[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[September 4, 1995]
[Pages 1288-1294]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the Dedication of California State University at Monterey Bay 
in Monterey, California
September 4, 1995

    Thank you so much. It's a gorgeous day. It's a wonderful reception. 
I thank you. I can't imagine anybody in America who's having a better 
time on Labor Day than I am right now, and I thank you.
    Senator Boxer and Lieutenant Governor Davis, Congressman Mineta, 
Secretary West, Chancellor Munitz, President Peter Smith, my longtime 
friend from the time he was the lieutenant governor of Vermont and I was 
the Governor of Arkansas. We worked on education together. You've got a 
good person here; you're very lucky to have him. And my good friend 
Congressman Sam Farr who has worked like a demon for this project and 
talks to me about it incessantly. You think I came out here because of 
Leon, but the truth is I showed up today because I couldn't bear to 
watch Sam Farr cry if I hadn't come. [Laughter] And let me say to 
Beatrice, I'm glad your daddy is here. If you were my daughter, I'd have 
been very proud of you here today. You were great. You were terrific. 
Thank you. Stand up there. Give him a hand. [Applause] Thank you, sir. 
Thank you.
    I want to thank all the others who made this possible, the other 
distinguished platform guests. And to Milrose Basco, thank you for 
singing the national anthem. You were terrific. I thank the Watsonville 
Community Band, the Bethel Missionary Church Choir, the Western Stage of 
Hartnell College, El Teatro del Campesino, everyone who kept you 
occupied and entertained in the beginning. I thank the members of the 
general assembly who worked hard to make this possible.
    You know, I was listening to Leon talk about the time he introduced 
me in Rome. That's really true, he translated my remarks in Rome. We 
were in the town square there--thousands and thousands of those 
handsome, robust Romans were around--Leon and I standing before the 
cheering crowd. They were chattering away in Italian. The attractive, 
young mayor of Rome was to my left. I leaned over, and I said, ``What 
are they saying, Mayor?'' He said, ``Do you really want to know?'' 
[Laughter] I said, ``Yes.'' He said, ``They're saying, who's that guy up 
there with Leon Panetta?'' [Laughter] This fall I'm going to take him to 
Ireland and give him a dose of his own medicine. [Laughter]
    We were in there a few moments ago, and I was meeting some of the 
folks that helped to make this project possible. One lady went through 
the line and shook my hand, and she said, ``Mr. President, follow your 
heart, and do what Leon tells you to.'' I want to say if she had told me 
to do what Sylvia tells me to, I'd come nearer to doing it. [Laughter]
    One of the reasons that I felt so strongly--the first time I had a 
talk with Leon Panetta and I asked him to become head of the Office of 
Management and Budget, which, in many ways, in a time when we're 
downsizing the Government and when we have to cut so much and still try 
to save enough money to invest in things like education, it was really 
important to me to have someone who not only understood the value of a 
dollar and how the budget worked but someone I thought had good, basic 
American values and knew what it would take to build the community of 
America for the 21st century. That's why I asked Leon Panetta to do that 
job. And I have to tell you, when you pick somebody you don't know for a 
position, you don't know real well, it's very difficult to know whether 
you're making the right decision. You always kind of look for clues, you 
know. And I'm now old enough and been in enough jobs that I've hired 
thousands of people to do different things. And I have to tell you, one 
of the things that made the biggest impression on me, probably because 
of my own experience, was the partnership that Leon and Sylvia had

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working for this congressional district over so many years. That's the 
kind of thing we need more of in our country today, and it made a big 
impression. And I thank you.
    I've got a lot to say today, and you may not remember much of it. If 
you don't remember anything else, remember this: This country will be 
the greatest country in the world in the 21st century, just as it has 
been in the 20th century, if, but only if, we take all the challenges 
that are before us and approach them in the same way that you approached 
the challenge that you faced when Fort Ord closed and you made this the 
21st campus for the 21st century in California.
    We are at a period of historic change, the way we work, the way we 
live, the way we relate to each other, the way we relate to others 
beyond our borders, the way we think about our lives, the way we think 
about the relationship of the economy to the environment, the way we 
think about the relationship of managers to workers, the way we think 
about our respective obligations to raise our children well and to 
succeed in the workplace at the same time. These things are undergoing a 
profound change, greater than anything we have seen in our country since 
the beginning of the 20th century when we moved from being primarily an 
agricultural and rural country into being an industrial and more urban 
country. We are out of the cold war. We have moved into a global 
economy. We are transforming our economy, even manufacturing and 
agriculture, into a more information-based, technology-based economy. 
Things are changing rapidly. And what we know and what we can learn more 
than ever before will determine what we can earn and, in some cases, 
whether we can earn.
    This is a period of very, very profound change. And when you face 
these kind of challenges, it matters not only what particular decisions 
you make but how you do it. And what has always made America great is, 
when the chips were down and when we have a lot of challenges, we 
overlook our differences, we embrace what we have in common, we work 
together, and we work for tomorrow. That is what I have been trying to 
say to the American people since the day I announced for President in 
October '91. This is a new and different time. We've got to work 
together, and we've got to work for tomorrow.
    You know, I just had the profound honor of representing all of you 
as the President to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World 
War II. It was moving to me in many ways. But I would ask you to 
remember what happened to this country. If you look back in history now, 
you think, well, we couldn't have lost. But in the war in the Pacific, 
we lost all our early battles, and we had to come back. In the war in 
Europe, before we got in, Great Britain hardly won a battle for 2 years, 
and they had to come back. When we began, there were 17 countries in the 
world with bigger armies than the United States had. And we had to put 
it all together. It looked so inevitable in the light of history, but it 
wasn't. It happened because free people beat dictators. People who chose 
to live together beat empires. People who willfully found common ground 
and bridged their differences joined hands and moved forward. That's how 
we did that. And don't you ever forget it. And that's what we have to do 
now if we want this country to be what we expect it to be in the 21st 
    It's amazing how long it took us after the war to learn the lessons 
of the war in the peace. We honored our veterans. We gave them the GI 
bill. They had a chance to go to college, they had a chance to buy a 
home because we recognized our obligations to each other and to the 
future. We built the greatest economy the world had ever known in the 
aftermath of the Second World War. We rebuilt our former enemies, 
Germany and Japan. We rebuilt our allies in Europe who were devastated. 
We expanded the benefits of global commerce to Latin America, to Asia, 
and to other places. We did a good job in that because we worked 
together and we worked for tomorrow. We won the cold war because we were 
strong and resolute and because eventually people's hunger for freedom 
brought down the Iron Curtain, because we worked together and we worked 
for tomorrow.
    Now, if you look at what we have to do today in this period of 
profound change--I will say again, a period of change as great as we 
have faced in 100 years--we have to change the whole way our National 
Government works. It has to be smaller. It has to be less bureaucratic. 
It has to be more oriented toward results and releasing the energies of 
people and establishing these kinds of partnerships and less oriented 
toward just telling people exactly what they have to do.

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    We have got to balance the Federal budget. You know, I say this to 
all the people who like Government programs that can promote education, 
as I do. This country never had a permanent deficit in all of our 
history until 1981. We had deficits when we needed them. When the 
economy was slow, we'd spend a little more money and juice it up. Then 
when the economy got good, we'd balance the budget and clear our debts 
and go on. Or we'd borrow money when we wanted to invest in something, 
just the way you borrow money if you start a business or build a home or 
buy an automobile. But we didn't borrow money just to go out to dinner 
at night. We weren't borrowing money all the time until 1981. And after 
having been a country now for 219 years now, almost 219 years, we 
quadrupled our debt in only 12 years.
    That's bad for you and me. Our budget would be balanced today if it 
weren't for the interest run up in the 12 years before I became 
President and that we have to pay on that debt. It would be balanced 
today. And next year, unless we have real luck with the interest rates, 
next year interest on the debt will exceed the defense budget. Now, 
that's not good. That's not a good thing. Nobody in this audience, I 
don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent or 
whatever your politics are, you don't want that little baby that was 
held up to me in the audience a few moments ago to grow up into a world 
where everybody pays taxes just to pay interest on the debt. Nobody's 
got any money to invest in this kind of project a generation from now. 
So we have to do that.
    We have to reassert the values that made this country great, that 
helped us in the war and afterward. We have to have policies and 
practices that strengthen our families and our communities and that 
reward personal responsibility. And above all, we have got to equip our 
people to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our parents built 
America and passed it on to my generation. And we dare not let this time 
pass without making sure that we have given the next generation a chance 
to live the American dream.
    I will say again, there is nothing we have to do at the national 
level as a people that we cannot do if we follow the directions that you 
have laid out here: common sense, common ground, higher ground. Think 
about what we've got in common. Think about possibilities, not problems. 
Believe in the future.
    Colonel Hank Hendrickson, who was once Fort Ord's commander and is 
now the vice president of administration for this fine institution, 
says, and I quote, ``On the same ground where we once taught 18-year-old 
soldiers to fight and survive in a war environment, we are now teaching 
18-year-old students to compete and flourish in the global economy.'' 
That's what you have done together, and that's what America must do 
    I am proud of the contribution that your National Government could 
make. I think we owed it to you, with the economic development grants, 
the environmental cleanup, the help for the displaced workers, the young 
AmeriCorps volunteers who were working to help people here. I am proud 
of all that. But that $240 million was an investment in your future, and 
you earned it. You contributed to our victory in the cold war. Your 
Nation could not leave you out in the cold. It was the right thing to 
do. But you made it possible by all the things that you did here.
    So I ask everybody who is cynical about America's future to just 
look around. You want to know what to do, you want to know how we ought 
to do our business in Washington, how should we decide how to balance 
the budget, look around. We ought to behave the way you did. You 
couldn't run a family, a business, a university, a church, a civic 
organization, you couldn't run anything in this country the way people 
try to run politics in Washington--[laughter and applause]--where 
talking is more important than doing. The night's sound bite on the 
evening news, if you want to be on it, you know you have to have 
conflict, not cooperation. If you have cooperation, people will go to 
sleep, and you won't get on the news. You have to exaggerate every 
difference and make it 10 times bigger than it is. And you have to be 
willing to sacrifice every good in the moment for the next election. No 
one could run anything that way.
    So we have an obligation now to do what you do, to do what you did 
here. The large buildings to my left and right were battery headquarters 
for artillery units. One is the library, the other is a multimedia 
center. I don't know whether a Republican or a Democrat turned them into 
that. I just know it's good for the country because you're going to be 
better edu-

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cated. That's the way we ought to run the country.
    The old airfield will become an airport for business planes. And 
when people land and give their numbers, they won't have to talk about 
politics, they'll just be permitted to land and do their business. Not 
only that, the golf courses are going to be operated for the public.
    This is happening throughout California, you know. And Alameda 
County, where I'm going later, machinists who once welded Bradley 
fighting vehicles together are now going to be building electric cars 
for the 21st century. Up in Sacramento, Packard Bell has already hired 
almost 5,000 people, including 500 jobs they brought back from overseas, 
to assemble personal computers at a former Army depot. We can do this, 
folks. It's not complicated; it's just hard. It's hard. It requires a 
lot of effort, but it's not complicated.
    All across America on this Labor Day, our people are beginning to 
convert from the cold war economy to the new economy of the 21st 
century. And we are trying to do what we can to help. We brought the 
deficit down from $290 billion a year when I took office to $160 billion 
this year. Interest rates are down. Trade and exports are up. Investment 
in education and technology and research are all up. We've got 7 million 
new jobs, 2\1/2\ million new homeowners, 1\1/2\ million new small 
businesses, a record in this time period.
    California lagged behind because California rose so much on the 
economy of the cold war. So when the cold war was over, you got hurt 
worse than other States. Then you had to deal with earthquakes and fires 
and--you know, God just wanted to test you and see how strong you were. 
Leon's a Catholic; he tells me it's a character-builder. [Laughter] He's 
advising me on this every day.
    But California is coming back. The unemployment rate is down, but 
much more importantly, people here are building for the long run. That's 
what this is. This is a decision. This thing we celebrate today is a 
decision that you made for yourselves, your children, and your 
grandchildren. It's a decision you made for the 21st century. It's a 
decision you made by working together to prepare for tomorrow. It's not 
very complicated. That's what your country needs to do. And that's what 
I'm determined that we will do.
    Now I want to emphasize one of our greatest challenges on this Labor 
Day when we reward work. One of our greatest challenges is that the 
global economy works so differently from the economy we've lived in that 
everybody's work is no longer being rewarded. If you had told me--I 
thought I understood this economy. I was a Governor for a dozen years. I 
worked on base closings and defense conversion, everything like that, 
with committees like the one that made this possible. I thought I really 
understood this economy. But if you had told me on the day I became 
President that in 30 months we'd have over 7 million jobs, the stock 
market would be at 4,700, corporate profits would be at a record high, 
we'd have 2\1/2\ million new homeowners, we'd have the largest number of 
new small businesses recorded in any 2-year period since the end of 
World War II, but the median wage would go down one percent, I wouldn't 
have believed it. And most of you wouldn't either.
    But technology is changing so fast, so many jobs are in competition 
in the global economy, and money can move across national borders like 
that--and nothing any person in public life can do will stop that--that 
the working people of this country that are bringing our economy back 
have not gotten their fair share of our prosperity. And that is our 
biggest challenge on this Labor Day.
    What is the answer? The answer, first of all, is not to close our 
borders; it's to continue to expand trade because trade-related jobs pay 
about 20 percent more than jobs that have nothing to do with the global 
economy. We can't turn away from that. But we have to be for fair as 
well as free trade. And that's why I'm so proud of the agreement we 
negotiated with the Japanese over automobiles and auto parts. We want 
more trade but on terms that are fair to all Americans.
    The other thing we have to do is to do more of what you're doing. We 
must, we must, see that all of our young people finish high school and 
that everybody, everybody, has access to education after high school. 
We've got to open the doors of college education to all Americans. Our 
administration has worked hard to make more affordable college loans 
available to all the young people in this country. Millions of people 
now can borrow money to go to college at lower cost on better repayment 
terms. We have worked hard to try to increase our invest-

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ment in education from Head Start through college.
    I have two proposals now before the Congress in our balanced budget 
plan that I pray will pass. One would give American middle class people 
a tax deduction for the cost of all education after high school without 
regard to the age of the people who get it. The other would collapse 
about 70 different Government training programs into a big pot of money. 
And whenever anybody is unemployed or underemployed or on welfare, they 
could get a voucher worth $2,600 a year to take to the nearest community 
education institution like this one. Don't go through a program; go to 
your local institution. That's something we could do to provide a ``GI 
bill'' in our time for America's working people. Those two things would 
lift the incomes of the American people.
    I also think we ought to raise the minimum wage. Let me tell you, if 
we don't raise the minimum wage this year, on January 1st of next year, 
our minimum wage in terms of what the money will buy will be at a 40-
year low. I want a high-wage, high-growth, high-opportunity, not a hard-
work, low-wage 21st century. And I think you do, too. And that's what we 
ought to do.
    Now, I believe that the reason wages are stagnant for so many people 
is that we haven't done enough to educate our people. We haven't done 
enough to try to raise the incomes of our people. The Government can't 
do all that, however. The people in the private sector have a 
responsibility, too. The best American companies are out there today 
sharing their profits with their workers and making sure that they're 
well-treated. And all American companies on this Labor Day should be 
challenged to follow the example of the best American companies. The 
people of this country are our most important resource.
    In the next year or so, all of you are going to have to decide what 
you think the answer to this wage problem is. There are people who will 
tell you that the answer to the--the real reason middle class wages are 
stagnant is that welfare people are taking all your tax money away or 
that we have too many immigrants or that affirmative action is 
destroying opportunities for the middle class.
    Well, let me tell you, in each of those areas, we have problems. But 
that's not the real reason for the middle class economic anxieties. We 
ought to move more people from welfare to work because they'd be better 
off and their kids would be better off and our country would be 
stronger. But the welfare rolls are going down as the job rolls go up. 
It's only 5 percent of our budget. I want desperately to have more 
welfare reform. I've done more in the last 2 years than was done in the 
previous 12 years to move people from welfare to work. And I will 
continue to do that. But if we want to raise wages of middle class 
people, we have to have good jobs, good educations, and a competitive 
economic policy.
    If you look at the immigration issue, there are problems. We have 
too many illegal immigrants in the country. We've done what we could to 
close the borders and to send people back. But you know what? This is a 
nation of immigrants. Most of us do not have ancestors who were born 
here. So I've tried to deal with this issue in a responsible way. Former 
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas, a great American, headed a 
commission for us and said, here's how you can relieve the problems of 
immigration in America and still make us a nation of immigrants.
    When I was in Hawaii--let me just tell you one story. When I was in 
Hawaii for the 50th anniversary of World War II, the commission asked me 
if I would spend the afternoon playing golf with six veterans of World 
War II. And I did, and we just sort of lolled around. We didn't even 
finish the round. We had the best time in the world talking.
    Let me tell you, one of those men was a Japanese-American who came 
to this country on his own as a boy because he dreamed of coming to 
America. When the war broke out, they put him in an internment camp. He 
still volunteered to serve his country. By the grace of God, the war 
ended about 3 days before he would have been on an island fighting 
against two of his own brothers who were in uniform for Japan. When the 
bomb was dropped in Japan, it injured his house and his mother, and his 
youngest brother subsequently died of radiation poisoning.
    There's not another country in the world that could tell that story. 
Why? Because people from all over the world wanted to be part of what is 
America. And we should never forget that. We'll have times when we can 
have higher immigration quotas and times when we should have smaller 
ones because of the economy and how much it takes to absorb people. But 
we should never, ever, ever permit ourselves to get

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into a position where we forget that almost everybody here came from 
somewhere else and that America is a set of ideas and values and 
convictions that make us strong.
    I feel the same way about this affirmative action issue. I have 
lived with this for 20 years now. And let me tell you, there are 
problems with the affirmative action programs of the Federal Government. 
I've already abolished one that I thought was excessive, and I was glad 
to do it. And we're reforming a lot of them. But let me tell you that we 
are a better, stronger country because we have made a conscious effort 
to give people without regard to their race or gender an opportunity to 
live up to their God-given capacities. We are a better, stronger 
    I'm against quotas. I'm against reverse discrimination. I'm against 
giving anybody unqualified anything they're not qualified for. But I am 
for making a conscious effort to bring the American people together. If 
you doubt it, look at our military. We have the best military in the 
world. Nobody doubts it. It's the most successfully integrated 
institution in the United States of America, and nobody unqualified gets 
anything. But there was a conscious effort made to do that. Last year, a 
quarter of a million new roles were opened to American women in military 
services, and they're doing every one of them very well. And that's just 
one example.
    So I say to you, let's look at this, let's fix the problems in 
America, but let's do it with common sense. Let's look for common 
ground. Let's do it the way you built this great institution. Let's do 
it in a way that will grow our economy.
    So, when we come back to Washington, we've got some tough decisions 
to make. I've got a plan to balance the budget. The Congress has two 
different plans in the House and Senate. We have to cut Government 
spending. I'm all for that. But we ought not to cut education. We ought 
to increase our investment in education as we balance the budget.
    We ought to cut taxes, but we shouldn't cut taxes so much and give 
such tax cuts to people who don't need them that we have to cut Medicare 
and Medicaid and hurt our obligations to the elderly people in this 
country who depend upon them for health care.
    We ought to cut the size of Government, and we ought to cut 
regulation. Let me tell you, we have already reduced the size of your 
Federal Government by 150,000 people. It will be reduced by 270,000 
people if not another law is passed by what's already been done. We have 
reduced thousands of regulations. We ought to do more of that. But we 
should not cripple the ability of the American people through their 
Government to assure safe food, clean air, clean water, and a decent 
environment, because we all have a stake in that.
    I want all of you to follow this very closely. When I go back to 
Washington and the Congress takes up its business, this will be no 
ordinary time. For the first time, both parties are committed to 
balancing the Federal budget. The question is, how will we do it, and 
what will the priorities be? And that will determine what kind of 
country we're going to be.
    I believe we've got to work together and work for tomorrow. I do not 
want any more of the politics of partisan polarization. I believe the 
American people are pretty much like all of you sitting around here 
today. You are celebrating an incredible achievement that you know is a 
good, right, decent thing. And you are here as Americans.
    Now, there'll be plenty of things for us to disagree on, but at this 
moment our national security in the 21st century depends upon our 
agreeing to invest in our people and to grow our economy and to pull our 
country together as we balance this budget. So the decisions made in the 
next 60 to 90 days will determine what kind of country we're going to be 
into the 21st century. And I ask every one of you, without regard to 
your party or your philosophy, to implore your Representatives to reach 
for that common higher ground, to work together, and to work for 
    Just think about it. By Christmas, if we do our job right, we could 
have passed a balanced budget, provided for that tax deduction for 
education expenses, overhauled welfare, expanded educational 
opportunities, strengthened instead of undermined health care security, 
and put our people on the road to raising their incomes as they work 
    We can do that. But we've got to do what you did here. We have got 
to work together, and we've got to work for tomorrow. Wish us well, 
insist on it, and help us get it done.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 12:02 p.m. at the Campus Center. In his 
remarks, he referred to

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Lt. Gov. Gray Davis of California; Chancellor Barry Munitz, California 
State University; and Beatrice Gonzales-Ramirez, student, California 
State University at Monterey Bay.