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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 5, 2001

Remarks by the President to U.S. Conference of Mayors National Summit on Investment in the New American City
The Rose Garden

Listen to the President's Remarks

3:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Brent, thank you very much for those kind words. Mayor Morial, it's good to see you, sir. Mayor Menino, of the great city of Boston, I'm sure you're thrilled with the Nomo no-hitter. (Laughter.) I am pleased to see my friend, the Mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee. We went to college together -- Mayor Ashe, it's good to see you, sir. Tom, thank you very much -- Tom Cochran, who's worked hard for the Mayors Association. Mayor Archer, of the great city of Detroit, is here with us. Pat McCrory, it's good to see the Mayor of Charlotte.

I can't forget to say hello to my Mayor, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Mayor Williams. I tell you, he is a -- one of my first lunches was with the Mayor, and I'm impressed. And I know the mayors who know him are impressed, as well. So, Mayor, thank you. (Applause.)

There's a couple of potholes out back that I'd like to talk to you about. (Laughter.) I say that because I've always said the mayors have one of the toughest jobs in America. After all, you are closest to the people. You have to walk your neighborhoods and listen to the people who you know say, well, Mr. Mayor, it's good to see you, how about my road. But, Mayor, you're doing a great job.

There are members of my team who are here -- Cabinet Secretary Mel Martinez. Mel, thank you, sir. (Applause.) Ruben Barrales, who is running my Intergovernmental Relations Office -- thank you, Ruben. If Ruben doesn't return your phone call, we've got an issue. (Laughter.) He'll return them.

And finally, John Dilulio, who is running the Faith-based office -- and, John, I appreciate your being here, as well. (Applause.) And Roy Bernardi -- where's Roy? Hey, Roy, good to see you. Thanks. Roy is the Mayor of Syracuse and he's coming here to work in the administration. (Applause.)

I respect your work. You all are practical folks who solve problems. And I'm honored that you're here. And thanks for bringing such good weather, too. I think it's the most beautiful day we've had since I've been the President of the United States, and the Rose Garden is a spectacular place to welcome you. And it's my honor to do so.

Our cities are the testing ground for the American Dream. They're places where young people go to begin their careers. They're places where new immigrants arrive to look for work and a better life. They're places where people of every background seek to fulfill the promise of our country.

When we look at our cities, we see our highest aspirations, our incredible diversity, our greatest achievements and our most pressing challenges. Across America, in cities large and small, a generation of bold and reforming mayors have restored safety to streets and restored prosperity to our nation's downtowns. And for that, our country is grateful.

The continued renewal of our cities requires five commitments: better education, broader home ownership, faster economic growth, easier environmental cleanup, and stronger communities and charities. All of these goals are reflected in the budget, which the Congress is now debating.

Education gets the biggest percentage increase of any department in the budget that I submitted. My budget triples spending on school reading programs in year one. We triple spending on preschool reading programs in year one. Education reform costs money, and this administration is willing to spend it. But money alone does not produce reform, and that's why my plan emphasizes results and accountability. Results matter to children; they matter to parents; and they should matter to mayors. And I know they do.

Parents leave cities when they mistrust public schools. Parents stay when they have confidence in the public school system. And a sure way for a school to gain parents' confidence is to show them proven results on a yearly test.

We don't test to punish children, we test to help them. In the same way, we don't test to punish urban schools, we test to renew them. Our budget helps to bring high standards to every low-income school in America. It focuses on early childhood programs. It increases spending for Head Start. But it also encourages and invites innovation so that no child is left behind.

Second, my budget promotes home ownership. We want to give as many Americans as possible a stake in their neighborhood and a concern for its future. Yet, the sad fact is 48 percent of Hispanic and African American families -- only 48 percent own their own homes. And we must do better in our country. My administration has proposed a Renewing the Dream tax credit to encourage investors to develop housing for low-income families. This tax credit will help build 100,000 new homes in low-income areas. (Applause.)

We also add to a new initiative called the American Dream Down Payment Fund, to help low-income people with their down payment on a home of their own. We're putting $1 billion into the American Dream Fund over the next five years, and our goal is to make owners of 650,000 low-income families. We'll bring the dignity and independence of home ownership to more and more Americans.

Third, my budget is a growth budget for small business. It is the dynamism of the entrepreneurs, many of them immigrants, that have powered the revival of American cities. But entrepreneurs in urban America, like entrepreneurs all over America, are generally unincorporated businesses. They're generally subchapter S's or sole proprietorships and, therefore, pay taxes at the highest marginal rate.

As you know, I've submitted a plan that reduces all rates on all taxpayers. And it's important for those in the United States Senate to understand that when you drop the top rate, you encourage growth in inner-cities by encouraging entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. A drop of the top rate really says to the urban enterprise, the small business person in urban America, you'll have more money to reinvest so you can employ more people. (Applause.)

And then there's the issue of burdensome inheritance taxes. As Robert Johnson, of Black Entertainment Television argues, the death tax and double taxation weighs heavily on minorities who are only beginning to accumulate wealth. The Senate needs to hear that message. The Senate needs to leave enough money in the proposed budget to not only reduce all marginal rates, but to eliminate the death tax, so that people who build up assets are able to transfer them from one generation to the next, regardless of a person's race. (Applause.)

Fourth, we must reform the laws that slow the cleanup of the nation's brownfields. As many as 450,000 industrial sites have been abandoned. New users have been scared away by the threat of Superfund regulation and litigation. It is time for new thinking. We will set high environmental standards, and we will protect redevelopers who meet those standards from federal liability. (Applause.)

We must cut the red tape that clogs the brownfield cleanup revolving loan fund. And we'll permanently extend the brownfield cleanup tax incentive that is scheduled to expire this year. On the brownfields of yesterday, we will build the green industries of tomorrow. (Applause.)

And finally, my budget aids community and faith-based groups that help our cities take on the worst of our social problems. So I'm so pleased that John Dilulio is here, who's spearheading this effort. We support local efforts to fight illiteracy and teen pregnancy and drug addiction. We promote mentoring programs, especially for the large number of children with a parent in prison.

This summer I look forward to going to Philadelphia, to join Mayor John Street as he shows the nation the compassionate work his city's faith-based and community organizations are doing. These organizations have a message of hope for all American cities. And my budget has a message of hope for them. We will support the caring acts of caring people, and not turn them away because they are inspired by the Bible or the Koran. (Applause.)

These are some of my priorities, and we fund them. We repay all the available public debt in my budget. We establish a contingency fund for future needs. And then we reduce taxes, to accelerate our economy's slowing growth. We reduce taxes, because we understand many in your cities are struggling to get ahead. We must reduce taxes in order to help pay for the high energy bills that many are now suffering. And we must always remember that the federal surplus is not the government's money. The federal surplus is the people's money. (Applause.)

This is a budget that is reasonable, balanced and sound. It's a budget that is good for America's cities, which means it's a budget that's good for America.

Thank you all for coming, and God bless. (Applause.)

END 3:31 P.M. EDT

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