Radio Address to the Nation on the Economy and Welfare Reform
My fellow Americans:
Labor Day weekend is a time to remember the importance of work and family in our nation's life. And on this Labor Day, we Americans have much to remember and to give thanks for.
today more of us have jobs than ever before. And just yesterday we learned that
in August as great a proportion of us have jobs as ever before and the
unemployment rate hovered just above the lowest it's been in 14 years. Since
our recovery began,
But not only do we have more jobs, we have better jobs at better pay. On average, the jobs created in our expansion pay more and require a higher level of skills than the jobs that existed when our expansion began. This is just one of the reasons why, if your family is like most families between 1977 and 1981, after taking out the sky-high inflation of those years, you saw your income fall almost 7 percent. But since 1981 -- that is, since the year we came to office -- your real income has soared more than 10 percent. To give one example of what this means, in the years we took office, the average family made only about 70 percent of what it needed to buy a new home. Today that family makes 110 percent of what it needs, and it can afford to buy the house.
Leaders all over the world have asked how we achieve this growth and prosperity. Well, my answer is simple: less government, more freedom, and moving toward a more open and equitable international economy.
Thanks to our expansion, nearly 3 million Americans have escaped poverty; but this week we got a warning. While we learned that last year family income went up and that the poverty rate dropped slightly, we also learned that some groups lagged behind in the past year. We've assisted many of our fellow citizens through the Job Training Partnership Act. Sponsored chiefly by Senator Dan Quayle, this legislation has been very effective in retraining citizens to become productive wage earners again. But there are still some Americans whom our expansion has passed by -- those caught in the welfare trap. Programs that were intended to help poor citizens have instead made them dependent on government checks, unable to break away and become productive workers in a growing economy. In the name of compassion, too many Americans on welfare have been robbed of the one priceless item with which they could build a future: hope. It's time to return hope to those on welfare, which is why our administration has worked to reform the welfare system.
starters, we took a simple principle: that
Our administration is trying to join with Congress to take what we've learned with the States and establish work requirements into the Federal law. Now Congress appears to be close to a decision about welfare reform, and I have a message for them: I will not accept any welfare reform bill unless it is geared to making people independent of welfare. Any bill not built around work is not true welfare reform. If Congress presents me with a bill that replaces work with welfare expansion and that places the dignity of self-sufficiency through work out of the reach of Americans on welfare, I will use my veto pen. While others have talked about good jobs at good wages, we've delivered. Now it's time for Congress to join with us in making sure that the opportunities created by this prosperity reach into every American home.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from his ranch in