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´╗┐Title: State of the Union Addresses
Author: Clinton, Bill
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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State of the Union Addresses of William J. Clinton



The addresses are separated by three asterisks: ***

Dates of addresses by William J. Clinton in this eBook:

  January 25, 1994
  January 24, 1995
  January 23, 1996
  February 4, 1997
  January 27, 1998
  January 19, 1999
  January 27, 2000



***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 25, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the 103rd Congress, my fellow
Americans:

I am not sure what speech is in the TelePrompTer tonight, but I hope we can
talk about the State of the Union.

I ask you to begin by recalling the memory of the giant who presided over
this chamber with such force and grace. Tip O'Neill liked to call himself
"A Man of the House" and he surely was that. But even more, he was a man of
the people, a bricklayer's son who helped to build the great American
middle class. Tip O'Neill never forgot who he was, where he came from, or
who sent him here. Tonight he's smiling down on us for the first time from
the Lord's gallery. But in his honor, may we too also remember who we are,
where we come from, and who sent us here.

If we do that we will return over and over again to the principle that if
we simply give ordinary people equal opportunity, quality education, and a
fair shot at the American dream, they will do extraordinary things.

We gather tonight in a world of changes so profound and rapid that all
nations are tested. Our American heritage has always been to master such
change, to use it to expand opportunity at home, and our leadership abroad.
But for too long and in too many ways, that heritage was abandoned, and our
country drifted.

For 30 years family life in America has been breaking down. For 20 years
the wages of working people have been stagnant or declining. For the 12
years of trickle down economics we built a false prosperity on a hollow
base as our national debt quadrupled. From 1989 to 1992 we experienced the
slowest growth in a half century. For too many families, even when both
parents were working, the American dream has been slipping away.

In 1992 the American people demanded that we change. I year ago I asked all
of you to join me in accepting responsibility for the future of our
country.

Well, we did. We replaced drift and deadlock with renewal and reform. And I
want to thank every one of you here who heard the American people, who
broke gridlock, who gave them the most successful teamwork between a
president and a Congress in 30 years.

Accomplishments

This Congress produced a budget that cut the deficit by half a trillion
dollars, cut spending and raised income taxes on only the wealthiest
Americans. This Congress produced tax relief for millions of low-income
workers to reward work over welfare. It produced NAFTA. It produced the
Brady bill, now the Brady law.

And thank you, Jim Brady, for being here, and God bless you, Sarah. This
Congress produced tax cuts to reduce the taxes of nine out of 10 small
businesses who use the money to invest more and create more jobs. It
produced more research and treatment for AIDS, more childhood
immunizations, more support for women's health research, more affordable
college loans for the middle class, a new national service program for
those who want to give something back to their country and their
communities for higher education, a dramatic increase in high-tech
investments to move us from a defense to a domestic high-tech economy. This
Congress produced a new law--the motor voter bill--to help millions of
people register to vote. It produced family and medical leave--all passed,
all signed into law, with not one single veto.

These accomplishments were all commitments I made when I sought this
office, and in fairness, they all had to be passed by you in this Congress.
But I am persuaded that the real credit belongs to the people who sent us
here, who pay our salaries, who hold our feet to the fire. But what we do
here is really beginning to change lives. Let me just give you one
example.

Family And Medical Leave

I will never forget what the family and medical leave law meant to just one
father I met early one Sunday morning in the White House. It was unusual to
see a family there touring early Sunday morning, but he had his wife and
his three children there, one of them in a wheelchair. And I came up, and
after we had our picture taken and had a little visit, I was walking off,
and that man grabbed me by the arm and he said, "Mr. President, let me tell
you something. My little girl here is desperately ill. She's probably not
going to make it. But because of the family leave law, I was able to take
time off to spend with her, the most important I ever spent in my life,
without losing my job and hurting the rest of my family. It means more to
me than I will ever be able to say. Don't you people up here ever think
what you do doesn't make a difference. It does."

Though we are making a difference, our work has just begun. Many Americans
still haven't felt the impact of what we've done. The recovery still hasn't
touched every community or created enough jobs. Incomes are still stagnant.
There's still too much violence and not enough hope in too many places.

Abroad, the young democracies we are strongly supporting still face very
difficult times and look to us for leadership.

And so tonight, let us resolve to continue the journey of renewal, to
create more and better jobs, to guarantee health security for all, to
reward welfare--work over welfare, to promote democracy abroad and to
begin to reclaim our streets from violent crime and drugs and gangs to
renew our own American community.

Deficit Reduction

Last year, we began to put our house in order by tackling the budget
deficit that was driving us toward bankruptcy. We cut $255 billion in
spending, including entitlements, in over 340 separate budget items. We
froze domestic spending and used honest budget numbers.

Led by the vice president, we've launched a campaign to reinvent
government. We've cut staff, cut perks, even trimmed the fleet of federal
limousines. After years of leaders whose rhetoric attacked bureaucracy but
whose actions expanded it, we will actually reduce it by 252,000 people
over the next five years. By the time we have finished, the federal
bureaucracy will be at its lowest point in 30 years.

Because the deficit was so large and because they benefited from tax cuts
in the 1980s, we did ask the wealthiest Americans to pay more to reduce the
deficit. So on April the 15th, the American people will discover the truth
about what we did last year on taxes. Only the top one--the top 1.2
percent of Americans, as I said all along, will face higher income tax
rates--let me repeat, only the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Americans will
face higher income tax rates and no one else will, and that is the truth.
Of course, there were, as there always are in politics, naysayers who said
this plan wouldn't work, but they were wrong. When I became president, the
experts predicted that next year's deficit would be $300 billion, but
because we acted, those same people now say the deficit's going to be under
$180 billion, 40 percent lower than was previously predicted.

The Economy

Our economic program has helped to produce the lowest core inflation rate
and the lowest interest rates in 20 years, and because those interest rates
are down, business investment and equipment is growing at seven times the
rate of the previous four years. Auto sales are way up, home sales at a
record high. Millions of Americans have refinanced their homes and our
economy has produced 1.6 million private-sector jobs in 1993, more than
were created in the previous four years combined.

The people who supported this economic plan should be proud of its early
results--proud. But everyone in this chamber should know and acknowledge
that there is more to do. Next month I will send you one of the toughest
budgets ever presented to Congress. It will cut spending in more than 300
programs, eliminate 100 domestic programs, and reforms the way in which
governments buy goods and services.

This year we must again make the hard choices to live within the hard
spending ceilings we have set. We must do it. We have proved we can bring
the deficit down without choking off recovery, without punishing seniors or
the middle class, and without putting our national security at risk. If you
will stick with this plan, we will post three consecutive years of
declining deficits for the first time since Harry Truman lived in the White
House. And once again, the buck stops here.

Trade

Our economic plan also bolsters our strength and our credibility around the
world. Once we reduced the deficit and put the steel back into our
competitive edge, the world echoed with the sound of falling trade
barriers. In one year, with NAFTA, with GATT, with our efforts in Asia and
the national export strategy, we did more to open world markets to American
products than at any time in the last two generations. That means more jobs
and rising living standards for the American people, low deficits, low
inflation, low interest rates, low trade barriers and high investments.
These are the building blocks of our recovery. But if we want to take full
advantage of the opportunities before us in the global economy, you all
know we must do more.

As we reduce defense spending, I ask Congress to invest more in the
technologies of tomorrow. Defense conversion will keep us strong militarily
and create jobs for our people here at home.

As we protect our environment, we must invest in the environmental
technologies of the future which will create jobs. This year we will fight
for a revitalized Clean Water Act and a Safe Drinking Water Act and a
reformed Superfund program.

And the vice president is right; we must also work with the private sector
to connect every classroom, every clinic, every library, every hospital in
America into a national information superhighway by the year 2000. Think of
it. Instant access to information will increase productivity. It will help
to educate our children. It will provide better medical care. It will
create jobs. And I call on the Congress to pass legislation to establish
that information superhighway this year.

As we expand opportunity and create jobs, no one can be left out. We must
continue to enforce fair lending and fair housing and all civil rights
laws, because America will never be complete in its renewal until everyone
shares in its bounty. But we all know, too, we can do all these things--
put our economic house in order, expand world trade, target the jobs of the
future, guarantee equal opportunity.

But if we're honest, we'll all admit that this strategy still cannot work
unless we also give our people the education, training and skills they need
to seize the opportunities of tomorrow. We must set tough, world-class
academic and occupational standards for all our children and give our
teachers and students the tools they need to meet them.

Education

Our Goals 2000 proposal will empower individual school districts to
experiment with ideas like chartering their schools to be run by private
corporations or having more public school choice, to do whatever they wish
to do as long as we measure every school by one high standard: Are our
children learning what they need to know to compete and win in the global
economy?

Goals 2000 links world-class standards to grassroots reforms and I hope
Congress will pass it without delay. Our school to work initiative will for
the first time link school to the world of work, providing at least one
year of apprenticeship beyond high school. After all, most of the people
we're counting on to build our economic future won't graduate from college.
It's time to stop ignoring them and start empowering them. We must
literally transform our outdated unemployment system into a new
reemployment system. The old unemployment system just sort of kept you
going while you waited for your old job to come back. We've got to have a
new system to move people into new and better jobs because most of those
old jobs just don't come back. And we know that the only way to have real
job security in the future, to get a good job with a growing income, is to
have real skills and the ability to learn new ones. So we've got to
streamline today's patchwork of training programs and make them a source of
new skill for our people who lose their jobs. Reemployment, not
unemployment, must become the centerpiece of our economic renewal. I urge
you to pass it in this session of Congress.

Welfare

And just as we must transform our unemployment system, so must we also
revolutionize our welfare system. It doesn't work; it defies our values as
a nation. If we value work, we can't justify a system that makes welfare
more attractive than work if people are worried about losing their health
care.

If we value responsibility, we can't ignore the $34 billion in child
support absent parents out to be paying to millions of parents who are
taking care of their children--. If we value strong families, we can't
perpetuate a system that actually penalizes those who stay together. Can
you believe that a child who has a child gets more money from the
government for leaving home than for staying home with a parent or a
grandparent? That's not just bad policy, it's wrong and we ought to change
it.

I worked on this problem for years before I became president, with other
governors and with members of Congress in both parties and with the
previous administration of another party. I worked on it with people who
were on welfare, lots of them. And I want to say something to everybody
here who cares about this issue. The people who most want to change this
system are the people who are dependent on it. They want to get off
welfare; they want to go back to work; they want to do right by their
kids.

I once had a hearing when I was a governor and I brought in people on
welfare from all over America who had found their way to work and a woman
from my state who testified was asked this question. What's the best thing
about being off welfare and in a job. And without blinking an eye, she
looked at 40 governors and she said, when my boy goes to school and they
say "What does your mother do for a living?" he can give an answer. These
people want a better system and we ought to give it to them.

Last year, we began this. We gave the states more power to innovate because
we know that a lot of great ideas come from outside Washington and many
states are already using it. Then this Congress took a dramatic step.
Instead of taxing people with modest incomes into poverty, we helped them
to work their way out of poverty by dramatically increasing the earned
income tax credit. It will lift 15 million working families out of poverty,
rewarding work over welfare, making it possible for people to be successful
workers and successful parents. Now that's real welfare reform.

But there is more to be done. This spring I will send you a comprehensive
welfare reform bill that builds on the Family Support Act of 1988 and
restores the basic values of work and responsibility. We will say to
teenagers if you have a child out of wedlock, we'll no longer give you a
check to set up a separate household, we want families to stay together;
say to absent parents who aren't paying their child support if you're not
providing for your children we'll garnish your wages, suspend your license,
track you across state lines, and if necessary make some of you work off
what you owe.

People who bring children into this world cannot and must not walk away
from them.

But to all those who depend on welfare, we should offer ultimately a simple
compact. We will provide the support, the job training, the child care you
need for up to two years, but after that anyone who can work, must, in the
private sector wherever possible, in community service if necessary. That's
the only way we'll ever make welfare what it ought to be, a second chance,
not a way of life.

I know it will be difficult to tackle welfare reform in 1994 at the same
time we tackle health care. But let me point out, I think it is inevitable
and imperative. It is estimated that one million people are on welfare
today because it's the only way they can get health care coverage for their
children. Those who choose to leave welfare for jobs without health
benefits, and many entry level jobs don't have health benefits, find
themselves in the incredible position of paying taxes that help to pay for
health care coverage for those who made the other choice, to stay on
welfare. No wonder people leave work and go back to welfare, to get health
care coverage. We've got to solve the health care problem to have real
welfare reform.

Health Care Reform

So this year we will make history by reforming the health care system. And
I would say to you, all of you my fellow public servants, this is another
issue where the people are way ahead of the politicians.

That may not be popular with either party, but it happens to be the truth.

You know, the first lady has received now almost a million letters from
people all across America and from all walks of life. I'd like to share
just one of them with you. Richard Anderson of Reno, Nevada, lost his job
and, with it, his health insurance. Two weeks later, his wife, Judy,
suffered a cerebral aneurysm. He rushed her to the hospital, where she
stayed in intensive care for 21 days. The Anderson's bills were over
$120,000. Although Judy recovered and Richard went back to work at $8 an
hour, the bills were too much for them and they were literally forced into
bankruptcy.

"Mrs. Clinton," he wrote to Hillary, "no one in the United States of
America should have to lose everything they've worked for all their lives
because they were unfortunate enough to become ill." It was to help the
Richard and Judy Andersons of America that the first lady and so many
others have worked so hard and so long on this health care reform issue. We
owe them our thanks and our action.

I know there are people here who say there's no health care crisis. Tell it
to Richard and Judy Anderson. Tell it to the 58 million Americans who have
no coverage at all for some time each year. Tell it to the 81 million
Americans with those preexisting conditions; those folks are paying more or
they can't get insurance at all or they can't ever change their jobs
because they or someone in their family has one of those preexisting
conditions. Tell it to the small businesses burdened by skyrocketing costs
of insurance. Most small businesses cover their employers, and they pay on
average 35 percent more in premiums than big businesses or government. Or
tell it to the 76 percent of insured Americans, three out of four whose
policies have lifetime limits, and that means they can find themselves
without any coverage at all just when they need it the most.

So, if any of you believe there's no crisis, you tell it to those people,
because I can't.

There are some people who literally do not understand the impact of this
problem on people's lives, but all you have to do is go out and listen to
them. Just go talk to them anywhere, in any congressional district in this
country. They're Republicans and Democrats and independents. It doesn't
have a lick to do with party. They think we don't get it, and it's time we
show that we do get it.

From the day we began, our health care initiative has been designed to
strengthen what is good about our health care system--the world's best
health care professionals, cutting edge research, and wonderful research
institutions, Medicare for older Americans. None of this--none of it
should be put at risk. But we're paying more and more money for less and
less care. Every year, fewer and fewer Americans even get to choose their
doctors. Every year, doctors and nurses spend more time on paperwork and
less time with patients because of the absolute bureaucratic nightmare the
present system has become.

This system is riddled with inefficiency, with abuse, with fraud, and
everybody knows it. In today's health care system, insurance companies call
the shots. They pick whom they cover and how they cover them. They can cut
off your benefits when you need your coverage the most. They are in
charge.

What does it mean? It means every night millions of well-insured Americans
go to bed just an illness, an accident, or a pink slip away from having no
coverage or financial ruin. It means every morning millions of Americans go
to work without any health insurance at all--something the workers in no
other advanced country in the world do. It means that every year more and
more hard working people are told to pick a new doctor because their boss
has had to pick a new plan. And countless others turndown better jobs
because they know, if they take the better job, they'll lose their health
insurance.

If we just let the health care system continue to drift, our country will
have people with less care, fewer choices, and higher bill.

Now, our approach protects the quality of care and people's choices. It
builds on what works today in the private sector, to expand employer based
coverage, to guarantee private insurance for every American. And I might
say, employer based private insurance for every American was proposed 20
years ago by President Richard Nixon to the United States Congress. It was
a good idea then, and it's a better idea today.

Why do we want guaranteed private insurance? Because right now, nine out of
ten people who have insurance get it through their employers--and that
should continue. And if your employer is providing good benefits at
reasonable prices, that should continue too. And that ought to make the
Congress and the president feel better. Our goal is health insurance
everybody can depend on--comprehensive benefits that cover preventive care
and prescription drugs, health premiums that don't just explode when you
get sick or you get older, the power--no matter how small your business is
--to choose dependable insurance at the same competitive rates that
governments and big business get today, one simple form for people who are
sick, and most of all, the freedom to choose a plan and the right to choose
your own doctor.

Our approach protects older Americans. Every plan before the Congress
proposes to slow the growth of Medicare. The difference is this. We believe
those savings should be used to improve health care for senior citizens.
Medicare must be protected, and it should cover prescription drugs, and we
should take the first steps in covering long-term care.

To those who would cut Medicare without protecting seniors, I say the
solution to today's squeeze on middle class working people's health care is
not to put the squeeze on middle class retired people's health care. We can
do better than that. When it's all said and done, it's pretty simple to me.
Insurance ought to mean what it used to mean. You pay a fair price for
security, and when you get sick, health care is always there--no matter
what.

Along with the guarantee of health security, we all have to admit, too,
there must be more responsibility on the part of all of us in how we use
this system. People have to take their kids to get immunized. We should all
take advantage of preventive care. We must all work together to stop the
violence that explodes our emergency rooms. We have to practice better
health habits, and we can't abuse the system. And those who don't have
insurance under our approach will get coverage, but they will have to pay
something for it, too. The minority of businesses that provide no insurance
at all, and in so doing, shift the cost of the care of their employees to
others, should contribute something. People who smoke should pay more for a
pack of cigarettes. Everybody can contribute something if we want to solve
the health care crisis. There can't be anymore something for nothing. It
will not be easy, but it can be done. Now in the coming months I hope very
much to work with both Democrats and Republicans to reform a health care
system by using the market to bring down costs and to achieve lasting
health security. But if you look at history, we see that for 60 years this
country has tried to reform health care. President Roosevelt tried,
President Truman tried, President Nixon tried, President Carter tried.
Every time the special interests were powerful enough to defeat them, but
not this time.

Campaign Finance Reform

I know that facing up to these interests will require courage. It will
raise critical questions about the way we finance our campaigns and how
lobbyists yield their influence. The work of change, frankly, will never
get any easier until we limit the influence of well financed interests who
profit from this current system. So I also must now call on you to finish
the job both houses began last year, by passing tough and meaningful
campaign finance reform and lobby reform legislation this year.

You know, my fellow Americans, this is really a test for all of us. The
American people provide those of us in government service with terrific
health care benefits at reasonable costs. We have health care that's always
there. I think we need to give every hard working, taxpaying American the
same health care security they have already given to us.

I want to make this very clear: I am open, as I have said repeatedly, to
the best ideas of concerned members of both parties. I have no special
brief for any specific approach, even in our own bill, except this: if you
send me legislation that does not guarantee every American private health
insurance that can never be taken away, you will force me to take this pen,
veto the legislation, and we'll come right back here and start all over
again.

But I don't think that's going to happen. I think we're ready to act now. I
believe that you're ready to act now. And if you're ready to guarantee
every American the same health care that you have, health care that can
never be taken away--now, not next year or the year after, now is the time
to stand with the people who sent us here. Now.

Foreign Policy

As we take these steps together to renew our strength at home, we cannot
turn away from our obligations to renew our leadership abroad. This is a
promising moment. Because of the agreements we have reached this year, last
year, Russia's strategic nuclear missiles soon will no longer be pointed at
the United States. Nor will we point ours at them.

Instead of building weapons in space, Russian scientists will help us to
build the international space station.

And of course there are still dangers in the world: rampant arms
proliferation, bitter regional conflicts, ethnic and nationalist tensions
in many new democracies, severe environmental degradation the world over,
and fanatics who seek to cripple the world's cities with terror. As the
world's greatest power, we must therefore maintain our defenses and our
responsibilities. This year we secured indictments against terrorists and
sanctions against those harbor them. We worked to promote
environmentally-sustainable economic growth. We achieved agreements with
Ukraine, with Belarus, with Kazakhstan, to eliminate completely their
nuclear arsenals. We are working to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of
nuclear weapons. We will seek early ratification of the treaty to ban
chemical weapons worldwide. And earlier today we joined with over 30
nations to begin negotiations on a comprehensive ban to stop all nuclear
testing.

But nothing--nothing--is more important to our security than our nation's
armed forces. We honor their contributions, including those who are
carrying out the longest humanitarian airlift in history in Bosnia----
those who will complete their mission in Somalia this year and their brave
comrades who gave their lives there. Our forces are the finest military our
nation has ever had, and I have pledged that as long as I am president they
will remain the best-equipped, the best-trained and the best-prepared
fighting force on the face of the earth.

Defense

Last year, I proposed a defense plan that maintains our post-Cold War
security at a lower cost. This year, many people urged me to cut our
defense spending further to pay for other government programs. I said no.
The budget I send to Congress draws the line against further defense cuts.
It protects the readiness and quality of our forces. Ultimately, the best
strategy is to do that. We must not cut defense further. I hope the
Congress without regard to party will support that position.

Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable
peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't
attack each other. They make better trading partners and partners in
diplomacy. That is why we have supported, you and I, the democratic
reformers in Russia and in the other states of the former Soviet bloc. I
applaud the bipartisan support this Congress provided last year for our
initiatives to help Russia, Ukraine and the other states through their epic
transformations.

Our support of reform must combine patience for the enormity of the task
and vigilance for our fundamental interest and values. We will continue to
urge Russia and the other states to press ahead with economic reforms, and
we will seek to cooperate with Russia to solve regional problems while
insisting that, if Russian troops operate in neighboring states, they do so
only when those states agree to their presence and in strict accord with
international standards.

But we must also remember as these nations chart their own futures, and
they must chart their own futures, how much more secure and more prosperous
our own people will be if democratic and market reform succeed all across
the former communist bloc. Our policy has been to support that move and
that has been the policy of the Congress. We should continue it.

Europe

That is why I went to Europe earlier this month, to work with our European
partners to help to integrate all the former communist countries into a
Europe that has the possibility of becoming unified for the first time in
its entire history, it's entire history, based on the simple commitments of
all nations in Europe to democracy, to free markets, and to respect for
existing borders.

With our allies, we have created a partnership for peace that invites
states from the former Soviet bloc and other non-NATO members to work with
NATO in military cooperation. When I met with Central Europe's leaders,
including Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, men who put their lives on the line
for freedom, I told them that the security of their region is important to
our country's security.

This year, we must also do more to support democratic renewal and human
rights and sustainable development all around the world. We will ask
Congress to ratify the new GATT accord, we will continue standing by South
Africa as it works its way through its bold and hopeful and difficult
transition to democracy. We will convene a summit of the Western
hemisphere's democratic leaders from Canada to the tip of South America.
And we will continue to press for the restoration of true democracy in
Haiti.

And as we build a more constructive relationship with China, we must
continue to insist on clear signs of improvement in that nation's human
rights record.

Middle East

We will also work for new progress toward the Middle East peace. Last year
the world watched Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat at the White House when
they had their historic handshake of reconciliation. But there is a long,
hard road ahead. And on that road I am determined that I and our
administration will do all we can to achieve a comprehensive and lasting
peace for all the peoples of the region.

Now, there are some in our country who argue that with the Cold War,
America should turn its back on the rest of the world. Many around the
world were afraid we would do just that. But I took this office on a pledge
that had no partisan tinge to keep our nation secure by remaining engaged
in the rest of the world. And this year, because of our work together,
enacting NAFTA, keeping our military strong and prepared, supporting
democracy abroad, we have reaffirmed America's leadership, America's
engagement, and as a result, the American people are more secure than they
were before.

Crime

But while Americans are more secure from threats abroad, I think we all now
that in many ways we are less secure from threats here at home. Everyday
the national peace is shattered by crime.

In Petaluma, California, an innocent slumber party gives way to agonizing
tragedy for the family of Polly Klaas. An ordinary train ride on Long
Island ends in a hail of nine millimeter rounds. A tourist in Florida is
nearly burned alive by bigots simply because he is black. Right here in our
nation's capital, a brave young man named Jason White, a policeman, the son
and grandson of policemen, is ruthlessly gunned down.

Violent crime and the fear it provokes are crippling our society, limiting
personal freedom, and fraying the ties that bind us.

The crime bill before Congress gives you a chance to do something about it,
a chance to be tough and smart. What does that mean? Let me begin by saying
I care a lot about this issue. Many years ago, when I started out in public
life, I was the attorney general of my state. I served as a governor for a
dozen years. I know what it's like to sign laws increasing penalties, to
build more prison cells, to carry out the death penalty. I understand this
issue and it is not a simple thing.

First, we must recognize that most violent crimes are committed by a small
percentage of criminals who too often break the laws even when they are on
parole. Now those who commit crimes should be punished, and those who
commit repeated violent crimes should be told when you commit a third
violent crime, you will be put away and put away for good, three strikes
and you are out.

Second, we must take serious steps to reduce violence and prevent crime,
beginning with more police officers and more community policing. We know
right now that police who work the streets, know the folks, have the
respect of the neighborhood kids, focus on high crime areas, we know that
they are more likely to prevent crime as well as catch criminals. Look at
the experience of Houston, where the crime rate dropped 17 percent in one
year when that approach was taken. Here tonight is one of those community
policemen, a brave, young detective, Kevin Jett, whose beat is eight square
blocks in one of the toughest neighborhoods in New York. Every day he
restores some sanity and safety, and a sense of values and connection to
the people whose lives he protects. I'd like to ask him to stand up and be
recognized tonight.

You will be given a chance to give the children of this country, the law
abiding working people of this country, and don't forget, in the toughest
neighborhoods in this country, in the highest crime neighborhoods in this
country the vast majority of people get up every day and obey the law, pay
their taxes, do their best to raise their kids. They deserve people like
Kevin Jett, and you're going to be given the chance to give the American
people another 100,000 of them, well trained, and I urge you to do it.

You have before you crime legislation which also establishes a police corps
to encourage young people to get an education, and pay it off by serving as
police officers, which encourages retiring military personnel to move into
police forces--and enormous resources for our country, one which has a
safe schools provisions which will give our young people the chance to walk
to school in safety and to be in school in safety instead of dodging
bullets. These are important things.

The third thing we have to do is to build on the Brady Bill--the Brady Law
to take further steps----to take further steps to keep guns out of the
hands of criminals.

Now, I want to say something about this issue. Hunters must always be free
to hunt, law abiding adults should always be free to own guns and protect
their homes. I respect that part of our culture. I grew up in it. But I
want to ask the sportsmen and others who lawfully own guns to join us in
this campaign to reduce gun violence. I say to you, I know you didn't
create this problem, but we need your help to solve it. There is no
sporting purpose on earth that should stop the United States Congress from
banishing assault weapons that outgun police and cut down children.

Fourth, we must remember that drugs are a factor in an enormous percentage
of crimes. Recent studies indicate, sadly, that drug use is on the rise
again among our young people. The Crime Bill contains--all the crime bills
contain--more money for drug treatment, for criminal addicts, and boot
camps for youthful offenders that include incentives to get off drugs and
to stay off drugs. Our administration's budget, with all its cuts, contains
a large increase in funding for drug treatment and drug education. You must
pass them both. We need then desperately.

My fellow Americans, the problem of violence is an un-American problem. It
has no partisan or philosophical element. Therefore, I urge you find ways
as quickly as possible to set aside partisan differences and pass a strong,
smart, tough crime bill.

But further, I urge you to consider this: As you demand tougher penalties
for those who choose violence, let us also remember how we came to this sad
point. In our toughest neighborhoods, on our meanest streets, in our
poorest rural areas, we have seen a stunning and simultaneous breakdown of
community, family, and work, the heart and soul of civilized society. This
has created a vast vacuum which has been filled by violence and drugs and
gangs. So I ask you to remember that even as we say no to crime, we must
give people, especially our young people something to say yes to. Many of
our initiatives, from job training to welfare reform to health care to
national service will help to rebuild distressed communities, to strengthen
families, to provide work, but more needs to be done. That's what our
community empowerment agenda is all about--challenging businesses to
provide more investment through empowerment zones, ensuring banks will make
loans in the same communities their deposits come from, passing legislation
to unleash the power of capital through community development banks to
create jobs, opportunity, and hope where they're needed most.

But I think you know that to really solve this problem, we'll all have to
put our heads together, leave our ideological armor aside, and find some
new ideas to do even more.

The Role Of Government

And let's be honest, we all know something else, too. Our problems go way
beyond the reach of government. They're rooted in the loss of values and
the disappearance of work and the breakdown of our families and our
communities. My fellow Americans, we can cut the deficit, create jobs,
promote democracy around the world, pass welfare reform and health care,
pass the toughest crime bill in history and still leave too many of our
people behind.

The American people have got to want to change from within if we're going
to bring back work and family and community. We cannot renew our country
when, within a decade, more than half of the children will be born into
families where there has been no marriage. We cannot renew this country
when 13-year-old boys get semi-automatic weapons to shoot 9 year olds for
kicks. We can't renew our country when children are having children and the
fathers walk away as if the kids don't amount to anything. We can't renew
the country when our businesses eagerly look for new investments and new
customers abroad but ignore those people right here at home who'd give
anything to have their jobs and would gladly buy their products if they had
the money to do it.

We can't renew our country unless more of us--I mean all of us--are
willing to join the churches and the other good citizens, people like all
the black ministers I've worked with over the years or the priests and the
nuns I met at Our Lady of Help in East Los Angeles or my good friend Tony
Campolo in Philadelphia, unless we're willing to work with people like
that, people who are saving kids, adopting schools, making streets safer.
All of us can do that.

We can't renew our country until we realize that governments don't raise
children; parents do. Parents who know their children's teachers and turn
off the television and help with the homework and teach their kids right
from wrong--those kind of parents can make all the difference. I know. I
had one. And I'm telling you we have got to stop pointing our fingers at
these kids who have no future and reach our hands out to them. Our country
needs it. We need it. And they deserve it.

And so I say to you tonight let's give our children a future. Let us take
away their guns and give them books. Let us overcome their despair and
replace it with hope. Let us, by our example, teach them to obey the law,
respect our neighbors, and cherish our values. Let us weave these sturdy
threads into a new American community that once more stand strong against
the forces of despair and evil because everybody has a chance to walk into
a better tomorrow.

Oh, there will be naysayers who fear that we won't be equal to the
challenges of this time, but they misread our history, our heritage, even
today's headlines. All those things tell us we can and we will overcome any
challenge.

When the earth shook and fires raged in California; when I saw the
Mississippi deluge the farmlands of the Midwest in a 500 year flood; when
the century's bitterest cold swept from North Dakota to Newport News it
seemed as though the world itself was coming apart at the seams. But the
American people, they just came together. They rose to the occasion,
neighbor helping neighbor, strangers risking life and limb to stay total
strangers, showing the better angels of our nature.

Let us not reserve the better angels only for natural disasters, leaving
our deepest and most profound problems to petty political fighting.

Let us instead by true to our spirit, facing facts, coming together,
bringing hope and moving forward.

Tonight, my fellow Americans, we are summoned to answer a question as old
as the republic itself, what is the state of our union?

It is growing stronger but it must be stronger still. With your help and
God's help it will be.

Thank you and God Bless America.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 24, 1995

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, members of the 104th Congress, my fellow
Americans:

Again we are here in the sanctuary of democracy. And once again, our
democracy has spoken.

So let me begin by congratulating all of you here in the 104th Congress,
and congratulating you, Mr. Speaker.

If we agree on nothing else tonight, we must agree that the American people
certainly voted for change in 1992 and in 1994.

And as I look out at you, I know how some of you must have felt in 1992.

I must say that in both years we didn't hear America singing, we heard
America shouting. And now all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, must
say: We hear you. We will work together to earn the jobs you have given us.
For we are the keepers of the sacred trust and we must be faithful to it in
this new and very demanding era.

Over 200 years ago, our founders changed the entire course of human history
by joining together to create a new country based on a single, powerful
idea. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among
these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It has fallen to every generation since then to preserve that idea--the
American idea--and to deepen and expand its meaning in new and different
times. To Lincoln and to his Congress, to preserve the Union and to end
slavery. To Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to restrain the abuses
and excesses of the Industrial Revolution and to assert our leadership in
the world. To Franklin Roosevelt, to fight the failure and pain of the
Great Depression and to win our country's great struggle against fascism.

And to all our Presidents since, to fight the cold war. Especially, I
recall two who struggled to fight that cold war in partnership with
Congresses where the majority was of a different party. To Harry Truman,
who summoned us to unparalleled prosperity at home and who built the
architecture of the cold war. And to Ronald Reagan, whom we wish well
tonight, and who exhorted us to carry on until the twilight struggle
against Communism was won.

In another time of change and challenge, I had the honor to be the first
President to be elected in the post-cold-war era, an era marked by the
global economy, the information revolution, unparalleled change in
opportunity and in security for the American people.

I came to this hallowed chamber two years ago on a mission: To restore the
American dream for all our people and to make sure that we move into the
21st century still the strongest force for freedom and democracy in the
entire world.

I was determined then to tackle the tough problems too long ignored. In
this effort I am frank to say that I have made my mistakes. And I have
learned again the importance of humility in all human endeavor.

But I am also proud to say tonight that our country is stronger than it was
two years ago.

Accomplishments

Record numbers, record numbers of Americans are succeeding in the new
global economy. We are at peace, and we are a force for peace and freedom
throughout the world. We have almost six million new jobs since I became
President, and we have the lowest combined rate of unemployment and
inflation in 25 years.

Our businesses are more productive and here we have worked to bring the
deficit down, to expand trade, to put more police on our streets, to give
our citizens more of the tools they need to get an education and to rebuild
their own communities. But the rising tide is not lifting all the boats.

While our nation is enjoying peace and prosperity, too many of our people
are still working harder and harder for less and less. While our businesses
are restructuring and growing more productive and competitive, too many of
our people still can't be sure of having a job next year or even next
month. And far more than our material riches are threatened, things far
more precious to us: our children, our families, our values.

Our civil life is suffering in America today. Citizens are working together
less and shouting at each other more. The common bonds of community which
have been the great strength of our country from its very beginning are
badly frayed.

What are we to do about it?

More than 60 years ago at the dawn of another new era, President Roosevelt
told our nation new conditions impose new requirements on Government and
those who conduct Government. And from that simple proposition he shaped
the New Deal, which helped to restore our nation to prosperity and defined
the relationship between our people and their Government for half a
century.

That approach worked in its time but today we face a very different time
and very different conditions. We are moving from an industrial age built
on gears and sweat to an information age demanding skills and learning and
flexibility.

Our Government, once a champion of national purpose, is now seen by many as
simply a captive of narrow interests putting more burdens on our citizens
rather than equipping them to get ahead. The values that used to hold us
all together seem to be coming apart.

So tonight we must forge a new social compact to meet the challenges of
this time. As we enter a new era, we need a new set of understandings not
just with Government but, even more important, with one another as
Americans.

New Covenant

That's what I want to talk with you about tonight. I call it the New
Covenant but it's grounded in a very, very old idea that all Americans have
not just a right but a solemn responsibility to rise as far as their
God-given talents and determination can take them. And to give something
back to their communities and their country in return.

Opportunity and responsibility--they go hand in hand; we can't have one
without the other, and our national community can't hold together without
both.

Our New Covenant is a new set of understandings for how we can equip our
people to meet the challenges of the new economy, how we can change the way
our Government works to fit a different time and, above all, how we can
repair the damaged bonds in our society and come together behind our common
purpose. We must have dramatic change in our economy, our Government and
ourselves.

My fellow Americans, without regard to party, let us rise to the occasion.
Let us put aside partisanship and pettiness and pride. As we embark on this
course, let us put our country first, remembering that regardless of party
label we are all Americans. And let the final test of everything we do be a
simple one: Is it good for the American people?

Let me begin by saying that we cannot ask Americans to be better citizens
if we are not better servants. You made a good start by passing that law
which applies to Congress all the laws you put on the private sector--and
I was proud to sign it yesterday.

But we have a lot more to do before people really trust the way things work
around here. Three times as many lobbyists are in the streets and corridors
of Washington as were here 20 years ago. The American people look at their
capital and they see a city where the well-connected and the well-protected
can work the system, but the interests of ordinary citizens are often left
out.

As the new Congress opened its doors, lobbyists were still doing business
as usual--the gifts, the trips--all the things that people are concerned
about haven't stopped.

Twice this month you missed opportunities to stop these practices. I know
there were other considerations in those votes, but I want to use something
that I've heard my Republican friends say from time to time: There doesn't
have to be a law for everything.

So tonight I ask you to just stop taking the lobbyists' perks, just stop.

We don't have to wait for legislation to pass to send a strong signal to
the American people that things are really changing. But I also hope you
will send me the strongest possible lobby reform bill, and I'll sign that,
too. We should require lobbyists to tell the people for whom they work what
they're spending, what they want. We should also curb the role of big money
in elections by capping the cost of campaigns and limiting the influence of
PAC's.

And as I have said for three years, we should work to open the air waves so
that they can be an instrument of democracy not a weapon of destruction by
giving free TV time to candidates for public office.

When the last Congress killed political reform last year, it was reported
in the press that the lobbyists actually stood in the halls of this sacred
building and cheered. This year, let's give the folks at home something to
cheer about.

More important, I think we all agree that we have to change the way the
Government works. Let's make it smaller, less costly and smarter. Leaner
not meaner.

I just told the Speaker the equal time doctrine's alive and well.

The Role Of Government

The New Covenant approach to governing is as different from the old
bureaucratic way as the computer is from the manual typewriter. The old way
of governing around here protected organized interests; we should look out
for the interests of ordinary people. The old way divided us by interests,
constituency or class; the New Covenant way should unite us behind a common
vision of what's best for our country.

The old way dispensed services through large, top-down, inflexible
bureaucracies. The New Covenant way should shift these resources and
decision making from bureaucrats to citizens, injecting choice and
competition and individual responsibility into national policy.

The old way of governing around here actually seemed to reward failure. The
New Covenant way should have built-in incentives to reward success.

The old way was centralized here in Washington. The New Covenant way must
take hold in the communities all across America, and we should help them to
do that.

Our job here is to expand opportunity, not bureaucracy, to empower people
to make the most of their own lives and to enhance our security here at
home and abroad.

We must not ask Government to do what we should do for ourselves. We should
rely on Government as a partner to help us to do more for ourselves and for
each other.

I hope very much that as we debate these specific and exciting matters, we
can go beyond the sterile discussion between the illusion that there is
somehow a program for every problem, on the one hand, and the other
illusion that the Government is the source of every problem that we have.

Our job is to get rid of yesterday's Government so that our own people can
meet today's and tomorrow's needs.

And we ought to do it together.

You know, for years before I became President, I heard others say they
would cut Government and how bad it was. But not much happened.

We actually did it. We cut over a quarter of a trillion dollars in
spending, more than 300 domestic programs, more than 100,000 positions from
the Federal bureaucracy in the last two years alone.

Based on decisions already made, we will have cut a total of more than a
quarter of a million positions from the Federal Government, making it the
smallest it has been since John Kennedy was president, by the time I come
here again next year.

Under the leadership of Vice President Gore, our initiatives have already
saved taxpayers $ 63 billion. The age of the $ 500 hammer and the ashtray
you can break on David Letterman is gone. Deadwood programs like mohair
subsidies are gone. We've streamlined the Agriculture Department by
reducing it by more than 1,200 offices. We've slashed the small-business
loan form from an inch thick to a single page. We've thrown away the
Government's 10,000-page personnel manual.

And the Government is working better in important ways. FEMA, the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, has gone from being a disaster to helping
people in disaster.

You can ask the farmers in the Middle West who fought the flood there or
the people in California who've dealt with floods and earthquakes and fires
and they'll tell you that.

Government workers, working hand-in-hand with private business, rebuilt
Southern California's fractured freeways in record time and under budget.

And because the Federal Government moved fast, all but one of the 5,600
schools damaged in the earthquake are back in business.

Now, there are a lot of other things that I could talk about. I want to
just mention one because it'll be discussed here in the next few weeks.

University administrators all over the country have told me that they are
saving weeks and weeks of bureaucratic time now because of our direct
college loan program, which makes college loans cheaper and more affordable
with better repayment terms for students, costs the Government less and
cuts out paperwork and bureaucracy for the Government and for the
universities.

We shouldn't cap that program, we should give every college in America the
opportunity to be a part of it.

Previous Government programs gather dust; the reinventing Government report
is getting results. And we're not through--there's going to be a second
round of reinventing Government.

We propose to cut $ 130 billion in spending by shrinking departments,
extending our freeze on domestic spending, cutting 60 public housing
programs down to 3, getting rid of over a hundred programs we do not need
like the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Helium Reserve Program.

And we're working on getting rid of unnecessary regulations and making them
more sensible. The programs and regulations that have outlived their
usefulness should go. We have to cut yesterday's Government to help solve
tomorrow's problems.

And we need to get Government closer to the people it's meant to serve. We
need to help move programs down to the point where states and communities
and private citizens in the private sector can do a better job. If they can
do it, we ought to let them do it. We should get out of the way and let
them do what they can do better.

Community Empowerment

Taking power away from Federal bureaucracies and giving it back to
communities and individuals is something everyone should be able to be for.
It's time for Congress to stop passing onto the states the cost of
decisions we make here in Washington.

I know there are still serious differences over the details of the unfunded
mandates legislation but I want to work with you to make sure we pass a
reasonable bill which will protect the national interest and give justified
relief where we need to give it.

For years, Congress concealed in the budget scores of pet spending
projects. Last year was no different. There was a million dollars to study
stress in plants and $ 12 million for a tick removal program that didn't
work. It's hard to remove ticks; those of us who've had them know.

But I'll tell you something, if you'll give me the line-item veto, I'll
remove some of that unnecessary spending.

But, I think we should all remember, and almost all of us would agree, that
Government still has important responsibilities.

Our young people--we should think of this when we cut--our young people
hold our future in their hands. We still owe a debt to our veterans. And
our senior citizens have made us what we are.

Budget

Now, my budget cuts a lot. But it protects education, veterans, Social
Security and Medicare, and I hope you will do the same thing. You should,
and I hope you will.

And when we give more flexibility to the states, let us remember that there
are certain fundamental national needs that should be addressed in every
state, north and south, east and west.

Immunization against childhood disease, school lunches in all our schools,
Head Start, medical care and nutrition for pregnant women and infants--all
these things are in the national interest.

I applaud your desire to get rid of costly and unnecessary regulations, but
when we deregulate let's remember what national action in the national
interest has given us: safer food for our families, safer toys for our
children, safer nursing homes for our parents, safer cars and highways and
safer workplaces, cleaner air and cleaner water. Do we need common sense
and fairness in our regulations? You bet we do. But we can have common
sense and still provide for safe drinking water. We can have fairness and
still clean up toxic dumps and we ought to do it.

Should we cut the deficit more? Well of course we should. Of course we
should. But we can bring it down in a way that still protects our economic
recovery and does not unduly punish people who should not be punished, but
instead should be helped.

I know many of you in this chamber support the balanced-budget amendment. I
certainly want to balance the budget. Our Administration has done more to
bring the budget down and to save money than any in a very, very long
time.

If you believe passing this amendment is the right thing to do, then you
have to be straight with the American people. They have a right to know
what you're going to cut, what taxes you're going to raise, how it's going
to affect them.

And we should be doing things in the open around here. For example,
everybody ought to know if this proposal is going to endanger Social
Security. I would oppose that, and I think most Americans would.

Welfare

Nothing is done more to undermine our sense of common responsibility than
our failed welfare system. This is one of the problems we have to face here
in Washington in our New Covenant. It rewards welfare over work, it
undermines family values, it lets millions of parents get away without
paying their child support, it keeps a minority--but a significant
minority--of the people on welfare trapped on it for a very long time.

I worked on this problem for a long time--nearly 15 years now. As a
Governor I had the honor of working with the Reagan Administration to write
the last welfare reform bill back in 1988.

In the last two years we made a good start in continuing the work of
welfare reform. Our Administration gave two dozen states the right to slash
through Federal rules and regulations to reform their own welfare systems
and to try to promote work and responsibility over welfare and dependency.

Last year, I introduced the most sweeping welfare reform plan ever
presented by an Administration. We have to make welfare what it was meant
to be--a second chance, not a way of life.

We have to help those on welfare move to work as quickly as possible, to
provide child care and teach them skills, if that's what they need, for up
to two years. But after that, there ought to be a simple, hard rule. Anyone
who can work must go to work.

If a parent isn't paying child support, they should be forced to pay.

We should suspend driver's licenses, track them across state lines, make
them work off what they owe. That is what we should do. Governments do not
raise children, people do. And the parents must take responsibility for the
children they bring into this world.

I want to work with you, with all of you, to pass welfare reform. But our
goal must be to liberate people and lift them from dependence to
independence, from welfare to work, from mere childbearing to responsible
parenting. Our goal should not be to punish them because they happen to be
poor.

We should--we should require work and mutual responsibility. But we
shouldn't cut people off just because they're poor, they're young or even
because they're unmarried. We should promote responsibility by requiring
young mothers to live at home with their parents or in other supervised
settings, by requiring them to finish school. But we shouldn't put them and
their children out on the street.

And I know all the arguments pro and con and I have read and thought about
this for a long time: I still don't think we can, in good conscience,
punish poor children for the mistakes of their parents.

My fellow Americans, every single survey shows that all the American people
care about this, without regard to party or race or region. So let this be
the year we end welfare as we know it.

But also let this be the year that we are all able to stop using this issue
to divide America.

No one is more eager to end welfare.

I may be the only President who's actually had the opportunity to sit in
the welfare office, who's actually spent hours and hours talking to people
on welfare, and I am telling you the people who are trapped on it know it
doesn't work. They also want to get off.

So we can promote, together, education and work and good parenting. I have
no problem with punishing bad behavior or the refusal to be a worker or a
student or a responsible parent. I just don't want to punish poverty and
past mistakes. All of us have made our mistakes and none of us can change
our yesterdays, but every one of us can change our tomorrows.

And America's best example of that may be Lynn Woolsey, who worked her way
off welfare to become a Congresswoman from the state of California.

Crime

I know the members of this Congress are concerned about crime, as are all
the citizens of our country. But I remind you that last year we passed a
very tough crime bill--longer sentences, three strikes and you're out,
almost 60 new capital punishment offenses, more prisons, more prevention,
100,000 more police--and we paid for it all by reducing the size of the
Federal bureaucracy and giving the money back to local communities to lower
the crime rate.

There may be other things we can do to be tougher on crime, to be smarter
with crime, to help to lower that rate first. Well if there are, let's talk
about them and let's do them. But let's not go back on the things that we
did last year that we know work--that we know work because the local
law-enforcement officers tell us that we did the right thing. Because local
community leaders, who've worked for years and years to lower the crime
rate, tell us that they work.

Let's look at the experience of our cities and our rural areas where the
crime rate has gone down and ask the people who did it how they did it and
if what we did last year supports the decline in the crime rate, and I am
convinced that it does, let us not go back on it, let's stick with it,
implement it--we've got four more hard years of work to do to do that.

I don't want to destroy the good atmosphere in the room or in the country
tonight, but I have to mention one issue that divided this body greatly
last year. The last Congress also passed the Brady bill and in the crime
bill the ban on 19 assault weapons.

I don't think it's a secret to anybody in this room that several members of
the last Congress who voted for that aren't here tonight because they voted
for it. And I know, therefore, that some of you that are here because they
voted for it are under enormous pressure to repeal it. I just have to tell
you how I feel about it.

The members who voted for that bill and I would never do anything to
infringe on the right to keep and bear arms to hunt and to engage in other
appropriate sporting activities. I've done it since I was a boy, and I'm
going to keep right on doing it until I can't do it anymore.

But a lot of people laid down their seats in Congress so that police
officers and kids wouldn't have to lay down their lives under a hail of
assault-weapon attacks, and I will not let that be repealed. I will not let
it be repealed.

I'd like to talk about a couple of other issues we have to deal with. I
want us to cut more spending, but I hope we won't cut Government programs
that help to prepare us for the new economy, promote responsibility and are
organized from the grass roots up, not by Federal bureaucracy.

The very best example of this is the National Service Corps--AmeriCorps.
It passed with strong bipartisan support and now there are 20,000 Americans
--more than ever served in one year in the Peace Corps--working all over
this country, helping person to person in local grass-roots volunteer
groups, solving problems and in the process earning some money for their
education.

This is citizenship at its best. It's good for the AmeriCorps members, but
it's good for the rest of us, too. It's the essence of the New Covenant and
we shouldn't stop it.

Illegal Immigration

All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected, but in every
place in this country are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal
aliens entering our country.

The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants.
The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That's why
our Administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more, by
hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many
criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by
barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.

In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the
deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better
identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission
headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. It is
wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit
the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and
we must do more to stop it.

The most important job of our Government in this new era is to empower the
American people to succeed in the global economy. America has always been a
land of opportunity, a land where, if you work hard, you can get ahead.
We've become a great middle-class country; middle-class values sustain us.
We must expand that middle class and shrink the underclass even as we do
everything we can to support the millions of Americans who are already
successful in the new economy.

America is once again the world's strongest economic power: almost six
million new jobs in the last two years, exports booming, inflation down,
high-wage jobs are coming back. A record number of American entrepreneurs
are living the American dream.

If we want it to stay that way, those who work and lift our nation must
have more of its benefits.

Today, too many of those people are being left out. They're working harder
for less. They have less security, less income, less certainty that they
can even afford a vacation, much less college for their kids or retirement
for themselves.

We cannot let this continue. If we don't act, our economy will probably
keep doing what it's been doing since about 1978, when the income growth
began to go to those at the very top of our economic scale. And the people
in the vast middle got very little growth and people who worked like crazy
but were on the bottom then, fell even further and further behind in the
years afterward, no matter how hard they worked.

We've got to have a Government that can be a real partner in making this
new economy work for all of our people, a Government that helps each and
every one of us to get an education and to have the opportunity to renew
our skills.

Education

That's why we worked so hard to increase educational opportunities in the
last two years from Head Start to public schools to apprenticeships for
young people who don't go to college, to making college loans more
available and more affordable.

That's the first thing we have to do: We've got to do something to empower
people to improve their skills.

Taxes

Second thing we ought to do is to help people raise their incomes
immediately by lowering their taxes.

We took the first step in 1993 with a working family tax cut for 15 million
families with incomes under $ 27,000, a tax cut that this year will average
about $ 1,000 a family.

And we also gave tax reductions to most small and new businesses. Before we
could do more than that, we first had to bring down the deficit we
inherited and we had to get economic growth up. Now we've done both, and
now we can cut taxes in a more comprehensive way.

But tax cuts should reinforce and promote our first obligation: to empower
our citizens through education and training to make the most of their own
lives. The spotlight should shine on those who make the right choices for
themselves, their families and their communities.

Middle Class Bill Of Rights

I have proposed a middle-class bill of rights, which should properly be
called the bill of rights and responsibilities, because its provisions only
benefit those who are working to educate and raise their children and to
educate themselves. It will, therefore, give needed tax relief and raise
incomes, in both the short run and the long run, in a way that benefits all
of us.

There are four provisions:

First, a tax deduction for all education and training after high school. If
you think about it, we permit businesses to deduct their investment, we
permit individuals to deduct interest on their home mortgages, but today an
education is even more important to the economic well-being of our whole
country than even those things are. We should do everything we can to
encourage it, and I hope you will support it.

Second, we ought to cut taxes $ 500 for families with children under 13.

Third, we ought to foster more savings and personal responsibility by
permitting people to establish an individual retirement account and
withdraw from it tax free for the cost of education, health care,
first-time home buying or the care of a parent.

And fourth, we should pass a G.I. bill for America's workers. We propose to
collapse nearly 70 Federal programs and not give the money to the states
but give the money directly to the American people, offer vouchers to them
so that they--if they're laid off or if they're working for a very low
wage--can get a voucher worth $ 2,600 a year for up to two years to go to
their local community colleges or wherever else they want to get the skills
they need to improve their lives. Let's empower people in this way. Move it
from the Government directly to the workers of America.

Cutting The Deficit Now

Any one of us can call for a tax cut, but I won't accept one that explodes
the deficit or puts our recovery at risk. We ought to pay for our tax cuts
fully and honestly. Just two years ago it was an open question whether we
would find the strength to cut the deficit.

Thanks to the courage of the people who were here then, many of whom didn't
return, we did cut the deficit. We began to do what others said would not
be done: We cut the deficit by over $ 600 billion, about $ 10,000 for every
family in this country. It's coming down three years in a row for the first
time since Mr. Truman was President and I don't think anybody in America
wants us to let it explode again.

In the budget I will send you, the middle-class bill of rights is fully
paid for by budget cuts in bureaucracy, cuts in programs, cuts in special
interest subsidies. And the spending cuts will more than double the tax
cuts. My budget pays for the middle-class bill of rights without any cuts
in Medicare, and I will oppose any attempts to pay for tax cuts with
Medicare cuts. That's not the right thing to do.

I know that a lot of you have your own ideas about tax relief. And some of
them, I find quite interesting. I really want to work with all of you.

My tests for our proposals will be: Will it create jobs and raise incomes?
Will it strengthen our families and support our children? Is it paid for?
Will it build the middle class and shrink the underclass?

If it does, I'll support it. But if it doesn't, I won't.

Minimum Wage

The goal of building the middle class and shrinking the underclass is also
why I believe that you should raise the minimum wage.

It rewards work--two and a half million Americans, often women with
children, are working out there today for four-and-a-quarter an hour. In
terms of real buying power, by next year, that minimum wage will be at a
40-year low. That's not my idea of how the new economy ought to work.

Now I studied the arguments and the evidence for and against a minimum-wage
increase. I believe the weight of the evidence is that a modest increase
does not cost jobs and may even lure people back into the job market. But
the most important thing is you can't make a living on $ 4.25 an hour. Now
--especially if you have children, even with the working families tax cut
we passed last year.

In the past, the minimum wage has been a bipartisan issue and I think it
should be again. So I want to challenge you to have honest hearings on
this, to get together to find a way to make the minimum wage a living
wage.

Members of Congress have been here less than a month but by the end of the
week--28 days into the new year--every member of Congress will have
earned as much in congressional salary as a minimum-wage worker makes all
year long.

Everybody else here, including the President, has something else that too
many Americans do without and that's health care.

Health Care

Now, last year we almost came to blows over health care, but we didn't do
anything. And the cold, hard fact is that since last year--since I was
here--another 1.1 million Americans in working families have lost their
health care. And the cold, hard fact is that many millions more--most of
them farmers and small business people and self-employed people--have
seen their premiums skyrocket, their co-pays and deductibles go up.

There's a whole bunch of people in this country that in the statistics have
health insurance but really what they've got is a piece of paper that says
they won't lose their home if they get sick.

Now I still believe our country has got to move toward providing health
security for every American family, but--but I know that last year, as the
evidence indicates, we bit off more than we could chew.

So I'm asking you that we work together. Let's do it step by step. Let's do
whatever we have to do to get something done. Let's at least pass
meaningful insurance reform so that no American risks losing coverage for
facing skyrocketing prices but that nobody loses their coverage because
they face high prices or unavailable insurance when they change jobs or
lose a job or a family member gets sick.

I want to work together with all of you who have an interest in this: with
the Democrats who worked on it last time, with the Republican leaders like
Senator Dole who has a longtime commitment to health care reform and made
some constructive proposals in this area last year. We ought to make sure
that self-employed people in small businesses can buy insurance at more
affordable rates through voluntary purchasing pools. We ought to help
families provide long-term care for a sick parent to a disabled child. We
can work to help workers who lose their jobs at least keep their health
insurance coverage for a year while they look for work, and we can find a
way--it may take some time, but we can find a way--to make sure that our
children have health care.

You know, I think everybody in this room, without regard to party, can be
proud of the fact that our country was rated as having the world's most
productive economy for the first time in nearly a decade, but we can't be
proud of the fact that we're the only wealthy country in the world that has
a smaller percentage of the work force and their children with health
insurance today than we did 10 years ago--the last time we were the most
productive economy in the world.

So let's work together on this. It is too important for politics as usual.

Much of what the American people are thinking about tonight is what we've
already talked about. A lot of people think that the security concerns of
America today are entirely internal to our borders, they relate to the
security of our jobs and our homes and our incomes and our children, our
streets, our health and protecting those borders.

Foreign Policy

Now that the Cold War has passed, it's tempting to believe that all the
security issues, with the possible exception of trade, reside here at home.
But it's not so. Our security still depends on our continued world
leadership for peace and freedom and democracy. We still can't be strong at
home unless we're strong abroad.

Mexico

The financial crisis in Mexico is a case in point. I know it's not popular
to say it tonight but we have to act, not for the Mexican people but for
the sake of the millions of Americans whose livelihoods are tied to
Mexico's well-being. If we want to secure American jobs, preserve American
exports, safeguard America's borders then we must pass the stabilization
program and help to put Mexico back on track.

Now let me repeat: it's not a loan, it's not foreign aid, it's not a
bail-out. We'll be given a guarantee like co-signing a note with good
collateral that will cover our risk.

This legislation is the right thing for America. That's why the bipartisan
leadership has supported it. And I hope you in Congress will pass it
quickly. It is in our interest and we can explain it to the American
people, because we're going to do it in the right way.

Russia

You know, tonight this is the first State of the Union address ever
delivered since the beginning of the cold war when not a single Russian
missile is pointed at the children of America.

And along with the Russians, we're on our way to destroying the missiles
and the bombers that carry 9,000 nuclear warheads. We've come so far so
fast in this post-cold-war world that it's easy to take the decline of the
nuclear threat for granted. But it's still there, and we aren't finished
yet.

This year, I'll ask the Senate to approve START II to eliminate weapons
that carry 5,000 more warheads. The United States will lead the charge to
extend indefinitely the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to enact a
comprehensive nuclear test ban, and to eliminate chemical weapons.

North Korea

To stop and roll back North Korea's potentially deadly nuclear program,
we'll continue to implement the agreement we have reached with that nation.
It's smart, it's tough, it's a deal based on continuing inspection with
safeguards for our allies and ourselves.

This year, I'll submit to Congress comprehensive legislation to strengthen
our hand in combating terrorists, whether they strike at home or abroad. As
the cowards who bombed the World Trade Center found out, this country will
hunt down terrorists and bring them to justice.

Middle East

Just this week, another horrendous terrorist act in Israel killed 19 and
injured scores more. On behalf of the American people and all of you, I
send our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. I know that in
the face of such evil, it is hard for the people in the Middle East to go
forward. But the terrorists represent the past, not the future. We must and
we will pursue a comprehensive peace between Israel and all her neighbors
in the Middle East.

Accordingly, last night I signed an executive order that will block the
assets in the United States of terrorist organizations that threaten to
disrupt the peace process. It prohibits financial transactions with these
groups.

And tonight I call on all our allies in peace-loving nations throughout the
world to join us with renewed fervor in a global effort to combat
terrorism, we cannot permit the future to be marred by terror and fear and
paralysis.

Defense

From the day I took the oath of office, I pledged that our nation would
maintain the best-equipped, best-trained and best-prepared military on
earth. We have and they are. They have managed the dramatic downsizing of
our forces after the cold war with remarkable skill and spirit. But to make
sure our military is ready for action and to provide the pay and the
quality of life the military and their families deserve, I'm asking the
Congress to add $ 25 billion in defense spending over the next six years.

I have visited many bases at home and around the world since I became
President. Tonight I repeat that request with renewed conviction. We ask a
very great deal of our armed forces. Now that they are smaller in number,
we ask more of them. They go out more often to more different places and
stay longer. They are called to service in many, many ways, and we must
give them and their families what the times demand and what they have
earned.

Just think about what our troops have done in the last year, showing
America at its best, helping to save hundreds of thousands of people in
Rwanda, moving with lightning speed to head off another threat to Kuwait,
giving freedom and democracy back to the people of Haiti.

We have proudly supported peace and prosperity and freedom from South
Africa to Northern Ireland, from Central and Eastern Europe to Asia, from
Latin America to the Middle East. All these endeavors are good in those
places but they make our future more confident and more secure.

Well, my fellow Americans, that's my agenda for America's future: expanding
opportunity not bureaucracy, enhancing security at home and abroad,
empowering our people to make the most of their own lives.

It's ambitious and achievable. But it's not enough.

We even need more than new ideas for changing the world or equipping
Americans to compete in the new economy, more than a Government that's
smaller, smarter and wiser, more than all the changes we can make in
Government and in the private sector from the outside in.

Values And Voices

Our fortunes and our prosperity also depend upon our ability to answer some
questions from within--from the values and voices that speak to our hearts
as well as our heads, voices that tell us we have to do more to accept
responsibility for ourselves and our families, for our communities, and
yes, for our fellow citizens.

We see our families and our communities all over this country coming apart.
And we feel the common ground shifting from under us. The PTA, the town
hall meeting, the ball park--it's hard for a lot of overworked parents to
find the time and space for those things that strengthen the bonds of trust
and cooperation.

Too many of our children don't even have parents and grandparents who can
give them those experiences that they need to build their own character and
their sense of identity. We all know that while we here in this chamber can
make a difference on those things, that the real differences will be made
by our fellow citizens where they work and where they live.

And it'll be made almost without regard to party. When I used to go to the
softball park in Little Rock to watch my daughter's league and people would
come up to me--fathers and mothers--and talk to me, I can honestly say I
had no idea whether 90 percent of them were Republicans or Democrats.

When I visited the relief centers after the floods in California, Northern
California, last week, a woman came up to me and did something that very
few of you would do. She hugged me and said, "Mr. President, I'm a
Republican, but I'm glad you're here."

Now, why? We can't wait for disasters to act the way we used to act every
day. Because as we move into this next century, everybody matters. We don't
have a person to waste. And a lot of people are losing a lot of chances to
do better.

That means that we need a New Covenant for everybody--for our corporate
and business leaders, we're going to work here to keep bringing the deficit
down, to expand markets, to support their success in every possible way.
But they have an obligation: when they're doing well, to keep jobs in our
communities and give their workers a fair share of the prosperity they
generate.

For people in the entertainment industry in this country, we applaud your
creativity and your worldwide success and we support your freedom of
expression but you do have a responsibility to assess the impact of your
work and to understand the damage that comes from the incessant,
repetitive, mindless violence and irresponsible conduct that permeates our
media all the time.

We've got to ask our community leaders and all kinds of organizations to
help us stop our most serious social problem: the epidemic of teen
pregnancies and births where there is no marriage. I have sent to Congress
a plan to target schools all over this country with anti-pregnancy programs
that work. But government can only do so much. Tonight, I call on parents
and leaders all across this country to join together in a national campaign
against teen pregnancy to make a difference. We can do this and we must.

And I would like to say a special word to our religious leaders. You know,
I'm proud of the fact that the United States has more house of worship per
capita than any country in the world. These people, who lead our houses of
worship, can ignite their congregations to carry their faith into action,
can reach out to all of our children, to all of the people in distress, to
those who have been savaged by the breakdown of all we hold dear, because
so much of what must be done must come from the inside out. And our
religious leaders and their congregations can make all the difference. They
have a role in the New Covenant as well.

There must be more responsibility for all of our citizens. You know it
takes a lot of people to help all the kids in trouble stay off the streets
and in school. It takes a lot of people to build the Habitat for Humanity
houses that the Speaker celebrates on his lapel pin. It takes a lot of
people to provide the people power for all the civic organizations in this
country that made our communities mean so much to most of us when we were
kids. It takes every parent to teach the children the difference between
right and wrong and to encourage them to learn and grow and to say no to
the wrong things but also to believe that they can be whatever they want to
be.

I know it's hard when you're working harder for less, when you're under
great stress, to do these things. A lot of our people don't have the time
or the emotional stress they think to do the work of citizenship. Most of
us in politics haven't helped very much. For years, we've mostly treated
citizens like they were consumers or spectators, sort of political couch
potatoes who were supposed to watch the TV ads--either promise them
something for nothing or play on their fears and frustrations. And more and
more of our citizens now get most of their information in very negative and
aggressive ways that is hardly conducive to honest and open conversations.
But the truth is we have got to stop seeing each other as enemies just
because we have different views.

If you go back to the beginning of this country, the great strength of
America, as de Tocqueville pointed out when he came here a long time ago,
has always been our ability to associate with people who were different
from ourselves and to work together to find common ground. And in this day
everybody has a responsibility to do more of that. We simply cannot wait
for a tornado, a fire or a flood to behave like Americans ought to behave
in dealing with one another.

I want to finish up here by pointing out some folks that are up with the
First Lady that represent what I'm trying to talk about. Citizens. I have
no idea what their party affiliation is or who they voted for in the last
election, but they represent what we ought to be doing.

Cindy Perry teaches second-graders to read in AmeriCorps in rural Kentucky.
She gains when she gives. She's a mother of four.

She says that her service inspired her to get her high school equivalency
last year. She was married when she was a teen-ager. Stand up, Cindy. She
married when she was a teen-ager. She had four children, but she had time
to serve other people, to get her high school equivalency and she's going
to use her AmeriCorps money to go back to college.

Steven Bishop is the police chief of Kansas City. He's been a national
leader--stand up Steve. He's been a national leader in using more police
in community policing and he's worked with AmeriCorps to do it, and the
crime rate in Kansas City has gone down as a result of what he did.

Cpl. Gregory Depestre went to Haiti as part of his adopted country's force
to help secure democracy in his native land. And I might add we must be the
only country in the world that could have gone to Haiti and taken
Haitian-Americans there who could speak the language and talk to the
people, and he was one of them and we're proud of him.

The next two folks I've had the honor of meeting and getting to know a
little bit. The Rev. John and the Rev. Diana Cherry of the A.M.E. Zion
Church in Temple Hills, Md. I'd like to ask them to stand. I want to tell
you about them. In the early 80's they left Government service and formed a
church in a small living room in a small house in the early 80's. Today
that church has 17,000 members. It is one of the three or four biggest
churches in the entire United States. It grows by 200 a month.

They do it together. And the special focus of their ministry is keeping
families together. They are--Two things they did make a big impression on
me. I visited their church once and I learned they were building a new
sanctuary closer to the Washington, D.C., line, in a higher-crime,
higher-drug-rate area because they thought it was part of their ministry to
change the lives of the people who needed them. Second thing I want to say
is that once Reverend Cherry was at a meeting at the White House with some
other religious leaders and he left early to go back to his church to
minister to 150 couples that he had brought back to his church from all
over America to convince them to come back together to save their marriages
and to raise their kids. This is the kind of work that citizens are doing
in America. We need more of it and it ought to be lifted up and supported.

The last person I want to introduce is Jack Lucas from Hattiesburg,
Mississippi. Jack, would you stand up. Fifty years ago in the sands of Iwo
Jima, Jack Lucas taught and learned the lessons of citizenship. On February
the 20th, 1945, he and three of his buddies encountered the enemy and two
grenades at their feet. Jack Lucas threw himself on both of them. In that
moment he saved the lives of his companions and miraculously in the next
instant a medic saved his life. He gained a foothold for freedom and at the
age of 17, just a year older than his grandson, who's up there with him
today, and his son, who is a West Point graduate and a veteran, at 17, Jack
Lucas became the youngest marine in history and the youngest soldier in
this century to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. All these years
later, yesterday, here's what he said about that day: Didn't matter where
you were from or who you were. You relied on one another. You did it for
your country. We all gain when we give and we reap what we sow. That's at
the heart of this New Covenant. Responsibility, opportunity and
citizenship.

More than stale chapters in some remote civic book they're still the virtue
by which we can fulfill ourselves and reach our God-given potential and be
like them. And also to fulfill the eternal promise of this country, the
enduring dream from that first and most-sacred covenant. I believe every
person in this country still believes that we are created equal and given
by our creator the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This is a very, very great country and our best days are still to come.
Thank you and God bless you all.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 23, 1996

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 104th Congress,
distinguished guests, my fellow Americans all across our land:

Let me begin tonight by saying to our men and women in uniform around the
world, and especially those helping peace take root in Bosnia and to their
families, I thank you. America is very, very proud of you.

My duty tonight is to report on the state of the Union--not the state of
our government, but of our American community; and to set forth our
responsibilities, in the words of our Founders, to form a more perfect
union.

The state of the Union is strong. Our economy is the healthiest it has been
in three decades. We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and
inflation in 27 years. We have created nearly 8 million new jobs, over a
million of them in basic industries, like construction and automobiles.
America is selling more cars than Japan for the first time since the 1970s.
And for three years in a row, we have had a record number of new businesses
started in our country.

Our leadership in the world is also strong, bringing hope for new peace.
And perhaps most important, we are gaining ground in restoring our
fundamental values. The crime rate, the welfare and food stamp rolls, the
poverty rate and the teen pregnancy rate are all down. And as they go down,
prospects for America's future go up.

We live in an age of possibility. A hundred years ago we moved from farm to
factory. Now we move to an age of technology, information, and global
competition. These changes have opened vast new opportunities for our
people, but they have also presented them with stiff challenges. While more
Americans are living better, too many of our fellow citizens are working
harder just to keep up, and they are rightly concerned about the security
of their families.

The Role Of Government

We must answer here three fundamental questions: First, how do we make the
American Dream of opportunity for all a reality for all Americans who are
willing to work for it? Second, how do we preserve our old and enduring
values as we move into the future? And, third, how do we meet these
challenges together, as one America?

We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there's not a
program for every problem. We have worked to give the American people a
smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give
the American people one that lives within its means.

The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when
our citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward
as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face
together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have
both.

I believe our new, smaller government must work in an old-fashioned
American way, together with all of our citizens through state and local
governments, in the workplace, in religious, charitable and civic
associations. Our goal must be to enable all our people to make the most of
their own lives--with stronger families, more educational opportunity,
economic security, safer streets, a cleaner environment in a safer world.

To improve the state of our Union, we must ask more of ourselves, we must
expect more of each other, and we must face our challenges together.

Here, in this place, our responsibility begins with balancing the budget in
a way that is fair to all Americans. There is now broad bipartisan
agreement that permanent deficit spending must come to an end.

I compliment the Republican leadership and the membership for the energy
and determination you have brought to this task of balancing the budget.
And I thank the Democrats for passing the largest deficit reduction plan in
history in 1993, which has already cut the deficit nearly in half in three
years.

Deficit

Since 1993, we have all begun to see the benefits of deficit reduction.
Lower interest rates have made it easier for businesses to borrow and to
invest and to create new jobs. Lower interest rates have brought down the
cost of home mortgages, car payments and credit card rates to ordinary
citizens. Now, it is time to finish the job and balance the budget.

Though differences remain among us which are significant, the combined
total of the proposed savings that are common to both plans is more than
enough, using the numbers from your Congressional Budget Office to balance
the budget in seven years and to provide a modest tax cut.

These cuts are real. They will require sacrifice from everyone. But these
cuts do not undermine our fundamental obligations to our parents, our
children, and our future, by endangering Medicare, or Medicaid, or
education, or the environment, or by raising taxes on working families.

I have said before, and let me say again, many good ideas have come out of
our negotiations. I have learned a lot about the way both Republicans and
Democrats view the debate before us. I have learned a lot about the good
ideas that we could all embrace.

We ought to resolve our remaining differences. I am willing to work to
resolve them. I am ready to meet tomorrow. But I ask you to consider that
we should at least enact these savings that both plans have in common and
give the American people their balanced budget, a tax cut, lower interest
rates, and a brighter future. We should do that now, and make permanent
deficits yesterday's legacy.

Now it is time for us to look also to the challenges of today and tomorrow,
beyond the burdens of yesterday. The challenges are significant. But
America was built on challenges, not promises. And when we work together to
meet them, we never fail. That is the key to a more perfect Union. Our
individual dreams must be realized by our common efforts.

Tonight I want to speak to you about the challenges we all face as a
people.

Strengthening Families

Our first challenge is to cherish our children and strengthen America's
families. Family is the foundation of American life. If we have stronger
families, we will have a stronger America.

Before I go on, I would like to take just a moment to thank my own family,
and to thank the person who has taught me more than anyone else over 25
years about the importance of families and children--a wonderful wife, a
magnificent mother and a great First Lady. Thank you, Hillary.

All strong families begin with taking more responsibility for our children.
I have heard Mrs. Gore say that it's hard to be a parent today, but it's
even harder to be a child. So all of us, not just as parents, but all of us
in our other roles--our media, our schools, our teachers, our communities,
our churches and synagogues, our businesses, our governments--all of us
have a responsibility to help our children to make it and to make the most
of their lives and their God-given capacities.

To the media, I say you should create movies and CDs and television shows
you'd want your own children and grandchildren to enjoy.

I call on Congress to pass the requirement for a V-chip in TV sets so that
parents can screen out programs they believe are inappropriate for their
children. When parents control what their young children see, that is not
censorship; that is enabling parents to assume more personal responsibility
for their children's upbringing. And I urge them to do it. The V-chip
requirement is part of the important telecommunications bill now pending in
this Congress. It has bipartisan support, and I urge you to pass it now.

To make the V-chip work, I challenge the broadcast industry to do what
movies have done--to identify your programming in ways that help parents
to protect their children. And I invite the leaders of major media
corporations in the entertainment industry to come to the White House next
month to work with us in a positive way on concrete ways to improve what
our children see on television. I am ready to work with you.

I say to those who make and market cigarettes: every year a million
children take up smoking, even though it is against the law. Three hundred
thousand of them will have their lives shortened as a result. Our
administration has taken steps to stop the massive marketing campaigns that
appeal to our children. We are simply saying: Market your products to
adults, if you wish, but draw the line on children.

I say to those who are on welfare, and especially to those who have been
trapped on welfare for a long time: For too long our welfare system has
undermined the values of family and work, instead of supporting them. The
Congress and I are near agreement on sweeping welfare reform. We agree on
time limits, tough work requirements, and the toughest possible child
support enforcement. But I believe we must also provide child care so that
mothers who are required to go to work can do so without worrying about
what is happening to their children.

I challenge this Congress to send me a bipartisan welfare reform bill that
will really move people from welfare to work and do the right thing by our
children. I will sign it immediately.

Let us be candid about this difficult problem. Passing a law, even the best
possible law, is only a first step. The next step is to make it work. I
challenge people on welfare to make the most of this opportunity for
independence. I challenge American businesses to give people on welfare the
chance to move into the work force. I applaud the work of religious groups
and others who care for the poor. More than anyone else in our society,
they know the true difficulty of the task before us, and they are in a
position to help. Every one of us should join them. That is the only way we
can make real welfare reform a reality in the lives of the American
people.

To strengthen the family we must do everything we can to keep the teen
pregnancy rate going down. I am gratified, as I'm sure all Americans are,
that it has dropped for two years in a row. But we all know it is still far
too high.

Tonight I am pleased to announce that a group of prominent Americans is
responding to that challenge by forming an organization that will support
grass-roots community efforts all across our country in a national campaign
against teen pregnancy. And I challenge all of us and every American to
join their efforts.

I call on American men and women in families to give greater respect to one
another. We must end the deadly scourge of domestic violence in our
country. And I challenge America's families to work harder to stay
together. For families who stay together not only do better economically,
their children do better as well.

In particular, I challenge the fathers of this country to love and care for
their children. If your family has separated, you must pay your child
support. We're doing more than ever to make sure you do, and we're going to
do more, but let's all admit something about that, too: A check will not
substitute for a parent's love and guidance. And only you--only you can
make the decision to help raise your children. No matter who you are, how
low or high your station in life, it is the most basic human duty of every
American to do that job to the best of his or her ability.

Education

Our second challenge is to provide Americans with the educational
opportunities we will all need for this new century. In our schools, every
classroom in America must be connected to the information superhighway,
with computers and good software, and well-trained teachers. We are working
with the telecommunications industry, educators and parents to connect 20
percent of California's classrooms by this spring, and every classroom and
every library in the entire United States by the year 2000. I ask Congress
to support this education technology initiative so that we can make sure
this national partnership succeeds.

Every diploma ought to mean something. I challenge every community, every
school and every state to adopt national standards of excellence; to
measure whether schools are meeting those standards; to cut bureaucratic
red tape so that schools and teachers have more flexibility for grass-roots
reform; and to hold them accountable for results. That's what our Goals
2000 initiative is all about.

I challenge every state to give all parents the right to choose which
public school their children will attend; and to let teachers form new
schools with a charter they can keep only if they do a good job.

I challenge all our schools to teach character education, to teach good
values and good citizenship. And if it means that teenagers will stop
killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be
able to require their students to wear school uniforms.

I challenge our parents to become their children's first teachers. Turn off
the TV. See that the homework is done. And visit your children's classroom.
No program, no teacher, no one else can do that for you.

My fellow Americans, higher education is more important today than ever
before. We've created a new student loan program that's made it easier to
borrow and repay those loans, and we have dramatically cut the student loan
default rate. That's something we should all be proud of, because it was
unconscionably high just a few years ago. Through AmeriCorps, our national
service program, this year 25,000 young people will earn college money by
serving their local communities to improve the lives of their friends and
neighbors. These initiatives are right for America and we should keep them
going.

And we should also work hard to open the doors of college even wider. I
challenge Congress to expand work-study and help one million young
Americans work their way through college by the year 2000; to provide a
$1000 merit scholarship for the top five percent of graduates in every high
school in the United States; to expand Pell Grant scholarships for
deserving and needy students; and to make up to $10,000 a year of college
tuition tax deductible. It's a good idea for America.

Our third challenge is to help every American who is willing to work for
it, achieve economic security in this new age. People who work hard still
need support to get ahead in the new economy. They need education and
training for a lifetime. They need more support for families raising
children. They need retirement security. They need access to health care.
More and more Americans are finding that the education of their childhood
simply doesn't last a lifetime.

G.I. Bill For Workers

So I challenge Congress to consolidate 70 overlapping, antiquated
job-training programs into a simple voucher worth $2,600 for unemployed or
underemployed workers to use as they please for community college tuition
or other training. This is a G.I. Bill for America's workers we should all
be able to agree on.

More and more Americans are working hard without a raise. Congress sets the
minimum wage. Within a year, the minimum wage will fall to a 40-year low in
purchasing power. Four dollars and 25 cents an hour is no longer a living
wage, but millions of Americans and their children are trying to live on
it. I challenge you to raise their minimum wage.

In 1993, Congress cut the taxes of 15 million hard-pressed working families
to make sure that no parents who work full-time would have to raise their
children in poverty, and to encourage people to move from welfare to work.
This expanded earned income tax credit is now worth about $1,800 a year to
a family of four living on $20,000. The budget bill I vetoed would have
reversed this achievement and raised taxes on nearly 8 million of these
people. We should not do that.

I also agree that the people who are helped under this initiative are not
all those in our country who are working hard to do a good job raising
their children and at work. I agree that we need a tax credit for working
families with children. That's one of the things most of us in this
Chamber, I hope, can agree on. I know it is strongly supported by the
Republican majority. And it should be part of any final budget agreement.

I want to challenge every business that can possibly afford it to provide
pensions for your employees. And I challenge Congress to pass a proposal
recommended by the White House Conference on Small Business that would make
it easier for small businesses and farmers to establish their own pension
plans. That is something we should all agree on.

We should also protect existing pension plans. Two years ago, with
bipartisan support that was almost unanimous on both sides of the aisle, we
moved to protect the pensions of 8 million working people and to stabilize
the pensions of 32 million more. Congress should not now let companies
endanger those workers' pension funds. I know the proposal to liberalize
the ability of employers to take money out of pension funds for other
purposes would raise money for the treasury. But I believe it is false
economy. I vetoed that proposal last year, and I would have to do so
again.

Health Care

Finally, if our working families are going to succeed in the new economy,
they must be able to buy health insurance policies that they do not lose
when they change jobs or when someone in their family gets sick. Over the
past two years, over one million Americans in working families have lost
their health insurance. We have to do more to make health care available to
every American. And Congress should start by passing the bipartisan bill
sponsored by Senator Kennedy and Senator Kassebaum that would require
insurance companies to stop dropping people when they switch jobs, and stop
denying coverage for preexisting conditions. Let's all do that.

And even as we enact savings in these programs, we must have a common
commitment to preserve the basic protections of Medicare and Medicaid--not
just to the poor, but to people in working families, including children,
people with disabilities, people with AIDS, and senior citizens in nursing
homes.

In the past three years, we've saved $15 billion just by fighting health
care fraud and abuse. We have all agreed to save much more. We have all
agreed to stabilize the Medicare Trust Fund. But we must not abandon our
fundamental obligations to the people who need Medicare and Medicaid.
America cannot become stronger if they become weaker.

The G.I. Bill for workers, tax relief for education and child rearing,
pension availability and protection, access to health care, preservation of
Medicare and Medicaid--these things, along with the Family and Medical
Leave Act passed in 1993--these things will help responsible, hard-working
American families to make the most of their own lives.

But employers and employees must do their part, as well, as they are doing
in so many of our finest companies--working together, putting the
long-term prosperity ahead of the short-term gain. As workers increase
their hours and their productivity, employers should make sure they get the
skills they need and share the benefits of the good years, as well as the
burdens of the bad ones. When companies and workers work as a team they do
better, and so does America.

Crime

Our fourth great challenge is to take our streets back from crime and gangs
and drugs. At last we have begun to find a way to reduce crime, forming
community partnerships with local police forces to catch criminals and
prevent crime. This strategy, called community policing, is clearly
working. Violent crime is coming down all across America. In New York City
murders are down 25 percent; in St. Louis, 18 percent; in Seattle, 32
percent. But we still have a long way to go before our streets are safe and
our people are free from fear.

The Crime Bill of 1994 is critical to the success of community policing. It
provides funds for 100,000 new police in communities of all sizes. We're
already a third of the way there. And I challenge the Congress to finish
the job. Let us stick with a strategy that's working and keep the crime
rate coming down.

Community policing also requires bonds of trust between citizens and
police. I ask all Americans to respect and support our law enforcement
officers. And to our police, I say, our children need you as role models
and heroes. Don't let them down.

The Brady Bill has already stopped 44,000 people with criminal records from
buying guns. The assault weapons ban is keeping 19 kinds of assault weapons
out of the hands of violent gangs. I challenge the Congress to keep those
laws on the books.

Our next step in the fight against crime is to take on gangs the way we
once took on the mob. I'm directing the FBI and other investigative
agencies to target gangs that involve juveniles in violent crime, and to
seek authority to prosecute as adults teenagers who maim and kill like
adults.

And I challenge local housing authorities and tenant associations: Criminal
gang members and drug dealers are destroying the lives of decent tenants.
From now on, the rule for residents who commit crime and peddle drugs
should be one strike and you're out.

I challenge every state to match federal policy to assure that serious
violent criminals serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

More police and punishment are important, but they're not enough. We have
got to keep more of our young people out of trouble, with prevention
strategies not dictated by Washington, but developed in communities. I
challenge all of our communities, all of our adults, to give our children
futures to say yes to. And I challenge Congress not to abandon the Crime
Bill's support of these grass-roots prevention efforts.

Finally, to reduce crime and violence we have to reduce the drug problem.
The challenge begins in our homes, with parents talking to their children
openly and firmly. It embraces our churches and synagogues, our youth
groups and our schools.

I challenge Congress not to cut our support for drug-free schools. People
like the D.A.R.E. officers are making a real impression on grade
schoolchildren that will give them the strength to say no when the time
comes.

Meanwhile, we continue our efforts to cut the flow of drugs into America.
For the last two years, one man in particular has been on the front lines
of that effort. Tonight I am nominating him--a hero of the Persian Gulf
War and the Commander in Chief of the United States Military Southern
Command--General Barry McCaffrey, as America's new Drug Czar.

General McCaffrey has earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars
fighting for this country. Tonight I ask that he lead our nation's battle
against drugs at home and abroad. To succeed, he needs a force far larger
than he has ever commanded before. He needs all of us. Every one of us has
a role to play on this team.

Thank you, General McCaffrey, for agreeing to serve your country one more
time.

Environment

Our fifth challenge: to leave our environment safe and clean for the next
generation. Because of a generation of bipartisan effort we do have cleaner
water and air, lead levels in children's blood has been cut by 70 percent,
toxic emissions from factories cut in half. Lake Erie was dead, and now
it's a thriving resource. But 10 million children under 12 still live
within four miles of a toxic waste dump. A third of us breathe air that
endangers our health. And in too many communities, the water is not safe to
drink. We still have much to do.

Yet Congress has voted to cut environmental enforcement by 25 percent. That
means more toxic chemicals in our water, more smog in our air, more
pesticides in our food. Lobbyists for polluters have been allowed to write
their own loopholes into bills to weaken laws that protect the health and
safety of our children. Some say that the taxpayer should pick up the tab
for toxic waste and let polluters who can afford to fix it off the hook. I
challenge Congress to reexamine those policies and to reverse them.

This issue has not been a partisan issue. The most significant
environmental gains in the last 30 years were made under a Democratic
Congress and President Richard Nixon. We can work together. We have to
believe some basic things. Do you believe we can expand the economy without
hurting the environment? I do. Do you believe we can create more jobs over
the long run by cleaning the environment up? I know we can. That should be
our commitment.

We must challenge businesses and communities to take more initiative in
protecting the environment, and we have to make it easier for them to do
it. To businesses this administration is saying: If you can find a cheaper,
more efficient way than government regulations require to meet tough
pollution standards, do it--as long as you do it right. To communities we
say: We must strengthen community right-to-know laws requiring polluters to
disclose their emissions, but you have to use the information to work with
business to cut pollution. People do have a right to know that their air
and their water are safe.

Foreign Policy

Our sixth challenge is to maintain America's leadership in the fight for
freedom and peace throughout the world. Because of American leadership,
more people than ever before live free and at peace. And Americans have
known 50 years of prosperity and security.

We owe thanks especially to our veterans of World War II. I would like to
say to Senator Bob Dole and to all others in this Chamber who fought in
World War II, and to all others on both sides of the aisle who have fought
bravely in all our conflicts since: I salute your service, and so do the
American people.

All over the world, even after the Cold War, people still look to us and
trust us to help them seek the blessings of peace and freedom. But as the
Cold War fades into memory, voices of isolation say America should retreat
from its responsibilities. I say they are wrong.

The threats we face today as Americans respect no nation's borders. Think
of them: terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, organized
crime, drug trafficking, ethnic and religious hatred, aggression by rogue
states, environmental degradation. If we fail to address these threats
today, we will suffer the consequences in all our tomorrows.

Of course, we can't be everywhere. Of course, we can't do everything. But
where our interests and our values are at stake, and where we can make a
difference, America must lead. We must not be isolationist.

We must not be the world's policeman. But we can and should be the world's
very best peacemaker. By keeping our military strong, by using diplomacy
where we can and force where we must, by working with others to share the
risk and the cost of our efforts, America is making a difference for people
here and around the world. For the first time since the dawn of the nuclear
age, there is not a single Russian missile pointed at America's children.

North Korea

North Korea has now frozen its dangerous nuclear weapons program. In Haiti,
the dictators are gone, democracy has a new day, the flow of desperate
refugees to our shores has subsided. Through tougher trade deals for
America--over 80 of them--we have opened markets abroad, and now exports
are at an all-time high, growing faster than imports and creating good
American jobs.

Northern Ireland

We stood with those taking risks for peace: In Northern Ireland, where
Catholic and Protestant children now tell their parents, violence must
never return. In the Middle East, where Arabs and Jews who once seemed
destined to fight forever now share knowledge and resources, and even
dreams.

Bosnia

And we stood up for peace in Bosnia. Remember the skeletal prisoners, the
mass graves, the campaign to rape and torture, the endless lines of
refugees, the threat of a spreading war. All these threats, all these
horrors have now begun to give way to the promise of peace. Now, our troops
and a strong NATO, together with our new partners from Central Europe and
elsewhere, are helping that peace to take hold.

As all of you know, I was just there with a bipartisan congressional group,
and I was so proud not only of what our troops were doing, but of the pride
they evidenced in what they were doing. They knew what America's mission in
this world is, and they were proud to be carrying it out.

Through these efforts, we have enhanced the security of the American
people. But make no mistake about it: important challenges remain.

Russia

The START II Treaty with Russia will cut our nuclear stockpiles by another
25 percent. I urge the Senate to ratify it--now. We must end the race to
create new nuclear weapons by signing a truly comprehensive nuclear test
ban treaty--this year.

As we remember what happened in the Japanese subway, we can outlaw poison
gas forever if the Senate ratifies the Chemical Weapons Convention--this
year. We can intensify the fight against terrorists and organized criminals
at home and abroad if Congress passes the anti-terrorism legislation I
proposed after the Oklahoma City bombing--now. We can help more people
move from hatred to hope all across the world in our own interest if
Congress gives us the means to remain the world's leader for peace.

My fellow Americans, the six challenges I have just discussed are for all
of us. Our seventh challenge is really America's challenge to those of us
in this hallowed hall tonight: to reinvent our government and make our
democracy work for them.

Reform

Last year this Congress applied to itself the laws it applies to everyone
else. This Congress banned gifts and meals from lobbyists. This Congress
forced lobbyists to disclose who pays them and what legislation they are
trying to pass or kill. This Congress did that, and I applaud you for it.

Now I challenge Congress to go further--to curb special interest influence
in politics by passing the first truly bipartisan campaign reform bill in a
generation. You, Republicans and Democrats alike, can show the American
people that we can limit spending and open the airwaves to all candidates.

I also appeal to Congress to pass the line-item veto you promised the
American people.

Our administration is working hard to give the American people a government
that works better and costs less. Thanks to the work of Vice President
Gore, we are eliminating 16,000 pages of unnecessary rules and regulations,
shifting more decision-making out of Washington, back to states and local
communities.

As we move into the era of balanced budgets and smaller government, we must
work in new ways to enable people to make the most of their own lives. We
are helping America's communities, not with more bureaucracy, but with more
opportunities. Through our successful Empowerment Zones and Community
Development Banks, we are helping people to find jobs, to start businesses.
And with tax incentives for companies that clean up abandoned industrial
property, we can bring jobs back to places that desperately, desperately
need them.

But there are some areas that the federal government should not leave and
should address and address strongly. One of these areas is the problem of
illegal immigration. After years of neglect, this administration has taken
a strong stand to stiffen the protection of our borders. We are increasing
border controls by 50 percent. We are increasing inspections to prevent the
hiring of illegal immigrants. And tonight, I announce I will sign an
executive order to deny federal contracts to businesses that hire illegal
immigrants.

Let me be very clear about this: We are still a nation of immigrants; we
should be proud of it. We should honor every legal immigrant here, working
hard to become a new citizen. But we are also a nation of laws.

I want to say a special word now to those who work for our federal
government. Today our federal government is 200,000 employees smaller than
it was the day I took office as President.

Our federal government today is the smallest it has been in 30 years, and
it's getting smaller every day. Most of our fellow Americans probably don't
know that. And there is a good reason: The remaining federal work force is
composed of Americans who are now working harder and working smarter than
ever before, to make sure the quality of our services does not decline.

I'd like to give you one example. His name is Richard Dean. He is a 49
year-old Vietnam veteran who's worked for the Social Security
Administration for 22 years now. Last year he was hard at work in the
Federal Building in Oklahoma City when the blast killed 169 people and
brought the rubble down all around him. He reentered that building four
times. He saved the lives of three women. He's here with us this evening,
and I want to recognize Richard and applaud both his public service and his
extraordinary personal heroism.

But Richard Dean's story doesn't end there. This last November, he was
forced out of his office when the government shut down. And the second time
the government shut down he continued helping Social Security recipients,
but he was working without pay.

On behalf of Richard Dean and his family, and all the other people who are
out there working every day doing a good job for the American people, I
challenge all of you in this Chamber: Never, ever shut the federal
government down again.

On behalf of all Americans, especially those who need their Social Security
payments at the beginning of March, I also challenge the Congress to
preserve the full faith and credit of the United States--to honor the
obligations of this great nation as we have for 220 years; to rise above
partisanship and pass a straightforward extension of the debt limit and
show people America keeps its word.

I know that this evening I have asked a lot of Congress, and even more from
America. But I am confident: When Americans work together in their homes,
their schools, their churches, their synagogues, their civic groups, their
workplace, they can meet any challenge.

I say again, the era of big government is over. But we can't go back to the
era of fending for yourself. We have to go forward to the era of working
together as a community, as a team, as one America, with all of us reaching
across these lines that divide us--the division, the discrimination, the
rancor--we have to reach across it to find common ground. We have got to
work together if we want America to work.

I want you to meet two more people tonight who do just that. Lucius Wright
is a teacher in the Jackson, Mississippi, public school system. A Vietnam
veteran, he has created groups to help inner-city children turn away from
gangs and build futures they can believe in. Sergeant Jennifer Rodgers is a
police officer in Oklahoma City. Like Richard Dean, she helped to pull her
fellow citizens out of the rubble and deal with that awful tragedy. She
reminds us that in their response to that atrocity the people of Oklahoma
City lifted all of us with their basic sense of decency and community.

Lucius Wright and Jennifer Rodgers are special Americans. And I have the
honor to announce tonight that they are the very first of several thousand
Americans who will be chosen to carry the Olympic torch on its long journey
from Los Angeles to the centennial of the modern Olympics in Atlanta this
summer--not because they are star athletes, but because they are star
citizens, community heroes meeting America's challenges. They are our real
champions.

Now, each of us must hold high the torch of citizenship in our own lives.
None of us can finish the race alone. We can only achieve our destiny
together--one hand, one generation, one American connecting to another.

There have always been things we could do together--dreams we could make
real--which we could never have done on our own. We Americans have forged
our identity, our very union, from every point of view and every point on
the planet, every different opinion. But we must be bound together by a
faith more powerful than any doctrine that divides us--by our belief in
progress, our love of liberty, and our relentless search for common
ground.

America has always sought and always risen to every challenge. Who would
say that, having come so far together, we will not go forward from here?
Who would say that this age of possibility is not for all Americans?

Our country is and always has been a great and good nation. But the best is
yet to come, if we all do our part.

Thank you, God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank
you.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
February 4, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 105th Congress,
distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

I think I should start by saying thanks for inviting me back.

I come before you tonight with a challenge as great as any in our peacetime
history--and a plan of action to meet that challenge, to prepare our
people for the bold new world of the 21st century.

We have much to be thankful for. With four years of growth, we have won
back the basic strength of our economy. With crime and welfare rolls
declining, we are winning back our optimism, the enduring faith that we can
master any difficulty. With the Cold War receding and global commerce at
record levels, we are helping to win an unrivaled peace and prosperity all
across the world.

My fellow Americans, the state of our union is strong, but now we must rise
to the decisive moment, to make a nation and a world better than any we
have ever known.

The new promise of the global economy, the Information Age, unimagined new
work, life-enhancing technology--all these are ours to seize. That is our
honor and our challenge. We must be shapers of events, not observers, for
if we do not act, the moment will pass and we will lose the best
possibilities of our future.

We face no imminent threat, but we do have an enemy. The enemy of our time
is inaction.

So tonight I issue a call to action--action by this Congress, action by
our states, by our people to prepare America for the 21st century; action
to keep our economy and our democracy strong and working for all our
people; action to strengthen education and harness the forces of technology
and science; action to build stronger families and stronger communities and
a safer environment; action to keep America the world's strongest force for
peace, freedom and prosperity; and above all, action to build a more
perfect union here at home.

The spirit we bring to our work will make all the difference.

We must be committed to the pursuit of opportunity for all Americans,
responsibility from all Americans in a community of all Americans. And we
must be committed to a new kind of government: not to solve all our
problems for us, but to give our people--all our people--the tools they
need to make the most of their own lives. And we must work together.

The people of this nation elected us all. They want us to be partners, not
partisans. They put us all right here in the same boat. They gave us all
oars, and they told us to row. Now, here is the direction I believe we
should take.

First, we must move quickly to complete the unfinished business of our
country: to balance the budget, renew our democracy, and finish the job of
welfare reform.

Over the last four years we have brought new economic growth by investing
in our people, expanding our exports, cutting our deficits, creating over
11 million new jobs, a four-year record.

Now we must keep our economy the strongest in the world. We here tonight
have an historic opportunity. Let this Congress be the Congress that
finally balances the budget. Thank you.

In two days I will propose a detailed plan to balance the budget by 2002.
This plan will balance the budget and invest in our people while protecting
Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. It will balance the
budget and build on the vice president's efforts to make our government
work better--even as it costs less.

It will balance the budget and provide middle-class tax relief to pay for
education and health care, to help to raise a child, to buy and sell a
home.

Balancing the budget requires only your vote and my signature. It does not
require us to rewrite our Constitution. I believe, I believe it is both
unnecessary, unwise to adopt a balanced budget amendment that could cripple
our country in time of economic crisis and force unwanted results such as
judges halting Social Security checks or increasing taxes.

Let us at least agree we should not pass any measure, no measure should be
passed that threatens Social Security. We don't need, whatever your view on
that, we all must concede we don't need a constitutional amendment, we need
action. Whatever our differences, we should balance the budget now, and
then, for the long-term health of our society, we must agree to a
bipartisan process to preserve Social Security and reform Medicare for the
long run, so that these fundamental programs will be as strong for our
children as they are for our parents.

And let me say something that's not in my script tonight. I know this is
not going to be easy. But I really believe one of the reasons the American
people gave me a second term was to take the tough decisions in the next
four years that will carry our country through the next 50 years. I know it
is easier for me than for you to say or do. But another reason I was
elected is to support all of you, without regard to party, to give you what
is necessary to join in these decisions. We owe it to our country and to
our future.

Our second piece of unfinished business requires us to commit ourselves
tonight, before the eyes of America, to finally enacting bipartisan
campaign finance reform.

Now, Senators McCain and Feingold, Representatives Shays and Meehan have
reached across party lines here to craft tough and fair reform. Their
proposal would curb spending, reduce the role of special interests, create
a level playing field between challengers and incumbents, and ban
contributions from non-citizens, all corporate sources, and the other large
soft-money contributions that both parties receive.

You know and I know that this can be delayed, and you know and I know that
delay will mean the death of reform.

So let's set our own deadline. Let's work together to write bipartisan
campaign finance reform into law and pass McCain-Feingold by the day we
celebrate the birth of our democracy, July the 4th.

There is a third piece of unfinished business. Over the last four years we
moved a record two and a quarter million people off the welfare roles. Then
last year Congress enacted landmark welfare reform legislation demanding
that all able-bodied recipients assume the responsibility of moving from
welfare to work. Now each and every one of us has to fulfill our
responsibility, indeed our moral obligation, to make sure that people who
now must work can work. And now we must act to meet a new goal: two million
more people off the welfare rolls by the year 2000.

Here is my plan: Tax credits and other incentives for businesses that hire
people off welfare; Incentives for job placement firms in states to create
more jobs for welfare recipients; Training, transportation and child care
to help people go to work. Now I challenge every state--turn those welfare
checks into private sector paychecks. I challenge every religious
congregation, every community nonprofit, every business to hire someone off
welfare. And I'd like to say especially to every employer in our country
who ever criticized the old welfare system, you can't blame that old system
anymore; we have torn it down. Now, do your part. Give someone on welfare
the chance to go to work.

Tonight I am pleased to announce that five major corporations--Sprint,
Monsanto, UPS, Burger King and United Airlines--will be the first to join
in a new national effort to marshal America's businesses large and small to
create jobs so that people can move from welfare to work.

We passed welfare reform. All of you know I believe we were right to do it.
But no one can walk out of this chamber with a clear conscience unless you
are prepared to finish the job.

And we must join together to do something else, too, something both
Republican and Democratic governors have asked us to do: to restore basic
health and disability benefits when misfortune strikes immigrants who came
to this country legally, who work hard, pay taxes, and obey the law. To do
otherwise is simply unworthy of a great nation of immigrants.

Now, looking ahead, the greatest step of all, the high threshold to the
future we must now cross, and my number one priority for the next four
years, is to ensure that all Americans have the best education in the
world. Thank you.

Let's work together to meet these three goals: every eight-year-old must be
able to read, every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet,
every 18-year-old must be able to go to college, and every adult American
must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime.

My balanced budget makes an unprecedented commitment to these goals--$51
billion next year--but far more than money is required. I have a plan, a
call to action for American education based on these 10 principles:

First, a national crusade for education standards--not federal government
standards, but national standards, representing what all our students must
know to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. Every state
and school must shape the curriculum to reflect these standards and train
teachers to lift students up to them. To help schools meet the standards
and measure their progress, we will lead an effort over the next two years
to develop national tests of student achievement in reading and math.

Tonight I issue a challenge to the nation. Every state should adopt high
national standards, and by 1999, every state should test every 4th grader
in reading and every 8th grader in math to make sure these standards are
met.

Raising standards will not be easy, and some of our children will not be
able to meet them at first. The point is not to put our children down, but
to lift them up. Good tests will show us who needs help, what changes in
teaching to make, and which schools need to improve. They can help us end
social promotion, for no child should move from grade school to junior high
or junior high to high school until he or she is ready.

Last month our secretary of education, Dick Riley, and I visited northern
Illinois, where 8th grade students from 20 school districts, in a project
aptly called First in the World, took the third International Math and
Science Study.

That's a test that reflects the world-class standards our children must
meet for the new era. And those students in Illinois tied for first in the
world in science and came in second in math. Two of them, Kristen Tanner
and Chris Getsla, are here tonight along with their teacher, Sue Winski.
They're up there with the first lady, and they prove that when we aim high
and challenge our students, they will be the best in the world. Let's give
them a hand. Stand up, please.

Second, to have the best schools, we must have the best teachers. Most of
us in this chamber would not be here tonight without the help of those
teachers. I know that I wouldn't be here.

For years many of our educators, led by North Carolina's governor, Jim
Hunt, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, have
worked very hard to establish nationally accepted credentials for
excellence in teaching.

Just 500 of these teachers have been certified since 1995. My budget will
enable 100,000 more to seek national certification as master teachers. We
should reward and recognize our best teachers. And as we reward them, we
should quickly and fairly remove those few who don't measure up, and we
should challenge more of our finest young people to consider teaching as a
career.

Third, we must do more to help all our children read. Forty percent--40
percent--of our 8-year-olds cannot read on their own. That's why we have
just launched the America Reads initiative, to build a citizen army of one
million volunteer tutors to make sure every child can read independently by
the end of the 3rd grade. We will use thousands of AmeriCorps volunteers to
mobilize this citizen army. We want at least 100,000 college students to
help.

And tonight I'm pleased that 60 college presidents have answered my call,
pledging that thousands of their work-study students will serve for one
year as reading tutors.

This is also a challenge to every teacher and every principal.

You must use these tutors to help your students read. And it is especially
a challenge to our parents. You must read with your children every night.

This leads to the fourth principle: Learning begins in the first days of
life. Scientists are now discovering how young children develop emotionally
and intellectually from their very first days and how important it is for
parents to begin immediately talking, singing, even reading to their
infants. The first lady has spent years writing about this issue, studying
it. And she and I are going to convene a White House conference on early
learning and the brain this spring to explore how parents and educators can
best use these startling new findings.

We already know we should start teaching children before they start school.
That's why this balanced budget expands Head Start to one million children
by 2002. And that is why the vice president and Mrs. Gore will host their
annual family conference this June on what we can do to make sure that
parents are an active part of their children's learning all the way through
school.

They've done a great deal to highlight the importance of family in our
life, and now they're turning their attention to getting more parents
involved in their children's learning all the way through school. I thank
you, Mr. Vice President, and I thank you especially, Tipper, for what
you're doing.

Fifth, every state should give parents the power to choose the right public
school for their children. Their right to choose will foster competition
and innovation that can make public schools better. We should also make it
possible for more parents and teachers to start charter schools, schools
that set and meet the highest standards and exist only as long as they do.

Our plan will help America to create 3,000 of these charter schools by the
next century, nearly seven times as there are in the country today, so that
parents will have even more choices in sending their children to the best
schools.

Sixth, character education must be taught in our schools. We must teach our
children to be good citizens. And we must continue to promote order and
discipline; supporting communities that introduce school uniforms, impose
curfews, enforce truancy laws, remove disruptive students from the
classroom, and have zero tolerance for guns and drugs in schools.

Seventh, we cannot expect our children to raise themselves up in schools
that are literally falling down. With the student population at an all-time
high, and record numbers of school buildings falling into disrepair, this
has now become a serious national concern. Therefore, my budget includes a
new initiative: $5 billion to help communities finance $20 billion in
school construction over the next four years.

Eighth, we must make the 13th and 14th years of education--at least two
years of college--just as universal in America by the 21st century as a
high school education is today, and we must open the doors of college to
all Americans.

To do that, I propose America's Hope Scholarship, based on Georgia's
pioneering program--two years of a $1,500 tax credit for college tuition,
enough to pay for the typical community college. I also propose a tax
deduction of up to $10,000 a year for all tuition after high school, an
expanded IRA you can withdraw from tax free for education, and the largest
increase in Pell Grant scholarship in 20 years.

Now this plan will give most families the ability to pay no taxes on money
they save for college tuition. I ask you to pass it and give every American
who works hard the chance to go to college.

Ninth, in the 21st century we must expand the frontiers of learning across
a lifetime. All our people, of whatever age, must have the chance to learn
new skills.

Most Americans live near a community college. The roads that take them
there can be paths to a better future. My GI bill for America's workers
will transform the confusing tangle of federal training programs into a
simple skill grant to go directly into eligible workers' hands.

For too long this bill has been sitting on that desk there, without action.
I ask you to pass it now. Let's give more of our workers the ability to
learn and to earn for a lifetime.

Tenth, we must bring the power of the Information Age into all our
schools.

Last year I challenged America to connect every classroom and library to
the Internet by the year 2000, so that for the first time in our history,
children in the most isolated rural town, the most comfortable suburbs, the
poorest inner-city schools will have the same access to the same universe
of knowledge.

That is my plan--a call to action for American education. Some may say
that it is unusual for a president to pay this kind of attention to
education. Some may say it is simply because the president and his
wonderful wife have been obsessed with this subject for more years than
they can recall. That is not what is driving these proposals. We must
understand the significance of this endeavor.

One of the greatest sources of our strength throughout the Cold War was a
bipartisan foreign policy. Because our future was at stake, politics
stopped at the water's edge. Now I ask you, and I ask all our nation's
governors, I ask parents, teachers and citizens all across America, for a
new nonpartisan commitment to education, because education is a critical
national security issue for our future and politics must stop at the
schoolhouse door.

To prepare America for the 21st century, we must harness the powerful
forces of science and technology to benefit all Americans. This is the
first State of the Union carried live in video over the Internet, but we've
only begun to spread the benefits of a technology revolution that should
become the modern birthright of every citizen.

Our effort to connect every classroom is just the beginning. Now we should
connect every hospital to the Internet so that doctors can instantly share
data about their patients with the best specialists in the field.

And I challenge the private sector tonight to start by connecting every
children's hospital as soon as possible so that a child in bed can stay in
touch with school, family and friends. A sick child need no longer be a
child alone.

We must build the second generation of the Internet so that our leading
universities and national laboratories can communicate in speeds a thousand
times faster than today to develop new medical treatments, new sources of
energy, new ways of working together. But we cannot stop there.

As the Internet becomes our new town square, a computer in every home: a
teacher of all subjects, a connection to all cultures. This will no longer
be a dream, but a necessity. And over the next decade, that must be our
goal.

We must continue to explore the heavens, pressing on with the Mars probes
and the International Space Station, both of which will have practical
applications for our everyday living.

We must speed the remarkable advances in medical science. The human genome
project is now decoding the genetic mysteries of life. American scientists
have discovered genes linked to breast cancer and ovarian cancer and
medication that stops a stroke in progress and begins to reverse its
effects, and treatments that dramatically lengthen the lives of people with
HIV and AIDS.

Since I took office, funding for AIDS research at the National Institutes
of Health has increased dramatically to $1.5 billion. With new resources,
NIH will now become the most powerful discovery engine for an AIDS vaccine,
working with other scientists, to finally end the threat of AIDS. Thank
you. Remember that every year, every year we move up the discovery of an
AIDS vaccine we'll save millions of lives around the world. We must
reinforce our commitment to medical science.

To prepare America for the 21st century we must build stronger families.
Over the past four years the Family and Medical Leave Law has helped
millions of Americans to take time off to be with their families.

With new pressures on people and the way they work and live, I believe we
must expand family leave so that workers can take time off for teacher
conferences and a child's medical checkup. We should pass flex time so
workers can choose to be paid for overtime in income or trade it in for
time off to be with their families.

We must continue--we must continue, step by step, to give more families
access to affordable quality health care. Forty million Americans still
lack health insurance. Ten million children still lack health insurance.
Eighty percent of them have working parents who pay taxes. That is wrong.

My--my balanced budget will extend health coverage to up to 5 million of
those children. Since nearly half of all children who lose their insurance
do so because their parents lose or change a job, my budget will also
ensure that people who temporarily lose their jobs can still afford to keep
their health insurance. No child should be without a doctor just because a
parent is without a job.

My Medicare plan modernizes Medicare, increases the life of the trust fund
to 10 years, provides support for respite care for the many families with
loved ones afflicted with Alzheimer's, and, for the first time, it would
fully pay for annual mammograms.

Just as we ended drive-through deliveries of babies last year, we must now
end the dangerous and demeaning practice of forcing women home from the
hospital only hours after a mastectomy.

I ask your support for bipartisan legislation to guarantee that a woman can
stay in the hospital for 48 hours after a mastectomy. With us tonight is
Dr. Kristen Zarfos, a Connecticut surgeon whose outrage at this practice
spurred a national movement and inspired this legislation. I'd like her to
stand so we can thank her for her efforts. Dr. Zarfos, thank you.

In the last four years, we have increased child support collections by 50
percent. Now we should go further and do better by making it a felony for
any parent to cross a state line in an attempt to flee from this, his or
her most sacred obligation.

Finally, we must also protect our children by standing firm in our
determination to ban the advertising and marketing of cigarettes that
endanger their lives.

To prepare America for the 21st century, we must build stronger
communities. We should start with safe streets. Serious crime has dropped
five years in a row. The key has been community policing. We must finish
the job of putting 100,000 community police on the streets of the United
States.

We should pass the Victims' Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and I ask
you to mount a full-scale assault on juvenile crime, with legislation that
declares war on gangs with new prosecutors and tougher penalties, extends
the Brady bill so violent teen criminals will not be able to buy handguns,
requires child safety locks on handguns to prevent unauthorized use, and
helps to keep our schools open after hours, on weekends and in the summer
so our young people will have someplace to go and something to say yes to.

This balanced budget includes the largest anti-drug effort ever--to stop
drugs at their source; punish those who push them; and teach our young
people that drugs are wrong, drugs are illegal, and drugs will kill them. I
hope you will support it.

Our growing economy has helped to revive poor urban and rural
neighborhoods, but we must do more to empower them to create the conditions
in which all families can flourish and to create jobs through investment by
business and loans by banks.

We should double the number of empowerment zones. They've already brought
so much hope to communities like Detroit, where the unemployment rate has
been cut in half in four years. We should restore contaminated urban land
and buildings to constructive use. We should expand the network of
community development banks.

And together, we must pledge tonight that we will use this empowerment
approach, including private sector tax incentives, to renew our capital
city so that Washington is a great place to work and live--and once again
the proud face America shows the world!

We must protect our environment in every community. In the last four years,
we cleaned up 250 toxic waste sites, as many as in the previous 12. Now we
should clean up 500 more so that our children grow up next to parks, not
poison. I urge to pass my proposal to make big polluters live by a simple
rule: If you pollute our environment, you should pay to clean it up.

In the last four years, we strengthened our nation's safe food and clean
drinking water laws; we protected some of America's rarest, most beautiful
land in Utah's Red Rocks region; created three new national parks in the
California desert; and began to restore the Florida Everglades.

Now we must be as vigilant with our rivers as we are with our lands.
Tonight I announce that this year I will designate 10 American Heritage
Rivers to help communities alongside them revitalize their waterfronts and
clean up pollution in the rivers, proving once again that we can grow the
economy as we protect the environment.

We must also protect our global environment, working to ban the worst toxic
chemicals and to reduce the greenhouse gases that challenge our health even
as they change our climate.

Now, we all know that in all of our communities some of our children simply
don't have what they need to grow and learn in their own homes or schools
or neighborhoods. And that means the rest of us must do more, for they are
our children, too. That's why President Bush, General Colin Powell, former
Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros will join the vice president and me to
lead the President's Summit of Service in Philadelphia in April.

Our national service program, AmeriCorps, has already helped 70,000 young
people to work their way through college as they serve America. Now we
intend to mobilize millions of Americans to serve in thousands of ways.
Citizen service is an American responsibility which all Americans should
embrace. And I ask your support for that endeavor.

I'd like to make just one last point about our national community. Our
economy is measured in numbers and statistics. And it's very important. But
the enduring worth of our nation lies in our shared values and our soaring
spirit. So instead of cutting back on our modest efforts to support the
arts and humanities I believe we should stand by them and challenge our
artists, musicians, and writers, challenge our museums, libraries, and
theaters.

We should challenge all Americans in the arts and humanities to join with
their fellow citizens to make the year 2000 a national celebration of the
American spirit in every community, a celebration of our common culture in
the century that is past and in the new one to come in a new millennium so
that we can remain the world's beacon not only of liberty but of creativity
long after the fireworks have faded.

To prepare America for the 21st century we must master the forces of change
in the world and keep American leadership strong and sure for an uncharted
time.

Fifty years ago, a farsighted America led in creating the institutions that
secured victory in the Cold War and built a growing world economy. As a
result, today more people than ever embrace our ideals and share our
interests. Already we have dismantled many of the blocks and barriers that
divided our parents' world. For the first time, more people live under
democracy than dictatorship including every nation in our own hemisphere
but one, and its day, too, will come.

Now we stand at another moment of change and choice, and another time to be
farsighted, to bring America 50 more years of security and prosperity.

In this endeavor, our first task is to help to build for the very first
time an undivided, democratic Europe. When Europe is stable, prosperous,
and at peace, America is more secure.

To that end, we must expand NATO by 1999, so that countries that were once
our adversaries can become our allies. At the special NATO summit this
summer, that is what we will begin to do. We must strengthen NATO's
Partnership for Peace with non-member allies. And we must build a stable
partnership between NATO and a democratic Russia.

An expanded NATO is good for America, and a Europe in which all democracies
define their future not in terms of what they can do to each other, but in
terms of what they can do together for the good of all--that kind of
Europe is good for America.

Second, America must look to the East no less than to the West.

Our security demands it. Americans fought three wars in Asia in this
century.

Our prosperity requires it. More than 2 million American jobs depend upon
trade with Asia. There, too, we are helping to shape an Asia Pacific
community of cooperation, not conflict.

Let our--let our progress there not mask the peril that remains. Together
with South Korea, we must advance peace talks with North Korea and bridge
the Cold War's last divide. And I call on Congress to fund our share of the
agreement under which North Korea must continue to freeze and then
dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

We must pursue a deeper dialogue with China for the sake of our interests
and our ideals. An isolated China is not good for America. A China playing
its proper role in the world is. I will go to China, and I have invited
China's president to come here, not because we agree on everything, but
because engaging China is the best way to work on our common challenges,
like ending nuclear testing, and to deal frankly with our fundamental
differences, like human rights.

The American people must prosper in the global economy. We've worked hard
to tear down trade barriers abroad so that we can create good jobs at home.
I'm proud to say that today America is once again the most competitive
nation and the No. 1 exporter in the world.

Now we must act to expand our exports, especially to Asia and Latin
America, two of the fastest-growing regions on earth, or be left behind as
these emerging economies forge new ties with other nations. That is why we
need the authority now to conclude new trade agreements that open markets
to our goods and services even as we preserve our values.

We need not shrink from the challenge of the global economy. After all, we
have the best workers and the best products. In a truly open market, we can
out-compete anyone, anywhere on earth.

But this is about more than economics. By expanding trade, we can advance
the cause of freedom and democracy around the world. There is no better
example of this truth than Latin America where democracy and open markets
are on the march together. That is why I will visit there in the spring to
reinforce our important ties.

We should all be proud that America led the effort to rescue our neighbor,
Mexico, from its economic crisis. And we should all be proud that last
month Mexico repaid the United States, three full years ahead of schedule,
with half a billion dollar profit to us.

America must continue to be an unrelenting force for peace. From the Middle
East to Haiti, from Northern Ireland to Africa, taking reasonable risks for
peace keeps us from being drawn into far more costly conflicts later. With
American leadership, the killing has stopped in Bosnia. Now the habits of
peace must take hold.

The new NATO force will allow reconstruction and reconciliation to
accelerate. Tonight I ask Congress to continue its strong support of our
troops. They are doing a remarkable job there for America, and America must
do right by them.

Fifth, we must move strongly against new threats to our security. In the
past four years, we agreed to ban--we led the way to a worldwide agreement
to ban nuclear testing.

With Russia, we dramatically cut nuclear arsenals and we stopped targeting
each other's citizens. We are acting to prevent nuclear materials from
falling into the wrong hands, and to rid the world of land mines.

We are working with other nations with renewed intensity to fight drug
traffickers and to stop terrorists before they act and hold them fully
accountable if they do.

Now we must rise to a new test of leadership--ratifying the Chemical
Weapons Convention. Make no mistake about it, it will make our troops safer
from chemical attack. It will help us to fight terrorism. We have no more
important obligations, especially in the wake of what we now know about the
Gulf War.

This treaty has been bipartisan from the beginning, supported by Republican
and Democratic administrations, and Republican and Democratic members of
Congress, and already approved by 68 nations. But if we do not act by April
the 29th, when this convention goes into force--with or without us--we
will lose the chance to have Americans leading and enforcing this effort.
Together we must make the Chemical Weapons Convention law so that at last
we can begin to outlaw poisoned gas from the earth.

Finally, we must have the tools to meet all these challenges. We must
maintain a strong and ready military. We must increase funding for weapons
modernization by the year 2000. And we must take good care of our men and
women in uniform. They are the world's finest.

We must also renew our commitment to America's diplomacy and pay our debts
and dues to international financial institutions like the World Bank--and
to a reforming United Nations. Every dollar--every dollar we devote to
preventing conflicts, to promoting democracy, to stopping the spread of
disease and starvation brings a sure return in security and savings. Yet
international affairs spending today is just 1 percent of the federal
budget, a small fraction of what America invested in diplomacy to choose
leadership over escapism at the start of the cold war.

If America is to continue to lead the world, we here who lead America
simply must find the will to pay our way. A farsighted America moved the
world to a better place over these last 50 years. And so it can be for
another 50 years. But a shortsighted America will soon find its words
falling on deaf ears all around the world.

Almost exactly 50 years ago in the first winter of the Cold War President
Truman stood before a Republican Congress and called upon our country to
meet its responsibilities of leadership. This was his warning. He said, "If
we falter, we may endanger the peace of the world, and we shall surely
endanger the welfare of this nation."

That Congress, led by Republicans like Senator Arthur Vandenburg, answered
President Truman's call. Together, they made the commitments that
strengthened our country for 50 years. Now let us do the same. Let us do
what it takes to remain the indispensable nation, to keep America strong,
secure and prosperous for another 50 years.

In the end, more than anything else, our world leadership grows out of the
power of our example here at home, out of our ability to remain strong as
one America.

All over the world people are being torn asunder by racial, ethnic and
religious conflicts that fuel fanaticism and terror. We are the world's
most diverse democracy, and the world looks to us to show that it is
possible to live and advance together across those kinds of differences.
America has always been a nation of immigrants.

From the start, a steady stream of people in search of freedom and
opportunity have left their own lands to make this land their home. We
started as an experiment in democracy fueled by Europeans. We have grown
into an experiment in democratic diversity fueled by openness and promise.

My fellow Americans, we must never, ever believe that our diversity is a
weakness; it is our greatest strength.

Americans speak every language, know every country. People on every
continent can look to us and see the reflection of their own great
potential, and they always will, as long as we strive to give all our
citizens, whatever their background, an opportunity to achieve their own
greatness.

We're not there yet. We still see evidence of a biting bigotry and
intolerance in ugly words and awful violence, in burned churches and bombed
buildings. We must fight against this in our country and in our hearts.

Just a few days before my second inauguration, one of our country's
best-known pastors, Reverend Robert Schuller, suggested that I read Isaiah
58:12. Here's what it says: "Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many
generations, and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the
restorer of paths to dwell in."

I placed my hand on that verse when I took the oath of office, on behalf of
all Americans, for no matter what our differences in our faiths, our
backgrounds, our politics, we must all be repairers of the breach.

I want to say a word about two other Americans who show us how. Congressman
Frank Tejeda was buried yesterday, a proud American whose family came from
Mexico. He was only 51 years old. He was awarded the Silver Star, the
Bronze Star and the Purple Heart fighting for his country in Vietnam. And
he went on to serve Texas and America fighting for our future here in this
chamber.

We are grateful for his service and honored that his mother, Lillie Tejeda,
and his sister, Mary Alice, have come from Texas to be with us here
tonight. And we welcome you. Thank you.

Gary Locke, the newly-elected governor of Washington state, is the first
Chinese-American governor in the history of our country. He's the proud son
of two of the millions of Asian American immigrants who strengthened
America with their hard work, family values and good citizenship.

He represents the future we can all achieve. Thank you, governor, for being
here. Please stand up.

Reverend Schuller, Congressman Tejeda, Governor Locke, along with Kristen
Tanner and Chris Getsla, Sue Winski and Dr. Kristen Zarfos--they're all
Americans from different roots whose lives reflect the best of what we can
become when we are one America.

We may not share a common past, but we surely do share a common future.
Building one America is our most important mission, the foundation for many
generations of every other strength we must build for this new century.
Money cannot buy it, power cannot compel it, technology cannot create it.
It can only come from the human spirit.

America is far more than a place; it is an idea--the most powerful idea in
the history of nations, and all of us in this chamber, we are now the
bearers of that idea, leading a great people into a new world.

A child born tonight will have almost no memory of the 20th century.
Everything that child will know about America will be because of what we do
now to build a new century. We don't have a moment to waste.

Tomorrow there will be just over 1,000 days until the year 2000. One
thousand days to prepare our people. One thousand days to work together.
One thousand days to build a bridge to a land of new promise.

My fellow Americans, we have work to do. Let us seize those days and the
century.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 27, 1998

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 105th Congress,
distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

Since the last time we met in this chamber, America has lost two patriots
and fine public servants. Though they sat on opposite sides of the aisle,
Representatives Walter Capps and Sonny Bono shared a deep love for this
House and an unshakable commitment to improving the lives of all our
people.

In the past few weeks, they have both been eulogized. Tonight, I think we
should begin by sending a message to their families and their friends that
we celebrate their lives, and give thanks for their service to our nation.

For 209 years, it has been the president's duty to report to you on the
state of the union. Because of the hard work and high purpose of the
American people, these are good times for America. We have more than 14
million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 24 years, the lowest core
inflation in 30 years, incomes are rising and we have the highest home
ownership in history. Crime has dropped for a record five years in a row,
and the welfare rolls are at their lowest levels in 27 years. Our
leadership in the world is unrivaled. Ladies and gentlemen, the state of
our union is strong.

But with barely 700 days left in the 20th century, this is not a time to
rest. It is a time to build--to build the America within reach, an America
where everybody has a chance to get ahead, with hard work; where every
citizen can live in a safe community; where families are strong, schools
are good, and all our young people can go on to college; an America where
scientists find cures for diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer's to AIDS; an
America where every child can stretch a hand across a keyboard and reach
every book ever written, every painting ever painted, every symphony ever
composed; where government provides opportunity and citizens honor the
responsibility to give something back to their communities; an America
which leads the world to new heights of peace and prosperity.

This is the America we have begun to build. This is the America we can
leave to our children--if we join together to finish the work at hand. Let
us strengthen our nation for the 21st century.

Rarely have Americans lived through so much change in so many ways in so
short a time. Quietly, but with gathering force, the ground has shifted
beneath our feet as we have moved into an information age, a global
economy, a truly new world.

For five years now, we have met the challenge of these changes as Americans
have at every turning point in our history, by renewing the very idea of
America, widening the circle of opportunity, deepening the meaning of our
freedom, forging a more perfect union. We shaped a new kind of government
for the information age. I thank the vice president for his leadership, and
the Congress for its support, in building a government that is leaner, more
flexible, a catalyst for new ideas, and most of all, a government that
gives the American people the tools they need to make the most of their own
lives.

We have moved past the sterile debate between those who say government is
the enemy and those who say government is the answer. My fellow Americans,
we have found a third way. We have the smallest government in 35 years, but
a more progressive one. We have a smaller government but a stronger
nation.

We are moving steadily toward a an even stronger America in the 21st
century--an economy that offers opportunity, a society rooted in
responsibility, and a nation that lives as a community.

First, Americans in this chamber and across this nation have pursued a new
strategy for prosperity: fiscal discipline to cut interest rates and spur
growth; investments in education and skills, in science and technology and
transportation, to prepare our people for the new economy; new markets for
American products and American workers.

When I took office, the deficit for 1998 was projected to be $357 billion,
and heading higher. This year, our deficit is projected to be $10 billion,
and heading lower.

For three decades, six presidents have come before you to warn of the
damage deficits pose to our nation. Tonight, I come before you to announce
that the federal deficit, once so incomprehensively large that it had 11
zeros, will be simply zero.

I will submit to Congress, for 1999, the first balanced budget in 30
years.

And if we hold fast to fiscal discipline, we may balance the budget this
year--four years ahead of schedule.

You can all be proud of that, because turning a sea of red ink into black
is no miracle. It is the product of hard work by the American people, and
of two visionary actions in Congress: The courageous vote in 1993 that led
to a cut in the deficit of 90 percent and the truly historic bipartisan
balanced budget agreement passed by this Congress.

Here's the really good news: If we maintain our resolve, we will produce
balanced budgets as far as the eye can see.

We must not go back to unwise spending or untargeted tax cuts that risk
reopening the deficit. Last year, together, we enacted targeted tax cuts so
that the typical middle class family will now have the lowest tax rates in
20 years.

My plan to balance the budget next year includes both new investments and
new tax cuts targeted to the needs of working families: for education, for
child care, for the environment.

But whether the issue is tax cuts or spending, I ask all of you to meet
this test: approve only those priorities that can actually be accomplished
without adding a dime to the deficit.

Now, if we balance the budget for next year, it is projected that we'll
then have a sizeable surplus in the years that immediately follow. What
should we do with this projected surplus?

I have a simple four-word answer: Save Social Security first.

Tonight, I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus--that's
every penny of any surplus--until we have taken all the necessary measures
to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century.

Let us say--let us say to all Americans watching tonight, whether you're
70 or 50, or whether you just started paying into the system, Social
Security will be there when you need it. Let us make this commitment:
Social Security first. Let's do that--together.

I also want to say that all the American people who are watching us tonight
should be invited to join in this discussion, in facing these issues
squarely and forming a true consensus on how we should proceed. We'll start
by conducting nonpartisan forums in every region of the country, and I hope
that lawmakers of both parties will participate. We'll hold a White House
conference on Social Security in December. And one year from now, I will
convene the leaders of Congress to craft historic bipartisan legislation to
achieve a landmark for our generation, a Social Security system that is
strong in the 21st century.

In an economy that honors opportunity, all Americans must be able to reap
the rewards of prosperity. Because these times are good, we can afford to
take one simple, sensible step to help millions of workers struggling to
provide for their families. We should raise the minimum wage.

The information age is first and foremost an education age, in which
education will start at birth and continue throughout a lifetime. Last
year, from this podium, I said that education has to be our highest
priority. I laid out a 10-point plan to move us forward, and urged all of
us to let politics stop at the schoolhouse door.

Since then, this Congress--across party lines--and the American people
have responded, in the most important year for education in a generation--
expanding public school choice, opening the way to 3,000 charter schools,
working to connect every classroom in the country to the information
superhighway, committing to expand Head Start to a million children,
launching America Reads, sending literally thousands of college students
into our elementary schools to make sure all our 8-year-olds can read.

Last year I proposed--and you passed--220,000 new Pell Grant scholarships
for deserving students. Student loans, already less expensive and easier to
repay--now you get to deduct the interest. Families all over America now can
put their savings into new, tax-free education IRAs.

And this year, for the first two years of college, families will get a
$1500 tax credit--a Hope Scholarship that will cover the cost of most
community college tuition. And for junior and senior year, graduate school,
and job training, there is a lifetime learning credit. You did that, and
you should be very proud of it.

And because of these actions, I have something to say to every family
listening to us tonight: your children can go on to college. If you know a
child from a poor family, tell her not to give up, she can go on to
college. If you know a young couple struggling with bills, worried they
won't be able to send their children to college, tell them not to give up,
their children can go on to college. If you know somebody who's caught in a
dead-end job and afraid he can't afford the classes necessary to get better
jobs for the rest of his life, tell him not to give up, he can go on to
college.

Because of the things that have been done, we can make college as universal
in the 21st century as high school is today. And, my friends, that will
change the face and future of America.

We have opened wide the doors of the world's best system of higher
education. Now we must make our public elementary and secondary schools the
world's best as well--by raising standards, raising expectations and raising
accountability.

Thanks to the actions of this Congress last year, we will soon have, for
the very first time, a voluntary national test based on national standards
in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math.

Parents have a right to know whether their children are mastering the
basics. And every parent already knows the key; good teachers and small
classes.

Tonight, I propose the first ever national effort to reduce class size in
the early grades. My balanced budget will help to hire a hundred thousand
new teachers who have passed the state competency tests. Now with these
teachers--listen--with these teachers, we will actually be able to reduce
class size in the first, second and third grades to an average of 18
students a class all across America.

Now, if I've got the math right, more teachers teaching smaller classes
requires more classrooms. So I also propose a school construction tax cut
to help communities modernize or build 5,000 schools.

We must also demand greater accountability. When we promote a child from
grade to grade who hasn't mastered the work, we don't do that child any
favors. It is time to end social promotion in America's schools.

Last year, in Chicago, they made that decision--not to hold our children
back, but to lift them up. Chicago stopped social promotion and started
mandatory summer school to help students who are behind to catch up.

I propose to help other communities follow Chicago's lead. Let's say to
them stop promoting children who don't learn, and we will give you the
tools to make sure they do.

I also ask this Congress to support our efforts to enlist colleges and
universities to reach out to disadvantaged children starting in the sixth
grade so that they can get the guidance and hope they need so they can know
that they, too, will be able to go on to college.

As we enter the 21st century, the global economy requires us to seek
opportunity not just at home, but in all the markets of the world. We must
shape this global economy, not shrink from it.

In the last five years, we have led the way in opening new markets, with
240 trade agreements that remove foreign barriers to products bearing the
proud stamp, "Made in the USA." Today, record high exports account for
fully one-third of our economic growth. I want to keep them going, because
that's the way to keep America growing and to advance a safer, more stable
world.

Now, all of you know, whatever your views are, that I think this is a great
opportunity for America. I know there is opposition to more comprehensive
trade agreements. I have listened carefully, and I believe that the
opposition is rooted in two fears: first, that our trading partners will
have lower environmental and labor standards, which will give them an
unfair advantage in our market and do their own people no favors, even if
there's more business; and second, that if we have more trade, more of our
workers will lose their jobs and have to start over.

I think we should seek to advance worker and environmental standards around
the world. It should--I have made it abundantly clear that it should be a
part of our trade agenda, but we cannot influence other countries'
decisions if we send them a message that we're backing away from trade with
them.

This year I will send legislation to Congress, and ask other nations to
join us, to fight the most intolerable labor practice of all-abusive child
labor.

We should also offer help and hope to those Americans temporarily left
behind with the global marketplace or by the march of technology, which may
have nothing to do with trade. That's why we have more than doubled funding
for training dislocated workers since 1993. And if my new budget is
adopted, we will triple funding. That's why we must do more, and more
quickly, to help workers who lose their jobs for whatever reason.

You know, we help communities in a special way when their military base
closes. We ought to help them in the same way if their factory closes.
Again, I ask the Congress to continue its bipartisan work to consolidate
the tangle of training programs we have today into one single GI Bill for
Workers, a simple skills grant so people can, on their own, move quickly to
new jobs, to higher incomes and brighter futures.

Now, we all know in every way in life change is not always easy, but we
have to decide whether we're going to try to hold it back and hide from it,
or reap its benefits. And remember the big picture here: while we've been
entering into hundreds of new trade agreements, we've been creating
millions of new jobs. So this year we will forge new partnerships with
Latin America, Asia and Europe, and we should pass the new African Trade
Act. It has bipartisan support.

I will also renew my request for the fast-track negotiating authority
necessary to open more new markets, created more new jobs, which every
president has had for two decades.

You know, whether we like it or not, in ways that are mostly positive, the
world's economies are more and more interconnected and interdependent.
Today, an economic crisis anywhere can affect economies everywhere. Recent
months have brought serious financial problems to Thailand, Indonesia,
South Korea and beyond.

Now why should Americans be concerned about this?

First, these countries are our customers. If they sink into recession, they
won't be able to buy the goods we'd like to sell them.

Second, they're also our competitors, so if their currencies lose their
value and go down, then the price of their goods will drop, flooding our
market and others with much cheaper goods, which makes it a lot tougher for
our people to compete.

And finally, they are our strategic partners. Their stability bolsters our
security.

The American economy remains sound and strong, and I want to keep it that
way. But because the turmoil in Asia will have an impact on all the world's
economies, including ours, making that negative impact as small as possible
is the right thing to do for America, and the right thing to do for a safer
world.

Our policy is clear: no nation can recover if it does not reform itself,
but when nations are willing to undertake serious economic reform, we
should help them do it. So I call on Congress to renew America's commitment
to the International Monetary Fund.

And I think we should say to all the people we're trying to represent here,
that preparing for a far off storm that may reach our shores is far wiser
than ignoring the thunder 'til the clouds are just overhead.

A strong nation rests on the rock of responsibility. A society rooted in
responsibility must first promote the value of work, not welfare. We could
be proud that after decades of finger-pointing and failure, together we
ended the old welfare system. And we're now replacing welfare checks with
paychecks.

Last year, after a record four-year decline in welfare rolls I challenged
our nation to move two million more Americans off welfare by the year 2000.
I'm pleased to report we have also met that goal two full years ahead of
schedule.

This is a grand achievement, the sum of many acts of individual courage,
persistence and hope.

For 13 years, Elaine Kinslow of Indianapolis, Indiana was on and off
welfare. Today she's a dispatcher with a van company. She's saved enough
money to move her family into a good neighborhood. And she's helping other
welfare recipients go to work.

Elaine Kinslow and all those like her are the real heroes of the welfare
revolution. There are millions like her all across America, and I am happy
she could join the first lady tonight. Elaine, we're very proud of you.
Please stand up.

We still have a lot more to do, all of us, to make welfare reform a
success; providing child care, helping families move closer to available
jobs, challenging more companies to join our Welfare to Work Partnership,
increasing child-support collections from deadbeat parents who have a duty
to support their own children. I also want to thank Congress for restoring
some of the benefits to immigrants who are here legally and working hard.
And I hope you will finish that job this year.

We have to make it possible for all hard-working families to meet their
most important responsibilities. Two years ago, we helped guarantee that
Americans can keep their health insurance when they changed jobs. Last
year, we extended health care to up to 5 million children. This year, I
challenge Congress to take the next historic steps. A hundred and sixty
million of our fellow citizens are in managed care plans. These plans save
money, and they can improve care. But medical decisions ought to be made by
medical doctors, not insurance company accountants.

I urge this Congress to reach across the aisle and write into law a
consumer bill of rights that says this: You have the right to know all your
medical options, not just the cheapest. You have the right to choose the
doctor you want for the care you need. You have the right to emergency room
care wherever and whenever you need it. You have the right to keep your
medical records confidential.

Now, traditional care or managed care, every American deserves quality
care. Millions of Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 have lost their
health insurance. Some are retired. Some are laid off. Some lose their
coverage when their spouses retire. After a lifetime of work, they're left
with nowhere to turn.

So I ask the Congress, let these hard-working Americans buy into the
Medicare system. It won't add a dime to the deficit, but the peace of mind
it will provide will be priceless.

Next, we must help parents protect their children from the gravest health
threat that they face: an epidemic of teen smoking spread by multimillion
dollar marketing campaigns. I challenge Congress. Let's pass bipartisan,
comprehensive legislation that will improve public health, protect our
tobacco farmers, and change the way tobacco companies do business forever.

Let's do what it takes to bring teen smoking down. Let's raise the price of
cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next 10 years, with penalties on
the tobacco industry if it keeps marketing to our children.

Now tomorrow, like every day, 3,000 children will start smoking, and a
thousand will die early as a result. Let this Congress be remembered as the
Congress that saved their lives.

In the new economy, most parents work harder than ever. They face a
constant struggle to balance their obligations to be good workers, and
their even more important obligations to be good parents.

The Family and Medical Leave Act was the very first bill I was privileged
to sign into law as president in 1993. Since then, about 15 million people
have taken advantage of it, and I've met a lot of them all across this
country. I ask you to extend the law to cover 10 million more workers, and
to give parents time off when they have to go see their children's teachers
or take them to the doctor.

Child care is the next frontier we must face to enable people to succeed at
home and at work. Last year, I co-hosted the very first White House
conference on child care with one of our foremost experts, America's first
lady. From all corners of America, we heard the same message--without regard
to region or income or political affiliation--we've got to raise the quality
of child care, we've got to make it safer, we've got to make it more
affordable.

So here's my plan: Help families to pay for child care for a million more
children; scholarships and background checks for child-care workers, and a
new emphasis on early learning; tax credits for businesses that provide
child care for their employees; and a larger child-care tax credit for
working families.

Now, if you pass my plan, what this means is that a family of four with an
income of $35,000 and high child-care costs will no longer pay a single
penny of federal income tax.

You know, I think this is such a big issue with me because of my own
personal experience. I have often wondered how my mother, when she was a
young widow, would have been able to go away to school and get an education
and come back and support me, if my grandparents hadn't been able to take
care of me. She and I were really very lucky.

How many other families have never had that same opportunity? The truth is,
we don't know the answer to that question, but we do know what the answer
should be. Not a single American family should ever have to choose between
the job they need and the child they love.

A society rooted in responsibility must provide safe streets, safe schools,
and safe neighborhoods. We pursued a strategy of more police, tougher
punishment, smarter prevention with crime-fighting partnerships, with local
law enforcement and citizen groups, where the rubber hits the road.

I can report to you tonight that it's working. Violent crime is down,
robbery is down, assault is down, burglary is down for five years in a row
all across America. Now, we need to finish the job of putting 100,000 more
police on our streets.

Again, I ask Congress to pass a juvenile crime bill that provides more
prosecutors and probation officers to crack down on gangs and guns and
drugs and bar violent juveniles from buying guns for life. And I ask you to
dramatically expand our support for after-school programs. I think every
American should know that most juvenile crime is committed between the
hours of 3:00 in the afternoon and 8:00 at night. We can keep so many of
our children out of trouble in the first place if we give them some place
to go other than the streets, and we ought to do it.

Drug use is on the decline. I thank General McCaffrey for his leadership,
and I thank this Congress for passing the largest anti-drug budget in
history. Now I ask you to join me in a ground-breaking effort to hire a
thousand new Border Patrol agents and to deploy the most sophisticated
available new technologies to help close the door on drugs at our borders.

Police, prosecutors, and prevention programs, good as they are, they can't
work if our court system doesn't work. Today, there are large numbers of
vacancies in our federal courts. Here is what the chief justice of the
United States wrote: "Judicial vacancies cannot remain at such high levels
indefinitely without eroding the quality of justice."

I simply ask the United States Senate to heed this plea and vote on the
highly qualified nominees before you, up or down.

We must exercise responsibility not just at home but around the world. On
the eve of a new century, we have the power and the duty to build a new era
of peace and security. But make no mistake about it; today's possibilities
are not tomorrow's guarantees. America must stand against the poisoned
appeals of extreme nationalism. We must combat an unholy access of new
threats from terrorists, international criminals and drug traffickers.

These 21st century predators feed on technology and the free flow of
information and ideas and people, and they will be all the more lethal if
weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands. To meet these
challenges, we are helping to write international rules of the road for the
21st century, protecting those who join the family of nations and isolating
those who do not.

Within days, I will ask the Senate for its advice and consent to make
Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic the newest members of NATO. For 50
years, NATO contained communism and kept America and Europe secure. Now
these three formerly communist countries have said yes to democracy. I ask
the Senate to say yes to them, our new allies.

By taking in new members and working closely with new partners, including
Russia and Ukraine, NATO can help to assure that Europe is a stronghold for
peace in the 21st century.

Next, I will ask Congress to continue its support for our troops and their
mission in Bosnia. This Christmas, Hillary and I traveled to Sarajevo with
Senator and Mrs. Dole and a bipartisan congressional delegation. We saw
children playing in the streets where, two years ago, they were hiding from
snipers and shells. The shops were filled with food. The cafes were alive
with conversation. The progress there is unmistakable; but it is not yet
irreversible.

To take firm root, Bosnia's fragile peace still needs the support of
American and allied troops when the current NATO mission ends in June. I
think Senator Dole actually said it best. He said: "This is like being
ahead in the fourth quarter of a football game; now is not the time to walk
off the field and forfeit the victory."

I wish all of you could have seen our troops in Tuzla. They're very proud
of what they are doing in Bosnia, and we're all very proud of them. One of
those--one of those brave soldiers is sitting with the first lady tonight:
Army Sergeant Michael Tolbert. His father was a decorated Vietnam vet.
After college in Colorado, he joined the Army. Last year he led an infantry
unit that stopped a mob of extremists from taking over a radio station that
is a voice of democracy and tolerance in Bosnia. Thank you very much,
Sergeant, for what you represent.

In Bosnia and around the world, our men and women in uniform always do
their mission well. Our mission must be to keep them well-trained and
ready, to improve their quality of life, and to provide the 21st century
weapons they need to defeat any enemy.

I ask Congress to join me in pursuing an ambitious agenda to reduce the
serious threat of weapons of mass destruction. This year, four decades
after it was first proposed by President Eisenhower, a Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban is within reach. By ending nuclear testing, we can help to
prevent the development of new and more dangerous weapons, and make it more
difficult for non-nuclear states to build them.

I am pleased to announce that four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff--Generals John Shalikashvili, Colin Powell and David Jones, and
Admiral William Crowe--have endorsed this treaty, and I ask the Senate to
approve it this year.

Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological
weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking
to acquire them.

Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his
nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing
nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job,
finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the
entire gulf war. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing
their mission.

I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats,
when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy the will of the world," and
when I say to him, "You have used weapons of mass destruction before; we
are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again."

Last year, the Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention to protect
our soldiers and citizens from poison gas. Now we must act to prevent the
use of disease as a weapon of war and terror. The Biological Weapons
Convention has been in effect for 23 years now. The rules are good, but the
enforcement is weak. We must strengthen it with a new international
inspection system to detect and deter cheating. In the months ahead, I will
pursue our security strategy with old allies in Asia and Europe, and new
partners from Africa to India and Pakistan, from South America to China.
And from Belfast to Korea to the Middle East, America will continue to
stand with those who stand for peace.

Finally, it's long past time to make good on our debt to the United
Nations.

More and more we are working with other nations to achieve common goals. If
we want America to lead, we've got to set a good example. As we see--as we
see so clearly in Bosnia, allies who share our goals can also share our
burdens. In this new era, our freedom and independence are actually
enriched, not weakened, by our increasing interdependence with other
nations. But we have to do our part.

Our founders set America on a permanent course toward a more perfect union.
To all of you, I say, it is a journey we can only make together, living as
one community.

First, we have to continue to reform our government, the instrument of our
national community. Everyone knows elections have become too expensive,
fueling a fund-raising arms race.

This year, by March the 6th, at long last the Senate will actually vote on
bipartisan campaign finance reform proposed by senators McCain and
Feingold. Let's be clear; a vote against McCain-Feingold is a vote for soft
money and for the status quo. I ask you to strengthen our democracy and
pass campaign finance reform this year.

But at least equally important, we have to address the real reason for the
explosion in campaign costs: the high cost of media advertising. I will--
for the folks watching at home, those were the groans of pain in the
audience--I will formally request that the Federal Communications
Commission act to provide free or reduced-cost television time--for
candidates who observe spending limits voluntarily. The airwaves are a
public trust, and broadcasters also have to help us in this effort to
strengthen our democracy.

Under the leadership of Vice President Gore, we have reduced the federal
payroll by 300,000 workers, cut 16,000 pages of regulation, eliminated
hundreds of programs and improved the operations of virtually every
government agency. But we can do more.

Like every taxpayer, I'm outraged by the reports of abuses by the IRS. We
need some changes there: new citizen advocacy panels, a stronger taxpayer
advocate, phone lines open 24 hours a day, relief for innocent taxpayers.

Last year, by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, the House of
Representatives passed sweeping IRS reforms. This bill must not now
languish in the Senate. Tonight, I ask the Senate: Follow the House; pass
the bipartisan package as your first order of business. I hope to goodness
before I finish I can think of something to say 'Follow the Senate' on so
I'll be out of trouble!

A nation that lives as a community must value all its communities. For the
past five years, we have worked to bring the spark of private enterprise to
inner city and poor rural areas with community development banks, more
commercial loans into poor neighborhoods, cleanup of polluted sites for
development.

Under the continued leadership of the vice president, we propose to triple
the number of empowerment zones to give business incentives to invest in
those areas. We should. We should also give poor families more help to move
into homes of their own, and we should use tax cuts to spur the
construction of more low-income housing.

Last year, this Congress took strong action to help the District of
Columbia. Let us renew our resolve to make our capital city a great city
for all who live and visit here.

Our cities are the vibrant hubs of great metropolitan areas. They are still
the gateway for new immigrants from every continent who come here to work
for their own American dreams. Let's keep our cities going strong into the
21st Century. They're a very important part of our future.

Our communities are only as healthy as the air our children breathe, the
water they drink, the Earth they will inherit. Last year we put in place
the toughest-ever controls on smog and soot. We moved to protect
Yellowstone, the Everglades, Lake Tahoe. We expanded every community's
right to know about toxics that threaten their children.

Just yesterday, our food safety plan took effect, using new science to
protect consumers from dangers like e. coli and salmonella.

Tonight, I ask you to join me in launching a new Clean Water initiative, a
far-reaching effort to clean our rivers, our lakes and our coastal waters
for our children.

Our overriding environmental challenge tonight is the worldwide problem of
climate change, global warming, the gathering crisis that requires
worldwide action. The vast majority of scientists have concluded
unequivocally that if we don't reduce the emission of greenhouse gases at
some point in the next century, we'll disrupt our climate and put our
children and grandchildren at risk.

This past December, America led the world to reach a historic agreement
committing our nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through market
forces, new technologies, energy efficiency.

We have it in our power to act right here, right now. I propose $6 billion
in tax cuts, in research and development, to encourage innovation,
renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, energy-efficient homes. Every time
we have acted to heal our environment, pessimists have told us it would
hurt the economy. Well, today our economy is the strongest in a generation,
and our environment is the cleanest in a generation. We have always found a
way to clean the environment and grow the economy at the same time. And
when it comes to global warming, we'll do it again.

Finally, community means living by the defining American value, the ideal
heard 'round the world: that we're all created equal. Throughout our
history, we haven't always honored that ideal, and we've never fully lived
up to it. Often it's easier to believe that our differences matter more
than what we have in common. It may be easier, but it's wrong.

What we have to do in our day and generation to make sure that America
truly becomes one nation, what do we have to do? We're becoming more and
more and more diverse. Do you believe we can become one nation? The answer
cannot be to dwell on our differences, but to build on our shared values.

And we all cherish family and faith, freedom and responsibility. We all
want our children to grow up in the world where their talents are matched
by their opportunities.

I've launched this national initiative on race to help us recognize our
common interests and to bridge the opportunity gaps that are keeping us
from becoming one America. Let us begin by recognizing what we still must
overcome.

Discrimination against any American is un-American. We must vigorously
enforce the laws that make it illegal. I ask your help to end the backlog
at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sixty thousand of our
fellow citizens are waiting in line for justice, and we should act now to
end their wait.

We should also recognize that the greatest progress we can make toward
building one America lies in the progress we make for all Americans,
without regard to race. When we open the doors of college to all Americans,
when we rid all our streets of crime, when there are jobs available to
people from all our neighborhoods, when we make sure all parents have the
child care they need, we're helping to build one nation.

We in this chamber and in this government must do all we can to address the
continuing American challenge to build one America. But we'll only move
forward if all our fellow citizens, including every one of you at home
watching tonight, is also committed to this cause.

We must work together, learn together, live together, serve together. On
the forge of common enterprise, Americans of all backgrounds can hammer out
a common identity.

We see it today in the United States military, in the Peace Corps, in
AmeriCorps. Wherever people of all races and backgrounds come together in a
shared endeavor and get a fair chance, we do just fine. With shared values
and meaningful opportunities and honest communications and citizen service,
we can unite a diverse people in freedom and mutual respect. We are many.
We must be one.

In that spirit, let us lift our eyes to the new millennium. How will we
mark that passage? It just happens once every thousand years. This year,
Hillary and I launched the White House Millennium Program to promote
America's creativity and innovation and to preserve our heritage and
culture into the 21st century. Our culture lives in every community, and
every community has places of historic value that tell our stories as
Americans. We should protect them.

I am proposing a public-private partnership to advance our arts and
humanities and to celebrate the millennium by saving America's treasures
great and small. And while we honor the past, let us imagine the future.

Now, think about this. The entire store of human knowledge now doubles
every five years. In the 1980s, scientists identified the gene causing
cystic fibrosis; it took nine years. Last year, scientists located the gene
that causes Parkinson's disease--in only nine days! Within a decade, gene
chips will offer a road map for prevention of illnesses throughout a
lifetime. Soon, we'll be able to carry all the phone calls on Mother's Day
on a single strand of fiber the width of a human hair. A child born in 1998
may well live to see the 22nd century.

Tonight, as part of our gift to the millennium, I propose a 21st Century
research fund for pathbreaking scientific inquiry, the largest funding
increase in history for the National Institutes of Health, the National
Science Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute. We have already
discovered we have already discovered genes for breast cancer and diabetes.
I ask you to support this initiative so ours will be the generation that
finally wins the war against cancer and begins a revolution in our fight
against all deadly diseases.

As important as all this scientific progress is, we must continue to see
that science serves humanity, not the other way around. We must prevent the
misuse of genetic tests to discriminate against any American, and we must
ratify the ethical consensus of the scientific and religious communities,
and ban the cloning of human beings.

We should enable all the world's people to explore the far reaches of
cyberspace. Think of this: the first time I made a State of the Union
speech to you, only a handful of physicists used the World Wide Web--
literally just a handful of people.

Now in schools and libraries, homes and businesses, millions and millions
of Americans surf the Net every day.

We must give parents the tools they need to help protect their children
from inappropriate material on the Net, but we also must make sure that we
protect the exploding, global commercial potential of the Internet. We can
do the kinds of things that we need to do and still protect our kids. For
one thing, I ask Congress to step up support for building the next
generation Internet. It's getting kind of clogged, you know. And the next
generation Internet will operate at speeds up to a thousand times faster
than today.

Even as we explore this inner space, in the new millennium we're going to
open new frontiers in outer space.

Throughout all history, human kind has had only one place to call home: our
planet Earth. Beginning this year, 1998, men and women from 16 countries
will build a foothold in the heavens--the International Space Station. With
its vast expanses, scientists and engineers will actually set sail on an
uncharted sea of limitless mystery and unlimited potential.

And this October, a true American hero, a veteran pilot of 149 combat
missions and one five-hour space flight that changed the world, will return
to the heavens. Godspeed, John Glenn!

John, you will carry with you America's hopes, and on your uniform once
again you will carry America's flag, marking the unbroken connection
between the deeds of America's past and the daring of America's future.

Nearly 200 years ago, a tattered flag, its broad stripes and bright stars
still gleaming through the smoke of a fierce battle, moved Francis Scott
Key to scribble a few words on the back of an envelope, the words that
became our National Anthem. Today, that Star-Spangled Banner, along with
the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,
are on display just a short walk from here. They are America's treasures.
And we must also save them for the ages.

I ask all Americans to support our project to restore all our treasures so
that the generations of the 21st century can see for themselves the images
and the words that are the old and continuing glory of America, an America
that has continued to rise through every age against every challenge, a
people of great works and greater possibilities, who have always, always
found the wisdom and strength to come together as one nation, to widen the
circle of opportunity, to deepen the meaning of our freedom, to form that
more perfect union.

Let that be our gift to the 21st century.

God bless you, and God bless the United States.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 19, 1999

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, honored guests, my
fellow Americans:

Tonight I have the honor of reporting to you on the State of the Union.

Let me begin by saluting the new speaker of the House and thanking him
especially tonight for extending an invitation to two guests sitting in the
gallery with Mrs. Hastert. Lyn Gibson and Wei Ling Chestnut are the widows
of the two brave Capitol Hill police officers who gave their lives to
defend freedom's house.

Mr. Speaker, at your swearing in you asked us all to work together in a
spirit of civility and bipartisanship. Mr. Speaker, let's do exactly that.

Tonight, I stand before you to report that America has created the longest
peacetime economic expansion in our history. With nearly 18 million new
jobs, wages rising at more than twice the rate of inflation, the highest
homeownership in history, the smallest welfare roles in 30 years, and the
lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957.

For the first time in three decades, the budget is balanced. From a deficit
of $290 billion in 1992, we had a surplus of $70 billion last year. And
now, we are on course for budget surpluses for the next 25 years.

Thanks to the pioneering leadership of all of you, we have the lowest
violent crime rate in a quarter century and the cleanest environment in a
quarter century.

America is a strong force for peace--from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to
the Middle East.

Thanks to the leadership of Vice President Gore, we have a government for
the Information Age, once again a government that is a progressive
instrument of the common good, rooted in our oldest values of opportunity,
responsibility and community, devoted to fiscal responsibility, determined
to give our people the tools they need to make the most of their own lives
in the 21st century, a 21st century government for 21st century America.

My fellow Americans, I stand before you tonight to report that the state of
our union is strong. Now, America is working again. The promise of our
future is limitless. But we cannot realize that promise if we allow the hum
of our prosperity to lull us into complacency. How we fare as a nation far
into the 21st century depends upon what we do as a nation today.

So, with our budget surplus growing, our economy expanding, our confidence
rising, now is the moment for this generation to meet our historic
responsibility to the 21st century.

Our fiscal discipline gives us an unsurpassed opportunity to address a
remarkable new challenge, the aging of America. With the number of elderly
Americans set to double by 2030, the baby boom will become a senior boom.

So first and above all, we must save Social Security for the 21st century.

Early in this century, being old meant being poor. When President Roosevelt
created Social Security, thousands wrote to thank him for eliminating what
one woman called "the stark terror of penniless, helpless old age." Even
today, without Social Security, half our nation's elderly would be forced
into poverty.

Today, Social Security is strong, but by 2013, payroll taxes will no longer
be sufficient to cover monthly payments. By 2032, the trust fund will be
exhausted and Social Security will be unable to pay the full benefits older
Americans have been promised.

The best way to keep Social Security a rock solid guarantee is not to make
drastic cuts in benefits; not to raise payroll tax rates; not to drain
resources from Social Security in the name of saving it. Instead, I propose
that we make the historic decision to invest the surplus to save Social
Security.

Specifically, I propose that we commit 60 percent of the budget surplus for
the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the
private sector just as any private or state government pension would do.
This will earn a higher return and keep Social Security sound for 55
years.

But we must aim higher. We should put Social Security on a sound footing
for the next 75 years. We should reduce poverty among elderly women, who
are nearly twice as likely to be poor as are other seniors. And we should
eliminate the limits on what seniors on Social Security can earn.

Now, these changes will require difficult, but fully achievable choices
over and above the dedication of the surplus. They must be made on a
bipartisan basis. They should be made this year. So let me say to you
tonight, I reach out my hand to all of you in both houses in both parties
and ask that we join together in saying to the American people, we will
save Social Security now.

Now, last year, we wisely reserved all of the surplus until we knew what it
would take to save Social Security. Again, I say, we shouldn't spend any of
it, not any of it, until after Social Security is truly saved. First
thing's first.

Second, once we have saved Social Security, we must fulfill our obligation
to save and improve Medicare. Already we have extended the life of the
Medicare trust fund by 10 years, but we should extend it for at least
another decade. Tonight, I propose that we use one out of every six dollars
in the surplus for the next 15 years to guarantee the soundness of Medicare
until the year 2020.

But, again--but, again, we should aim higher. We must be willing to work
in a bipartisan way and look at new ideas, including the upcoming report of
the Bipartisan Medicare Commission. If we work together, we can secure
Medicare for the next two decades and cover the greatest growing need of
seniors--affordable prescription drugs.

Third, we must help all Americans from their first day on the job to save,
to invest, to create wealth.

From its beginnings, Americans have supplemented Social Security with
private pensions and savings. Yet today millions of people retire with
little to live on other than Social Security. Americans living longer than
ever simply must save more than ever.

Therefore, in addition to saving Social Security and Medicare, I propose a
new pension initiative for retirement security in the 21st century. I
propose that we use a little over 11 percent of the surplus to establish
universal savings accounts--USA accounts--to give all Americans the means
to save.

With these new accounts, Americans can invest as they choose and receive
funds to match a portion of their savings with extra help for those least
able to save. USA accounts will help all Americans to share in our nation's
wealth and to enjoy a more secure retirement. I ask you to support them.

Fourth, we must invest in long-term care.

I propose a tax credit of $1,000 for the aged, ailing or disabled and the
families who care for them. Long-term care will become a bigger and bigger
challenge with the aging of America--and we must do more to help our
families deal with it.

I was born in 1946, the first year of the baby boom. I can tell you that
one of the greatest concerns of our generation is our absolute
determination not to let our growing old place an intolerable burden on our
children and their ability to raise our grandchildren.

Our economic success and our fiscal discipline now give us the opportunity
to lift that burden from their shoulders, and we should take it.

Saving Social Security, Medicare, creating U.S. accounts, this is the right
way to use the surplus. If we do so, if we do so, we will still have
resources to meet critical needs and education and defense.

And I want to point out that this proposal is fiscally sound. Listen to
this, if we set aside 60 percent of the surplus for Social Security and 16
percent for Medicare over the next 15 years, that savings will achieve the
lowest level of publicly-held debt since right before World War I in 1917.

So with these four measures; saving Social Security, strengthening
Medicare, establishing the USA accounts, supporting long-term care, we can
begin to meet our generation's historic responsibility to establish true
security for 21st century seniors.

Now, there are more children, from more diverse backgrounds, in our public
schools that any time in our history. Their education must provide the
knowledge and nurture the creativity that will allow our entire nation to
thrive in the new economy.

Today we can say something we couldn't say six years ago. With tax credits
and more affordable student loans, with more work-study grants and more
Pell Grants, with education IRAs, the new HOPE Scholarship tax cut that
more than five million Americans will receive this year, we have finally
opened the doors of college to all Americans.

With our support, nearly every state has set higher academic standards for
public schools and a voluntary national test is being developed to measure
the progress of our students. With over $1 billion in discounts available
this year, we are well on our way to our goal of connecting every classroom
and library to the Internet.

Last fall, you passed our proposal to start hiring 100,000 new teachers to
reduce class size in the early grades. Now I ask you to finish the job.

You know our children are doing better. SAT scores are up. Math scores have
risen in nearly all grades. But there's a problem. While our fourth-graders
out performed their peers in other countries in math and science, our
eighth-graders are around average, and our 12th-graders rank near the
bottom. We must do better.

Now each year the national government invests more than $15 billion in our
public schools. I believe we must change the way we invest that money to
support what works and to stop supporting what does not work.

First, later this year I will send to Congress a plan that for the first
time holds states and school districts accountable for progress and rewards
them for results. My Education Accountability Act will require every school
district receiving federal help to take the following five steps:

First, all schools must end social promotion.

Now, no child, no child should graduate from high school with a diploma he
or she can't read. We do our children no favors when we allow them to pass
from grade to grade without mastering the material. But we can't just hold
students back because the system fails them.

So my balanced budget triples the funding for summer school and
after-school programs to keep a million children learning. Now, if--if you
doubt this will work, just look at Chicago, which ended social promotion
and made summer school mandatory for those who don't master the basics.
Math and reading scores are up three years running with some of the biggest
gains in some of the poorest neighborhoods. It will work, and we should do
it.

Second, all states and school districts must turn around their worst
performing schools or shut them down. That's the policy established in
North Carolina by Governor Jim Hunt. North Carolina made the biggest gains
in test scores in the nation last year. Our budget includes $200 million to
help states turn around their own failing schools.

Third, all states and school districts must be held responsible for the
quality of their teachers. The great majority of our teachers do a fine
job, but in too many schools teachers don't have college majors or even
minors in the subjects they teach. New teachers should be required to pass
performance exams, and all teachers should know the subject their
teaching.

This year's balanced budget contains resources to help them reach higher
standards. And to attract talented young teachers to the toughest
assignments, I recommend a six-fold increase in our program for college
scholarships for students who commit to teach in the inner-cities and
isolated rural areas and in Indian communities. Let us bring excellence to
every part of America.

Fourth, we must empower parents with more information and more choices. In
too many communities it's easier to get information on the quality of the
local restaurants than on the quality of the local schools.

Every school district should issue report cards on every school. And
parents should be given more choices in selecting their public schools.

When I became president, there was just one independent public charter
school in all America. With our support on a bipartisan basis, today there
are 1,100. My budget assures that early in the next century, there will be
3,000.

Fifth, to assure that our classrooms are truly places of learning, and to
respond to what teachers have been asking us to do for years, we should say
that all states and school districts must both adopt and implement sensible
discipline policies.

Now let's do one more thing for our children. Today, too many schools are
so old they're falling apart, or so overcrowded students are learning in
trailers. Last fall, Congress missed the opportunity to change that. This
year, with 53 million children in our schools, Congress must not miss that
opportunity again. I ask you to help our communities build or modernize
5,000 schools.

If we do these things--end social promotion, turn around failing schools,
build modern ones, support qualified teachers, promote innovation,
competition and discipline--then we will begin to meet our generation's
historic responsibility to create to 21st century schools.

Now, we also have to do more to support the millions of parents who give
their all every day at home and at work.

The most basic tool of all is a decent income. So let's raise the minimum
wage by a dollar an hour over the next two years.

And let's make sure that women and men get equal pay for equal work by
strengthening enforcement of the equal pay laws.

That was encouraging, you know? There was more balance on the seesaw. I
like that. Let's give them a hand. That's great.

Working parents also need quality child care. So, again this year, I ask
Congress to support our plan for tax credits and subsidies for working
families, for improved safety and quality, for expanded after-school
program. And our plan also includes a new tax credit for stay-at-home
parents, too. They need support as well.

Parents should never have to worry about choosing between their children
and their work. Now, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the very first bill
I signed into law, has now, since 1993, helped millions and millions of
Americans to care for a newborn baby or an ailing relative without risking
their jobs. I think it's time, with all of the evidence that it has been so
little burdensome to employers, to extend family leave to 10 million more
Americans working for smaller companies, and I hope you will support it.

Finally, on the matter of work, parents should never have to face
discrimination in the workplace. So I want to ask Congress to prohibit
companies from refusing to hire or promote workers simply because they have
children. That is not right.

America's families deserve the world's best medical care. Thanks to
bipartisan federal support for medical research, we are not on the verge of
new treatments to prevent or delay diseases from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's
to arthritis to cancer. But as we continue our advances in medical science,
we can't let our medical system lag behind.

Managed care has literally transformed medicine in America, driving down
costs, but threatening to drive down quality as well.

I think we ought to say to every American, you should have the right to
know all you medical options, not just the cheapest. If you need a
specialist, you should have a right to see one. You have a right to the
nearest emergency care if you're in an accident. These are things that we
ought to say. And I think we ought to say you should have a right to keep
your doctor during a period of treatment whether it's a pregnancy or a
chemotherapy treatment or anything else. I believe this.

Now I've ordered these rights to be extended to the 85 million Americans
served by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs. But only
Congress can pass a Patients' Bill of Rights for all Americans.

Last year, Congress missed that opportunity, and we must not miss that
opportunity again. For the sake of our families, I ask us to join together
across party lines and pass a strong enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights.

As more of our medical records are stored electronically, the threats to
all of our privacy increase. Because Congress has given me the authority to
act if it does not do so by August, one way or another, we can all say to
the American people, we will protect the privacy of medical records this
year.

Now, two years ago, we acted to extend health coverage to up to five
million children. Now we should go beyond that. We should make it easier
for small businesses to offer health insurance. We should give people
between the ages of 55 and 65 who lose their health insurance the chance to
buy into Medicare.

And we should continue to ensure access to family planning. No one should
have to choose between keeping health care and taking a job. And therefore,
I especially ask you tonight to join hands to pass the landmark bipartisan
legislation proposed by Sens. Kennedy and Jeffords, Roth and Moynihan, to
allow people with disabilities to keep their health insurance when they go
to work.

We need to enable our public hospitals, our community, our university
health centers to provide basic, affordable care for all the millions of
working families who don't have any insurance. They do a lot of that today,
but much more can be done. And my balanced budget makes a good down payment
toward that goal. I hope you will think about them and support that
provision.

Let me say we must step up our efforts to treat and prevent mental illness.
No American should ever be able--afraid ever to address this disease. This
year we will host a White House Conference on Mental Health. With
sensitivity, commitment and passion, Tipper Gore is leading our efforts
here, and I'd like to thank her for what she's done. Thank you. Thank you.

As everyone knows, our children are targets of a massive media campaign to
hook them on cigarettes. Now, I ask this Congress to resist the tobacco
lobby, to reaffirm the FDA's authority to protect our children from tobacco
and to hold tobacco companies accountable, while protecting tobacco
farmers.

Smoking has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars under Medicare
and other programs. You know, the states have been right about this.
Taxpayers shouldn't pay for the cost of lung cancer, emphysema, and other
smoking-related illnesses, the tobacco companies should.

So tonight I announce that the Justice Department is preparing a litigation
plan to take the tobacco companies to court and with the funds we recover
to strengthen Medicare.

Now, if we act in these areas--minimum wage, family leave, child care,
health care, the safety of our children--then we will begin to meet our
generation's historic responsibilities to strengthen our families for the
21st century.

Today, America is the most dynamic, competitive, job-creating economy in
history, but we can do even better in building a 21st century economy that
embraces all Americans.

Today's income gap is largely a skills gap. Last year, the Congress passed
a law enabling workers to get a skills grant to choose the training they
need. And I applaud all of you here who were part of that.

This year, I recommend a five-year commitment to the new system, so that we
can provide over the next five years appropriate training opportunities for
all Americans who lose their jobs and expand rapid response teams to help
all towns which have been really hurt when businesses close. I hope you
will support this.

Also, I ask your support for a dramatic increase in federal support for
adult literacy to mount a national campaign aimed at helping the millions
and millions of working people who still read at less than a fifth-grade
level. We need to do this.

Here's some good news. In the past six years, we have cut the welfare rolls
nearly in half.

Two years ago, from this podium, I asked five companies to lead a national
effort to hire people off welfare. Tonight our welfare-to-work partnership
includes 10,000 companies who have hired hundreds of thousands of people,
and our balanced budget will help another 200,000 people move to the
dignity and pride of work. I hope you will support it.

We must bring the spark of private enterprise to every corner of America,
to build a bridge from Wall Street to Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta,
to our Native American communities, with more support for community
development banks for empowerment zones, for 100,000 more vouchers for
affordable housing.

And I ask Congress to support our bold new plan to help businesses raise up
to $15 billion in private sector capital, to bring jobs and opportunities
and inner cities, rural areas, with tax credits, loan guarantees, including
the new American Private Investment Companies, modeled on the Overseas
Private Investment Companies.

Now, for years and years we've had this OPIC, this Overseas Private
Investment Corporation, because we knew we had untapped markets overseas.
But our greatest untapped markets are not overseas--they are right here at
home. And we should go after them.

We must work hard to help bring prosperity back to the family farm.

As this Congress knows very well, dropping prices and the loss of foreign
markets have devastated too many family farmers. Last year, the Congress
provided substantial assistance to help stave off a disaster in American
agriculture, and I am ready to work with lawmakers of both parties to
create a farm safety net that will include crop insurance reform and farm
income assistance.

I ask you to join with me and do this. This should not be a political
issue. Everyone knows what an economic problem is going on out there in
rural America today, and we need an appropriate means to address it.

We must strengthen our lead in technology. It was government investment
that led to the creation of the Internet. I propose a 28-percent increase
in long-term computing research.

We also must be ready for the 21st century from its very first moment by
solving the so-called Y2K computer problem. We had one member of Congress
stand up and applaud. And we may have about that ration out there
applauding at home in front of their television sets. But remember, this is
a big, big problem, and we've been working hard on it. Already we've made
sure that the Social Security checks will come on time.

But I want all the folks at home listening to this to know that we need
every state and local government, every business large and small to work
with us to make sure that this Y2K computer bug will be remembered as the
last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st.

For our own prosperity, we must support economic growth abroad. You know,
until recently a third of our economic growth came from exports. But over
the past year and a half, financial turmoil has put that growth at risk.
Today, much of the world is in recession, with Asia hit especially hard.
This is the most serious financial crisis in half a century.

To meet it, the U.S. and other nations have reduced interest rates and
strengthened the International Monetary Fund and while the turmoil is not
over, we have worked very hard with other nations to contain it.

At the same time, we will continue to work on the long-term project:
building a global financial system for the 21st century that promotes
prosperity and tames the cycle of boom and bust that has engulfed so much
of Asia. This June, I will meet with other world leaders to advance this
historic purpose and I ask all of you to support our endeavors. I also ask
you to support creating a freer and fairer trading system for 21st century
America.

You know, I'd like to say something really serious to everyone in this
chamber in both parties. I think trade has divided us and divided Americans
outside this chamber for too long. Somehow, we have to find a common ground
on which business and workers and environmentalists and farmers and
government can stand together. I believe these are the things we ought to
all agree on. So, let me try.

First, we ought to tear down barriers, open markets and expand trade, but
at the same time, we must ensure that ordinary citizens in all countries
actually benefit from trade; a trade that promotes the dignity of work and
the rights of workers and protects the environment.

We must insist that international trade organizations be open to public
scrutiny instead of mysterious, secret things subject to wild criticism.

When you come right down to it, now that the world economy is becoming more
and more integrated, we have to do in the world what we spent the better
part of this century doing here at home. We have got to put a human face on
the global economy.

Now, we must enforce our trade laws when imports unlawfully flood our
nation. I have already informed the government of Japan if that nation's
sudden surge of steel imports into our country is not reversed, America
will respond.

We must help all manufacturers hit hard by the present crisis with loan
guarantees, and other incentives to increase American exports by nearly $2
billion. I'd like to believe we can achieve a new consensus on trade based
on these principles. And I ask the Congress to join me again in this common
approach and to give the president the trade authority long used and now
overdue and necessary to advance our prosperity in the 21st century.

Tonight, I issue a call to the nations of the world to join the United
States in a new round of global trade negotiation to expand exports of
services, manufactures and farm products.

Tonight, I say, we will work with the International Labor Organization on a
new initiative to raise labor standards around the world. And this year, we
will lead the international community to conclude a treaty to ban abusive
child labor everywhere in the world.

If we do these things--invest in our people, our communities, our
technology--and lead in the global economy, then we will begin to meet our
historic responsibility to build a 21st century prosperity for America.

You know, no nation in history has had the opportunity and the
responsibility we now have to shape a world that is more peaceful, more
secure, more free.

All Americans can be proud that our leadership helped to bring peace in
Northern Ireland.

All Americans can be proud that our leadership has put Bosnia on the path
to peace. And with our NATO allies we are pressing the Serbian government
to stop its brutal repression in Kosovo--to bring those responsible to
justice and to give the people of Kosovo the self-government they deserve.

All Americans can be proud that our leadership renewed hope for lasting
peace in the Middle East. Some of you were with me last December as we
watched the Palestinian National Council completely renounce its call for
the destruction of Israel.

Now, I ask Congress to provide resources so that all parties can implement
the Wye Agreement, to protect Israel's security, to stimulate the
Palestinian economy, to support our friends in Jordan. We must not, we dare
not, let them down. I hope you will help me.

As we work for peace, we must also meet threats to our nation's security,
including increased danger from outlaw nations and terrorism.

We will defend our security wherever we are threatened, as we did this
summer when we struck at Osama bin Laden's network of terror. The bombing
of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania reminds us again of the risks faced
every day by those who represent America to the world. So let's give them
the support they need, the safest possible workplaces, and the resources
they must have so America can continue to lead.

We must work to keep terrorists from disrupting computer networks. We must
work to prepare local communities for biological and chemical emergencies,
to support research into vaccines and treatments. We must increase our
efforts to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons and missiles, from Korea
to India and Pakistan. We must expand our work with Russia, Ukraine and
other former Soviet nations to safeguard nuclear materials and technology
so they never fall into the wrong hands. Our balanced budget will increase
funding for these critical efforts by almost two-thirds over the next five
years.

With Russia we must continue to reduce our nuclear arsenals. The START II
Treaty and the framework we have already agreed to for START III could cut
them by 80 percent from their Cold War height.

It's been two years since I signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. If we
don't do the right thing, other nations won't either. I ask the Senate to
take this vital step, approve the treaty now to make it harder for other
nations to develop nuclear arms, and to make sure we can end nuclear
testing for ever.

For nearly a decade, Iraq has defied its obligations to destroy its weapons
of terror and the missiles to deliver them.

America will continue to contain [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] and we
will work for the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people. Now,
last month, in our action over Iraq, our troops were superb. Their mission
was so flawlessly executed, that we risk taking for granted the bravery and
skill it required. Captain Jeff Taliaferro, a 10-year Air Force veteran of
the Air Force, flew a B-1B bomber over Iraq as we attacked Saddam's war
machine. He is here with us tonight. I would like to ask you to honor him
and all the 33,000 men and women of Operation Desert Fox.

It is time to reverse the decline in defense spending that began in 1985.

Since April, together we have added nearly $6 billion to maintain our
military readiness. My balanced budget calls for a sustained increase over
the next six years for readiness, for modernization, and for pay and
benefits for our troops and their families.

You know, we are the heirs of a legacy of bravery represented in every
community in America by millions of our veterans. America's defenders today
still stand ready at a moments notice to go where comforts are few and
dangers are many, to do what needs to be done as no one else can. They
always come through for America. We must come through for them.

The new century demands new partnerships for peace and security. The United
Nations plays a crucial role, with allies sharing burdens America might
otherwise bear alone. America needs a strong and effective U.N. I want to
work with this new Congress to pay our dues and our debts.

We must continue to support security and stability in Europe and Asia--
expanding NATO and defining its new missions, maintaining our alliance with
Japan, with Korea, with our other Asian allies, and engaging China.

In China last year, I said to the leaders and the people what I'd like to
say again tonight: Stability can no longer be bought at the expense of
liberty.

But I'd also like to say again to the American people, it's important not
to isolate China. The more we bring China into the world, the more the
world will bring change and freedom to China.

Last spring, with some of you, I traveled to Africa, where I saw democracy
and reform rising, but still held back by violence and disease. We must
fortify African democracy and peace by launching radio democracy for
Africa, supporting the transition to democracy now beginning to take place
in Nigeria, and passing the African Trade and Development Act.

We must continue to deepen our ties to the Americas and the Caribbean, our
common work to educate children, fight drugs, strengthen democracy and
increase trade. In this hemisphere, every government but one is freely
chosen by its people. We are determined that Cuba, too, will know the
blessings of liberty.

The American people have opened their arms and their hearts and their arms
to our Central American and Caribbean neighbors who have been so devastated
by the recent hurricanes. Working with Congress, I am committed to help
them rebuild.

When the first lady and Tipper Gore visited the region, they saw thousands
of our troops and thousands of American volunteers. In the Dominican
Republic, Hillary helped to rededicate a hospital that had been rebuilt by
Dominicans and Americans working side by side. With her was some one else
who has been very important to the relief efforts. You know sports records
are made and sooner or later, they're broken. But making other people's
lives better and showing our children the true meaning of brotherhood, that
lasts forever. So for far more than baseball, Sammy Sosa, you're a hero in
two countries tonight. Thank you.

So I say to all of you, if we do these things, if we pursue peace, fight
terrorism, increase our strength, renew our alliances, we will begin to
meet our generation's historic responsibility to build a stronger 21st
century America in a freer, more peaceful world.

As the world has changed, so have our own communities. We must make the
safer, more livable, and more united. This year, we will reach our goal of
100,000 community police officers ahead of schedule and under budget.

The Brady Bill has stopped a quarter million felons, fugitives, and
stalkers from buying handguns and now, the murder rate is the lowest in 30
years, and the crime rate has dropped for six straight years.

Tonight, I propose a 21st Century Crime Bill to deploy the latest
technologies and tactics to make our communities even safer. Our balanced
budget will help put up to 50,000 more police on the street in the areas
hardest hit by crime, and then to equip them with new tools from
crime-mapping computers to digital mug shots. We must break the deadly
cycle of drugs and crime.

Our budget expands support for drug testing and treatment, saying to
prisoners, "If you stay on drugs, you have to stay behind bars." And to
those on parole, "If you want to keep your freedom, you must stay free of
drugs."

I ask Congress to restore the five-day waiting period for buying a handgun
and extend the Brady Bill to prevent juveniles who commit violent crimes
from buying a gun.

We must do more to keep our schools the safest places in our communities.
Last year, every American was horrified and heartbroken by the tragic
killings in Jonesboro, Paducah, Pearl, Edinboro, Springfield. We were
deeply moved by the courageous parents now working to keep guns out of the
hands of children and to make other efforts so that other parents don't
have to live through their loss.

After she lost her daughter, Suzann Wilson of Jonesboro, Arkansas, came
here to the White House with a powerful plea. She said "Please, please for
the sake of your children, lock up your guns. Don't let what happened in
Jonesboro, happen in your town."

It's a message she is passionately advocating every day. Suzann is here
with us tonight, with the first lady. I would like to thank her for her
courage and her commitment.

In memory of all the children who lost their lives to school violence, I
ask you to strengthen the Safe And Drug Free School Act, to pass
legislation to require child trigger locks, to do everything possible to
keep our children safe.

Today, we're--excuse me--a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt
defined our great central task as leaving this land even a better land for
our descendants than it is for us. Today, we're restoring the Florida
Everglades, saving Yellowstone, preserving the red rock canyons of Utah,
protecting California's redwoods, and our precious coasts.

But our most fateful new challenge is the threat of global warming.
Nineteen ninety-eight was the warmest year ever recorded. Last year's heat
waves, floods and storm are but a hint of what future generations may
endure if we do not act now.

Tonight, I propose a new clean air fund to help communities reduce
greenhouse and other pollutions, and tax incentives and investment to spur
clean energy technologies. And I want to work with members of Congress in
both parties to reward companies that take early, voluntary action to
reduce greenhouse gases.

Now, all our communities face a preservation challenge as they grow, and
green space shrinks. Seven thousand acres of farmland and open space are
lost every day. In response, I propose two major initiatives. First, a $1
billion livability agenda to help communities save open space, ease traffic
congestion, and grow in ways that enhance every citizen's quality of life.
And second, a $1 billion lands legacy initiative to preserve places of
natural beauty all across America, from the most remote wilderness to the
nearest city park.

These are truly landmark initiatives, which could not have been developed
without the visionary leadership of the vice president and I want to thank
him very much for his commitment here. Thank you.

Now, to get the most out of your community, you have to give something
back. That's why we created AmeriCorps, our national service program that
gives today's generation a chance to serve their communities and earn money
for college.

So far, in just four years, 100,000 young Americans have built low-income
homes with Habitat for Humanity, helped tutor children with churches, work
with FEMA to ease the burden of natural disasters and performed countless
other acts of service that has made America better. I ask Congress to give
more young Americans the chance to follow their lead and serve America in
AmeriCorps.

Now, we must work to renew our national community as well for the 21st
century. Last year, the House passed the bipartisan campaign finance reform
legislation sponsored by Representatives [Christopher] Shays (R-Conn.) and
[Martin T.] Meehan (D-Mass.) and Sens. [John] McCain (R-Ariz.) and
[Russell] Feingold (D-Wis.). But a partisan minority in the Senate blocked
reform. So I would like to say to the House, pass it again--quickly.

And I'd like to say to the Senate, I hope you will say yes to a stronger
American democracy in the year 2000.

Since 1997, our Initiative on Race has sought to bridge the divides between
and among our people. In its report last fall, the Initiatives Advisory
Board found that Americans really do want to bring our people together
across racial lines.

We know it's been a long journey. For some it goes back to before the
beginning of our republic. For others, back since the Civil War; for
others, throughout the 21st century. But for most of us alive today, in a
very real sense this journey began 43 years ago, when a woman named Rosa
Parks sat down on a bus in Alabama and wouldn't get up.

She's sitting down with the first lady tonight, and she may get up or not
as she chooses.

We know that our continuing racial problems are aggravated, as the
presidential initiative said, by opportunity gaps.

The initiative I've outlined tonight will help to close them. But we know
that the discrimination gap has not been fully closed either.
Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender,
disability or sexual orientation, is wrong and it ought to be illegal.
Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and
the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land.

You know, now since every person in America counts, every American ought to
be counted. We need a census that uses modern scientific methods to do
that.

Our new immigrants must be part of our one America. After all, they're
revitalizing our cities, they're energizing our culture, they're building
up our economy. We have a responsibility to make them welcome here, and
they have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life.

That means learning English and learning about our democratic system of
government. There are now long waiting lines of immigrants that are trying
to do just that.

Therefore, our budget significantly expands our efforts to help them meet
their responsibility. I hope you will support it.

Whether our ancestors came here on the Mayflower, on slave ships; whether
they came to Ellis Island or LAX in Los Angeles; whether they came
yesterday or walked this land 1,000 years ago, our great challenge for the
21st century is to find a way to be one America. We can meet all the other
challenges if we can go forward as one America.

You know, barely more than 300 days from now we will cross that bridge into
the new millennium. This is a moment, as the first lady has said, to honor
the past and imagine the future.

I'd like to take just a minute to honor her, for leading our Millennium
Project, for all she's done for our children. For all she has done in her
historic role to serve our nation and our best ideals at home and abroad, I
honor her.

Last year--last year I called on Congress and every citizen to mark the
millennium by saving America's treasures. Hillary's traveled all across the
country to inspire recognition and support for saving places like Thomas
Edison's invention factory or Harriet Tubman's home.

Now we have to preserve our treasures in every community. And tonight,
before I close, I want to invite every town, every city, every community to
become a nationally recognized millennium community by launching projects
that save our history, promote our arts and humanities, prepare our
children for the 21st century.

Already the response has been remarkable. And I want to say a special word
of thanks to our private sector partners and to members in Congress of both
parties for their support. Just one example. Because of you, the Star
Spangled Banner will be preserved for the ages.

In ways large and small, as we look to the millennium, we are keeping alive
what George Washington called the "sacred fire of liberty."

Six years ago, I came to office in a time of doubt for America, with our
economy troubled, our deficit high, our people divided. Some even wondered
whether our best days were behind us. But across this nation, in a thousand
neighborhoods, I have seen, even amidst the pain and uncertainty of
recession, the real heart and character of America.

I knew then we Americans could renew this country.

Tonight, as I deliver the last State of the Union Address for the 20th
century, no one anywhere in the world can doubt the enduring resolve and
boundless capacity of the American people to work toward that "more perfect
union" of our founders' dreams.

We are now, at the end of a century, when generation after generation of
Americans answered the call to greatness, overcoming Depression, lifting up
the dispossessed, bringing down barriers to racial prejudice, building the
largest middle class in history, winning two world wars and the "long
twilight struggle" of the Cold War.

We must all be profoundly grateful for the magnificent achievements of our
forbearers in this century.

Yet perhaps in the daily press of events, in the clash of controversy, we
don't see our own time for what it truly is--a new dawn for America.

A hundred years from tonight, another American president will stand in this
place and report on the State of the Union. He--or she--will look back on
the 21st century shaped in so many ways by the decisions we make here and
now.

So let it be said of us then that we were thinking not only of our time,
but of their time; that we reached as high as our ideals; that we put aside
our divisions and found a new hour of healing and hopefulness; that we
joined together to serve and strengthen the land we love.

My fellow Americans, this is our moment. Let us lift our eyes as one
nation, and from the mountaintop of this American century, look ahead to
the next one--asking God's blessing on our endeavors and on our beloved
country.

Thank you, and good evening.

***

State of the Union Address
William J. Clinton
January 27, 2000

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, honored guests, my
fellow Americans:

We are fortunate to be alive at this moment in history. Never before has
our nation enjoyed, at once, so much prosperity and social progress with so
little internal crisis or so few external threats. Never before have we had
such a blessed opportunity--and, therefore, such a profound obligation--
to build the more perfect union of our founders' dreams.

We begin the new century with over 20 million new jobs. The fastest
economic growth in more than 30 years; the lowest unemployment rates in 30
years; the lowest poverty rates in 20 years; the lowest African-American
and Hispanic unemployment rates on record; the first back-to-back budget
surpluses in 42 years.

Next month, America will achieve the longest period of economic growth in
our entire history.

We have built a new economy.

Our economic revolution has been matched by a revival of the American
spirit: Crime down by 20 percent, to its lowest level in 25 years. Teen
births down seven years in a row and adoptions up by 30 percent. Welfare
rolls cut in half to their lowest levels in 30 years.

My fellow Americans, the state of our union is the strongest it has ever
been.

As always, the credit belongs to the American people.

My gratitude also goes to those of you in this chamber who have worked with
us to put progress above partisanship.

Eight years ago, it was not so clear to most Americans there would be much
to celebrate in the year 2000. Then our nation was gripped by economic
distress, social decline, political gridlock. The title of a best-selling
book asked: "America: What went wrong?"

In the best traditions of our nation, Americans determined to set things
right. We restored the vital center, replacing outdated ideologies with a
new vision anchored in basic, enduring values: opportunity for all,
responsibility from all, and a community of all Americans.

We reinvented government, transforming it into a catalyst for new ideas
that stress both opportunity and responsibility, and give our people the
tools to solve their own problems.

With the smallest federal workforce in 40 years, we turned record deficits
into record surpluses, and doubled our investment in education. We cut
crime: with 100,000 community police and the Brady Law, which has kept guns
out of the hands of half a million criminals.

We ended welfare as we knew it--requiring work while protecting health
care and nutrition for children, and investing more in child care,
transportation, and housing to help their parents go to work. We have
helped parents to succeed at work and at home--with family leave, which 20
million Americans have used to care for a newborn child or a sick loved
one. We have engaged 150,000 young Americans in citizen service through
AmeriCorps--while also helping them earn their way through college.

In 1992, we had a roadmap. Today, we have results. More important, America
again has the confidence to dream big dreams. But we must not let our
renewed confidence grow into complacency. We will be judged by the dreams
and deeds we pass on to our children. And on that score, we will be held to
a high standard, indeed. Because our chance to do good is so great.

My fellow Americans, we have crossed the bridge we built to the 21st
Century. Now, we must shape a 21st-Century American revolution--of
opportunity, responsibility, and community. We must be, as we were in the
beginning, a new nation.

At the dawn of the last century, Theodore Roosevelt said, "the one
characteristic more essential than any other is foresight. . . It should be
the growing nation with a future which takes the long look ahead."

Tonight let us take our look long ahead--and set great goals for our
nation.

To 21st Century America, let us pledge that:

Every child will begin school ready to learn and graduate ready to succeed.
Every family will be able to succeed at home and at work--and no child
will be raised in poverty. We will meet the challenge of the aging of
America. We will assure quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.
We will make America the safest big country on earth. We will bring
prosperity to every American community. We will reverse the course of
climate change and leave a cleaner, safer planet. America will lead the
world toward shared peace and prosperity, and the far frontiers of science
and technology. And we will become at last what our founders pledged us to
be so long ago--one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all.

These are great goals, worthy of a great nation. We will not reach them all
this year. Not even in this decade. But we will reach them. Let us remember
that the first American revolution was not won with a single shot. The
continent was not settled in a single year. The lesson of our history--and
the lesson of the last seven years--is that great goals are reached step
by step: always building on our progress, always gaining ground.

Of course, you can't gain ground if you're standing still. For too long
this Congress has been standing still on some of our most pressing national
priorities. Let's begin with them.

I ask you again to pass a real patient's bill of rights. Pass common-sense
gun-safety legislation. Pass campaign finance reform. Vote on long overdue
judicial nominations and other important appointees. And, again, I ask you
to raise the minimum wage.

Two years ago, as we reached our first balanced budget, I asked that we
meet our responsibility to the next generation by maintaining our fiscal
discipline. Because we refused to stray from that path, we are doing
something that would have seemed unimaginable seven years ago: We are
actually paying down the national debt. If we stay on this path, we can pay
down the debt entirely in 13 years and make America debt-free for the first
time since Andrew Jackson was president in 1835.

In 1993, we began to put our fiscal house in order with the Deficit
Reduction Act, winning passage in both houses by just one vote. Your former
colleague, my first Secretary of the Treasury, led that effort. He is here
tonight. Lloyd Bentsen, you have served America well.

Beyond paying off the debt, we must ensure that the benefits of debt
reduction go to preserving two of the most important guarantees we make to
every American--Social Security and Medicare. I ask you tonight to work
with me to make a bipartisan down payment on Social Security reform by
crediting the interest savings from debt reduction to the Social Security
Trust Fund to ensure that it is strong and sound for the next 50 years.

But this is just the start of our journey. Now we must take the right steps
toward reaching our great goals.

Opportunity and Responsibility in Education

First and foremost, we need a 21st Century revolution in education, guided
by our faith that every child can learn. Because education is more than
ever the key to our children's future, we must make sure all our children
have that key. That means quality preschool and afterschool, the best
trained teachers in every classroom, and college opportunities for all our
children.

For seven years, we have worked hard to improve our schools, with
opportunity and responsibility: Investing more, but demanding more in
return.

Reading, math, and college entrance scores are up. And some of the most
impressive gains are in schools in poor neighborhoods.

All successful schools have followed the same proven formula: higher
standards, more accountability, so all children can reach those standards.
I have sent Congress a reform plan based on that formula. It holds states
and school districts accountable for progress, and rewards them for
results. Each year, the national government invests more than $15 billion
in our schools. It's time to support what works and stop supporting what
doesn't.

As we demand more than ever from our schools, we should invest more than
ever in our schools.

Let's double our investment to help states and districts turn around their
worst-performing schools--or shut them down.

Let's double our investment in afterschool and summer school programs--
boosting achievement, and keeping children off the street and out of
trouble. If we do, we can give every child in every failing school in
America the chance to meet high standards.

Since 1993, we've nearly doubled our investment in Head Start and improved
its quality. Tonight, I ask for another $1 billion to Head Start, the
largest increase in the program's history.

We know that children learn best in smaller classes with good teachers. For
two years in a row, Congress has supported my plan to hire 100,000 new,
qualified teachers, to lower class sizes in the early grades. This year, I
ask you to make it three in a row.

And to make sure all teachers know the subjects they teach, tonight I
propose a new teacher quality initiative--to recruit more talented people
into the classroom, reward good teachers for staying there, and give all
teachers the training they need.

We know charter schools provide real public school choice. When I became
President, there was just one independent public charter school in all
America. Today there are 1,700. I ask you to help us meet our goal of 3,000
by next year.

We know we must connect all our classrooms to the Internet. We're getting
there. In 1994, only three percent of our classrooms were connected. Today,
with the help of the Vice President's E-rate program, more than half of
them are; and 90 percent of our schools have at least one connection to the
Internet.

But we can't finish the job when a third of all schools are in serious
disrepair, many with walls and wires too old for the Internet. Tonight, I
propose to help 5,000 schools a year make immediate, urgent repairs. And
again, to help build or modernize 6,000 schools, to get students out of
trailers and into high-tech classrooms.

We should double our bipartisan GEAR UP program to mentor 1.4 million
disadvantaged young people for college. And let's offer these students a
chance to take the same college test-prep courses wealthier students use to
boost their test scores.

To make the American Dream achievable for all, we must make college
affordable for all. For seven years, on a bipartisan basis, we have taken
action toward that goal: larger Pell grants, more-affordable student loans,
education IRAs, and our HOPE scholarships, which have already benefited 5
million young people. 67 percent of high school graduates now go on to
college, up almost 10 percent since 1993. Yet millions of families still
strain to pay college tuition. They need help.

I propose a landmark $30-billion college opportunity tax cut--a
middle-class tax deduction for up to $10,000 in college tuition costs.
We've already made two years of college affordable for all. Now let's make
four years of college affordable for all.

If we take all these steps, we will move a long way toward making sure
every child starts school ready to learn and graduates ready to succeed.

Rewarding Work and Strengthening Families

We need a 21st Century revolution to reward work and strengthen families--
by giving every parent the tools to succeed at work and at the most
important work of all--raising their children. That means making sure that
every family has health care and the support to care for aging parents, the
tools to bring their children up right, and that no child grows up in
poverty.

From my first days as President, we have worked to give families better
access to better health care. In 1997, we passed the Children's Health
Insurance Program--CHIP--so that workers who don't have health care
coverage through their employers at least can get it for their children. So
far, we've enrolled 2 million children, and we're well on our way to our
goal of 5 million.

But there are still more than 40 million Americans without health
insurance, more than there were in 1993. Tonight I propose that we follow
Vice President Gore's suggestion to make low income parents eligible for
the insurance that covers their kids. Together with our children's
initiative, we can cover nearly one quarter of the uninsured in America.

Again, I ask you to let people between 55 and 65--the fastest growing
group of uninsured--buy into Medicare. And let's give them a tax credit to
make that choice an affordable one.

When the Baby Boomers retire, Medicare will be faced with caring for twice
as many of our citizens--and yet it is far from ready to do so. My
generation must not ask our children's generation to shoulder our burden.
We must strengthen and modernize Medicare now.

My budget includes a comprehensive plan to reform Medicare, to make it more
efficient and competitive. And it dedicates nearly $400 billion of our
budget surplus to keep Medicare solvent past 2025; and, at long last, to
give every senior a voluntary choice of affordable coverage for
prescription drugs.

Lifesaving drugs are an indispensable part of modern medicine. No one
creating a Medicare program today would even consider excluding coverage
for prescription drugs. Yet more than three in five seniors now lack
dependable drug coverage which can lengthen and enrich their lives.
Millions of older Americans who need prescription drugs the most pay the
highest prices for them.

In good conscience, we cannot let another year pass without extending to
all seniors the lifeline of affordable prescription drugs.

Record numbers of Americans are providing for aging or ailing loved ones at
home. Last year, I proposed a $1,000 tax credit for long-term care.
Frankly, that wasn't enough. This year, let's triple it to $3,000--and
this year, let's pass it.

And we must make needed investments to expand access to mental health care.
I want to thank the person who has led our efforts to break down the
barriers to the decent treatment of mental illness: Tipper Gore.

Taken together, these proposals would mark the largest investment in health
care in the 35 years since the creation of Medicare--a big step toward
assuring health care for all Americans, young and old.

We must also make investments that reward work and support families.
Nothing does that better than the Earned Income Tax Credit, the EITC. The
"E" in "EITC" is about earning; working; taking responsibility and being
rewarded for it. In my first Address to you, I asked Congress to greatly
expand this tax credit; and you did. As a result, in 1998 alone, the EITC
helped more than 4.3 million Americans work their way out of poverty and
toward the middle class--double the number in 1993.

Tonight, I propose another major expansion. We should reduce the marriage
penalty for the EITC, making sure it rewards marriage just as it rewards
work. And we should expand the tax credit for families with more than two
children to provide up to $1,100 more in tax relief.

We can't reward work and family unless men and women get equal pay for
equal work. The female unemployment rate is the lowest in 46 years. Yet
women still earn only about 75 cents for every dollar men earn. We must do
better by providing the resources to enforce present equal pay laws,
training more women for high-paying, high-tech jobs, and passing the
Paycheck Fairness Act.

Two-thirds of new jobs are in the suburbs, far away from many low-income
families. In the past two years, I have proposed and Congress has approved
110,000 new housing vouchers--rent subsidies to help working families live
closer to the workplace. This year, let us more than double that number. If
we want people to go to work, they have to be able to get to work.

Many working parents spend up to a quarter of their income on child care.
Last year, we helped parents provide child care for about two million
children. My child care initiative, along with funds already secured in
welfare reform, would make child care better, safer, and more affordable
for another 400,000 children.

For hard-pressed middle-income families, we should also expand the child
care tax credit. And we should take the next big step. We should make that
tax credit refundable for low-income families. For those making under
$30,000 a year, that could mean up to $2,400 for child-care costs. We all
say we're pro-work and pro-family. Passing this proposal would prove it.

Tens of millions of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. As hard as
they work, they still don't have the opportunity to save. Too few can make
use of IRAs and 401-K retirement plans. We should do more to help working
families save and accumulate wealth. That's the idea behind so-called
Individual Development Accounts. Let's take that idea to a new level, with
Retirement Savings Accounts that enable every low- and moderate-income
family in America to save for retirement, a first home, a medical
emergency, or a college education. I propose to match their contributions,
however small, dollar for dollar, every year they save. And to give a major
new tax credit for any small business that provides a meaningful pension to
its workers.

Nearly one in three American children grows up in a home without a father.
These children are five times more likely to live in poverty than children
with both parents at home. Clearly, demanding and supporting responsible
fatherhood is critical to lifting all children out of poverty.

We have doubled child support collections since 1992, and I am proposing
tough new measures to hold still more fathers responsible. But we should
recognize that a lot of fathers want to do right by their children--and
need help to do it. Carlos Rosas of St. Paul, Minnesota, got that help. Now
he has a good job and he supports his son Ricardo. My budget will help
40,000 fathers make the choices Carlos did. And I thank him for being
here.

If there is any issue on which we can reach across party lines it is in our
common commitment to reward work and strengthen families. Thanks to
overwhelming bipartisan support from this Congress, we have improved foster
care, supported those who leave it when they turn eighteen, and
dramatically increased the number of foster children going to adoptive
homes. I thank you for that. Of course, I am especially grateful to the
person who has led our efforts from the beginning, and who has worked
tirelessly for children and families for thirty years now: my wife,
Hillary.

If we take all these steps, we will move a long way toward empowering
parents to succeed at home and at work and ensuring that no child is raised
in poverty. We can make these vital investments in health care, education
and support for working families--and still offer tax cuts to help pay for
college, for retirement, to care for aging parents and reduce the marriage
penalty--without forsaking the path of fiscal discipline that got us here.
Indeed, we must make these investments and tax cuts in the context of a
balanced budget that strengthens and extends the life of Social Security
and Medicare and pays down the national debt.

Responsibility and Crime

Crime in America has dropped for the past seven years--the longest decline
on record, thanks to a national consensus we helped to forge on community
police, sensible gun safety laws, and effective prevention. But nobody
believes America is safe enough. So let's set a higher goal: let's make
America the safest big country in the world.

Last fall, Congress supported my plan to hire--in addition to the 100,000
community police we have already funded--50,000 more, concentrated in
high-crime neighborhoods. I ask your continued support.

Soon after the Columbine tragedy, Congress considered common-sense gun
safety legislation to require Brady background checks at gun shows, child
safety locks for all new handguns, and a ban on the importation of
large-capacity ammunition clips. With courage--and a tie-breaking vote by
the Vice President--the Senate faced down the gun lobby, stood up for the
American people, and passed this legislation. But the House failed to
follow suit.

We've all seen what happens when guns fall into the wrong hands. Daniel
Mauser was only 15 years old when he was gunned down at Columbine. He was
an amazing kid, a straight-A student, a good skier. Like all parents who
lose their children, his father Tom has borne unimaginable grief. Somehow
Tom has found the strength to honor his son by transforming his grief into
action. Earlier this month, he took a leave of absence from his job to
fight for tougher gun safety laws. I pray that his courage and wisdom will
move this Congress to make common-sense gun safety legislation the very
next order of business. Tom, thank you for being here tonight.

We must strengthen gun laws and better enforce laws already on the books.
Federal gun crime prosecutions are up 16 percent since I took office. But
again, we must do more. I propose to hire more federal and local gun
prosecutors, and more ATF agents to crack down on illegal gun traffickers
and bad-apple dealers. And we must give law enforcement the tools to trace
every gun--and every bullet--used in a crime in America.

Listen to this: the accidental gun death rate of children under 15 in the
United States is nine times higher than in the other 25 industrialized
nations--combined. Technologies now exist that could lead to guns that can
only be fired by the adults who own them. I ask Congress to fund research
in Smart Gun technology. I also call on responsible leaders in the gun
industry to work with us on smart guns and other steps to keep guns out of
the wrong hands and keep our children safe.

Every parent I know worries about the impact of violence in the media on
their children. I thank the entertainment industry for accepting my
challenge to put voluntary ratings on TV programs and video and Internet
games. But the ratings are too numerous, diverse, and confusing to be
really useful to parents. Therefore, I now ask the industry to accept the
First Lady's challenge--to develop a single, voluntary rating system for
all children's entertainment, one that is easier for parents to understand
and enforce.

If we take all these steps, we will be well on our way to making America
the safest big country in the world.

Opening New Markets

To keep our historic economic expansion going, we need a 21st Century
revolution to open new markets, start new businesses, and hire new workers
right here in America--in our inner cities, poor rural areas, and on
Indian reservations.

Our nation's prosperity has not yet reached these places. Over the last six
months, I have traveled to many of them--joined by many of you, and many
far-sighted business people--to shine a spotlight on the enormous
potential in communities from Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta, from
Watts to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Everywhere I've gone, I've met
talented people eager for opportunity, and able to work. Let's put them to
work.

For business, it's the smart thing to do. For America, it's the right thing
to do. And if we don't do it now, when will we ever get around to it?

I ask Congress to give businesses the same incentives to invest in
America's new markets that they now have to invest in foreign markets.
Tonight, I propose a large New Markets Tax Credit and other incentives to
spur $22 billion in private-sector capital--to create new businesses and
new investments in inner cities and rural areas.

Empowerment Zones have been creating these opportunities for five years
now. We should also increase incentives to invest in them and create more
of them.

This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue. It is an American issue.
Mr. Speaker, it was a powerful moment last November when you joined me and
the Reverend Jesse Jackson in your home state of Illinois, and committed to
working toward our common goal, by combining the best ideas from both sides
of the aisle. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with you.

We must maintain our commitment to community development banks and keep the
community reinvestment act strong so all Americans have access to the
capital they need to buy homes and build businesses.

We need to make special efforts to address the areas with the highest rates
of poverty. My budget includes a special $110 million initiative to promote
economic development in the Mississippi Delta; and $1 billion to increase
economic opportunity, health care, education and law enforcement for Native
American communities. In this new century, we should honor our historic
responsibility to empower the first Americans. I thank leaders and members
from both parties who have already expressed an interest in working with us
on these efforts.

There's another part of our American community in trouble today--our
family farmers. When I signed the Farm Bill in 1996, I said there was a
great danger it would work well in good times but not in bad. Well,
droughts, floods, and historically low prices have made times very bad for
our farmers. We must work together to strengthen the farm safety net,
invest in land conservation, and create new markets by expanding our
program for bio-based fuels and products.

Today, opportunity for all requires something new: having access to a
computer and knowing how to use it. That means we must close the digital
divide between those who have these tools and those who don't.

Connecting classrooms and libraries to the Internet is crucial, but it's
just a start. My budget ensures that all new teachers are trained to teach
21st Century skills and creates technology centers in 1,000 communities to
serve adults. This spring, I will invite high-tech leaders to join me on
another New Markets tour--to close the digital divide and open opportunity
for all our people. I thank the high-tech companies that are already doing
so much in this area--and I hope the new tax incentives I have proposed
will encourage others to join us.

If we take these steps, we will go a long way toward our goal of bringing
opportunity to every community.

Global Change and American Leadership

To realize the full possibilities of the new economy, we must reach beyond
our own borders, to shape the revolution that is tearing down barriers and
building new networks among nations and individuals, economies and
cultures: globalization.

It is the central reality of our time. Change this profound is both
liberating and threatening. But there is no turning back. And our open,
creative society stands to benefit more than any other--if we understand,
and act on, the new realities of interdependence. We must be at the center
of every vital global network, as a good neighbor and partner. We cannot
build our future without helping others to build theirs.

First, we must forge a new consensus on trade. Those of us who believe
passionately in the power of open trade must ensure that it lifts both our
living standards and our values, never tolerating abusive child labor or a
race to the bottom on the environment and worker protection. Still, open
markets and rules-based trade are the best engines we know for raising
living standards, reducing global poverty and environmental destruction,
and assuring the free flow of ideas. There is only one direction for
America on trade: we must go forward.

And we must make developing economies our partners in prosperity--which is
why I ask Congress to finalize our groundbreaking African and Caribbean
Basin trade initiatives.

Globalization is about more than economics. Our purpose must be to bring
the world together around democracy, freedom, and peace, and to oppose
those who would tear it apart.

Here are the fundamental challenges I believe America must meet to shape
the 21st Century world.

First, we must continue to encourage our former adversaries, Russia and
China, to emerge as stable, prosperous, democratic nations. Both are being
held back from reaching their full potential: Russia by the legacy of
communism, economic turmoil, a cruel and self-defeating war in Chechnya;
China by the illusion that it can buy stability at the expense of freedom.
But think how much has changed in the past decade: thousands of former
Soviet nuclear weapons eliminated; Russian soldiers serving with ours in
the Balkans; Russian people electing their leaders for the first time in a
thousand years. And in China, an economy more open to the world than ever
before. No one can know for sure what direction these great countries will
choose. But we must do everything in our power to increase the chance they
will choose wisely, to be constructive members of the global community.

That is why we must support those Russians struggling for a democratic,
prosperous future; continue to reduce both our nuclear arsenals; and help
Russia safeguard weapons and materials that remain.

That is why Congress should support the agreement we negotiated to bring
China into the WTO, by passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations as soon as
possible this year. Our markets are already open to China. This agreement
will open China's markets to us. And it will advance the cause of peace in
Asia and promote the cause of change in China.

A second challenge is to protect our security from conflicts that pose the
risk of wider war and threaten our common humanity. America cannot prevent
every conflict or stop every outrage. But where our interests are at stake
and we can make a difference, we must be peacemakers.

We should be proud of America's role in bringing the Middle East closer
than ever to a comprehensive peace; building peace in Northern Ireland;
working for peace in East Timor and Africa; promoting reconciliation
between Greece and Turkey and in Cyprus; working to defuse crises between
India and Pakistan; defending human rights and religious freedom.

And we should be proud of the men and women of our armed forces and those
of our allies who stopped the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo--enabling a
million innocent people to return to their homes.

When Slobodan Milosevic unleashed his terror on Kosovo, Captain John
Cherrey was one of the brave airmen who turned the tide. And when another
American plane went down over Serbia, he flew into the teeth of enemy air
defenses to bring his fellow pilot home. Thanks to our armed forces' skill
and bravery, we prevailed without losing a single American in combat.
Captain Cherrey, we honor you, and promise to finish the job you began.

A third challenge is to keep the inexorable march of technology from giving
terrorists and potentially hostile nations the means to undermine our
defenses. The same advances that have shrunk cell phones to fit in the
palms of our hands can also make weapons of terror easier to conceal and
easier to use.

We must meet this threat: by making effective agreements to restrain
nuclear and missile programs in North Korea, curbing the flow of lethal
technology to Iran; preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors;
increasing our preparedness against chemical and biological attack;
protecting our vital computer systems from hackers and criminals; and
developing a system to defend against new missile threats--while working
to preserve our Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.

I hope we can have a constructive bipartisan dialogue this year to build a
consensus which will lead eventually to the ratification of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

A fourth challenge is to ensure that the stability of our planet is not
threatened by the huge gulf between rich and poor. We cannot accept a world
in which part of humanity lives on the cutting edge of a new economy, while
the rest live on the bare edge of survival. We must do our part, with
expanded trade, expanded aid, and the expansion of freedom.

From Nigeria to Indonesia, more people won the right to choose their
leaders in 1999 than in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. We must stand
by democracies--like Colombia, fighting narco-traffickers for its people's
lives, and our children's lives. I have proposed a strong two-year package
to help Colombia win this fight; and I ask for your support. And I will
propose tough new legislation to go after what drug barons value most--
their money.

In a world where 1.2 billion people live on less than a dollar a day, we
must do our part in the global endeavor to reduce the debts of the poorest
countries so they can invest in education, health and economic growth--as
the Pope and other religious leaders have urged. Last year, Congress made a
down payment on America's share. And I ask for your continued support.

And America must help more nations break the bonds of disease. Last year in
Africa, AIDS killed ten times as many people as war did. My budget invests
$150 million more in the fight against this and other infectious killers.
Today, I propose a tax credit to speed the development of vaccines for
diseases like malaria, TB and AIDS. I ask the private sector and our
partners around the world to join us in embracing this cause. Together, we
can save millions of lives.

Our final challenge is the most important: to pass a national security
budget that keeps our military the best trained and best equipped in the
world, with heightened readiness and 21st Century weapons; raises salaries
for our service men and women; protects our veterans; fully funds the
diplomacy that keeps our soldiers out of war; and makes good on our
commitment to pay our UN dues and arrears. I ask you to pass this budget
and I thank you for the extraordinary support you have given--Republicans
and Democrats alike--to our men and women in uniform. I especially want to
thank Secretary Cohen for symbolizing our bipartisan commitment to our
national security--and Janet Cohen, I thank you for tirelessly traveling
the world to show our support for the troops.

If we meet all these challenges, America can lead the world toward peace
and freedom in an era of globalization.

Responsibility, Opportunity, and the Environment

I am grateful for the opportunities the Vice President and I have had to
work hard to protect the environment and finally to put to rest the notion
that you can't expand the economy while protecting the environment. As our
economy has grown, we have rid more than 500 neighborhoods of toxic waste
and ensured cleaner air and water for millions of families. In the past
three months alone, we have acted to preserve more than 40 million acres of
roadless lands in our National Forests and created three new National
Monuments.

But as our communities grow, our commitment to conservation must grow as
well. Tonight, I propose creating a permanent conservation fund to restore
wildlife, protect coastlines, and save natural treasures from California
redwoods to the Everglades. This Lands Legacy endowment represents by far
the most enduring investment in land preservation ever proposed.

Last year, the Vice President launched a new effort to help make
communities more livable--so children will grow up next to parks, not
parking lots, and parents can be home with their children instead of stuck
in traffic. Tonight, we propose new funding for advanced transit systems--
for saving precious open spaces--for helping major cities around the Great
Lakes protect their waterways and enhance their quality of life.

The greatest environmental challenge of the new century is global warming.
Scientists tell us that the 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire
millennium. If we fail to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, deadly heat
waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will be
flooded, economies disrupted.

Many people in the United States and around the world still believe we
can't cut greenhouse gas pollution without slowing economic growth. In the
Industrial Age that may have been true. In the digital economy, it isn't.
New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even
more growth. For example, just last week, automakers unveiled cars that get
70 to 80 miles a gallon--the fruits of a unique research partnership
between government and industry. Before you know it, efficient production
of biofuels will give us the equivalent of hundreds of miles from a gallon
of gas.

To speed innovations in environmental technologies, I propose giving major
tax incentives to businesses for the production of clean energy--and to
families for buying energy-saving homes and appliances and the next
generation of super-efficient cars when they hit the showroom floor. I also
call on the auto industry to use available technologies to make all new
cars more fuel efficient right away. And on Congress to make more of our
clean-energy technologies available to the developing world--creating
cleaner growth abroad and new jobs at home.

The Opportunity and Responsibility of Science and Technology

In the new century, innovations in science and technology will be the key
not only to the health of the environment but to miraculous improvements in
the quality of our lives and advances in the economy.

Later this year, researchers will complete the first draft of the entire
human genome--the very blueprint of life. It is important for all
Americans to recognize that your tax dollars have fueled this research--
and that this and other wise investments in science are leading to a
revolution in our ability to detect, treat, and prevent disease.

For example, researchers have identified genes that cause Parkinson's
Disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer--and they are designing
precision therapies that will block the harmful effects of these faulty
genes for good. Researchers are already using this new technique to target
and destroy cells that cause breast cancer. Soon, we may be able to use it
to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Scientists are also working on
an artificial retina to help many blind people to see and microchips that
would directly stimulate damaged spinal cords and allow people who are now
paralyzed to stand up and walk.

Science and engineering innovations are also propelling our remarkable
prosperity. Information technology alone now accounts for a third of our
economic growth, with jobs that pay almost 80 percent above the private
sector average. Again, we should keep in mind: government-funded research
brought supercomputers, the Internet, and communications satellites into
being. Soon researchers will bring us devices that can translate foreign
languages as fast as you can speak; materials 10 times stronger than steel
at a fraction of the weight; and molecular computers the size of a teardrop
with the power of today's fastest supercomputers.

To accelerate the march of discovery across all disciplines of science and
technology, my budget includes an unprecedented $3 billion increase in the
21st Century Research Fund, the largest increase in civilian research in a
generation.

These new breakthroughs must be used in ways that reflect our most
cherished values. First and foremost, we must safeguard our citizens'
privacy. Last year, we proposed rules to protect every citizen's medical
records. This year, we will finalize those rules. We have also taken the
first steps to protect the privacy of bank and credit card statements and
other financial records. Soon I will send legislation to the Congress to
finish that job. We must also act to prevent any genetic discrimination by
employers or insurers.

These steps will allow America to lead toward the far frontiers of science
and technology--enhancing our health, environment, and economy in ways we
cannot even imagine today.

Community

At a time when science, technology and the forces of globalization are
bringing so many changes into our lives, it is more important than ever
that we strengthen the bonds that root us in our local communities and in
our national communities.

No tie binds different people together like citizen service. There is a new
spirit of service in America--a movement we have supported with
AmeriCorps, an expanded Peace Corps, and unprecedented new partnerships
with businesses, foundations, and community groups. Partnerships to enlist
12,000 companies in moving 650,000 of our fellow citizens from welfare to
work. To battle drug abuse and AIDS. To teach young people to read. To Save
America's Treasures. To strengthen the arts. To fight teen pregnancy. To
prevent youth violence. To promote racial healing.

We can do even more to help Americans help each other. We should help
faith-based organizations do more to fight poverty and drug abuse and help
young people get back on the right track with initiatives like Second
Chance Homes to help unwed teen mothers. We should support Americans who
tithe and contribute to charities, but don't earn enough to claim a tax
deduction for it. Tonight, I propose new tax incentives to allow low- and
middle-income citizens to get that deduction.

We should do more to help new immigrants fully participate in the American
community--investing more to teach them civics and English. And since
everyone in our community counts, we must make sure everyone is counted in
this year's census.

Within ten years there will be no majority race in our largest state,
California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race
in America. In a more interconnected world, this diversity can be our
greatest strength. Just look around this chamber. We have members from
virtually every racial, ethnic, and religious background. And America is
stronger for it. But as we have seen, these differences all too often spark
hatred and division, even here at home.

We have seen a man dragged to death in Texas simply because he was black. A
young man murdered in Wyoming simply because he was gay. In the last year
alone, we've seen the shootings of African Americans, Asian Americans, and
Jewish children simply because of who they were. This is not the American
way. We must draw the line. Without delay, we must pass the Hate Crimes
Prevention Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And we should
reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

No American should be subjected to discrimination in finding a home,
getting a job, going to school, or securing a loan. Tonight, I propose the
largest ever investment to enforce America's civil rights laws. Protections
in law must be protections in fact.

Last February, I created the White House Office of One America to promote
racial reconciliation. That's what Hank Aaron, has done all his life. From
his days as baseball's all-time homerun king to his recent acts of healing,
he has always brought Americans together. We're pleased he's with us
tonight.

This fall, at the White House, one of America's leading scientists said
something we should all remember. He said all human beings, genetically,
are 99.9 percent the same. So modern science affirms what ancient faith has
always taught: the most important fact of life is our common humanity.

Therefore, we must do more than tolerate diversity--we must honor it and
celebrate it.

My fellow Americans, each time I prepare for the State of the Union, I
approach it with great hope and expectations for our nation. But tonight is
special--because we stand on the mountaintop of a new millennium. Behind
us we see the great expanse of American achievement; before us, even
grander frontiers of possibility.

We should be filled with gratitude and humility for our prosperity and
progress; with awe and joy at what lies ahead; and with absolute
determination to make the most of it.

When the framers finished crafting our Constitution, Benjamin Franklin
stood in Independence Hall and reflected on a painting of the sun, low on
the horizon. He said, "I have often wondered whether that sun was rising or
setting. Today," Franklin said, "I have the happiness to know it is a
rising sun." Well, today, because each generation of Americans has kept the
fire of freedom burning brightly, lighting those frontiers of possibility,
we still bask in the warmth of Mr. Franklin's rising sun.

After 224 years, the American Revolution continues. We remain a new nation.
As long as our dreams outweigh our memories, America will be forever young.
That is our destiny. And this is our moment.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.





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