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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 27, 1995
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                       IN EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNING
                            The Oval Office

9:14 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: I'm glad to be joined here by the members of this administration who are active in child support enforcement, and by advocates of tougher child support enforcement.

Today, the executive order I have just signed is another important step in our efforts to bring the federal government in line with the basic values of ordinary Americans. People who bear children and bring them into this world have an absolute responsibility to do their best to take care of them. And any parent who isn't paying child support should be required to pay.

The action I'm taking today builds on the work we've been doing for the last two years to step up child support enforcement. Just last week the Department of Health and Human Services reported that we collected a record $703 million in delinquent child support enforcement in 1993 by garnishing income tax returns of parents who failed to pay. That is a 13 percent increase in child support collection. It helped almost one million families.

The executive order I just signed will make the federal government a model employer in the area of child support enforcement. It will make it easier for us to find federal employees who don't meet their obligations to their children. It will speed up our ability to garnish wages and force them to pay the child support they owe.

Any parent who is avoiding his or her child support should listen carefully: We will find you. We will catch you. We will make you pay.

Children should not suffer for their parents mistakes. Too many children in this country do suffer because of their parents' irresponsible behavior. We can't let them be punished any longer. When parents don't provide the child support they owe, their children pay forever, and in more ways than financial.

The toughest enforcement measures ever proposed for child support were part of the welfare reform legislation I sent to the Congress last year. Our plan said to absent parents, if you're not paying your child support, we'll garnish your wages, suspend your license, track you across state lines, and if necessary, require you to work off what you owe.

Child support enforcement is essential to the welfare reform effort. And Congress should include these tough child support enforcement measures in the proposed welfare reform legislation. We should be tough on deadbeat parents, not on innocent children.

Again, I thank all the people who have helped to put together this child support enforcement order. We will proceed to aggressively implement it.

Q Mr. President, what's your reading on the balanced budget amendment in terms of passage?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it's a close vote.

Q How close?

Q Have you talked to Senator Nunn yet?

THE PRESIDENT: I've talked all the undecided senators -- to the best of my knowledge. I've talked to several anyway.

Q You think Nunn will hold out?

THE PRESIDENT: I think I should let him speak for himself.

Q What is it going to take to defeat it tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it depends upon what those undecided senators believe is the right thing to do.

Q Are you going to be meeting with any of them today or tomorrow, Mr. President? What will you be doing to try and head this thing off?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure. I've had extensive conversations with all of them. I don't know what else I'll be doing --

Q How are you going to celebrate Chelsea's birthday? (Laughter.) Just a little offbeat. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're going to have dinner tonight. You know, it's a school day. You don't get your birthday off in school. (Laughter.)

Q You're not going to be a deadbeat father, are you? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I got up this morning and we had a nice visit this morning for her birthday. But we're going to have --we're going to have a dinner. We're going to have a family dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday. And then after the press of her school activities clears, we'll probably have a little party for her. But she didn't want one tonight. So we're just going to have a family dinner.

Q Can you raise a teenager in the White House? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think she's doing very well. She's doing very well.

Thank you very much.

Q And what are you doing with Lincoln and Douglas on your desk? (Laughter.) Does that portend something? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: When C-SPAN came in here and did the interview for President's Day, they gave me that. I liked it a lot. And I met the people who played Lincoln and Douglas in the Galesburg, Illinois, debate when we were out there. I just liked it. I thought it looked good on the desk. Besides that, it reminds me that this town has always been about argument. (Laughter.)

Thank you.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END9:19 A.M. EST