[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 10, 1998]
[Pages 201-202]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Departure for Capitol Hill
February 10, 1998

    Thank you very much. Thank you, and good morning. Let me begin by 
saying how very pleased I am for the support we are receiving from all 
around the world for our stand against Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program. Friends and 
allies share our conviction that Saddam must not be allowed to develop 
nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or the missiles to deliver 
    Yesterday the Governments of Canada and Australia announced that 
they are prepared to join the United States, Great Britain, and other 
allies in a military operation should one prove necessary. As I have 
said before, I hope we can avoid the use of force. The choice is up to 
Saddam Hussein. Let the weapons inspectors 
back on the job with free and unfettered access. But if Saddam will not 
comply with the will of the international community, we must be prepared 
to act. And I am very grateful that others are prepared to stand with 
    Now, today, as has been said, I am transmitting to Congress the 
annual ``Economic Report of the President.'' Let me begin by thanking

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the Council of Economic Advisers for their hard work in preparing the 
report. I also want to thank our wonderful economic team for all they 
have done to promote prosperity for the American people. As the 
``Economic Report of the President'' makes clear, our economy is strong; 
our prosperity is deep; our prospects are bright.
    For 5 years our Nation has pursued a new economic strategy for the 
information age. We have reduced the deficit to slash interest rates and 
spur private sector investment. We've opened markets to create high-wage 
jobs. We've invested in the skills and education of our people so that 
every American has the chance to reap the benefits of the new economy. 
All around us we see the results in revitalized basic industries, 
thriving new industries, an investment boom, a vibrant American economy.
    In this report, the Council of Economic Advisers projects continued 
growth through at least the next year. That would mark the longest 
peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. As this report 
makes plain, the expanding economy is producing wider opportunity and 
rising incomes for American families. Since 1993 the income of a typical 
family has increased $2,200 beyond inflation. We've seen the fastest 
growth in real hourly wages in 20 years, after 12 years in which real 
wages actually fell.
    The standard of living is rising faster than the cost of living now. 
And America has grown together, not apart, with the poorest fifth of our 
families seeing the largest percentage jump in their income. While 
incomes are rising, taxes are falling. A typical family earning $50,000 
a year now has the lowest tax burden in two decades; families earning 
$25,000 a year, the lowest tax burden in three decades.
    This economy is the envy of the world. But the progress was not 
predestined. We must press forward with the strategy that is now 
expanding opportunities for American families, not abandon it. Above 
all, we must maintain our fiscal discipline. It is the foundation of our 
prosperity. My view is clear: Every penny of any projected budget 
surplus should be reserved until we have taken all the steps necessary 
to save Social Security for the 21st century.
    I am heartened by the strong support this approach has gained from 
the American people, including the young people to whom I spoke 
yesterday at Georgetown University. And I am pleased by the strong 
support Members of Congress of both parties have given for saving Social 
Security first.
    In the past week, some have said that before we save Social 
Security, we should repeal the iron laws of fiscal discipline. They want 
to weaken the longstanding pay-as-you-go rule for taxes, which says that 
any spending proposal or any new tax cut must be paid for in the budget. 
This rule has been a key to our drive to balance the budget.
    Let me be clear: Fiscal irresponsibility gave us 12 years of 
exploding deficits, division, declining wages. Fiscal responsibility has 
given us the strongest economy in a generation. I will not allow a 
return to the policies that have failed us in the past. Let us maintain 
fiscal responsibility, save Social Security first, and prepare for an 
even brighter future for our people.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:40 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White