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Office of the Press Secretary

PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Promoting Progress and Prosperity Among the Nation's African Americans

July 12, 2000

"If every American really believed that we were one nation under God; if every person really believed that we are all created equal; if every person really believed that we have an obligation to try to draw closer together and to be better neighbors with others throughout the world, then all the rest of our problems would more easily melt away. And so I ask you--keep in your mind--the enormous

       potential you have to reach the heart and soul of America,
                  to remind them that we must be one."

                                                    -- President Clinton
                               Remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus
                                                      September 20, 1999

Historic Economic Gains. The unemployment rate and poverty rate for African Americans are both at the lowest levels on record, with an average of 7.7% unemployment rate in the first half of 2000 (down from 14.2% in 1992) and a 26.1% poverty rate in 1998 (down from 33.1% in 1993). Median household income for African Americans is up 15.1% (or $3,317) since 1993.

Tax Cuts For Working Families. President Clinton and Vice President Gore's 1993 Economic Plan provided tax cuts to 15 million hard-pressed working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The average family with two children who received the EITC received a tax cut of $1,026. In 1997, the EITC lifted 1.1 million African Americans out of poverty. This year the President and Vice President have proposed expanding the EITC to provide tax relief to 6.4 million additional working families.

Minimum Wage Increased. The President raised the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour -- directly benefiting 1.3 million African American workers. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have called for passage of an additional $1.00 an hour increase.

Creating New Tools to Help Families Move from Welfare to Work. Since enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law, millions of families have moved from welfare to work. With the President's leadership, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act included $3 billion to move long-term welfare recipients and low-income non-custodial fathers into jobs. The Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire long-term welfare recipients. The President's Access to Jobs initiative helps communities design innovative transportation solutions, such as van services, to help former welfare recipients and other low-income workers get to work, and this year the President is proposing $150 million for this initiative, double last year's level. President Clinton has secured 110,000 new housing vouchers in the last two years to help welfare recipients and hard-pressed working families move closer to job opportunities, and this year he is proposing $690 million for 120,000 new housing vouchers.

More Than Three Times the Number of Small Business Loans. Between 1993 and 1999 the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved more than 13,000 loans to African American entrepreneurs under the 7(a) and 504 loan programs. In 1999 alone, the SBA granted 2,181 loans, worth $383.2 million, to African American small business owners -- more than three times the number of loans granted in 1992.

Expanding Investment in Urban and Rural Areas. Spurring economic development in distressed communities, the Clinton-Gore Administration has created 31 Empowerment Zones and more than 100 Enterprise Communities that are creating new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. In the FY01 budget, the expanded wage credits and tax incentives will extend economic growth in the existing urban and rural Empowerment Zones and support the proposed third round of 10 new Empowerment Zones.

Encouraging Investment in Underserved Communities with New Markets. President Clinton's New Markets Initiative is bringing economic development and renewal to communities that have not benefited from the soaring economy. This year, the President is proposing to more than double the New Markets tax credit to spur $15 billion in new community development investment in economically distressed areas.

Closing the Digital Divide. Increasing access to technology and bridging the growing "digital divide" has been a top priority for President Clinton and Vice President Gore. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY01 budget includes a comprehensive initiative to bridge the digital divide, broaden access to computers and training, and create new opportunity for all Americans.

President's One America Initiative. President Clinton has led the nation in an effort to become One America: a place where we respect others' differences and embrace the common values that unite us. The President has been actively involved in public outreach efforts to engage Americans in this historic effort, and followed up on the work of the Initiative on Race by appointing Robert B. (Ben) Johnson as Assistant to the President and Director of the new White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America. The office is working to ensure that we have a coordinated strategy to close the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities and the underserved in this country, and build the One America we want for all of our nation's children.

Preventing Hate Crimes. The President signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, which provides for longer sentences for hate crimes, and hosted the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in order to strengthen hate crimes laws. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $20 million to promote police integrity and for hate crimes training for federal, state, and local law enforcement.

Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement. In FY 2000, President Clinton won a six percent increase in funding for federal civil rights enforcement agencies including $82 million for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, a 19 percent increase. In the FY01 budget, the President and Vice President have proposed $698 million in funding for civil rights enforcement agencies, a 13 percent increase, to expand investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct) and fair housing and lending practices; help the EEOC reduce the backlog of private-sector cases; and allow HUD to take steps to reduce housing discrimination.

Working to End Racial Profiling. To help determine where and when racial profiling occurs, the President directed Cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement. The President has also supported increased resources for police integrity and ethics training and to improve the diversity of local police forces.

An Administration that Looks Like America. The President has appointed the most diverse Cabinet and Administration in history, with twice as many African American appointees as any previous administration. African Americans make up 12 percent of the Clinton Cabinet, 14 percent of Administration appointees, and 17 percent of Federal bench nominations.

Working to Ensure a Fair, Accurate and Complete Census. The Clinton-Gore Administration is working to ensure that Census 2000 is as accurate as possible using the best, most up-to-date scientific methods as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The 1990 Census had a net undercount of 4 million and 4.4 percent of African Americans were not counted. A fair and accurate Census is a fundamental part of a representative democracy and is the basis for providing equality under the law. The President and Vice President are determined to have a fair and full count in 2000, and in February 2000 the President announced new steps to encourage all Americans to participate in Census 2000. The President launched a Census in the Schools Challenge, to ensure that children are counted and educate both students and parents; reiterated that Census information is strictly confidential; and directed federal agencies to step up activities in support of the Census.

Established the First African American Advisory Board. The President and Vice President established the President's Board of Advisors for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to strengthen the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide quality education and advised on ways to increase the private sector's role in these institutions. In addition, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education has been vigilant in its efforts to expand college opportunities through enforcement to eliminate vestiges of discrimination in formerly racially segregated higher education systems. The Office for Civil Rights at Education works to ensure minority student access to higher education, impacting both HBCUs and historically white universities.

Increased Funding and Grants for HBCUs. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have increased funding for Historically Black Colleges by over $250 million between FY92 and FY98 -- an increase of nearly 25 percent. Today, America's 105 HBCUs are educating almost 300,000 African American students.

Record Enrollment. The number of African American high school graduates going on to college increased from 39 percent in 1983 to 60 percent in 1997 -- the highest number ever.

Proposing the Largest Head Start Expansion in History. Since 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent. The President's FY01 budget increases funding for Head Start by another $1 billion -- the largest increase ever proposed for the program -- to provide Head Start and Early Head Start to approximately 950,000 children. This funding will bring within reach the President's goal of serving one million children in 2002 and builds the foundation for the long-term goal of universal pre-school.

Turning Around Failing Schools. 11 million low-income students now benefit from Title I- Aid to Disadvantaged Students, and all our children are benefiting from higher expectations and a challenging curriculum geared to higher standards. In the 1996-97 school year, 28 percent of the children benefiting from the Title I program were African American. Last year the President won $134 million for an accountability fund to help turn around the worst performing schools and hold them accountable for results through such measures as overhauling curriculum, improving staffing, or even closing schools and reopening them as charter schools. This year, the President and Vice President are proposing to double funding for this fund to turn around the nation's failing schools to ensure all children receive a quality education.

Class Size Reduction Initiative. Last year President Clinton and Vice President Gore won a second installment of $1.3 billion for the President's plan to help school districts hire and train an additional 100,000 well-prepared teachers to reduce class size in the early grades. Already, 29,000 teachers have been hired through this initiative. This year, the FY01 budget includes $1.75 billion for this program, an $450 million increase -- enough to fund about 49,000 teachers.

New Plan to Place Quality Teachers in Underserved Areas. This year, the President and Vice President proposed a new $1 billion teacher quality plan to recruit, train and reward good teachers. The Teaching to High Standards Initiative includes a Hometown Teacher Recruitment program to empower high-poverty school districts to develop programs to recruit homegrown teachers to address the shortage of qualified teachers. It also includes $50 million for Teacher Quality Rewards, which will reward school districts that have made exceptional progress in reducing the number of uncertified teachers and teachers teaching outside their subject area.

Established the GEAR-UP Mentoring Program for Middle School Children. The President and Vice President created and expanded GEAR-UP, a mentoring initiative, to help over 750,000 low-income middle school children finish school and prepare for college. This year the President has proposed a 62.5 percent increase to serve 1.4 million students.

New Tax Incentives to Make College More Affordable. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have proposed the College Opportunity Tax Cut, which would give families the option of taking a tax deduction or claiming a 28 percent credit for tuition and fees to pay for higher education. When fully phased in, this proposal would provide up to $2,800 in tax relief annually to help American families pay for college.

Helping Students Finish College. This year, the President and Vice President proposed new College Completion Challenge Grants to help reduce the college drop-out rate, with pre-freshman summer programs, support services and increased grant aid to students. This $35 million initiative will improve the chances of success for nearly 18,000 students. Currently, 29 percent of African Americans drop out of college after less than one year, compared to 18 percent of whites.

Dual Degree Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions. The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed a new program to increase opportunities for students at minority-serving institutions that offer four-year degrees. Students would receive two degrees within five years: one from a minority-serving institution, and one from a partner institution in a field in which minorities are underrepresented. This new $40 million program will serve an estimated 3,000 students.

Extended Health Care to Millions of Children with the Children's Health Insurance Program. In the Balanced Budget of 1997, President Clinton won $24 billion to provide health care coverage to up to five million uninsured children. In October 1999 the President announced new outreach efforts to enroll millions of eligible, uninsured children. African American children make up 25 percent of all uninsured children -- more than twice their percentage of the overall population. To reach this vulnerable population, the Administration and states have made special efforts to advertise the availability of the program and provide enrollment materials printed in Spanish. This year, the budget includes several of Vice President Gore's proposals to accelerate enrollment of children in CHIP. The President and Vice President are also proposing a new FamilyCare program, which would give States the option to cover parents in the same plan as their children.

New Initiative to Expand Health Coverage to Uninsured Americans. This year, the President and Vice President have proposed a 10-year, $110 billion initiative that would dramatically improve the affordability of and access to health insurance. The proposal would expand coverage to at least 5 million uninsured Americans and expand access to millions more.

Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by 2010. President Clinton's initiative will help eliminate racial disparities in six key health areas: infant mortality, diabetes, cancer screening and management, heart disease, AIDS and immunizations. President Clinton and Vice President Gore won a 200% increase for this initiative in FY00, and this year they have proposed $35 million in funding to continue the effort.

Providing Access to Health Care Services for Uninsured Workers. Last year, the President proposed and won $25 million in funding for a program to coordinate systems of care, increase the number of services delivered and establish an accountability system to assure adequate patient care for the uninsured and low-income. This year, the President has proposed funding this initiative at $125 million, representing a substantial down payment on his plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years.

Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Minority Community. Minority communities make up the fastest growing portion of the HIV/AIDS caseload. Last year, the President won a $210 million investment -- a 45 percent increase -- to improve prevention efforts in high-risk communities and expand access to new HIV therapies. This year's budget continues that investment.

Putting 100,000 More Police on the Streets. In 1999, ahead of schedule and under budget, the Clinton-Gore Administration met its commitment to fund an additional 100,000 police officers for our communities. As a part of the COPS Program, the President announced new grants to increase community policing in high-crime and underserved neighborhoods. To help keep crime at record lows, the President won funding for the first installment toward his goal to hire up to 50,000 more officers by 2005. This year, the Clinton-Gore budget includes $650 million to continue this work and hire, train and equip more community police officers.

Calling for Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation. The President and Vice President have called on Congress to complete work on common-sense gun legislation that includes closing the gun show loophole by requiring background checks and records at gun shows; requiring child safety locks for handguns sold; banning the importation of large-capacity ammunition magazines; and banning violent juveniles from owning guns for life.

More than Half a Million Felons, Fugitives and Domestic Abusers Denied Guns. Since the President signed the Brady Bill into law, more than 536,000 felons, fugitives and domestic abusers have been prevented from purchasing guns through Brady background checks. This year, the President and Vice President have proposed a State-based licensing system for handgun purchases. Under the proposal, every purchaser of a handgun must first have a valid state-issued photo license, showing that the buyer has passed a Brady background check and a gun safety training requirement.

Largest Gun Enforcement Initiative in History. This year, President Clinton and Vice President Gore proposed the largest gun enforcement initiative ever. The initiative would provide a record $280 million to add 500 new federal ATF agents and inspectors to target violent gun criminals and illegal gun traffickers, and fund over 1,000 new federal, state, and local prosecutors to take dangerous gun offenders off the streets. This initiative will build on the Administration's success in cracking down on serious gun criminals: the number of federal firearms cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys increased 25%, from 4,754 in 1992 to 5,500 in 1999.

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