Compilation of Weekly Presidential Documents - Monday, December 6, 1999 Volume 35, Issue 48; ISSN: 0511-4187 Remarks on economic growth

Monday, December 6, 1999


Volume 35, Issue 48; ISSN: 0511-4187


Remarks on economic growth

William J Clinton



� Remarks on Economic Growth



� December 3,1999



� Thank you very much. Thank you, Secretary Herman and Council of

Economic Advisers Chairman Martin Baily, and especially, thank you,

Marvin Dawkins, for your remarks and for the power of your example.



� This is a very different time than we were experiencing 7 years ago

this month. When I ran for President in 1992, it was a time of

economic distress and uncertainty for our country. While some people

were moving from the industrial to the information economy with

optimism and purpose, many others felt fear and uncertainty because

of the problems in our economy, high unemployment, big deficits,

high interest rates, low productivity gains, falling real wages for

average Americans.



� Too many Americans couldn't tell the story that Marvin just told.

They lacked the skills they needed to succeed in the new economy;

they felt threatened by the changes; and they had no access to the

tools that would lift them up.



� But when I traveled around the country in 1992 with the Vice

President, we saw a lot of signs of hope. We saw a lot of people who

were winning. And we became even more convinced that our country, as

a whole, could do very well in this new global information economy,

if we could create the conditions and provide all Americans the

tools necessary to succeed.



� It seemed to me that there were three absolutely pivotal elements.

First, fiscal discipline: We had to get rid of the deficit and get

interest rates back down and get investment back up. Second,

expanded trade: We had 4 percent of the world's people and 22

percent of the world's income; even someone technologically

challenged like me could figure out we had to sell something to the

other 96 percent of the people on the globe. And third, greater

investments in new technologies and in our people in their capacity

not only to know what they needed to know but to learn for a

lifetime. And people like Marvin Dawkins are Exhibit A of the

pivotal importance of that.



� Now in 1993, we put in place a new economic strategy. it cut the

deficit and increased investment by eliminating hundreds of

inessential programs and putting us on a path that now has given us

the smallest Federal Government in 37 years. In 1997, with the

Balanced Budget Act, we continued the strategy, again increasing

investment, cuttinginessential programs, first balancing the budget

and then providing the first back-toback budget surpluses in 42




� Now that led to lower interest rates, which helped ordinary

Americans in all kinds of ways. It cut the price of the average home

mortgage by $2,000, the price of the average car payments by $200 a

year, the average college loan payment by $200 a year. But

critically, it also cut the borrowing costs and the investment

costs, therefore, for new businesses, especially for investment in

new productivity-enhancing technologies.



� At the same time, we negotiated over 270 trade agreements,

including dozens of them involving high technology issues, all of

which helped Americans to increase exports of high technology

products-services. We promoted more competition in

telecommunications, providing American consumers with the lowest

Internet access rates in the world and fueling the growth of

E-commerce. And we've taken actions that have led to the creation of

a whole new generation of digital wireless phones, you know, the

kind you hear go off in restaurants, movie theaters, and

Presidential press conferences. [Laughter]



� While eliminating hundreds of programs, we have almost doubled our

investment in education and training, everything from preschool to

dramatically increasing college access, to establishing lifetime

access to training and retraining programs for people like Marvin.



� Now, as a result of these actions and, most importantly, the

innovation and the hard work of the American people, we are now

experiencing an amazing virtuous cycle of progress and prosperity

that few could have imagined. We are in the midst of the longest

peacetime economic expansion in American history. If as seems highly

likely it goes on through February, it will become the longest

economic expansion in our history.



� It has given us low inflation, the lowest unemployment rate in 30

years, also the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years, the lowest poverty

rates in 20 years, the highest homeownership ever recorded, the

lowest AfricanAmerican and Hispanic unemployment rates ever

recorded, the lowest African-American poverty rate ever recorded,

the lowest Hispanic poverty rate recorded in a generation, the

lowest poverty rate among households headed by single adults in over

40 years, and the lowest unemployment rate among women in 40 years.



� In other words, a good economy has also turned out to be very good

social policy. More and more Americans are mastering the skills and

reaping the benefits of this new economy, and America itself

continues to lead in new technologies, from E-commerce to biotech,

that are shaping the future of the entire world.



� Now today, I want to talk about one more piece of stunningly good

economic news that is the direct result of the actions that have

been taken and the work that has been done by our people to propel

our economy into the new century, and now, we have a hightech

animation behind me [laughter]-to illustrate this good economic

news. I hate to compete with the movies, and I'll probably

lose-[laughter]-but the idea is that I'm supposed to be the narrator

of this show. [Laughter]



� What you see behind me is a graphic representation of the growth of

new jobs in America, beginning in 1993, as well as the geographic

location of these jobs. You can see they have been spread across the

country, wherever people live. Virtually no area of our Nation has

been left out. At the bottom, you can also see a running tally of

how many new jobs have been created. [Laughter] And I'm ahead of the

running tally. [Laughter] But the latest figures are being released




� Come along. [Laughter] What did you say? Filler, filler. [Laughter]

I've never been at a loss for words. [Laughter] Why can't I do this?



� With today's new numbers, we have truly crossed a remarkable

threshold: 20 million jobs. In fact, the specific number behind me

is 20,043,000 jobs, thanks to the hard work of the American people,

the economic policies we have pursued.



� To give you some idea of what this means, 20 million jobs is a

number greater than the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul,

Denver, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Buffalo,

Cleveland, and Little Rock combined. [Laughter] Twenty million

people would fill the Rose Bowl to capacity 200 times over. Twenty

million jobs are a lot of jobs.



� And by and large, those jobs are good, well-paying jobs, jobs on

which you can support a family, buy a home, afford a vacation, save

for college, put away a nest egg for retirement. This was made clear

in a new report being released today by my Council of Economic

Advisers and the Department of Labor.



� The report finally should put to rest the old myths about the new

economy. The 20 million new jobs we have created mostly are

high-wage not low-wage jobs. Over 80 percent of them are in job

categories that pay above the median wage. They are mostly fulltime,

not part-time. In fact, the proportion of Americans in part-time

work has actually fallen a bit in the last few years.



� Finally, those 20 million new jobs have benefited not just one race

or class of Americans but all Americans. Unlike the end of the last

economic expansion in the 1980's, when average wages went down,

wages during the last 4 years of this expansion have gone up across

the board in all income categories, with some of the biggest gains

coming to some of our hardest pressed working families. As I said-I

want to say this again, because I think it is worth reiterating;

this economy is not just 20 million new jobs and a stock market that

went above 11000 again today-I never talk about it because it goes

down as well as up, but it's done pretty well. But let me say again,

the lowest AfricanAmerican unemployment and poverty rates ever

recorded-and we've been separating the figures for nearly 30 years

now-the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate on record and the lowest

Hispanic poverty rate in over 25 years, the highest minority

homeownership on record, the lowest female unemployment rate since

1953. And I don't need to remind the large group of women in this

audience that in 1953, there were a lot smaller percentage of women

in the work force, so this is actually a much more important figure

than even that number indicates.



� Now, technology has been a very important part of this economic

performance. It has given us big productivity gains. The information

technology sector alone has been responsible for about a third of

our economic growth. And jobs in that sector pay nearly 80 percent

more than the private sector average. If we want our current

prosperity to continue into the 21st century, we must therefore

clearly continue to encourage the creation and the spread of new

technologies in our own economy.



� Therefore, I would like to highlight a couple of things that I

think are of real importance in the budget agreement achieved with

Congress, that I signed just a few days ago. First, the budget I

signed contains substantial increases in direct Federal investment

and long-term research and development. This is still very

important, as all the private sector experts tell us. it is the kind

of investment that allowed the Defense Department to create the

predecessor of today's Internet 30 years ago, that led Marc

Andresen, working at a federally funded supercomputer center, to

develop the first graphical web browser.



� We worked hard to get increases not only for biomedical research

that had strong support in our Congress but for other science and

engineering disciplines as well. And I would like to make this point

very strongly, because it's one that I hope to make more progress on

next year and hope to see our country embrace as a policy across the

board, without regard to party: It is very important that we have a

balanced research portfolio. And I don't believe that the National

Institutes of Health has had a stronger supporter than me. I believe

that. But we have to have a balanced research portfolio, because the

research enterprise is increasingly interdependent. Advances in

health care, for example, are often dependent on breakthroughs in

other disciplines, such as the physics needed for medical imaging

technology or the computer science needed to develop more drugs more

rapidly or to continue the mapping of the human genome.



� Just think what these investments could mean. Today, scientists and

engineers all over the country have ideas for new technologies they

need Federal help to explore, technologies that could transform our

economy and our lives in the future just as dramatically as the

Internet is doing today. There is really a continuing revolution, as

we all know, in all kinds of computer technology, in biomedical

research, and also in materials development, which I'll say a little

more about.



� We'll have new materials as strong as steel but 10 times lighter.

At the Detroit auto show this year, they were already showing cars

500 to 1,000 pounds lighter that have exactly the same safety tests

as the old cars with steel. Obviously, that dramatically increases

mileage, that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We could have new

drugs that might cure spinal cord injuries or new computer chips

that might simulate nerve movements that allow people to function

without the nerves actually being reconnected.



� just before I walked out here-this is ironic-just before we walked

out here, we had CNN on in the little anteroom, and they pointed out

that Stevie Wonder was about to have experimental surgery to have a

computer chip inserted in his retina to see if it can simulate and

recreate the functioning that was lost when he was an infant. We

obviously all hope it will work. But I can tell you this: Someday,

such things will work, and it won't be very long in the future.



� We already have fuel cells and blended fuel engines for automobiles

which will take mileage up to 70 and 80 miles a gallon. We will soon

have, I believe, ultra-clean fuel cells for cars, whose only

byproduct will be water clean enough to drink; computers that can

translate English into foreign languages and vice-versa as fast as

people can speak. All these things are right around the comer, but

we have to continue our commitment to research,



� Second, later this month, I will sign a tax measure that extends

for 5 years the life of the vitally important research and

experimentation tax credit. This is important because this tax

credit gives private firms the incentives they need to invest in

innovative technologies that often don't show up quickly on the

bottom line but that, over the long run, will be highly profitable

and that immediately provide tremendous benefits to society as a




� Third, last week I signed legislation to help accelerate

competition in the telecommunication industry, to give consumers

more choices and lower prices. I also signed a bill to strengthen

and streamline our patent and intellectual property system, to

strengthen the incentives for the next Alexander Graham Bell or

Steve jobs, to create the inventions and innovations that will drive

the 21st century economy.



� No one today can say for sure what our economy will look like in 25

or 50 years or what as yet unimagined technologies will transform

our lives. But we do know that it will be truly amazing, and it will

happen with breathtaking speed and scope. And we know that our

Nation has always prospered when Government has invested in giving

people the opportunity to make the most of their vision and their

dreams, from financing the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and

Clark Expedition to the Interstate Highway System and the space




� The American people have always been a bold and innovative bunch.

We are always drawn to uncharted lands over the next horizon. Who

will pack our bags and head out to the latest gold rush or tinker in

our basements for years to invent a product no one else has ever

imagined? That's what we do.



� Today, thanks to wise investments made by Government and the

private sector over many years, the American people have before them

the unexplored continent of cyberspace and the prospect of

discovering what is in the black holes in outer space. By continuing

these commitments, we can celebrate more days like today.



� Thank you very much. Thank you.



� NOTE: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in Presidential Hall

(formerly Room 450) in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office

Building. In his remarks, he referred to Marvin Dawkins, former AT&T

employee who took advantage of retraining opportunities to begin a

new career, who introduced the President; Marc Andresen, cofounder

Netscape Communications Corp.; and musician Stevie Wonder.



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