Document Name: 03/07/95: President at National Assoc. of Counties
Date: 03/07/95
Owner: Office of the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release

March 7, 1995



Washington Hilton

Washington, D.C.

10:15 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank

you, Randy, for the tee-shirt and for the sentiment

which it represents. I thank all of you for having

me here. I'm glad to be here with Secretary Shalala

and Doug Bovin and Michael Hightower, Randy Johnson,

John Stroger, my old friend from Arkansas by way of

Chicago -- (laughter) -- Doris Ward and Larry Naake.

Let me begin by congratulating you on this

program this morning. I was impressed that you had

our longtime friend, Marian Wright Edelman, who gave

my wife her first job after law school in the

Children's Defense Fund. And I'm glad the Speaker

got to come back and give his talk today --

(laughter) -- and I thank you for hearing him.


You know, I've done a lot of work over the

years with the Acorn* Group, and they stood for a

lot of good things in my home state. But I think

everyone deserves to be heard. And we need people

debating these important issues in Washington. This

is a very exciting time, and it's important that all

the voices be heard and that people like you

especially that have to live with the consequences

of what is done here hear the ideas that are being

debated, and also that you be heard.

I am always glad to be with people who I think

of as being in the backbone of public service in

America. You serve at the level where you can have

the greatest impact. When I was a governor, nothing

mattered more to me than just being in direct

contact with the people who hired me to do my job.

And I have to tell you, as President, perhaps the

most frustrating thing about the job is that I don't

have as many opportunities as you do to be in direct

contact with the people who hired me to do this job.

That's not good for me, and sometimes it's not so

good for them as well.

When I was governor, people used to make fun of

me and say that I was basically a courthouse

governor, which meant that I loved to go to the

county courthouses in the rural areas of my state

and sit for hours and talk to the officials and also

visit with the people who would come in. But I know

this: I know that one of the things that our

government in Washington has suffered from for so

many years is being too far from the concerns of

ordinary Americans. (Applause.)

You see in personal terms, with names and faces

and life histories, the struggle now going to keep

the American Dream alive. And you know as well as

any the importance of reconnecting the values of the

American people to their government. I ran for

President because that American Dream and those

values were threatened in the face of the huge

changes that are going on here in the United States

and all around the world, and because I though that

too often our government was simply not prepared to

deal with those challenges or, in some cases,

actually making them worse.

Now, for two years I have worked hard to help

ensure that our people have the tools they need to

build good lives for themselves as we move into the

21st century, and that we cross that great divide

still the strongest and most secure country in the

world; still the greatest force for peace and

freedom and democracy.

We're about two-thirds through the first 100

days of this new Congress. On Saturday, March the

4th, we had the 62nd anniversary of President

Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration as President and

the start of the original first 100 days. On that

day, Franklin Roosevelt began to restore our nation

and to redefine the relationship between our people

and their government for half a century. And a lot

of things he said then are still accurate today. In

his inaugural he said, "The joy and moral

stimulation of work must no longer be forgotten.

These dark days will be worth all they cost us if

they teach us that our true destiny is not to be

ministered unto, but to minister to ourselves and

our fellow men."

Today, we face different challenges, but our

job is much the same. We have to keep the American

Dream alive for ourselves and our children during a

time of great change. And we have to do that while

we maintain the values that have always made us

strong -- work, family, community, responsibility

for ourselves and for the future of our children.

As all of you know -- and you're now seeing it

played out this morning -- we're engaged in a great

debate here in Washington about how to do that. The

old Washington view is that the federal government

can provide big solutions to America's big problems.

The new Republican Contract view reflects often an

outright hostility to almost any federal government

involvement, unless the present majority in Congress

disagrees with what's going on in the state; and

then there is a curious desire to increase the

federal government's control over those aspects

of our lives.

Now, my view is very different, really, from

both. It reflects the years and years that I lived

like you live now, when I was a governor out there

working among the American people, and seeing these

problems that people talk about in sound bites with

names and faces and life histories.

The New Covenant that I want to forge with the

American people for the future says that we need

both more opportunity and more responsibility; that

we don't have a person to waste, so we have to have

very strong communities that unite us instead of

divide us. We do need very big changes in the way

government works. We don't need big, bureaucratic,

one-size-fits-all government in Washington.

But we do have common problems and common

opportunities which require a partnership -- a

partnership with a limited but an effective

government; a government committed to increasing

opportunity in terms of jobs and incomes, while

shrinking government bureaucracy; a government

committed to empowering people through education and

training and technology to make the most of their

own lives; a government committed to enhancing our

security all around the world and here at home on

our streets as well.

Now, this kind of government will necessarily

send more decisions back to the state and local

governments and to citizens themselves. It will cut

unnecessary spending, but it will invest more in

jobs, incomes and educations. It will, in short, as

I said in 1992, put people first. It will insist on

more personal responsibility and it will support

stronger communities. It will be a partner, but it

won't be a savior, and it won't sit on the

sidelines. Either extreme is wrong.

Now, I see this debate about the role of our

government as terribly important. And you can see

it now playing out on every issue now before the

Congress. We see it being debated in terms of how

we should best educate our children , how we should

train our workers, how we should make our

communities safe again, how our civil justice system

should work, what is the right way to fix the broken

welfare system. I want you to watch it play out

this year. Underneath it all will be, what is the

responsibility of the government in Washington; what

is your responsibility at the grass- roots level;

how can it best be met.

As we debate these matters, I will keep working

to change the way Washington does business -- to

achieve a government that gives taxpayers better

value for their dollar, to support more jobs and

higher incomes for the middle class and to shrink

the under class, and to reinforce mainstream values

of responsibility, work, family and community.

You know, for the 12 years before I came here,

Washington allowed the deficit to quadruple and

didn't do much to shrink the size or change the role

of government. Organized interest did very well,

but the public interest suffered. In the last two

years, we've begun to change that. We've cut the

federal deficit by $600 billion, shrunk the federal

government faster than at any time in memory. We've

cut more than 300 domestic programs and consolidated

hundreds of others. We've got more than 150,000

fewer people working for the federal bureaucracy

today than on the day I became President, and we're

--(applause)-- and we are on the way to reducing it

by more than a quarter of a million, so that the

federal government will be the smallest it has been

since President Kennedy took office. (Applause.)

In the process, we have done a lot to shift

power away from Washington to states, counties,

cities and towns throughout the country. Our

reinventing government initiative has already saved

the taxpayers $63 billion under the leadership of

the Vice President, and we will save more.

We have cut regulations that make it harder on

business and local government to create opportunity,

but we will do more. And all of this has made a

difference in the work and the lives of the people

you serve. The economy has created almost six

million jobs since I became President, the combined

rate of unemployment and inflation is at a 25-year

low. (Applause.)

But, clearly, we still have more to do. Most

people are working harder without a raise, even

though we've got a recovery. We're the only

advanced country in the world where the percentage

of people in the work force with health insurance is

smaller today than it was 10 years ago. We still

have a lot of economic problems out there, and you

know that.

I am ready to work with the Republicans,

especially in areas that will give you more power to

do what you have to do. Together, we have moved

forward legislation in the Congress that will

keep Congress from imposing unreasonable new

mandates on you without paying for them.


We've got a few issues left to work out on

that, but a bill has passed the House and a bill has

passed the Senate, and I encourage all sides to work

in a bipartisan way to resolve them soon. In

particular, though -- and I want you to weigh in on

this -- I hope you will -- I think the bill ought to

be made effective immediately. (Applause.) For

reasons I don't understand, Congress seems to want

to make it effective toward the end of this year or

at the beginning of next year. If it's going to be

a good idea then, it will be a good idea now. Let's

go on and get it done. (Applause.)

As we have worked to cut yesterday's

government, we've also invested in our people to

help them solve their own problems. We have

approached that work, too, as a partner with people

at the local level. For example, last year we had

the most productive year in passing education reform

legislation from expanding Head Start to making

college loans more affordable to the middle class in

30 years. But our education reforms set world-class

standards for our schools, and yet give to educators

and parents much more say than the federal

government used to about how to meet these standards

and how to improve our children's education.

We tried to be good partners with local

government on the crime bill. I want to thank all

of you at NACO for helping us to pass it. After six

years of rhetoric and hot air in Washington, we

finally passed the crime bill. (Applause.) You

told us you wanted an end to gridlock, and you

helped us get it. And we are providing what you

told us you wanted -- you and other local officials

all across the country -- resources for 100,000 new

law enforcement officers, smarter prevention

efforts, tougher punishment, like three strikes and

you're out, a hard-won ban on assault weapons.

We are working with you now to implement this

crime bill. The Justice Department and the Attorney

General and working very, very hard. This is an

amazing thing. I hear those who criticize this

crime bill say that we have imposed this on local

government, and they really don't want it, and they

can't afford to pay any match. But do you know,

since October, over half the police departments in

the United States of America have already applied

for assistance under the police grants -- over half.

(Applause.) And in this five-year program, we have

already released funds just since last fall to our

17,000 new law enforcement officers, including over

1,000 deputy sheriffs. (Applause.)

Now, sadly some people in Congress think we

ought to reverse this. I agree that we have to

continue to cut the deficit. My new budget cuts

$140 billion more in federal spending. We have

reduced the rate of health costs growing by about

$100 billion over the next five years. We had about

$250 billion in budget cuts in our last budget.

But how are we going to do this? I do not

believe we should sacrifice our safety and not put

100,000 police on the street. I do not believe that

we should not keep working for education. Instead,

I think it's clear that our security and our ability

to pay our way in the world depends upon educating

and training our people for the new global economy.

That includes a stronger Head Start program, serving

more children. It includes more affordable college

loans for middle-class students. It includes a

whole range of educational initiatives.

I don't think we should limit our efforts to

make college loans more affordable -- especially

when you consider the fact that this administration

has reduced your costs in delinquent college loans

from $2.8 billion a year down to a billion dollars a

year. We cut it by two-thirds -- the loss to

taxpayers. So we're collecting on the student

loans; let's give more loans to young people to go

to college to make America stronger. (Applause.)

I don't agree that we should eliminate the

national service project, AmeriCorps. It's doing a

world of good out there at the grass-roots level. A

lot of you are using it. (Applause.) And I

certainly don't agree, with drug use on the rise

among young people -- who seem to have forgotten

that it is not only illegal, it is dangerous -- I

certainly don't agree that we should eliminate the

provisions for drug education programs and for

security programs against drug problems in our

public schools, which will now cover 94 percent of

the schools in this country, but if the proposal now

in Congress passes will be wiped out. That is not

the way to cut the budget. We do not have to do it

that way. (Applause.)

It depends on how you look at it. Some in

Congress want to cut the school lunch program. You

know what we did instead? We closed 1,200 regional

offices in the Department of Agriculture. I think

we did it the right way. (Applause.)

So my view of this is that yes, we've got to

cut the budget, but we should expand opportunity,

not restrict it. We should give people the tools

they need to make the most of their own lives, not

take them away. We should enhance security, not

undermine it. Those are my standards, and I need

your help. You can make it clear to Washington that

America wants us to get our house in order. They

like it when we reduce the deficit. We have to cut

the spending, but there is a right way and a wrong

way to do this work.

And I'd like to ask your help in particular on

an issue of concern to a lot of you. I know it

differs from state to state in how it's implemented,

but every American citizen has an interest in ending

welfare as we know it. Like it or not, we have a

welfare system that doesn't further our basic

values, and like many of you, I have worked on

this problem for years. Those of us who work in it

know it's a little more complicated than people who

just talk about it. I have spent countless hours in

welfare offices talking to case workers, talking to

people on welfare. For years and years now -- about

15 years this year -- I have been working on this

problem as a governor and as a president. I have

seen this great drama unfold.

You know, when welfare started under President

Roosevelt, the typical welfare recipient was a West

Virginia miner's widow, who had a grade school

education, was never expected to be in the

workplace, and had orphaned children that needed

help. And everybody thought this was the right

thing to do. Then, we had people on welfare who

just hit a rough patch, but who got off welfare in a

couple of months. And believe it or not, nearly

half the people who go on welfare today are still in

that category. Welfare actually works for them; we

shouldn't forget that. There are a lot of folks who

hit a rough patch in life, and they get on welfare

and then they get themselves off.

Then, there are those whom all the American

people, without regard to party or philosophy, are

justifiably concerned with -- people who are trapped

on welfare in cycles of dependency that sometimes

become intergenerational; that are plainly rooted to

the explosion of teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock

births, coupled with low levels of education,

inability to pierce the job market, inability to

succeed as both workers and parents. What ought to

be the greatest joy of life, giving birth to

a child, has now become a great social drama for us,

in which we all worry that our values are being

regularly violated. And that's being reinforced by

the way a government program works. And we are

worried about it.

Many of our people are worried because they

don't have enough money to pay for their own kids,

and they think their tax money is going down the

drain to reinforce values they don't support to

create more burdens on their tax money in the


And nobody wants to get off the welfare system,

I can tell you, any more than the people who are on

it. All you've got to do is go out and sit in any

welfare office in the country and talk to people. I

had four people who had worked their way off welfare

into the Oval Office to see me the other day, and it

was just like every story I've heard for the last 15

years -- people talking about how they were dying

to get off welfare.

Now, our country has been engaged in a serious

effort to try to address this problem for some years

now. This is not a new issue. In the late 1980s,

along with then-governor and now- Congressman Mike

Castle from Delaware, I represented a bipartisan

group of governors in working with the Congress in

the Reagan administration to pass the Family Support

Act of 1988. It was a welfare reform bill designed

to promote work and education, and to move people

from welfare to work through having the states do

more with education and training and job placements

and requiring that people participate in these


And many of us who were governors at the time

used the Family Support Act to move people off

welfare. But everybody who worked with it

recognized that more had to be done if the welfare

system was going to be changed. There were still a

lot of people who said, well, if I move from welfare

to work, I'll lose my kid's child care, or I'll

lose medical coverage for my child after a few

months. There are others who still could kind of

get through loopholes in the program because we

didn't cover everybody.

So to reflect our country's values of work and

education and responsible parenting, we knew we

needed to do more. We also knew that we needed more

state flexibility in tackling this problem. If

somebody knew how to fix this, it would have been

done a long time ago and people in politics would be

talking about something else. Right? That's what

this whole state flexibility's about. The framers

were pretty smart wanting the states and the

localities to be the laboratories of democracy

because they knew that there would be thorny

problems involving complex matters of economics and

social organization and human nature that no one

would know all the answers to.

So I'm glad the Republicans chose to make

welfare reform part of their Contract for America.

It's always been part of my Contract with America.


Now, let's see if there's some things we can

all agree on. I think we should demand and reward

work, not punish those who go to work. I think we

should -- (applause) -- I think we should demand

responsibility from parents who bring children into

the world, not let them off the hook and expect the

taxpayers to pick up the tab for their neglect.

(Applause.) I think we must discourage

irresponsible behavior that lands people on welfare

in the first place. We must tell our children not

to have children until they are married and ready to

be good parents. (Applause.)

Now, in the last two years we've made some

progress in pursuing these goals. In 1993 when the

Congress passed the Economic Reform Plan, one of the

provisions gave a tax break averaging $1,000 a

year to families with incomes of under $25,000 to 15

million working families to send this message: If

you work full-time and you have children in the

home, you should not be in poverty. And there

should never be an incentive to stay on welfare

instead of go to work. That's what the Earned

Income Tax Credit Expansion was all about.

Last year I sent to Congress the most sweeping

welfare reform plan ever presented to the United

States Congress. It was pro-work, pro-education,

pro-responsibility, and pro-state flexibility.

It did not pass, but I still hope it will be the

basis of what ultimately does pass. We are

collecting child support at a record level

from delinquent parents -- $9 billion in 1993.

(Applause.) And last week I signed an executive

order to crack down on federal employees who

owe child support to require them to pay as well.


For the last two years, we have granted welfare

reform waivers from federal rules to two dozen

states -- more than the last two administrations in

12 years combined -- giving states flexibility to

try out their ideas without being stifled by

Washington one-size- fits-all rules. Today I am

proud to announce that Ohio has become the 25th

state to receive a waiver to reform its welfare

system. (Applause.)

Now, here's what Ohio wants to do. I think

it's an interesting idea. They want to take some of

their welfare and food stamp money to subsidize jobs

in the private sector, including an initiative with

our new empowerment zone in Cleveland. That's not a

bad idea. Some people say, well, we don't have

enough money to create government jobs for all these

folks, and the private sector won't hire them if

they have limited skills. So Ohio and Oregon and a

couple of other states say, would you let us use the

welfare check to give to employers -- say, okay,

you're going to pay whatever you're going to pay

at this job. This will replace some of what you'll

have to pay. Put these people to work. Give them

work experience. Give them a chance -- give them a

chance to earn something.

Secretary Shalala thought it was a good idea,

and so do I. These are the kinds of things being

done all across America. Half the country today, as

of this day with this waiver, now half the states

are carrying out significant welfare reform

experiments that promote work and responsibility

instead of undermining it. Ten states are

strengthening their child support enforcement.

Nineteen are finding ways to insist on responsible

behavior in return for help. Twenty states are

providing incentives to families to go to work, not

stay on welfare.

I think we should go further and abolish this

waiver system altogether in the welfare reform.

Instead, we should give all states the flexibility

to do all the things that our waivers allow 25

states to do today, so people don't have to come to

Washington to ask. (Applause.)

But I would like to say in this debate and for

your benefit, especially those of you who have

county responsibilities in this area, we shouldn't

forget that the need for flexibility doesn't stop at

the state level. We need it at the local level as

well. (Applause.)

So we're making some headway on this welfare

reform. But we've still got a lot of work to do.

In January, I called a meeting at the White House

with leaders from both parties and all levels of

government to press Congress to get moving on

welfare reform legislation. I spoke about it in the

State of the Union address. I wanted the people who

will write the legislation to hear from people

like you, so we had representatives from local

government at this meeting. I wanted them to hear

from folks who will have to put this legislation

into action on the front lines.

We all know the old system did too little to

require work, education and parental responsibility;

that it gave the states too little flexibility. The

original Republican Contract proposal did give the

state more flexibility, with some exceptions, in

return for substantial reductions in federal

payments in future years. But, like the present

system and unlike my proposal, the original

Republican Contract proposal was weak on work and

parental responsibility. And in terms of denying

benefits to all welfare parents under the age of 18

and their children, it was also, in my view, very

hard on children.

Now, the present bill in the Congress, as it

stands today, as we speak, contains real

improvements from the original Contract proposal in

the areas of work and parental responsibility. But

I think there are still significant problems with it

which could undermine our common goals. And in my

view, they still make the bill too tough on children

and too weak on work and responsibility. I'd like

to talk a little about that, again, because there's

a debate still to be had in the House and then when

the bill goes to the Senate.

When we met in January, we agreed, Democrats

and Republicans alike, that the toughest possible

child support enforcement must be a central part of

welfare reform. If we collected all the money

that deadbeat parents owe, we could move 300,000

mothers and over a half a million children off the

welfare roles immediately -- tomorrow -- just

with child support collection. (Applause.)

So at that meeting, people from every level of

government and both parties agreed that while

generally we want to move more of these decisions

back to the state, we need national action on child

support enforcement, and national standards, because

30 percent of the cases where parents don't pay

cross state lines.

The original child support provisions in the

Contract of the Republicans left out a lot of the

most effective means for finding delinquent parents,

which were in our welfare reform bill, including a

system to track them across state lines. But to the

credit of the Republicans, they have recently

included almost all our tough child support

measures. And I appreciate it.

There is more that we ought to do, I think,

together. Our plan calls on states to deny drivers

and professional licenses to people who refuse to

pay their child support. (Applause.) Now, I know

that's a tough idea, but let me tell you -- 19

states are doing that today, and they're collecting

a lot more child support as a result of it. So I

hope that the Congress will join us to make this

provision also the law of the land.

We've got to send a loud signal: No parent in

America has a right to walk away from the

responsibility to raise their children. That's the

signal; we've got to send it. (Applause.)

Secondly, all of you know that the hardest and

the most important part of welfare reform is moving

people from welfare to work. You have to educate and

train people. You've got to make sure that their

kids aren't punished once they go to work by losing

their health care or their child care. And then

you've got to figure out where these jobs are coming

from. You know, I'm doing my best to lower the

unemployment rate, but still, if there's

unemployment in a given area, where will the jobs

come from? Will the government provide them? If

not, you have to do things like I described in the

Ohio waiver.

But this work has always been at the core of my

approach. I think what we want for every American

adult is to be a successful parent and a successful

worker. When I proposed my plan last year and when

I was running for president, I said, if people need

help with education, training or child care so they

can go to work, we ought to give them the help.

But, after two years, they should be required to

take a job and get a paycheck, not a welfare check,

if there's a job available. There should not be an

option. If you can go to work, you must.

Now, I know in their hearts this is really the

position that most of the Republicans in the

Congress agree with. Last year, 162 of 175 House

Republicans, including Speaker Gingrich,

co-sponsored a bill that was similar to our plan on

work in many ways. But the plan that they are

currently considering in the House doesn't do much

to support work. It would actually make it harder

for many recipients to make it in the workplace.

Now, they wisely abandoned an earlier provision

which basically allowed a welfare recipient to get

around the work requirement literally by submitting

a resume. But their new plan gives the states a

perverse incentive to cut people off welfare. It

lets them count people as working if they were

simply cut off the welfare rolls for any reason

and whether or not they have moved into a job.

Now, when people just get cut off without going

to work, we know where they're likely to end up,

don't we? On your doorstep. That's not welfare

reform. That's just shifting the problem from one

place to another. Now, we know that an inordinate

number of people also who get off welfare without

work skills, without child care, wind up right back

on welfare in a matter of a few months. Yet, the

current Republican plan cuts child care both for

people trying to leave welfare and for working

people who ar working at low incomes who are trying

to stay off of welfare.

Equally important, this new plana removes any

real responsibility for states to provide education,

training and job placement, though that is at the

heart of getting and keeping people off welfare. In

other words, these provisions on work effectively

repeal the Family Support Act of 1988 which was

passed with the support of President Reagan and

substantial Republicans in the Congress and

actually did some good when the states implemented

it in good faith.

Why? Because basically the new provisions are

designed to allow the federal government to send

less money to the states over time, and in return

for saving budget money, they're willing to walk

away from the standards necessary to move people

from welfare to work walk away from the standards

necessary to move people from welfare to work. It's

like a lot of things you can do around here -- it

may feel good for a year or two, but five years now

we'll be hitting ourselves upside the head, saying

why have we got a bigger welfare problem than we had

five years ago.

Now, besides the need to support work and tough

child support enforcement, I also think there are

some other questions here -- questions of the

treatment of children, and addressing the problems

of teen pregnancy. Three-quarters of the unwed teen

mothers in this country end up on welfare within

five years. We clearly need a national campaign

against teen pregnancy that sends a clear message:

It is wrong to have a child outside marriage.

Nobody should get pregnant or father a child who

isn't prepared to raise the child, love the child

and take responsibility for the child's future.


I know the Republicans care about this problem,

too. This is not a partisan political issue. It is

not a racial issue; it is not an income issue; it is

not a regional issue. This issue is eating the

heart out of this country. You don't have to be in

any particular political camp to know we're in big

trouble as a society if we're headed toward a day

when half of all the kids in this country are born

outside marriage.

But some aspects of this current plan in

Congress could do more harm than good. Our plan

sends a clear message to young men and women that

mistakes have consequences, that they have to turn

their lives around, that they have to give their

children a better chance. We want teen fathers to

know they'll spend the next 18 years paying child

support. We want teen mothers to know they have to

stay at home with their parents or in an appropriate

supervised setting and stay in school. And they

have to implement or identify the fathers. They

don't have a separate check to go out on their own.

Now, the Republican plan in Congress sends a

different message to young people that's both

tougher and weaker. It says, if you make a mistake,

you're out on your own, even it means your likely to

end up on welfare for life. It costs us even more

money down the road.

Now, in recent weeks, we've narrowed our

differences, the Republicans and the administration,

in response to concerns that have been raised by

people within the Republican Party. But their bill

still denies -- now listen to this -- their bill

still denies any assistance to teen mothers under

the age of 18 and their children until they turn

18, and then leaves the states the option of denying

those benefits permanently, as long -- to anybody

who was under 18 when they had a child.

Now, I just believe it's a mistake to cut

people off because they're young and unmarried and

they make a mistake. The younger you are, the more

likely you are to make mistakes, although I haven't

noticed any absence of errors from those of us who

get older. (Laughter.) I think it's wrong to make

small children pay the price for their parents'

mistakes. I also think it's counterproductive.

It's not in our interest. It will cost the

taxpayers more money than it will save. It's bound

to lead to more dependency, not less; to more broken

families, not fewer; to more burdens on the

taxpayers over the long run, not less.

Now, our plan is different, but it is tougher

in some ways. It would say, if you want this check

and you're a teenager, you've got to live at home.

And if you're in an abusive home you must live in

another appropriate supervised setting. You must

stay in school. You must identify the father of the

child. So we're not weaker, but we're different.

We also want a national campaign against teen

pregnancy rooted in our local communities that sends

a clear message about abstinence and responsible

parenting. That is the clue, folks -- if we could

get rid of that, we wouldn't have a welfare problem,

and we'd be talking about something else in the next

couple of years. (Applause.)

Now, there are other provisions in this bill

that I think are unfair to children, and let me just

mention, for your information -- I think they're

really tough on disabled children and children in

foster homes, and I think they ought to be modified.

And, finally, it is important to point out that

under the guise of state flexibility, this plan

reduces future payments to states in ways that make

states and children very vulnerable in times of

recession, or if their population is growing more

than other states.

So, basically, if we adopt this plan the way it

is, it will say to you in your state, if times get

tough, you're on your own. I don't think we should

let budget-cutting be wrapped in a cloak of welfare

reform. We have a national interest in the welfare

of our children. Let's reform welfare. Let's cut

the deficit. But let's don't mix up the two and

pretend that one is the other. Let's put our

children first.

Let me say that I have come here today in the

spirit of good faith to try to outline these

specifics. You may not agree with me; you may agree

with them. But I want you to know what the points

of debate are. Again, I am glad we're discussing

this. This is a big problem for America. And I

believe in the end we can work it out together as

long as we remember what it's really about -- again,

the way you think about problems; you have a name, a

face, and a life history. That's what we sometimes

lose up here in Washington.

I just want to close with this story. When I

was Governor, I was trying to get all the other

governors interested in welfare reform. I once had

a panel at a welfare meeting in Washington. And I

didn't even know how many governors would show up.

Forty-one governors showed up to listen to women on

welfare, or women who had been on welfare, talk

about their lives.

There was a woman there from my state, and I

was asking her questions, and I didn't know what her

answers were going to be -- letting her talk to the

governors. And I said, do you think it ought to

be mandatory for people on welfare to be in these

education and job placements programs? She said,

yes, I do. I said, why? She said, because a lot of

people like me, we lose all our self- confidence, we

don't think we amount to much, and if you don't make

us do it we'll just lay up and watch the soaps. But

then I said, I asked her to describe her job, and

she did. And I said, what's the best thing about

having a job? She said, when my boy goes to school,

and they ask him, what does your momma do for a

living, he can give an answer. (Applause.)

So I want you to help us, because whether

you're Republicans or Democrats or black, brown or

white, or liberals or conservatives, you have to

deal with people with names, faces and life

histories. We're up here dealing in sound bites

trying to pierce through on the evening news.

(Applause.) It's a big difference. (Applause.)

It's a big difference.

This debate is about more than welfare. It's

about who we are as a people and what kind of

country we'll want to pass along to our children.

It's about the dignity of work, the bond of family,

the virtue of responsibility, the strength of our

communities, the strength of our democratic values.

This is a great American issue. And I still

believe that all of us working together can advance

those values and secure the future of our children,

and make sure that no child in this country ever

has to grow up without those values and the great

hope that has made us, all of us, what we are.

Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

END 11:06 A.M. EST

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