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Senator Hillary Clinton on U.S.-China Air Accident

Senator Hillary Clinton on U.S.-China Air Accident

Text: Senator Clinton Supports Bush's Efforts on U.S.-China Air Accident

(Says there's no justification for Americans being detained in China)

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (Democrat from New York) says she fully supports President Bush's efforts to obtain an immediate release of U.S. men and women who have been "wrongfully detained" in China.

In remarks made to the American Society of Newspaper Editors April 5, Clinton said "There is no justification for their detention for one minute, let alone so many days." Clinton said she prays for the families of these men and women and hopes for a speedy and safe return.

Following is the as-delivered text of Senator Clinton's remarks:

(begin text)

April 5, 2001

Remarks Of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

To The American Society Of Newspaper Editors

As Delivered

I am grateful for the chance to be here with all of you. I want to thank Deborah and Rich and all the editors that are here, especially those who have been here from New York. I am delighted to hear Ben Bradlee's tribute to Katharine Graham - it's a little difficult, however, to follow Mother Courage, but I think everything Ben said is certainly applicable not only to Katherine's career but to the influence she has had in the world. She is not only a giant in journalism, but an inspiring figure for so many young people, particularly young women.

Before I start, let me just say a brief word in support of our men and women who have been wrongfully detained in China. There is no justification for their detention for one minute, let alone so many days. I fully support the Administration's efforts to obtain their immediate release. And I know that we all join with their families and pray for their speedy and safe return.

I appreciate this invitation to be here this morning. I want to thank all of you for keeping those of us in politics on our toes, even when we don't enjoy it - and for giving the American people the information, arguments and perspectives that they need to be effective citizens.

In preparation for coming this morning, I thought back to one of America's most famous editors, who was one of its first - Benjamin Franklin. More than 280 years ago Franklin published the first issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. If you go back and read any of the old editions of that newspaper, you'll see how he has enlivened Colonial America with his wit and thoughts on the matters of the day - from education ... to the then "new" economy ... to the latest gossip among his Colonial settlers.

Not surprisingly, Franklin was, from time to time, criticized by those who claimed his salacious stories were simply untrue. In response, Franklin wrote that it was "unreasonable" for anyone to "expect to be pleased with everything that is printed." You know, that's what my press secretary says to me every single morning of my life! I am delighted that the feeling goes back so far to the beginning of our Democracy.

In politics, one of Franklin's best-known legacies was his commitment to what he called "industry and frugality." Now my knowledge of industry and frugality doesn't come from Ben Franklin, but from my own father. I am the daughter of a very small businessman who did not believe in mortgages, waited to save up money to buy the house I grew up in, he did not believe in credit cards, much to my mother's and my distress and he believed that the family budget always had to be balanced. His formula for our family's finances is no different from the course our nation needs to pursue to keep our prosperity growing.

For nearly a decade now, we've pursued a path of fiscal discipline and investment in our people. We paid down the debt to keep interest rates low. We invested in education and in our children, with better health care, more teachers, smaller classrooms and greater accountability. We expanded our role in the growing global economy. We put a welfare system in place that requires work - and rewards it. We invested in research and development, to keep our economy strong and competitive. And we've done all this while cutting the size of government to its smallest level since 1960.

But this is a new year. This is a new century. And we face new problems and very big choices. The global economy has expanded, and in places exploded. The information age helped bring us great economic success, but its bubble has burst, throwing obstacles in the way of our continued prosperity. Lay-offs are expanding in the industrial and high tech sectors of our economy. Energy costs are soaring.

And you know this from readers who write letters to the editor. And my colleagues and I hear it, too, from constituents who write about their struggles. A widowed senior citizen tells me how this is such a "very difficult time" in her life, with the rising cost of fuel and electricity. A man from Schenectady writes to me about how rapidly this increasing cost of prescription drugs is getting his budget beyond reach. A couple from Somers tells me how hard it is to pay for their daughter's college education, saying "if children cannot get a quality college education, the economy and the country will suffer."

And, as you might imagine, I am hearing from many people who are concerned about the decline of the stock market and the impact it will have on their retirement accounts.

The concerns of your readers and my constituents constitute "a call to leadership," as the theme of your conference suggests. And we are all called to lead when it comes to the challenges faced by our nation in this year 2001. You have a responsibility to help your readers understand what is at stake as we put together a federal budget that will have a big impact on our nation's economy for decades to come. My colleagues and I have a responsibility to choose the right path in shaping this budget so that the lives of all Americans will be safer, healthier and more prosperous.

As President Teddy Roosevelt once said, "We need to take the long look ahead." In building a budget that does just that, we can build a better America.

That's because a budget is not just about numbers, projections and line items. A budget is really an embodiment of our values as a nation. It sets out our says something about what we, as a people, hold dear and believe is important. It is about who we are as Americans.

Because today we must ask ourselves: will we meet the challenges of our time or will we squander this moment on a budget that puts politics first and people last?

Government does need to be smaller, and I agree with that. But that goal should not be accomplished by strangling the government with tax cuts and deficits. Our duty is to manage it more efficiently to give people the tools they need to succeed in the global economy; to adopt a fiscal policy that continues our prosperity, not retards it; to pay down our debt, not explode it; to provide prudent task relief, to invest our surplus wisely consistent with the values and needs of our people, not to waste it.

I am privileged to serve on the Budget Committee, which held sixteen hearings over the last two months that focused on the state of our economy and the role of fiscal and monetary policy. For the first time in recent memory, however, the Majority on the committee decided that we would not actually debate and markup a federal budget.

But we did learn enough in those 16 hearings to recognize the pitfalls of accepting a tax cut whose real cost is not $1.6 trillion but at least a staggering $2.6 trillion dollars. Just yesterday, my colleagues demonstrated their concern when Republicans joined Democrats in saying that the tax cut should be reduced in order to pay down the debt and invest in education and in our nation's defense.

That is a big step in the right direction. And it came about for several good reasons. First, the big tax cut is based on 10 year projections that are risky at best and dead wrong at worst. Spending $2.6 trillion on the basis of economic guesswork is like buying a lottery ticket and going out and buying a yacht. And if anyone thinks it's wise to obligate the nation to such a huge expenditure for such a long time based on rosy economic scenarios, I'd like to see the expression on their face when they get their next 401K statement. Because projections are guesses, not promises.

Second, we're sailing on a sea with a big rogue wave headed our way. That wave is called the "retirement of the baby boomers." You could call it "invasion of the surplus snatchers." And do you know when that wave hits? It hits a year after this 10 year surplus projection ends. How convenient for those who argue for the big tax cut! They don't have to account for what's facing our Social Security and Medicare systems. And they don't take into account what we need to do now to shore up and reform those important safeguards for older Americans.

And here's the most important thing. A tax cut is not a substitute for an economic plan, no matter how big it is. You can't make up in size what you lack in vision.

And vision is what we need to tackle the hard choices before us in this budget debate. I believe the budget is the most important single item on the Senate's agenda this year, and one of the most important debates that we will have for years to come. It may not be dominating the daily headlines, but it will define the bottom line for the household budgets of every American.

After all, we are going to be deciding, in the votes we cast, whether or not our seniors, in places like Schenectady, will be able to afford prescription drugs. We are going to be deciding whether or not our children, like my constituents in Somers, will be able to afford college. We are going to be deciding whether we have the wastewater treatment plants and the safe bridges and tunnels and the clean drinking water that every American deserves and believes should be a priority of the government that serves us.

We are going to be deciding whether or not we do have the resources to maintain America's strength around the world, whether we will be able to equip our fighting men and women with the resources they need to combat terrorism and other new threats. We are going to be determining whether we make the investments in research and development that will make us a stronger, richer and healthier nation.

Will this budget have the investments we need to protect child care and child abuse programs? The early information - reported by some of your newspapers - suggests that it will not.

Will this budget continue the innovative training programs we have to teach pediatricians who take care of very sick children in our children's hospitals? Again, the reports suggest that it will not. Sacrificed on the altar of tax cuts.

What are we doing in this time of surplus to ensure a safety net for all Americans, young and old? To pay for the tax cut, the Administration dips into Medicare surpluses. I believe that's both unfair and unwise. We should reform the system, not raid it.

What are we doing in this time of surplus to ensure people have health care? The Administration has correctly committed to doubling the number of people served through community health centers. I support that. It is a worthy goal. But then we hear they may do it by completely eliminating the community access program, which allows community health providers to work together to create an infrastructure for care so no patient falls through the cracks.

What are we doing in this time of surplus to build on our success over the last eight years in fighting crime? We are also hearing that the administration's budget will provide more security guards for our nation's schools. That, too, is a worthy goal, and one I support, especially at a time when we are all continually heartbroken by the too frequent news of school shootings.

But then we hear that they may do it by shifting funds from the very successful so-called COPS Program that has helped drive down the crime rate in city after city after city. We have 6,000 federally funded police officers paid for from the COPS Program in New York City who have added considerably to our efforts to fight crime. And so we would take money from police on the streets and shift them to security guards in our schools. That's called robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Will the budget adequately protect our food supply? Every day your newspapers report about diseases threatening livestock in Europe. Will we have the resources we need to safeguard what our families eat? The early signs are not encouraging. In what sounds more like a bad parody than good policy, the Administration plans to cut salmonella testing of ground beef for school lunches. Although in the category of breaking news, I just heard coming here the Administration may be reversing course on that decision, and I certainly hope so.

Are we being confronted with such budgetary Hobson's choices because of a genuine shortage of resources? Or are we being presented with these cuts to make room for an enormously expensive tax cut?

The kinds of priorities I speak of today, many of which I have been fighting for during most of my life, are not only bipartisan, they are genuinely American. American concerns: Child care, child abuse prevention, safe food in our schools, police on our streets. We don't stop and ask: Are you for it or against that based on party? We say: Isn't this something we should do together in America?

I hope that after this budget debate unfolds, we will come together as Republicans and Democrats, Administration and Congress, to fashion a budget that pays down the debt, which is still the best tax cut we can give the vast majority of Americans.

And I hope we will come together to provide sensible tax relief. Sensible, affordable, fiscally responsible tax relief that says to every American, we are going to make it possible for all of you to share in these surpluses.

And I hope we will come together on a budget that invests in our nation's most pressing concerns and not only on short term concerns but equally, if not more important, our long term concerns. We need to see over the horizon. We have to think about the next generation if we are to fulfill our obligations as stewards for our people.

I spoke earlier about the lessons my father taught me about the importance of hard work and frugality. And I am also so proud of his service to his country. When I hear people speak of the World War II generation as America's greatest, I think of my father and my mother and sacrifices that they made, and I understand what that "greatest" really means. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. Some of you are members of that generation and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

One of the virtuous things the greatest generation did, collectively, was to come back from the war and invest in people. Investing in our schools, to make them the best in the world. Investing in an interstate highway system that transformed the economy and the daily life of our nation. Investing in science and technology that helped us go to the planets and win the Cold War.

We are in a new time. A new century. But the virtues exhibited by our parents are timeless. The obligations to our children and our nation remain the same. Our generation has a rendezvous with responsibility and our time to fulfill that is now.

And I hope that at the end of the day, we will all do the right thing for the children of America. If we are not going to leave any child behind, then let us demonstrate that we will use this unique moment in history to respect our values and have the vision to secure our children's future and their own unique American dreams.

We, as a nation, have worked so hard to get to the point, to have this rendezvous with responsibility. I hope that we will respond to the "call to leadership" in a way that honors our parents and provides for our children.

Thank you all very much.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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