President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Working on Behalf of Hispanic Americans (9/20/00)
That is America at its best -- a diverse nation, now the most diverse in our history, and growing increasingly so. In a global economy, in a global society, our diversity can be a God-send if we make the most of it, if we enjoy it, if we respect it, if we honor it, and if we believe that the common humanity that unites us is more important than all the differences among us."
President Bill Clinton
Remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Conference
October 9, 1999
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES:
Historic Economic Gains. The unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans is at the lowest rate on record, with unemployment dropping from 11.6 percent in 1992 to a 5.8 percent average unemployment rate in 2000. Since 1993, the Hispanic poverty rate has dropped to 25.6 percent -- the lowest since 1979 -- while the median household income for Hispanics is up 15.9 percent (or $3,880) over the past three years. Homeownership rose from 41.2 percent in 1994 to 45.5 percent in 1998, the highest on record.
Tax Cuts For Working Families. President Clinton's 1993 Economic Plan provided tax cuts to 15 million hard-pressed working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The average family with two children who received the EITC received a tax cut of $1,026. In 1997, the EITC lifted more than 1.2 million Hispanics out of poverty. This year the President has proposed expanding the EITC to provide tax relief to 6.8 million additional working families
Minimum Wage Increased. The President raised the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour -- directly benefiting 1.6 million Hispanic workers -- and called for passage of an additional $1.00 an hour increase.
Creating New Tools to Help Families Move from Welfare to Work. Since enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law, millions of families have moved from welfare to work. With the President's leadership, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act included $3 billion to move long-term welfare recipients and low-income non-custodial fathers into jobs. The Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire long-term welfare recipients. The President's Access to Jobs initiative helps communities design innovative transportation solutions, such as van services, to help former welfare recipients and other low-income workers get to work, and this year the President is proposing $150 million for this initiative, double last year's level. President Clinton has secured 110,000 new housing vouchers in the last two years to help welfare recipients and hard-pressed working families move closer to job opportunities, and this year he is proposing $690 million for 120,000 new housing vouchers.
Restoring Benefits to Legal Immigrants. The President believes that legal immigrants should have the same economic opportunity, and bear the same responsibility, as other members of society. In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Agricultural Research Act of 1998, the President fought for and succeeded in reversing unfair cuts in benefits to legal immigrants. The FY 2001 budget builds on the Administration's progress of restoring these important benefits by providing $2.5 billion over five years to allow states to provide health care to certain legal immigrant children and their families and pregnant women, to restore SSI eligibility to legal immigrants with disabilities, and to restore Food Stamp eligibility to certain elderly immigrants and to legal immigrants in families with eligible children.
Expanding Investment in Urban and Rural Areas. Spurring economic development in distressed communities, the Clinton-Gore Administration has created 31 Empowerment Zones and more than 100 Enterprise Communities, including 50 rural ECs, which are creating new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. This would have a dramatic effect in the areas with high unemployment, weak economies, and shortages of affordable housing and other problems. The President won $70 million in funding for Rural and Urban Empowerment Zones in FY 2000 -- after Congress initially provided no funding. On July 25, 2000, the House passed a bipartisan agreement that would extend and expand the incentives in the existing EZs, as well as create nine new Round 3 Empowerment Zones. The Administration's agreement with Speaker Hastert also includes a first-time commitment for additional funding for Round 2 EZs.
Encouraging Investment in Undeserved Communities with the New Markets Initiative. President Clinton's New Markets Initiative will help bring economic development and renewal to communities that have not benefited from the soaring economy by spurring more than $22 billion in new investment in urban and rural areas. On July 25, 2000, the House passed the President's New Markets Initiative in a historic bipartisan agreement that included extension and expansion of Empowerment Zones, and an increase in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The President has taken three New Markets Tours of undeserved communities, which have helped generate more than $1 billion in private sector investment commitments.
Closing the Digital Divide. Increasing access to technology and bridging the growing "digital divide" has been a top priority for President Clinton and Vice President Gore. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY01 budget includes a comprehensive initiative to bridge the digital divide, broaden access to computers and training, and create new opportunity for all Americans.
BUILDING ONE AMERICA:
President's One America Initiative. President Clinton has led the nation in an effort to become One America: a place where we respect others' differences and embrace the common values that unite us. The President has been actively involved in public outreach efforts to engage Americans in this historic effort, and followed up on the work of the Initiative on Race by appointing Robert B. (Ben) Johnson as Assistant to the President and Director of the new White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America. The office is working to ensure that we have a coordinated strategy to close the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities and the underserved in this country, and build the One America we want for all of our nation's children.
An Administration That Looks Like America. The President appointed the most diverse Cabinet and Administration, with the most Hispanic appointments and the most Hispanic judicial nominees in history. The President's judicial nominees have also garnered the highest percentage of top ABA ratings in nearly 40 years.
Working to Ensure a Fair, Accurate and Complete Census. The Clinton-Gore Administration is working to ensure that Census 2000 is as accurate as possible using the best, most up-to-date scientific methods as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The 1990 Census had a net undercount of 4 million and 5 percent of Hispanics across the nation were not counted. While missing or miscounting so many people is a problem, the fact that certain groups -- such as children, the poor, people of color, city dwellers and people who live in rural rental homes -- were missed more often than others made the undercount even more inaccurate. A fair and accurate Census is a fundamental part of a representative democracy and is the basis for providing equality under the law. The President is determined to have a fair and full count in 2000, and he is announcing new steps to encourage all Americans to participate in Census 2000. In February, the President launched a Census in the Schools Challenge, to ensure that children are counted and educate both students and parents; reiterating that census information is strictly confidential; and directing federal agencies to step up activities in support of the Census.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION:
Hispanic Education Action Plan. As part of the Administration's commitment to raising the educational outcomes of Latino youth, the President proposed significant increases to programs within the Hispanic Education Action Plan to help Latinos excel academically, graduate from high school, go on to college, and continue on the path to life-long learning. The FY01 budget includes increases of $823 million for programs that enhance educational opportunity for Latinos.
English Literacy/Civics Initiative. The English Language/Civics Initiative helps states and communities provide limited English proficient (LEP) individuals with expanded access to quality English-language instruction linked to civics and life skills instruction, including understanding the U.S. government system, the public education system, the workplace, and other key institutions of American life. This year, the Clinton-Gore budget requests $75 million for the Initiative -- nearly $50 million more to help an additional estimated 250,000 LEP individuals.
Proposing the Largest Head Start Expansion in History. Since 1993, this Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent. The President's FY01 budget increases funding for Head Start by $1 billion – the largest increase ever proposed for the program – to provide Head Start and Early Head Start to approximately 950,000 children. This funding will bring within reach the President's goal of serving one million children in 2002 and build the foundation for the long-term goal of universal pre-school. Over 26 percent of children served by Head Start are Hispanic.
Class Size Reduction Initiative. Last year President Clinton and Vice President Gore won a second installment of $1.3 billion for the President's plan to help school districts hire and train an additional 100,000 well-prepared teachers to reduce class size in the early grades. Already, 29,000 teachers have been hired through this initiative. This year, the FY01 budget includes $1.75 billion for this program, an $450 million increase – enough to fund about 49,000 teachers.
Turning Around Failing Schools. Eleven million low-income students now benefit from Title I-Aid to Disadvantaged Students, and all our children are benefiting from higher expectations and a challenging curriculum geared to higher standards. Thirty-two percent of children served by Title I are Hispanic. Last year the President won $134 million for an accountability fund to help turn around the worst performing schools and hold them accountable for results. This year, the President is proposing to double funding to turn around the nation's failing schools to ensure all children receive a quality education.
New Plan to Place Quality Teachers in Underserved Areas. This year, the President and Vice President proposed a new $1 billion teacher quality plan to recruit, train and reward good teachers. The Teaching to High Standards Initiative includes a Hometown Teacher Recruitment program to empower high-poverty school districts to develop programs to recruit homegrown teachers to address the shortage of qualified teachers. It also includes $50 million for Teacher Quality Rewards, which will reward school districts that have made exceptional progress in reducing the number of uncertified teachers and teachers teaching outside their subject area.
New Tax Incentives to Make College More Affordable. President Clinton has proposed the College Opportunity Tax Cut, which would give families the option of taking a tax deduction or claiming a 28 percent credit for tuition and fees to pay for higher education. When fully phased in, this proposal would provide up to $2,800 in tax relief annually to help American families pay for college.
Helping Students Finish College. This year, the President proposed new College Completion Challenge Grants to help reduce the college drop-out rate, with pre-freshman summer programs, support services and increased grant aid to students. This $35 million initiative will improve the chances of success for nearly 18,000 students. Currently, 31 percent of Hispanics drop out of college after less than one year, compared to 18 percent of whites.
Dual Degree Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions. The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed a new program to increase opportunities for students at minority-serving institutions that offer four-year degrees. Students would receive two degrees within five years: one from a minority-serving institution, and one from a partner institution in a field in which minorities are underrepresented. This new $40 million program will serve an estimated 3,000 students.
IMPROVING OUR NATION'S HEALTH:
Extended Health Care to Millions of Children with the Children's Health Insurance Program. In the Balanced Budget of 1997, President Clinton won $24 billion to provide health care coverage to up to five million uninsured children. In October 1999 the President announced new outreach efforts to enroll millions of eligible, uninsured children. Hispanic children make up nearly 30% of all uninsured children. To reach this vulnerable population, the Administration and states have made special efforts to advertise the availability of the program and provide enrollment materials printed in Spanish. This year, the budget includes several of Vice President Gore's proposals to accelerate enrollment of children in CHIP. The President is also proposing a new FamilyCare program, which would give States the option to cover parents in the same plan as their children
New Initiative to Expand Health Coverage to Uninsured Americans. This year, the President and Vice President have proposed a 10-year, $110 billion initiative that would dramatically improve the affordability of and access to health insurance. The proposal would expand coverage to at least 5 million uninsured Americans and expand access to millions more.
Assuring Access to Health Benefits. The Clinton-Gore Administration unveiled new regulations assuring families that enrollment in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program and the receipt of other critical benefits, such as school lunch and child care services, will not affect their immigration status. The regulation clarifies a widespread misconception that has deterred eligible populations from enrolling in these programs and undermined the public health.
Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by 2010. President Clinton's initiative will help eliminate racial disparities in six key health areas: infant mortality, diabetes, cancer screening and management, heart disease, AIDS and immunizations. President Clinton won a 200% increase for this initiative in FY00, and this year he has proposed $35 million in funding to continue the effort.
Addressing HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities. Racial and ethnic communities make up the fastest growing portion of HIV/AIDS cases (more than 50 percent of all new HIV cases). In FY00, the President builds on the progress started last year with a $251 million investment in a comprehensive initiative that will improve prevention efforts in high-risk communities and expand access to cutting edge HIV therapies and other treatment needed for HIV/AIDS in minority communities. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $274 million to continue this effort.
MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER:
Putting 100,000 More Police on the Streets. In 1999, ahead of schedule and under budget, the Clinton-Gore Administration met its commitment to fund an additional 100,000 police officers for our communities. As a part of the COPS Program, the President announced new grants to increase community policing in high-crime and underserved neighborhoods. To help keep crime at record lows, the President won funding for the first installment toward his goal to hire up to 50,000 more officers by 2005. This year, the Clinton-Gore budget includes over $1 billion to continue the successful COPS initiative to hire more officers, hire new community prosecutors, give police the tools they need to fight crime, and to fund community-wide crime fighting efforts.
Preventing Hate Crimes. The President signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, which provides for longer sentences for hate crimes, and hosted the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes. President Clinton has repeatedly called for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act to strengthen hate crimes laws.
Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement. In FY 2000, President Clinton won a six percent increase in funding for federal civil rights enforcement agencies including $82 million for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, a 19 percent increase. In the FY01 budget, the President and Vice President have proposed $698 million in funding for civil rights enforcement agencies, a 13 percent increase, to expand investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct) and fair housing and lending practices; help the EEOC reduce the backlog of private-sector cases; and allow HUD to take steps to reduce housing discrimination.
Working to End Racial Profiling. To help determine where and when racial profiling occurs, the President directed Cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement. The President has also supported increased resources for police integrity and ethics training and to improve the diversity of local police forces. The President also supports legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers to require state and local police forces to collect the same data.
Working to Pass Common-Sense Gun Laws. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called on Congress to build on the success of the Brady Law by quickly passing a set of common sense gun safety measures designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives. The Administration has proposed legislation, that passed in the Senate last year with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Gore, that would require background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows; require child safety locks for every handgun sold; bar the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips; and ban the most violent juvenile offenders from owning guns for life.
More Than Half a Million Felons, Fugitives and Domestic Abusers Denied Guns. Since taking effect in 1994, the Brady Law has helped to prevent more than 536,000 felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and other prohibited purchasers from buying guns. In November 1998, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) took effect under the Brady Law, allowing access to a fuller set of records that law enforcement officials can use to conduct checks of all prospective gun purchases -- not just for handguns. As of March 2000, NICS has conducted over 10 million background checks on gun purchasers, and stopped an estimated 179,000 illegal gun sales.
Largest Gun Enforcement Initiative in History. This year, President Clinton has proposed the largest gun enforcement initiative ever. The initiative would provide a record $280 million to add 500 new federal ATF agents and inspectors to target violent gun criminals and illegal gun traffickers, and fund over 1,000 new federal, state, and local prosecutors to take dangerous gun offenders off the streets. This initiative will build on the Administration's success in cracking down on serious gun criminals: the number of federal firearms cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys increased 25%, from 4,754 in 1992 to 5,500 in 1999.