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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 2, 1999

The 1999 Democratic Agenda: Families First


|                                                                      |
| Continue on the path of fiscal responsibility by investing the       |

| surplus to save Social Security and Medicare and pay down the debt | | to keep our economy growing. Act now to meet the challenges of the | | 21st century, including quality education for children and secure | | retirement and quality care for seniors. Enable families to meet |

| their responsibilities at home and at work.                          |
|                                                                      |


Invest the Surplus to save Social Security and Medicare and Pay Down the Debt

     Save Social Security:  Reserve 62 percent of the projected budget
     surplus to preserve Social Security until 2055.  Allow the trust 
     fund to invest about one-fifth of the transferred surpluses in the 
     private sector to achieve higher returns for Social Security just 
     as any state or local government, or private pension does.  Work 
     to achieve a broad consensus for reforms necessary to extend Social
     Security to at least 2075, while reducing poverty among elderly 
     widows, and eliminating the earnings limit.

     Strengthen Medicare for the 21st Century:  Reserve 15 percent of 
     the projected surpluses for Medicare, ensuring that the Medicare 
     Trust Fund is secure for 20 years.  Work to enact further changes 
     to strengthen and modernize the Medicare program, including adding
     prescription drug benefits.

     Pay Down the Debt:  Invest 77% of the surplus into Social Security 
     and Medicare to reduce the debt to its lowest level since 1917 and 
     save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in interest charges.

Quality Education: Modernize Schools, Reduce Class Size, and Provide Accountability

     School Modernization:  Federal tax credits will enable states and
     school districts to modernize and renovate 6,000 local public 
     schools, to improve learning conditions, end overcrowding and make 
     room for smaller classes.

     Smaller Classes:  Finish the job of hiring 100,000 new teachers 
     over the next seven years to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a 
     national average of 18, making sure that every child gets a solid 
     foundation in the basics.

     Build Accountability Measures into federal support for education 
     to ensure that school districts and states provide every student 
     with a high quality education, building on proven reforms now 
     being implemented in states and cities.

     Teacher Training and Recruitment:  Increase support for teacher
     training in subject-matter knowledge and teaching expertise; 
     establish new incentives to recruit highly qualified teachers.

     Education Technology:  Continue to provide schools with Internet
     capacity and resources for teacher training and integrating 
     technology into the curricula; protect the e-rate discount for 
     schools and libraries and new teacher training.

Enable Families to Succeed at Home and at Work

     Protecting Patients through a Strong, Enforceable Patients Bill of
     Rights:  The Patients' Bill of Rights should contain a range of
     protections, including guaranteed access to needed specialists, 
     access to emergency room services, access to a meaningful 
     independent and external appeals process, and the right to be 

     Continue to Expand Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care by
     enabling Americans age 62-65 and displaced and retired workers 
     ages 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare if they lose coverage.

     Ensure Opportunity for Americans with Disabilities by enabling 
     workers with disabilities to buy into Medicaid and Medicare, a 
     $1000 tax credit, to help the working disabled and support for 
     assistive technologies.

     Child Care:  Improve the accessibility and safety of child care 
     through expansion of the child care and development block grant to 
     help working families and improve quality by increased training 
     and support services for care givers.

     After School Care:  Increase after school care to enable 1.1 
     million children each year to participate in after school and 
     summer school programs that give them additional learning time 
     and keep them safe and off the streets.

Secure Retirement for Seniors and Protect Pensions

     Expand Pension Benefit Coverage:  Create a new plan that will make 
     it easier for small businesses to start private pension plans that
     provide predictable and secure benefits, and for employees to save 
     in IRAs through payroll deductions.  Permit employees to rollover 
     benefits from different types of retirement plans.

     Strengthen Women's Retirement Security:  Allow workers to count 
     time taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act toward their 
     retirement benefits and require pension plans to let families 
     choose joint and survivor annuity options.

Targeted Tax Cuts for Retirement Savings, Child Care, and Long Term Care

     Retirement Savings:  Devote 12% of the surplus to USA Accounts,
     enabling working families to save for their own retirement in 
     private accounts.

     Child Care:  Provide greater tax relief for working families who 
     pay child care expenses, tax credits to businesses that provide 
     child care services, and tax credits for stay at home parents.

     Long Term Care:  Provide $1,000 tax credits for elderly and 
     disabled individuals needing long-term care and the family members 
     who care for them; provide support services to caregivers and 
     offer long term care insurance to federal employees.

50,000 More Cops with 21st Century Tools

     More Police on the Streets:  Help communities put up to 50,000 
     more law enforcement officers on the beat over five years, and 
     help state and local enforcement agencies communicate more 
     effectively and use modern technology to solve crimes.

Raise the Minimum Wage and Enforce Fair Pay

     Raise the Minimum Wage:  Recognize the value of work and support
     working families; give millions of Americans a pay raise by 
     increasing the minimum wage.

     Ensure Equal Pay:  Help guarantee equal pay for women and men by
     stronger enforcement of equal pay laws, ending wage discrimination,
     and improving access to wage information for all workers.

Protect the Environment and Improve Livability

     Protect Our Environment and our families' safety by ensuring clean 
     air and safe food; strengthening clean water protections; 
     continuing accelerated toxic waste clean up and making polluters 
     pay; and spurring new environmental technologies through targeted 
     tax cuts; providing lasting protection for national parks and 
     other natural treasures.

     Help Build Livable Communities:  Provide new tools and resources 
     to help communities across America reduce traffic congestion, 
     preserve green space, and grow in ways that ensure a high quality 
     of life and strong, sustainable economic growth.

Crackdown on Crimes Against Seniors

     Give Law Enforcement Officials Additional Tools to prosecute 
     criminals who target seniors, such as through telemarketing 

     Reduce Unnecessary and Illegal Medicare Costs by cracking down 
     on fraud and abuse in the Medicare system.


     Protect Individuals' most personal records by ensuring appropriate
     treatment for medical records, addressing abusive practices such 
     as pretext calling for financial records and enhancing enforcement 
     of existing laws.