FROM the Great Debate:Q. I would like to ask a question...


June 15, 1995

FROM the Great Debate:

Q. I would like to ask a question for both of you to answer -- do you really think that $4.50 is too much to make per hour? The minimum wage I'm talking.

President Clinton: I'm for raising it. [Applause. Cheers.]

Speaker Gingrich: I think that -- let me say that I think that I'd like to see every American make as much as they can possibly make. But I also am concerned -- I also -- no, I don't think it's too much. I am very concerned, however -- there is a disagreement among economists about this -- I am very concerned that if you raise the cost of the first job for the poorest person, for example in the inner city, that what you tend to do is increase black male teen-age unemployment, which is exactly the thing you don't want to do. My goal is to have a rapidly growing economy where, frankly, wages keep going up, because people are better educated, more productive, and can compete in the world market. . . .

President Clinton: The people I guess I admire most in this country are the people who get up every day and work themselves to death for the minimum wage, or just a little bit above it. And they come home, and they're dog tired at night, and they're raising their kids, and they don't have enough money to live on. And they don't break the law. They don't cheat on their taxes. They don't do anything wrong. And it's all they can do to keep body and soul together. And I guess my instinct is that you get way more good than harm out of [raising] it, and I believe, if you go back to when they did it, when the last time it was done, was when? -- '89 or something -- I think on balance we did fine as a result of doing it, and I think we should do it again. . . .

Q. If the Congress gives the president a line-item veto, without any amendments, wouldn't that lower our budget and help the deficit?

Speaker Gingrich: The answer is yes, it would. And I support it . . . And the line-item veto is aimed specifically at appropriations bills, and he's already indicated that's how he would use it, and I hope we are going to be able to get it passed to him this summer so he can actually use it. I strongly favor it . . . now, it's not going to be by itself a panacea, but it's going to cut a couple of billion dollars a year of pork out -- maybe as much as 10 billion.

President Clinton: I want to say, first of all, thank you very much for that. We had -- some of the Republicans were worried because the line-item veto legislation might also permit the president to line-item veto special tax -- as opposed to general tax legislation, special tax legislation. I think it should include that. But what I said -- I sent a letter -- or a statement to the speaker and to the majority leader in the Senate, saying that I know that a lot of the Republicans may think they want to give tax cuts which they believe are good, which I don't agree with, so I would commit for the remainder of this budget cycle this year, if they would pass it this year I would only use it on spending this year. . . .

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