THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press
|For Immediate Release
||June 17, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT 21ST CENTURY
LEARNING GRANTS EVENT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies andgentlemen, Hillary and
I are delighted to have all of you here in theRose Garden today for a subject
that we care a great deal about. Ithank especially Senator Jeffords for his
leadership, CongressmanBoswell, all the members of Congress who are here. I
thank SecretaryRiley and the Attorney General for their consistent and
dedicatedefforts for our children and to improve the lives of our children.And
Chief Frazier and Gloria Nava did, I thought, a marvelous job.
Let me say, as Hillary and Gloria made clear, formillions of
Americans, Home Alone is not a funny movie, it is aserious risk that children
and parents undertake every day all acrossthis country. On any given school day
in America, there will be asmany as 15 million children left to fend for
themselves, idle infront of the television sets or out on the streets and
exposed togangs and guns and drugs.
Incidents of violent crime by juveniles more than doublein the hour
after school lets out, and interestingly enough, ourchildren are also at
greatest risk of becoming victims of crime inthe hours immediately after
school. But in communities wherechildren have something positive to do, youth
crime is dropping andacademic performance is on the rise.
The Justice Department and the Department of Educationare today
releasing a report to every school district in the countryand to the public at
large which shows just how much of a differencethese after-school programs are
making. In Chicago, for example, aprogram with which Hillary and I are
familiar, the Lighthouse Programis now reaching more than 110,000 children and
nearly 250 schoolsaround the city with intensive after-school instruction in
readingand math. This remarkable program also provides children with threemeals
a day in the school. And I'm very proud that the Department ofAgricultural,
with its support, helps to make this possible. Sincethat program began, not
surprisingly, gang activity is down andreading and math scores are up.
We have to do everything we can to give every communityin this
country the tools to follow that lead. Today we areannouncing $40 million in
competitive grants that will help more than300 schools to start after-school
programs of their own. As all ofyou know, they're part of the 21st Century
Community Learning CenterInitiative, which was sponsored in 1993 in my first
year in office bySenator Jeffords.
These grants will give now thousands more children asafe place to go
before and after school, and good things to do. SanFrancisco, for example, will
use the grant specifically to targetkids most at risk of joining gangs or using
drugs. Baltimore County,which already has, as you heard, successful
after-school programs,will focus on helping more children to improve their
But I think it's important to note two things. One is-- not
withstanding the wind -- (laughter) -- this is a universallysuccessful
strategy. This is not complicated. This is somethingsimple, that has broad
support, that saves lives and improveslearning. The second thing is, out in
America everybody has figuredthis out, so that for every grant we will able to
give, there were 20schools that applied but aren't getting help today. So we
have to domore.
In January, as part of my efforts to give qualityaffordable child
care to all the families in this country who needit, I proposed the largest
after-school commitment in America'shistory, $200 million a year over the next
five years to expand the21st Century Community Learning Center program, to
reach a half amillion children. Now, these programs have broad bipartisan
support,and I very much hope that Congress soon will act to fund this
requestfully. Remember, there were 20 schools that had good programs thatwanted
this money for every one school on that map. We can dobetter, and we must.
Let me also say again to Senator Jeffords, this is thekind of
bipartisan support that works for our country. Whenever weput the progress of
the American people and the future of ourchildren ahead of partisan politics in
Washington, America wins. Andthat's what we need to do. (Applause.)
Before we close, I just have to mention -- make a coupleof other
points. In that spirit, I have been working for six monthsto craft a
comprehensive, bipartisan bill to protect our childrenfrom the dangers of
tobacco -- the biggest public health for childrenin America today. As we speak,
the Republican Caucus in the Senateis meeting behind closed doors to discuss,
perhaps even to decide,the fate of the tobacco bill. I urge them not to turn
this meeting,literally, into a smoke-filled room; to protect the children and
notthe tobacco lobby.
We have worked very, very hard to make this legislationfair and
bipartisan. We have met the majority in the Senate morethan halfway. They said
they wanted a tax cut to be part of thetobacco bill since we were raising the
price of cigarettes todiscourage children from buying them. We said, all right.
They saidthey wanted some money in this bill to fight drugs as well as
todiscourage children from using tobacco. We said, fine.
Now, if there is a move to kill or gut this legislation,there can be
no possible explanation other than the intense pressureand the awesome
influence fueled by years of huge contributions ofbig tobacco. So I again call
upon the Senate majority, and indeedall those in the Senate, to pass this
tobacco bill. Let's get itover to the House, let them have a chance to pass a
bill, and let'sdo something that will give this country to have a lasting
publichealth legacy in a bipartisan way. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, what will you do if the Senatedecides to pull the
tobacco bill, sir? What are your alternatives?
Q Mr. President, about Japan, how far are you willingto go to support
THE PRESIDENT: Let me -- you all don't even need to sitback down. I'm
going to answer this one question; then we'll visit.
The question was about the support of the United Statesfor the
Japanese yen. Let me say, I talked to Prime MinisterHashimoto last night, oh,
for 20 or 30 minutes at about 11:30 p.m.our time. Japan is very important to
the world, especially to theUnited States and to the efforts we're making to
support an economicrecovery in Asia, which is very important to keeping our own
economicprogress going. It is important that they take some critical steps,and
as they do them, we will support them.
I was very encouraged by the Prime Minister's statementthat he
intends to pursue aggressive reform of their bankinginstitutions and intends to
do the things that are necessary to getthe economy going again. And, therefore,
I thought it was importantthat we support them.
In terms of the details of our support, they arecontained in
Secretary Rubin's statement today and I couldn't do abit better than he has
done. But we're doing the right thing and Ithink the Prime Minister of Japan
has done the right thing, and we'vegot a chance to turn that situation in Asia
around before it gets anyworse. And America needs a strong, growing, stable
economy in Asia.And I am encouraged by what the Prime Minister said last night
andheartened, and we're glad to help and we hope we will be of some
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, what are you going to do about theHouse plan to
scrap the tax code?
THE PRESIDENT: I think this plan to scrap the tax codeis
superficially appealing to since there is something about the taxcode that
everybody dislikes, but it would be a significant mistaketo vote to do that
without a replacement, especially now. Why?Because if you voted to get rid of
it without saying what thereplacement was, you would put individual Americans
and families inan uncertain position about their investments in health
insurance, inretirement, in education, in homes. You would put businesses in
aperiod of uncertainty about their long-term investments and the taxtreatment
of that. It could create uncertainty in the financialmarkets and, therefore,
could have a significant negative economiceffect on America.
Now, with all this other economic uncertainty around theworld,
everyone is looking to us as a stable, rock-solid,forward-moving country,
trying to give stability to other countries.The last thing in the world we need
to do right now is to send somesignal of instability, that we've decided to get
rid of our whole taxcode without knowing what to replace it with.
Now, I'm all for simplifying the tax code. I wouldn'trule out any
option if I knew what the alternative was. The Congresshas a bill and has had a
bill for months that has already passed bothHouses to dramatically simplify and
overhaul the way that IRS works;it still hasn't been sent to me. And I hope it
will be sent soon.
But this would be a bad mistake in my view in enactingthis
Q Would you veto it? You would veto it?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to do my best to beat it. AndI don't want to
give anyone the excuse to vote for it by saying I'llveto it. Because sometimes
when you do that, you wind up having somany people vote for it that you don't
have enough people to sustainyour veto.
But it's not -- this is something we shouldn't playgames with. This
is a period of instability in Asia, of uncertaintyin other parts of the world.
We're working with our friends inJapan, our friends in Russia, with the people
in other parts of theworld to try to stabilize their economy and restore
growth. We don'twant to send out a signal of instability and uncertainty now.
And wedon't want to do it to individual families as well. So this issomething
that sounds good, but I'm convinced it isn't. Youshouldn't get rid of what you
have until you know what you're goingto replace it with.
Q Was changing the -- intervening on the yen reallyagainst U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: No -- well, not necessarily, but it'ssomething we've
done rarely. But, as I said, I talked to the PrimeMinister last night, and I've
been working with him now for more thana year to deal with these difficulties.
Keep in mind, Japan has beenin a period of very low growth for several years
now, and I'mconvinced that he has been methodically trying to deal with
thesechallenges. And last night he said some things which made it clearthat he
was prepared to take some bold strokes, bold steps to try tomove the Japanese
economy forward, restore growth and opportunity.And I believe in that context
we should be supportive.
You never know whether what you do in all these thingswill make a
large difference, but I wanted to send a clear signal tothe markets that the
United States supports Japanese reform, believesthe Japanese people can pull
out of this economic slump and restoregrowth and opportunity. And it's very
important to all of Asia.It's a very big deal to all of Asia.
So I think we did the right thing. I don't have anyquestion about
Q Mr. President, your alternative would be to -- pullthe tobacco
THE PRESIDENT: They need to pass it. They need to passit. I know the
tobacco companies have been running these ads allover America and I know that
the Cancer Society and the HeartAssociation and the Lung Association doesn't
have the money to runads against them. But down deep inside, the American
people knowwhat the truth is. The Senate needs to pass this bill. That willput
pressure on the House to pass the bill. Then we'll go toCongress and fashion
the best possible bill we can that we can passin both Houses and do something
good for America this year. That'swhat we ought to do.