us a new

opportunity to work together, to move forward. On

Saturday, Governor Engler captivated the nation by

rolling out a list of 335 programs on parchment,

sacred programs, he wanted to put in the block grant

that he could write on a piece of notepaper. He

didn't know it, but next week, we want to announce

plans that we've worked on for months to consolidate

271 programs into 27 performance partnerships. And a

lot of those were on Governor Engler's list. I'd

like to help him cut it shorter. (Applause.) Thank


One of those I've already announced in the new

performance partnership for education and job

training, part of our Middle Class Bill Of Rights.

We propose to collapse 70 separate programs to make

them more efficient and effective -- a GI Bill for

America's workers who need new skills to meet the

demands of changing times. State and local

governments will have broad flexibility to help meet

those needs, but we propose not just to give this

money back to state training programs, but instead

to let the workers themselves get a voucher and

choose where they want to go. Almost every American

is now within driving distance of a community

college, or some other kind of high training program

with a proven rate of success, far better than

anything we need to design. So we ought to put more

power not only back to the local level, but also

directly into the hands of citizens for the purposes

that are plainly in the national interest.


In public health, we want to consolidate 108

programs into 16 performance partnerships, to

abolish a dozen environmental grants and give you

more power to achieve environmental goals.

(Applause) And I guess in parenthesis, I thank

Governor Carper for his repeated lectures to me on

that subject, citing the Delaware example. We want

to continue to combine the 60 HUD programs into

three. The federal government has worked in one way

for decades. Now it is time to try a new way -- a

way that is proven in its performance in the private

sector. It's time for these and other changes, and

many of them are drawn directly from your own

experience in your own laboratories of democracy.

When our country was founded, the founders rejected

government based on central control and distrust of

people. Our Constitution provides a few profound

guiding principles. It puts deep trust in the

American people to use their common sense - to

create a shared vision, not a centralized vision,

and to give life to those ideals. We have to take

advantage of this rare moment to renew that idea, to

reshape the relationship between the national

government and the states. The American people have

voted twice in the last two elections for dramatic

change in the way our country works. They want more

for their money; better schools; safer streets;

better roads, clean environment. But they want a

greater say in how this work is done, and they don't

want the federal government to do what can better be

done by private citizens, themselves or by

government that is closer to them.

They also have a deep feeling about our national

commitment and our national responsibilities and our

national interest -- things like the welfare of our

children; the future of our economy; our obligations

to our seniors. They know that we can meet these

national obligations and pursue our national

interest with a dramatic devolution of power and

responsibility and opportunity to the state

governments of this land. I look forward to making

all this happen with you. Thank you very much.

( Applause.) END 11:34 A.M. EST


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