Full Text - Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address - Part V

By Bill Clinton | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

We must meet this threat by making effective agreements to restrain nuclear and missile programs in North Korea; curbing the flow of lethal technology to Iran; preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors; increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack; protecting our vital computer systems from hackers and criminals; and developing a system to defend against new missile threats -- while working to preserve our ABM missile treaty with Russia. We must do all these things.

I predict to you, when most of us are long gone, but some time in the next 10 to 20 years, the major security threat this country will face will come from the enemies of the nation state: the narco-traffickers and the terrorists and the organized criminals, who will be organized together, working together, with increasing access to ever-more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons.

And I want to thank the Pentagon and others for doing what they're doing right now to try to help protect us and plan for that, so that our defenses will be strong. I ask for your support to ensure they can succeed. (Applause.)

I also want to ask you for a constructive bipartisan dialogue this year to work to build a consensus which I hope will eventually lead to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (Applause.)

I hope we can also have a constructive effort to meet the challenge that is presented to our planet by the huge gulf between rich and poor. We cannot accept a world in which part of humanity lives on the cutting edge of a new economy, and the rest live on the bare edge of survival. I think we have to do our part to change that -- with expanded trade, expanded aid, and the expansion of freedom.

This is interesting -- from Nigeria to Indonesia, more people got the right to choose their leaders in 1999 than in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. We've got to stand by these democracies -- including, and especially tonight, Colombia, which is fighting narco-traffickers, for its own people's lives and our children's lives. I have proposed a strong two-year package to help Colombia win this fight. I want to thank the leaders in both parties in both Houses for listening to me and the President of Colombia about it. We have got to pass this. I want to ask your help. A lot is riding on it. And it's so important for the long-term stability of our country, and for what happens in Latin America.

I also want you to know I'm going to send you new legislation to go after what these drug barons value the most -- their money. And I hope you'll pass that as well. (Applause.)

In a world where over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, we also have got to do our part in the global endeavor to reduce the debts of the poorest countries, so they can invest in education, health care and economic growth. That's what the Pope and other religious leaders have urged us to do. And last year, Congress made a down payment on America's share. I ask you to continue that. I thank you for what you did, and ask you to stay the course. (Applause.)

I also want to say that America must help more nations to break the bonds of disease. Last year in Africa, 10 times as many people died from AIDS as were killed in wars -- 10 times. The budget I give you invests $150 million more in the fight against this and other infectious killers. And today, I propose a tax credit to speed the development of vaccines for diseases like malaria, TB and AIDS. I ask the private sector and our partners around the world to join us in embracing this cause. We can save millions of lives together, and we ought to do it. (Applause.)

I also want to mention our final challenge, which, as always, is the most important. I ask you to pass a national security budget that keeps our military the best-trained and best-equipped in the world, with heightened readiness and 21st century weapons; which raises salaries for our servicemen and women; which protects our veterans; which fully funds the diplomacy that keeps our soldiers out of war; which makes good on our commitment to pay our U.N. dues and arrears. I ask you to pass this budget. (Applause.)

I also want to say something, if I might, very personal tonight. The American people watching us at home, with the help of all the commentators, can tell from who stands and who sits, and who claps and who doesn't, that there's still modest differences of opinion in this room. (Laughter.) But I want to thank you for something, every one of you. I want to thank you for the extraordinary support you have given -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to our men and women in uniform. I thank you for that. (Applause.)

I also want to thank, especially, two people. First, I want to thank our Secretary of Defense, Bill Cohen, for symbolizing our bipartisan commitment to national security. Thank you, sir. (Applause.) Even more, I want to thank his wife, Janet, who, more than any other American citizen, has tirelessly traveled this world to show the support we all feel for our troops. Thank you, Janet Cohen. I appreciate that. Thank you. (Applause.)

These are the challenges we have to meet so that we can lead the world toward peace and freedom in an era of globalization.
I want to tell you that I am very grateful for many things as President. But one of the things I'm grateful for is the opportunity that the Vice President and I have had to finally put to rest the bogus idea that you cannot grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. (Applause.)

As our economy has grown, we've rid more than 500 neighborhoods of toxic waste, ensured cleaner air and water for millions of people. In the past three months alone, we've helped preserve 40 million acres of roadless lands in the national forests, created three new national monuments.

But as our communities grow, our commitment to conservation must continue to grow. Tonight, I propose creating a permanent conservation fund, to restore wildlife, protect coastlines, save natural treasures, from the California redwoods to the Florida Everglades. (Applause.)

This Lands Legacy endowment would represent by far the most enduring investment in land preservation ever proposed in this House. I hope we can get together with all the people with different ideas and do this. This is a gift we should give to our children and our grandchildren for all time, across party lines. We can make an agreement to do this. (Applause.)

Last year, the Vice President launched a new effort to make communities more liberal -- livable -- (laughter) -- liberal, I know.

(Laughter and applause.) Wait a minute, I've got a punchline now. That's this year's agenda; last year was livable, right?

(Laughter.) That's what Senator Lott is going to say in the commentary afterwards. (Laughter.) To make our communities more livable. This is big business. This is a big issue. What does that mean? You ask anybody that lives in an unlivable community, and they'll tell you. They want their kids to grow up next to parks, not parking lots; the parents don't have to spend all their time stalled in traffic when they could be home with their children.

Tonight, I ask you to support new funding for the following things, to make American communities for liberal -- livable. (Laughter and applause.) I've done pretty well with this speech, but I can't say that. (Applause.)

One, I want you to help us to do three things. We need more funding for advanced transit systems. (Applause.) We need more funding for saving open spaces in places of heavy development. (Applause.) And we need more funding -- this ought to have bipartisan appeal -- we need more funding for helping major cities around the Great Lakes protect their waterways and enhance their quality of life. We need these things and I want you to help us. (Applause.)

The greatest environmental challenge of the new century is global warming. The scientists tell us the 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire millennium. If we fail to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will flood, and economies will be disrupted. That is going to happen, unless we act.

Many people in the United States -- some people in this chamber -- and lots of folks around the world still believe you cannot cut greenhouse gas emissions without slowing economic growth. In the Industrial Age that may well have been true. But in this digital economy, it is not true anymore. New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even more growth.

For example, just last week, automakers unveiled cars that get 70 to 80 miles a gallon -- the fruits of a unique research partnership between government and industry. And before you know it, efficient production of bio-fuels will give us the equivalent of hundreds of miles from a gallon of gasoline.

To speed innovation in these kind of technologies, I think we should give a major tax incentive to business for the production of clean energy, and to families for buying energy-saving homes and appliances and the next generation of super-efficient cars when they hit the showroom floor. I also ask the auto industry to use the available technologies to make all new cars more fuel-efficient right away.

Read Part VI here.