les than me


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 27, 1998


Hall of the House
United States Capitol

9:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members
of the 105th Congress, distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

Since the last time we met in this chamber, America has
lost two patriots and fine public servants. Though they sat on
opposite sides of the aisle, Representatives Walter Capps and Sonny
Bono shared a deep love for this House and an unshakable commitment
to improving the lives of all our people. In the past few weeks
they\'ve both been eulogized. Tonight, I think we should begin by
sending a message to their families and their friends that we
celebrate their lives and give thanks for their service to our
nation. (Applause.)

For 209 years it has been the President\'s duty to report
to you on the state of the Union. Because of the hard work and high
purpose of the American people, these are good times for America. We
have more than 14 million new jobs; the lowest unemployment in 24
years; the lowest core inflation in 30 years; incomes are rising; and
we have the highest homeownership in history. Crime has dropped for
a record five years in a row. And the welfare rolls are at their
lowest levels in 27 years. Our leadership in the world is unrivaled.
Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our Union is strong. (Applause.)

With barely 700 days left in the 20th century, this is
not a time to rest. It is a time to build, to build the America
within reach: an America where everybody has a chance to get ahead
with hard work; where every citizen can live in a safe community;
where families are strong, schools are good and all young people can
go to college; an America where scientists find cures for diseases
from diabetes to Alzheimer\'s to AIDS; an America where every child
can stretch a hand across a keyboard and reach every book ever
written, every painting ever painted, every symphony ever composed;
where government provides opportunity and citizens honor the
responsibility to give something back to their communities; an
America which leads the world to new heights of peace and prosperity.

This is the America we have begun to build; this is the
America we can leave to our children -- if we join together to finish
the work at hand. Let us strengthen our nation for the 21st century.

Rarely have Americans lived through so much change, in
so many ways, in so short a time. Quietly, but with gathering force,
the ground has shifted beneath our feet as we have moved into an
Information Age, a global economy, a truly new world.

For five years now we have met the challenge of these
changes as Americans have at every turning point -- by renewing the
very idea of America: widening the circle of opportunity, deepening
the meaning of our freedom, forging a more perfect union.

We shaped a new kind of government for the Information
Age. I thank the Vice President for his leadership and the Congress
for its support in building a government that is leaner, more
flexible, a catalyst for new ideas -- and most of all, a government
that gives the American people the tools they need to make the most
of their own lives. (Applause.)

We have moved past the sterile debate between those who
say government is the enemy and those who say government is the
answer. My fellow Americans, we have found a third way. We have the
smallest government in 35 years, but a more progressive one. We have
a smaller government, but a stronger nation. (Applause.) We are
moving steadily toward an even stronger America in the 21st century:
an economy that offers opportunity, a society rooted in
responsibility and a nation that lives as a community.

First, Americans in this chamber and across our nation
have pursued a new strategy for prosperity: fiscal discipline to cut
interest rates and spur growth; investments in education and skills,
in science and technology and transportation, to prepare our people
for the new economy; new