Public Papers of William J. Clinton, 1993

Author: William J. Clinton  | Date: September 9, 1993

Remarks to the Community in Cleveland
September 9, 1993

The President. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. It is great to be back in Cleveland. I’ve never had a bad day in Cleveland. [Laughter] But I felt so good about coming here today that I wore a necktie I bought in Cleveland the last time I was here.

I want to say first how very grateful I am to all of you for being here, how much I appreciate

[At this point, audience members interrupted the President’s remarks. ]

The President. I can’t hear. Can you hear

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Well, I can’t hear them, and you can hear me, so that’s good.

Let me say, first of all, I want to thank Senator Glenn, Congressman Stokes, and Congressman Hoke for coming down from Washington with us. I want to tell you that Senator Glenn especially is going to have a big role in passing these Government savings initiatives we proposed because he’s the chairman of the Government Operations Committee. So if we want it to operate, he has to help us make it operate. And I’m grate fid for his support. I thank the Congressmen for being here.

And Mayor White, I’m delighted to be back here and glad you had somebody out there screaming you were the best mayor. That’s good. [Laughter] I also want to acknowledge attorney general Lee Fisher and your State treasurer,
Mary Ellen Withrow, two good friends of our administration in this effort.

Let me say as briefly as I can what all this celebration is about from the point of view of the Federal Government. We give the State and local governments over $220 billion of your tax money every year. That means that you give it to us; we turn it around and give it to the States and the cities. If we make a mess of it, we waste a lot of your money; and if we don’t do it right, the mayors and the Governors, the city councils, the county commissioners can’t do what you hired them to do.

So a huge part of this National Performance Review, in attempting to make the Government work better at less cost, has to involve a better relationship between the National Government and the States and the local government. If we don’t do it, then nothing we do in Washington will overcome the things that you don’t have happen here at the local level.

There’s a real slogan now going around, and I think a lot of slogans aren’t any good, but this one is appropriate for our time. It is: Think globally, but act locally. What does that mean? It means my job is to tell you as President what the sweeping problems and challenges of our age are and to help us to deal with all this change that’s happening, to help make the changes our friends and not our enemies, and to talk about them in terms of big things, like providing affordable health care or bringing the deficit down or opening new opportunities forjobs through trade or reinventing the Government. But it has to mean something to you here. It has to mean a job in that store or better services or better housing or safer streets. It has to mean something where you live.

I’ve said many times we’ve got a lot of deficits in this country. We’ve got a budget deficit and an investment deficit and a performance deficit in the Government. But you all know we’ve also got a trust deficit, where people no longer really believe that anything we do in Washington can change their lives for the better in Cleveland. And I believe that is clearly wrong.

These three Cabinet members who came here today have something in common with me and with the Mayor. Two of them, Secretary Pena, the Secretary of Transportation, and Secretary Cisneros, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, were mayors. The Secretary of Education, Secretary Riley, was the Governor of South Carolina. We believe we have to reinvent Government and reinvent education and make it work. And we think Washington has often gotten in the way instead of helping. So we are here to tell you what we intend to do to change the way the National Government works, so you can have more shopping centers like this, more safe streets, more housing projects, more people working. That’s what this is all about.

Now, to do that we propose to do a number of things, but I’ll just mention three of them. The first thing we want to do is to say, if a mayor like Mike White has got an idea like this, and they need a little money to make it go, they ought not to have to hire somebody to go through Washington’s file after file after file of hundreds and hundreds of grants and figure out if we can somehow write some little grant proposal that goes through all these hoops and clears all these bureaucrats and gets the money. We spend a fortune, literally billions of dollars—to be exact, we spend $19 billion a year of your money administering the $220 billion of Federal grants. I don’t know whether you think that’s right or not; that strikes me as a waste of money.

So what are we going to do about it? The first thing we’re going to do is to give the States, the counties, and the cities the right to design what we call bottoms-up initiatives. In other words, you decide what it is you need, tell us what you need, and if it’s in a grant proposal that’s anywhere under $10 million or over $10 million if you get approval for it, we will design something to give you the money you need instead of you having to figure out how to walk through the hoops of all the rules and regulations of the hundreds and hundreds of grants in the Federal Government. It will make a difference.

The second thing we’re going to do is to do something that the States have been asking for for years, and that is to take 55 of these big grant programs and break them down into six big ones, so that we will have more flexibility. Instead of worrying about every little last detail, if you’ve got something you want to do in transportation, you ought to be able to get it from a transportation program. If you have something you want to do in the environment or highway safety or water quality or education or defense conversion, we want to help you do that without you having to figure out how to comply with all these rules and regulations. We think that you know what needs to be done to change the way your schools operate.

In the States that have lost lots of jobs from defense conversions, they know what they can do to retrain people to find new jobs, in what areas, better than people in Washington do. Why should they have to figure out how to comply with five or six or seven or eight different programs just to do it? So that’s the second thing we’re going to do.

The third thing we’re going to do is to try to have the National Government operate on problems of people in Cleveland and Dallas and Seattle and Tampa and you name it, just the way this city government did, cooperating with the county government to figure out how to move all the property that made the shopping center and so many of the housing efforts and other things possible.

I am going today, as soon as I finish talking, to sit down here and sign a new order to my Cabinet to create a community enterprise board from the Cabinet, not a domestic policy group to tell people what to do but a community enterprise board. What is the practical impact of that? It will be for us to identify neighborhoods in trouble all across America. They will say what they want done. Then my Cabinet will sit down and work together and figure out how to do it, not how to tell them how to comply with our rules but how to do what people need done at the local level.

Now, we know that by doing this, just byeliminating a lot of the rulemaking, a lot of the regulations, a lot of the paperwork, we will actually save billions of dollars over the next 5 years. But guess what? The States and the localities will actually get more money more quickly, with fewer strings attached, more able to solve the problems that the people have identified.

We are dealing globally with a big problem: Government’s not working, and Government must be a partner with the private sector in order to revitalize our economy. That’s the big problem. We are dealing locally. You get to decide how to solve the problem. As long as you don’t waste the money and you’re willing to be accountable for it, you decide. You define the future. And we’ll have a lot more projects like this. That’s the significance of what we’re doing here today.

Let me say finally that we have a lot of work still to be done, but this administration is committed to changing America and to making America friendly to the changes that are going on in the world so that we can win in the face of change. Some days I wake up and I wish I could tell you, let me be President and I’ll make it the way it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. You know better than to think anybody can do that. All these changes that are rifling through the world are going to happen whether we want them to or not. The test for us is whether we can win in the face of change instead of lose in the face of change, whether change will be our friend or our enemy.

And there can be no Government program that works to solve these problems unless you trust the Government, unless the Government performs, unless we repeal the problems of the past and face the future with confidence. And we have to be willing to change before we can ask any of you to change. So today in Cleveland, we are signaling a new era in the relationship with the National, the State, and the local governments to help make more projects like this possible. That’s our commitment to change, and we’re going to see it through.

Thank you and God bless you ,all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:33 p.m. at the Church Square Shopping Center.


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Chicago: William J. Clinton, "Remarks to the Community in Cleveland," Public Papers of William J. Clinton, 1993 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, William J. Clinton, 1993 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2207 1459–1460. Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Clinton, William J. "Remarks to the Community in Cleveland." Public Papers of William J. Clinton, 1993, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, William J. Clinton, 1993 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2207, pp. 1459–1460. Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Clinton, WJ, 'Remarks to the Community in Cleveland' in Public Papers of William J. Clinton, 1993. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, William J. Clinton, 1993 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2207, pp.1459–1460. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from