THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I am pleased that the Senate followed the leadership of Vice President Gore by agreeing to lock away Medicare surpluses for debt reduction to help prepare for Medicare's future challenges. Before we make any other major budget decisions this year, we should agree that Medicare funds should not be used to finance tax cuts or other spending. Walling off Medicare will further strengthen our fiscal discipline by locking in $400 billion of additional debt reduction and help keep our economy strong. The Conrad-Lautenberg Amendment passed by the Senate today would truly protect Medicare and enhance our fiscal discipline. This amendment takes Medicare fully off-budget, as the Vice President proposed, and as we have done with Social Security. I look forward to working with Congress on a Medicare off-budget lockbox bill that I can sign this summer.
Earlier this week, I made an offer for bipartisan cooperation on America's priorities. I called for establishing a foundation of fiscal discipline -- the Conrad-Lautenberg amendment would accomplish that. I urge Congress to pass a plan that gives real, voluntary Medicare prescription drug coverage that is available and affordable for all seniors. Only if Congress does this, would I then be willing to sign broader marriage penalty relief legislation.