THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
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 compensated. 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 schemes. 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. ###