THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Monday, February 1, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
MEETING AMERICA'S CHALLENGES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
America's economic house is in order and it stands strong. If we manage the surplus right, we can uphold our responsibility to future generations. We can do it by dedicating the lion's share of the surplus to Social Security, Medicare, and paying down the debt. We can -- and therefore must -- do it now.
President Bill Clinton
February 1, 1999
Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore will submit to Congress the Administration's budget proposal for fiscal year 2000. The President's budget dedicates the benefits of today's prosperity to meet the challenges of the 21st Century by saving Social Security and ensuring its stability, strengthening Medicare, encouraging Americans to save, and making important investments in critical areas, including education and military readiness.
Strengthening And Preserving Social Security, Medicare And Retirement Savings. President Clinton and Vice President Gore entered office determined to put our fiscal house in order. They inherited the largest budget deficit in American history -- $290 billion, with projections of a $357 billion deficit by 1998. The President and Vice President put in place a three-part economic plan that has turned a generation of deficits into the first balanced budget since 1969 and a projected surplus of $79 billion for fiscal year 1999. In this time of prosperity, the President and Vice President want to seize this opportunity to address America's long term challenges. The Clinton-Gore Administration's fiscal year 2000 budget calls for:
- Saving Social Security Now. The President is proposing that we commit 62 percent of the budget surpluses over the next 15 years to Social Security, while investing a small portion of that in the private sector. By following the President's plan, we will keep Social Security sound for the next 55 years. The President would like to work with Congress to extend Social Security's solvency for 75 years;
- Strengthening Medicare. The President's plan commits 15 percent of the projected budget surpluses to the Medicare program as part of a broad-based effort to ensure Medicare's solvency for the next 20 years, and implement important reforms to the system, including, market-oriented purchasing tools, additional savings, and long-overdue prescription drug benefits;
- Encouraging Americans To Save And Invest From Their First Day On The Job. President Clinton is proposing that we use 11 percent of the surplus to establish Universal Savings Accounts -- USA Accounts -- allowing Americans to invest as they choose and receive funds to match a portion of their savings;
Strengthening Education To Prepare Our Children For The Jobs Of Tomorrow. As we enter the 21st Century, nothing will be more important to our continued economic growth than giving our children a world-class education. The President's education plan calls for:
- Strengthening accountability by ensuring that schools end social promotion, issue school report cards and adopt discipline policies; that teachers are qualified to teach the subjects they are assigned, and that states turn around their low-performing schools;
- Reducing class size in the early grades by hiring 100,000 well-prepared teachers;
- Building and modernizing more than 5,000 public schools nationwide and triple funding for after-school programs.
Promoting Responsibility In Our Communities. President Clinton believes we must do more to help American families meet their obligations at home and at work. The President is calling for quality child care and a comprehensive Patients' Bill of Rights, holding tobacco companies accountable for billions of dollars in medical costs, increasing the minimum wage, putting an additional 30,000 police to further reduce crime, and keeping our communities livable and green, through sensible growth policies.
Leadership At Home And Abroad. To ensure opportunity and prosperity for America, we must build a 21st century economy that works for all Americans. President Clinton is calling for greater investment in inner cities and family farms, welcoming more welfare recipients into the world of work and providing the training necessary to ensure success, and supporting a consensus on trade that promotes the dignity of work, the rights of workers, and the protection of the environment. America must also maintain its position as the world's leader, supporting peace efforts in places like Northern Ireland and the Middle East while increasing our military readiness so our fighting force remains prepared to defend freedom.