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Remarks By Vice President Al Gore
Seattle Economic Innovation Forum

Friday, June 18, 1999

Tipper and I are in Seattle, one of our great capitals of creativity and economic innovation, to talk about one of the most fundamental challenges for America's future: how we keep our economy strong—and lead the world in the new global economy of the 21st Century.

America has always looked forward, to the next horizon.

Near the beginning of this century, when my mother was a child in West Tennessee, a poor girl when poor girls were not supposed to dream, she looked out on a world where women could not even vote, and saw with her heart something better: a horizon of equality, where women, as well as men, could be and do their best.

Halfway through this century, when my father saw that thousands of his fellow Tennesseans were forced to obey Jim Crow laws, he knew America could do better.

He saw a horizon in which his black and white constituents shared the same hopes in the same world. He fought against the Southern Manifesto and for voting rights. His last election was lost—but his conscience won. He taught me all my life that that was what counted.

Today, just visible within a generation's journey, is a new horizon: a 21st Century America with stronger families, stronger communities, and a more vital democracy—in which we live and govern according to our highest American ideals.

I love this country with all my heart. I believe in its future. And I know that with our history as our rudder and our ideals as our compass, we can reach our new horizon.

And so today, I ask you to join with me, to keep our economy growing and to bring a new wave of fundamental change to this nation—starting with revolutionary improvements in our public schools.

I ask you to join with me, to build safe and livable communities, where we protect our environment, and restore the quality of life we deserve.

I ask for your help to strengthen family life in America. And I make you this pledge: if you entrust me with the Presidency, I will marshal its authority, its resources, and its moral leadership to fight for America's families.

With your help, I will take my own values of faith and family to the Presidency—to build an America that is not only better off, but better. And that is why, today in Seattle, I announce that I am a candidate for President of the United States.

The foundation of all our progress must be a strong and abundant prosperity.

Under President Clinton's leadership, we have built a strong and growing economy. For many of our families, it is a time of firsts: first child to go to college, first mortgage for a first home, first regular paycheck.

Instead of the biggest deficits in history, we now have the biggest surpluses. Instead of quadrupling our national debt, we've seen the creation of almost 19 million new jobs. Instead of a deep recession and high unemployment, America now has our strongest economy in history.

I remember what it was like seven years ago. Even the innovation that was blooming here in Washington State was being stifled by a huge deficit and rising interest rates. It was like asking Ken Griffey, Jr., to swing a lead bat. And I never, ever want to go back.

I want to keep our prosperity going—and I know how to do it. I want to do it the right way—not by letting people fend for themselves, or hoping for crumbs of compassion, but by giving people the skills and knowledge to succeed in their own right in the next century.

I want to extend our prosperity to the unskilled and underprivileged, to Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta, to our farms and inner cities—to all who have been left behind.

And I want to lay the foundation for groundbreaking economic innovation—so that America is the world capital of prosperity in the new century just beginning.

Today, the true engines of growth today are ideas. More innovation means more jobs, more growth, higher wages, higher productivity, and lower costs throughout our economy.

I will be talking throughout this campaign about my economic ideas for the 21st Century. Yesterday, I offered five proposals to help foster the innovation we need for the jobs you deserve. Today, I want to discuss them with all of you.

First, we need to continue our strong overall economic growth. I know what works. I will balance the budget or better—every year. I will search out every last dime of waste and bureaucratic excess. I know how to do that. And I will ask Congress for the power to reach new trade agreements, and open new markets to our goods and services—but I will also ask for, and use, the authority to negotiate labor and environmental protections whenever necessary.

Second, I will fight to extend and expand tax cuts for research and development—so the private sector can invest in the jobs and discoveries of the future. And I will craft these tax cuts be specifically to help the small businesses and start-ups that are so crucial to our high-tech future.

Third, I will double our investment in information technology over five years. And I will work to bring together the worlds of biomedical research and information technology—by helping to create 20 centers of excellence in biomedical computing on the campuses of our finest schools.

That way, we can deliver on the limitless potential for new treatments, diagnostics, and personalized medicine created by the Human Genome Project.

Fourth, as I press for free and fair trade around the world, I will work to keep international tariffs off of Internet commerce. I want to keep the Internet a duty-free, global free trading zone.

Fifth, we need to make sure that as innovation changes our economy, workers can keep up. That's why I will create new 401(j) savings accounts—to encourage workers to save for their own training, and provide tax cuts for those who do. And I will expand lifelong learning, so that every adult who needs training or retraining can get it.

These are my new proposals to spur innovation for the 21st Century—an agenda of high technology, high skills for our people, and tax cuts for innovation.

We are just beginning to reap the gains of the Information Age. I've seen the benefits in this state—from the Microsoft CEO Summit I attended here a couple of years ago, to companies I visited, such as Amazon.com, RealNetworks, and Boeing, where the new 777 was designed entirely by computers.

Some of you may know that Washington State has the second-highest disparity between urban and rural wages in the nation. High technology and innovation can help bridge this gap, and create one Washington. We have to move toward that goal.

But some want to move our economic strategy backward, not forward. Some will peddle the same trickle-down travesty that gave us huge deficits, low growth, and rising inequality. America cannot move into the new and global economy with the old and broken policies of the past. I want to move America forward, toward a horizon of boundless growth, high technology, and unleashed creativity.

And now I'd like to take your questions, and talk about some more of the details of my strategy for a new prosperity in the 21st Century.


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