[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 13, 1998]
[Pages 221-225]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
February 13, 1998

    Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, to all the young people 
in the audience, I thank you all for that warm welcome. Thank you, Dr. 
Dresselhaus, for making me feel so 
welcome; Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood, Dr. Jane 
Lubchenco, and over 5,000 members of the 
AAAS. I'd like to recognize the presence here of Congressman Chaka 
Fattah of Philadelphia, my friend and 
Congressman from Philadelphia--thank you for being here; General Barry 
McCaffrey, the head of the Office of 
National Drug Control Policy; Dr. Neal Lane, 
the Director of the National Science Foundation; Dr. Harold 
Varmus, the Director of the National 
Institutes of Health.
    There are very many other people in this audience, and I hesitate to 
mention any of them for fear of omitting some who have helped this 
administration in some way or another to advance the cause of science 
and technology. But I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge, because 
of their unique support for us in the last 5 years, Dr. David 
Hamburg and Dr. John Holdren. Thank you especially for what you have done for us and 
for our country.
    I want to thank Jack Gibbons for that 
wonderful introduction. You know, just as there are laws of science, 
there are laws of politics. That introduction reflects Clinton's fourth 
law of politics: Whenever possible, be introduced by someone you have 
appointed to high office. [Laughter]
    I had to--you may find this hard to believe, but I actually had to 
fight the highest people in my family, both my family and my larger 
family, to get to give this speech. The First Lady wanted to give this speech. [Laughter] She said, 
``Look, it was my idea to create this research fund for the 21st century 
and have this idea that we should celebrate the new millennium by 
imagining the future and preserving our past treasures, like the Star-
Spangled Banner and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution 
and the Bill of Rights.''
    And the Vice President, he really 
wanted to give this speech. [Laughter] This is all he ever thinks about, 
you know. [Laughter] This is a guy who goes absolutely rhapsodic when 
contemplating the Spallation Neutron Source. [Laughter] We had this huge 
fight, but I won it fair and square. I pulled rank. [Laughter]
    You should know, on a more serious note, that the Vice 
President did have one honor that I am not 
given by the Constitution. Today he got to swear in a world-renowned 
public health leader and a great doctor, Dr. David Satcher, as America's new Surgeon General.
    Before I get into my remarks, I'd like to make another couple of 
announcements about important changes in our science and technology 
team. First of all, with great regret, I have accepted the resignation 
of Dr. Jack Gibbons as my science adviser. 
His ability to build bipartisan coalitions on contentious issues from 
nuclear testing to cloning to climate change has strengthened our Nation 
immeasurably. And I thank him for those contributions, as well as for 
his work in our initiative on race. I know this afternoon he will chair 
a panel discussion

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on the ways we can diversify the science and technology community. I 
hope you will join me in expressing our appreciation to Jack 
Gibbons for his service to the United 
States. [Applause]
    To replace him and ensure that our work goes forward without a 
hitch, I intend to nominate a fellow of the AAAS, the Director of the 
National Science Foundation, Dr. Neal Lane, to 
be the new Presidential science adviser. Neal, please stand up. 
[Applause] Neal has placed the National Science Foundation at the center 
of our science and technology policy in many ways. And to maintain that 
momentum I intend to nominate as his replacement Dr. Rita 
Colwell, the first life scientist chosen to 
head this organization. Rita, stand up. [Applause]
    I also want to salute your board of directors, which yesterday 
approved a resolution urging the Senate to provide its advice and 
consent as soon as possible for the ratification of the Comprehensive 
Test Ban Treaty. Thank you very, very much for that.
    Today, at the edge of a new century, the dawn of a new millennium, 
at a sunlit moment of prosperity for our people, we see before us an era 
of unparalleled possibilities. Our restless quest for knowledge, which 
has been one of America's defining traits since we got started right 
here in Philadelphia, will quicken. And more than ever before, the 
strength of our economy, the health of our environment, the length and 
quality of our lives--in short, the success of our continuing pursuit of 
happiness--will be driven by the pursuit of knowledge.
    We must seize this moment to strengthen our Nation for the new 
century by expanding our commitment to discovery, increasing our support 
for science, pressing our progress in the war against cancer and other 
diseases, protecting our children from public health dangers--most 
especially from the deadly addiction of tobacco.
    We've come a long way in the last half of the 20th century. Fifty 
years ago, when President Truman addressed your 100th anniversary 
meeting, Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley had just created the first 
transistor; Mauchly and Eckert had recently powered up the seminal ENIAC 
computer right here in Philadelphia; Pauling and Franklin were 
developing techniques that would help to unravel the mystery of our DNA.
    Things are moving much more quickly now. Today, the store of human 
knowledge doubles every 5 years. Soon, every child will be able to 
stretch a hand across a computer keyboard and reach every book ever 
written, every painting ever painted, every symphony ever composed. 
We'll be able to carry all the phone calls on Mother's Day on a single 
strand of fiber the width of human hair.
    Now, where will we be 50 years from now? By the year 2048, when a 
future President of the United States addresses your bicentennial 
meeting, fusion and solar power may yield abundant energy. In any case, 
I am absolutely convinced that by then we will have discovered how to 
grow the economy by restoring, not depleting, our planet. By then, 
telephones may translate foreign languages in real time. We may well 
have a permanent space station on the surface of Mars.
    And some of the greatest victories in the next 50 years doubtless 
will be in the ancient battle against human disease--its prevention, its 
detection, its treatment, and its cure. Sophisticated new AIDS therapies 
already have given HIV-positive men and women a new lease on life. And 
if this progress continues, I believe we'll have an effective vaccine 
within a decade.
    New treatments are slowing the development of Alzheimer's and 
lifting people up from the dark depths of depression. Researchers have 
begun to regenerate nerve cells, raising the prospect that victims of 
spinal cord injuries will be able to rise up and walk again. Within a 
few years, the human genome project will have traced the very blueprint 
of human life.
    And I think it is important to remember, as Americans tend to focus 
on the health miracles that can come from scientific progress, that 
advances in health research and prevention and treatment depend upon the 
entire scientific enterprise, including engineering efforts. For 
example, the MRI, a diagnostic tool that has benefited many of us in 
this audience today, originally came from research in nuclear physics. 
Space research today has vast implications for human health, which is 
one of the reasons I am so excited about Senator John Glenn going back into space.
    If we act now, we can catalyze the process of discovery and create 
even more dramatic progress. I have submitted the first balanced budget 
in 30 years. It is the result of 5 years of efforts based on a 
governmental philosophy that says we have to have fiscal discipline and 
greater investment in our people and our future

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by a Government that is both smaller and more progressive.
    We, I believe, have now established beyond doubt that we can have a 
smaller Government, larger investment, and a stronger Nation. We have 
worked hard to increase investments in education, to open the doors of 
college to all and, increasingly, to increase the quality of education 
at the elementary and secondary levels.
    I take it that hardly anyone in this room would disagree with the 
proposition that we have the finest system of higher education in the 
world. It is America's great blessing. And my passion for the last 5 
years, with more Pell grant scholarships and hundreds of thousands of 
work-study positions, and education IRA's, and cheaper student loans 
that are easier to repay, and a $1,500 tax credit for the first 2 years 
of college, and tax credits for the junior and senior year and graduate 
school, my passion has been to be able to say with a straight face to 
every American family, if your child works hard, money will not keep 
your child out of a first-class college education.
    Now we must prove that we can have the best elementary and secondary 
education in the world. And we're working on a lot of fronts: more 
technology, better teacher training, smaller class sizes, more 
classrooms, higher standards, and greater accountability. But one of the 
most promising approaches that we have embraced, that is also a part of 
our balanced budget, is the one first brought to me by the Congressman 
from Philadelphia who is here with us today, Chaka Fattah.
    Under our approach, which is part of this balanced budget, we want 
to have colleges go in and start working with children as early as the 
seventh grade, to be able to say to them and their parents, if you will 
stay in school, if you will learn, if you will perform, if you will be 
held accountable, we can tell you in the seventh grade how much college 
aid you can get when you get out. You can know right now you can go to 
college. You can know how much you can get. And we`re going to help you 
for 6 years to make sure you are ready to succeed in the 21st century. 
And we thank you, Congressman, for your 
    But there is probably no better example of this new approach, this 
so-called third way, than the proposal we have in the balanced budget 
for a 21st century research fund, part of our gift to America in the 
millennium, providing for the first time a strong, stable, multiyear 
source of funding for research that will enable you to engage in long-
term planning as never before.
    This commitment represents the largest funding increase in history 
for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of 
Health. It will provide substantial budget increases for basic and 
applied research at NASA, the Department of Energy, and the Department 
of Agriculture. It will spur technological innovations that will help us 
to combat global climate change, a growing threat that the journal 
Science warned us about more than 30 years ago now.
    Perhaps most important to American citizens in the moment, the 21st 
century research fund will give us the means to win the war on cancer. 
For the first time, cancer death rates have begun to fall. The 21st 
century research fund will build on this progress, with new classes of 
smart drugs that target specific molecules found in cancer cells. It 
will help those of you in this field to discover within a decade every 
single gene and protein that contributes to the conversion of a normal 
cell to a cancer cell. It will create new opportunities for prevention, 
new technologies for earlier and more accurate diagnosis.
    Today, we can cure 80 percent of the patients with certain kinds of 
cancer; let us work to ensure that within the next generation we will 
cure 80 percent of the patients with all forms of cancer. Thank you, Dr. 
Varmus, for your work in this regard. We 
appreciate it.
    But let me say this. As I was reminded today when we swore in Dr. 
David Satcher, the public health responsibility must be more broadly 
shared among our people. It cannot be the sole province of medical 
researchers and medical doctors. The rest of us have a job to do, too, 
on our own lives, the lives of our friends and neighbors and, most 
importantly, the lives of our children.
    We can take one major leap forward right away. We have an historic 
opportunity to curtail the deadly epidemic of teen smoking. More than 
three decades ago, responsible peer review journals, including Science, 
presented our society with a stark conclusion: Smoking causes cancer. We 
now know it is also linked in a deadly chain with emphysema, heart 
disease, and stroke. For years, our efforts to reduce smoking have been 
outmatched by billion-dollar industry ad campaigns targeted at our 
children. Now we have

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the opportunity to save millions of those children from a life of 
addiction and a premature and very preventable death.
    I have asked the Congress to enact comprehensive legislation to 
raise the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next 10 
years, to give the FDA full authority to regulate tobacco products, to 
change forever the way tobacco companies do business, to further public 
health research, and to protect tobacco farmers and their communities in 
the transition which will come.
    Now, just today, the Treasury Department will release an analysis of 
the probable effects of this comprehensive approach. The analysis 
projects that the price increase and other measures we have proposed 
will cut teen smoking by almost half over the next 5 years.
    Now, let me tell you what that means in real people. In Washington, 
in a different way, we sometimes maybe do what you do; we get into 
talking statistics and numbers and things that don't often grab people. 
Let me tell you what that means. That means if we act this year--instead 
of having a year-long political debate and doing nothing--if we act this 
year, by the year 2003 we can stop almost 3 million young people from 
smoking and save almost 1 million lives as a result. We ought to save 
those lives, and you should demand that we save those lives.
    On Wednesday Senator Kent Conrad from North 
Dakota introduced a strong bill in Congress that meets all the 
objectives I just mentioned. I look forward to working with him and with 
other Members to enact comprehensive and bipartisan legislation. But I 
ask for your support, as well. The scientific community can speak with a 
very loud voice. Speak loudly for our children. Tell people you're going 
to do all this research. Tell people we're going to do unbelievable 
things. Tell people there will be miracles they can't imagine in the 
21st century. But tell people, in the 21st century, parents will still 
have to take responsibility for their children, and people will still 
have to take responsibility for doing sensible things if we want a 
healthy, strong America. Help us lead the way in this fight.
    Let me say on one other point, the extraordinary promise of science 
and technology carries with it, as all of you know, extraordinary 
responsibilities for those who seek to advance the promise. It is 
incumbent upon both scientists and public servants to ensure that 
science serves humanity always and never the other way around.
    Last month, like most Americans, I learned the troubling news that a 
member of the scientific community claims to be 
laying plans to clone a human being. Now, human cloning raises deep 
ethical concerns. There is virtually unanimous consensus in the 
scientific and medical community that attempting to use known cloning 
techniques to actually create a human being is untested, unsafe, and 
morally unacceptable.
    Two days ago the Senate voted to take the time necessary to 
carefully craft a bill that will ban the cloning of human beings while 
preserving our ability to use cloning technology for morally acceptable 
and medically important purposes. Already, you have given us the 
scientific foundation for this debate. I thank you for that, and I urge 
you to continue to play an important role as the Senate, and then the 
House, considers this very significant issue in the coming year.
    You know, in spite of the pitfalls and the perils, our Nation has 
always believed that what you do in the end would always transform our 
world for the better. Benjamin Franklin, the father of our scientific 
revolution, once wrote, and I quote: ``The progress of human knowledge 
will be rapid and discoveries made of which we at present have no 
conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon since I cannot 
have the happiness of knowing what will be known in years hence.''
    I have been so struck by the contrast between Ben Franklin's vision 
and the depiction of the future now we see in so many books and on 
television and in these ``Road Warrior'' movies and other things that 
are made. The world is so often portrayed in the future as a terribly 
frightening, primitive, brutal place, a world where science has run amok 
or where the community and government have withered away, where people 
have to wear a gas mask to walk around and the entire Earth has been 
completely devastated by craven greed; where life is once again, as 
Thomas Hobbes once said it was in the state of nature, ``nasty, brutish, 
and short.''
    I don't think you believe that's what it's going to be like. And I 
think it's important that we all accept the responsibility to imagine 
and invent a very different kind of future, and then to tell our fellow 
Americans that that is the

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future we are working toward. We need never run away from the dangers of 
our work run amok. We need never run away from our innate fear of the 
abuse of power, whether political or scientific. Indeed, the whole 
genius of our creation here in Philadelphia was the understanding that 
human nature is a mix of elements and all of them must be restrained. 
But we must never for a moment be afraid of the future. Instead, we must 
envision the future we intend to create.
    Your bicentennial meeting can convene in a world where climatic 
disruption has been halted, where wars on cancer and AIDS have long 
since been won, where humanity is safe from the destructive force of 
chemical and biological weapons wielded by rogue states or 
conscienceless terrorists and drug runners, where the noble career of 
science is pursued and then advanced by children of every race and 
background, and where the benefits of science are broadly shared in 
countries both rich and poor. That is what I pray it will be like, 50 
years from now, when my successor stands here before your successors and 
assesses how well we did with our time.
    Let me say, I believe in what you do. And I believe in the people 
who do it. Most important, I believe in the promise of America, in the 
idea that we must always marry our newest advances and knowledge with 
our oldest values, and that when we do that, it's worked out pretty 
well. That is what we owe our children. That is what we must bring to 
the new century.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott 
Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Mildred S. Dresselhaus, president, 
M.R.C. Greenwood, president-elect, and Jane Lubchenco, chair, board of 
directors, American Association for the Advancement of Science; David 
Hamburg and John Holdren, members, President's Committee of Advisors on 
Science and Technology; and human cloning advocate Richard Seed.