THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
President Clinton Calls For Bipartisan Season Of Progress On Key Domestic Challenges Facing The Nation Georgetown University June 25, 1999 President Clinton today called for a bipartisan "season of
progress" on the key domestic challenges facing the nation. In his first public event since his trip to Europe following the end of the US/NATO air campaign, the President expressed his determination to get the people's work done by joining with Congress and, when necessary, by Executive action. He addressed the following issues:
Progress On Issues Where Bipartisan Consensus Already Exists:
Protect Health Insurance For Disabled Americans Who Want To Rejoin The Workforce. The Kennedy/Jeffords bill -- or Work Incentives Improvement Act -- is historic new legislation which has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate under the leadership of Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan and Representatives Lazio, Waxman, Bliley, and Dingell. The bill removes significant barriers to work for people with disabilities by: improving access to health care through Medicaid; extending Medicare coverage for people with disabilities who return to work; and creating a new Medicaid buy-in demonstration to help people with a specific physical or mental impairment that is expected to lead to a severe disability without medical assistance. The President has urged Congress to pass this important and long overdue legislation by July 26, the ninth anniversary of the ADA. Pass A Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights For Millions Of Americans In HMOs. Tens of millions of Americans who receive their health care through Health Maintenance Organizations lack adequate protections. They are not ensured access to specialists. They can be forced to change doctors in mid-treatment. They do not have adequate recourse when a health plan provides less than adequate care. And worst of all, they have no guarantee that their doctor -- not an insurance company accountant -- makes their treatment decisions. The President's "Patients' Bill of Rights" legislation addresses all of these problems families face. Raise The Minimum Wage To Make Work Pay And Strengthen Families. We have the best economy in a generation. And yet there are too many families working full-time, 50 weeks a year who don't earn enough to support a family. Currently, a person working full-time and earning the minimum wage receives only $10,300 -- not enough to move families from dependency to self-sufficiency. In his State of the Union Address, the President called on Congress to pass the Kennedy-Bonior proposal to raise the minimum wage by $1 over two years, from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour. Over 11 million Americans would benefit from this increase -- for a full-time worker, it would mean an additional $2000 in income. Seventy percent of those who would benefit are adults over 20 and 59 percent are women, many of whom are trying to raise families. Provide Americans With Targeted Tax Cuts For Retirement, Child Care and Long-term Care. The President's budget provides for targeted tax cuts for American families, including: USA Accounts, which will give 124 million Americans the opportunity to build wealth and to save for their retirement through a progressive tax cut. A middle income married couple that participated for 40 years, could accumulate over $253,680 in today's dollars -- enough to produce $20,121 a year of after-tax income in retirement. Long-term Care Tax Credit to help pay for formal and informal long-term care services for about 2 million Americans, including 1.2 million older Americans, over 500,000 non-elderly adults, and approximately 250,000 children. The budget includes $5.6 billion over five years. Child Care Tax Credits, which provide tax relief for child care for three million working families, plus tax relief to parents who stay at home. The President's budget proposal will provide parents with young children an average tax credit of $178 and will benefit 1.7 million families. Overall, the budget includes $6.3 billion over five years for this combined proposal. Pass Strong Campaign Finance Reform To Renew Our Elections. The President remains committed to the enactment of bipartisan campaign finance reform. There is bipartisan support for passage of the Shays/Meehan bill in the House and the McCain/Feingold bill in the Senate. Congress should act on these measures. Real reform must meet the following five criteria: 1) it must be bipartisan; 2) it must be comprehensive; 3) it must reduce the amount of money that is raised and spent on federal elections; 4) it must help level the playing field between challengers and incumbents; and 5) it cannot favor one party over the other.
Progress On Fundamental Challenges Facing Our Nation:
Pass A Budget That Maintains Fiscal Discipline And Makes Key Investments In The American People While Strengthening Social Security And Medicare. The President sent the Congress a budget proposal earlier this year that maintains fiscal discipline and makes strategic investments in the American people -- a combination that has resulted in the best economy in a generation. The President's plan invests in key priorities like education and the environment. It dedicates most of the budget surplus to strengthening Social Security and Medicare. And it does all of this while remaining within the budget caps established by the Balanced Budget Act in 1997. Enact A Credible, Comprehensive Plan To Strengthen And Modernize Medicare, Including The Creation Of A New Prescription Drug Benefit. President Clinton will soon unveil his comprehensive plan to modernize and strengthen Medicare. The President has already proposed that 15 percent of the budget surplus be dedicated for this purpose. The President's proposal will include a new prescription drug benefit as part of a broader set of reforms for the Medicare program. Maintain Commitment To Hiring 100,000 New Teachers To Reduce Class Size -- And Pass The President's Plan To Increase Accountability For States And School Districts. Last year, Congress agreed to begin funding the President's initiative to hire 100,000 new teachers in our schools to reduce class sizes and improve education. This year, the first of those teachers will be hired and in the classroom. The budget proposal President Clinton sent to Congress earlier this year continues this commitment. And the President expects Congress to continue and build on this investment in Education, rather than back away from it. In addition, the President wants the Congress to enact his plan to strengthen accountability, improve teacher quality and dramatically boost student achievement in our public schools. The President's proposal includes measures to insure that states and school districts: fix failing schools; hire teachers that are prepared to teach the subjects they are assigned; provide parents with annual report cards on school performance; and end school promotion the right way. Enact The President's "New Markets" Tax Credits To Bring Economic Opportunity To Underserved Rural and Urban Communities. The President will soon announce his plan to bring economic opportunity and new private investment to America's most underserved rural and urban communities. We have the best economy in a generation and these communities have benefited, along with the rest of America. But we have an opportunity to do more, to build on the Administration's earlier efforts and lift these "New Markets" into the economic mainstream. The President will unveil legislation including a series of proposals to bring capital and private investment to underserved communities. Then, in early July, the President will tour America's New Markets with CEOs, members of his Cabinet, members of Congress and others -- to highlight both the problems and the potential these communities possess. Protect Our Children From Gun Violence By Enacting The Moderate, Common Sense Gun Measures Passed By The Senate. On April 20, 12 young people were shot to death at school in Littleton, Colorado. In response to increasing acts of school gun violence, the President took comprehensive action -- calling on everyone from parents, teachers and students to entertainment executives and gun owners and gun dealers to take more responsibility. As one element of that strategy, the President called on Congress to close the glaring loopholes in the law which allow kids and criminals to obtain guns - most importantly the gun show loophole. While the Senate passed many of the President's common sense proposals, the House narrowly voted against closing the gunshow loophole and defeated the bill on June 18 -- almost two months to the day after the Littleton tragedy. Today, President Clinton called on Congressional leaders to appoint negotiators and quickly send him a bill that includes the Senate passed gun measures. ###