. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – President Clinton – Address to Joint Session of Congress – Feb. 17, 1993 – NPR – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
A wave of optimism, this February 17th in 1993. President Clinton, addressing a Joint Session of Congress, presented his plan for building the economy, cutting waste and bringing back the Middle Class.
Tall order – particularly where the rapidly vanishing Middle Class was concerned. But it was hot on the heels of a successful election, a youthful President and plausible campaign promises.
And so President Clinton brought his plan and his enthusiasm to Capitol Hill, laying it out to Congress and the American people.
President Clinton: “Our Nation needs a new direction. Tonight I present to you a comprehensive plan to set our Nation on that new course. I believe we will find our new direction in the basic old values that brought us here over the last two centuries: a commitment to opportunity, to individual responsibility, to community, to work, to family, and to faith. We must now break the habits of both political parties and say there can be no more something for nothing and admit frankly that we are all in this together.
The conditions which brought us as a nation to this point are well-known: two decades of low productivity, growth, and stagnant wages; persistent unemployment and underemployment; years of huge Government deficits and declining investment in our future; exploding health care costs and lack of coverage for millions of Americans; legions of poor children; education and job training opportunities inadequate to the demands of this tough, global economy. For too long we have drifted without a strong sense of purpose or responsibility or community.
And our political system so often has seemed paralyzed by special interest groups, by partisan bickering, and by the sheer complexity of our problems. I believe we can do better because we remain the greatest nation on Earth, the world’s strongest economy, the world’s only military superpower. If we have the vision, the will, and the heart to make the changes we must, we can still enter the 21st century with possibilities our parents could not even have imagined and enter it having secured the American dream for ourselves and for future generations.
I well remember 12 years ago President Reagan stood at this very podium and told you and the American people that if our national debt were stacked in thousand-dollar bills, the stack would reach 67 miles into space. Well, today that stack would reach 267 miles. I tell you this not to assign blame for this problem. There is plenty of blame to go around in both branches of the Government and both parties. The time has come for the blame to end. I did not seek this office to place blame. I come here tonight to accept responsibility, and I want you to accept responsibility with me. And if we do right by this country, I do not care who gets the credit for it.
The plan I offer you has four fundamental components. First, it shifts our emphasis in public and private spending from consumption to investment, initially by jumpstarting the economy in the short term and investing in our people, their jobs, and their incomes over the long run. Second, it changes the rhetoric of the past into the actions of the present by honoring work and families in every part of our public decision-making. Third, it substantially reduces the Federal deficit honestly and credibly by using in the beginning the most conservative estimates of Government revenues, not, as the executive branch has done so often in the past, using the most optimistic ones. And finally, it seeks to earn the trust of the American people by paying for these plans first with cuts in Government waste and efficiency; second, with cuts, not gimmicks, in Government spending; and by fairness, for a change, in the way additional burdens are borne.”
Some bold moves, certainly in the area of Health Care. With anticipated Republican balking, a fight was anticipated especially where the Budget was concerned. But President Clinton was determined to bring the deficit down. It must be remembered that when President Clinton took office there was a budget deficit of some $290 Billion. During President Clinton’s term, the budget went from a deficit to a $236 Billion surplus (don’t ask me – ask Factcheck.org).
So to get an idea what was being talked about, planned and disputed, here is that Joint Address to Congress, as it was broadcast live on February 17, 1993.
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