Remarks As Prepared For Delivery By Vice President Al Gore
Training Americans For Prosperity and Progress
Friday, June 23, 2000
It’s wonderful to be here at the Adult School – to see how new skills in
the hands of hard-working people are letting working families craft new
lives throughout the Bay Area.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been talking about the big choices we have to
make to secure continued prosperity and even greater progress all across
This is a time of great hope for America. People are working again. As you
well know, the future is so much brighter than it was a mere decade ago.
I’m here today to tell you: you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Together, we can build even higher and stronger on the foundation of the
One of the most important elements in our winning economic formula has been
investment; we’ve invested in the best venture of all: the American people.
Give Americans the tools and skills they deserve, and watch them unleash
their own excellence, and improve their own lives.
Every hard-working American should have the chance to use their best
talents, from the factory floor to the floor of the stock exchange –
wherever they work right now.
That’s why I’m announcing a major new commitment to training and re-training
-- so that every worker, at every level, in every business, in every
industry, has the skills and training to turn a job into a career.
We’ve learned three new rules for prosperity – a time-tested economic
formula that has built so much abundance in this new economy. The fact is,
good folks from all across the political spectrum, and from every walk of
life, now agree with what common-sense has shown us: observe these rules and
prosperity flows. Break even one of them, and our well-being is derailed.
The first is that balancing the budget lowers interest rates – so couples
like Laverne and Alfredo can get to square one in the game, and get the
capital they need to start their businesses.
The second rule is that paying down the debt frees businesses – even small
businesses like theirs -- to build future profits, instead of forcing a
couple like this to pay the price for someone else’s bad choices in the
The third rule of prosperity is investment in the human face of success:
education. This is the key that unlocks the door to a family’s dream.
Eight years ago, when we first set out to give this nation the tools to
transform itself, President Clinton and I talked a great deal about
something that seemed very new at the time. We said that our economy was
changing, and that workers needed more than muscle – they needed trained
minds for a new economy. Well, that future is now. We were right to make
that case, and the people were right to take a leap of faith with us.
Today, because we saw every worker as a potential leader and made policy
accordingly, America itself is the leader in the job-creating technology
that is remaking the world.
Remember the bad old days when labor and management were at each others’
throats, fighting over smaller slices of a shrinking pie? Well, those days
are gone – and good riddance to them.
Here’s the best news of all: we’ve learned that in this time of plenty, more
training and education is a win-win scenario for workers and employers
alike, turning them into a real team.
Businesses led the way in seeing that treating workers as leaders is plain
good capitalism. Because of this new approach, and a highly-skilled team on
the factory floor using their minds as skillfully as their hands, a Ford
Taurus today has more computing power than the Apollo 11 that took us to the
moon. And every Ford employee can be proud of that fact. No wonder the Big
Three auto makers are training their employees in computers and
It’s been predicted that within the coming years, a single strand of
fiber-optic cable, about the thickness of a human hair, will be able to
transmit every phone call that’s made on mother’s day. No wonder the major
telecommunications companies – including SBC here in California -- are
making a major commitment to train their workers to be ahead of the curve,
so their people can keep pioneering the networks of the future.
In Silicon Valley, where companies like Cisco are teaming up with the
Communications Workers of America to invest in worker training as well, we
see the same third rule of prosperity at work. Workers should no longer
expect to be cogs in a wheel; their excellence is the fuel of the new
Business leaders tell me everywhere I go that they have high-paying jobs
that they can’t even fill. That’s good news for workers, as long as we keep
steering the course of our nation straight. In our manufacturing sector,
one in five companies say they want to expand their businesses but need to
expand their workers skills to do it. Think about that testimony from
America’s own CEO’s to the effectiveness of the third rule of prosperity:
they say that lack of worker skills risks slowing the rapid growth of the
economy in the future. Let’s stay the course.
Adults with higher levels of education are not only good for business,
they’re good for families: they earn more, have greater job security, are
less likely to be unemployed, and are more likely to find new jobs quickly
if they are displaced. Kids benefit from all of this. In fact, displaced
workers with an associate’s degree or higher are finding new jobs that pay
even more than the jobs they lost.
As President, on behalf of the gifted workers of America, I will stand firm
against anyone who wants to break our rules for prosperity. As President,
I’m going to defend the third rule: I’m going to make sure you have all the
education and training you need, so that the American people can continue to
power this economy as fast and as far as your skills and ingenuity will take
I will not let you be dragged back to broken policies of the past. I will
not let your family suffer for it. I will not let this country go back to
the days when people worked just as hard – but with the clouds of profligate
decision-making hanging over them.
As President, I am determined, on your behalf, to defend our three-part,
tried-and-tested economic formula: balancing the budget, completely
eliminating the debt for our children, and investing in the American people.
I’ll fight to open the doors to higher education wider than ever in our
history. On your kids’ behalf, I’ll make college tuition tax deductible –
to give working families a break, rather than an extra burden, when they
take the initiative to learn even more. On your family’s behalf, I want to
create new 401(j) accounts – lifelong learning accounts -- so you can save
tax-free if you decide to go back to school. The gap in wages between those
with and without college education has doubled in the past 20 years. With
the surplus we now have – because of our discipline in sticking to the rules
– this is a great moment to close that gap. A great nation sets itself to
great achievements – and this is the time for big decisions and big dreams.
And today, I’m announcing three additional new steps to give your families
and your businesses the skills you need to continue to master the new
First, people who are already working deserve to upgrade their skills – and
I will help them. I propose to fund partnerships of employers, colleges,
unions, and others -- to prospect for skills opportunities in their own
communities, and then connect workers to the training they need. I urge all
the nation’s employers to join in this effort as well – to make this a
win-win situation for everybody.
Second, good employers deserve credit and help when they give good workers
job training. I propose new tax credits for employers, of up to $6,000 per
person, specially targeted so that front-line workers -- those who do the
hard, day-in, day-out, hands-on labor -- can get the skills that are so
important in the new economy. For instance, we’ll make it easier for
factory floor workers to master the computer skills that are fueling
prosperity all the way from Pennsylvania’s steel mills to Silicon Valley’s
Finally, let’s have the courage to face the tough realities, too: even in
the midst of a booming economy, some workers – maybe even people that you
know, or maybe you yourself at some point – hit rocky patches, lose their
jobs in mid-life, and just plain don’t have the skills they need to get
another job, let alone a better job. Everyone in this room knows how tough
that can be on a good hard-working family. Let’s leave those days behind
On behalf of those families, here is my commitment to ease their steps to
getting the skills and training they need to go for that job listed in the
want ads that they had thought they had to cross off their list. The fact
is, there is no shortage of new jobs in this new economy. There are 22
million new jobs in America today.
I will not tolerate on my watch a single hard-working American being shut
out, or left behind. I will create new “training allowances” – which will
help extend unemployment insurance for those who need time to finish their
training courses. I won’t let the clock run out on any family’s dream.
This is about more than a paycheck. It’s really about a family’s pride:
pride in knowing that you can reach out for your dreams, with nothing to
hold you back. Pride at opening up your own new business venture – making a
payroll, and giving other people a chance to get ahead. Pride at being more
than a mere spectator in this new time of prosperity – but being at the very
heart of our economic success as a nation.
Together, in this election, that’s the kind of prosperity and progress we
can bring across America.