THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Saturday, December 16, 2000
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE NATION
The Oval Office
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, as I work to conclude
the last budget negotiations of my presidency, I'm reminded how far we've
come these past eight years. We now live in a time of unprecedented peace
and prosperity. But we didn't get there by accident. We made tough
choices, based on core values of opportunity for all, responsibility from
all and a community of all Americans.
Today, I want to talk about two elements critical to our
continued success: first, our progress in moving people from welfare to
work; and second, our continuing commitment to fiscal discipline and a
budget that puts our people first.
Vice President Gore and I took office in 1993 with a pledge to
end welfare as we know it. Thanks to comprehensive reform, a renewed sense
of responsibility, and the strongest economy in a generation, millions of
former welfare recipients now know the dignity of work.
Today, I am pleased to announce that over the past eight years
we've cut welfare case loads by more than eight million people. Last year
alone, 1.2 million parents on welfare went to work, determined to build
better lives. Nationwide over the last eight years, welfare rolls have
dropped nearly 60 percent, and now are the lowest in more than 30 years.
We've been able to sustain this progress year after year because
government, the private sector and welfare recipients themselves all have
done their parts. Together, we are finally breaking the cycle of
dependance that has long crippled the hopes of too many families.
When we enacted landmark welfare reform in 1996, I insisted that
Congress provide incentives to reward states for helping people to find
jobs and to keep jobs. Today I'm pleased to announce that 28 states will
receive a total of $200 million in bonuses for doing just that. These
grants will enable states to help even more parents go to work and succeed
on the job. I urge states to use these resources to provide the necessary
support -- from child care to transportation to training -- that can make a
critical difference between welfare checks and paychecks.
We've also worked hard to help families leaving welfare meet the
challenge of affordable health care. In the bipartisan budget package I
will soon sign, we will extend Medicaid coverage so that thousands of
parents who leave welfare can keep the health coverage protecting them and
their children. This budget also includes funding to help cover more
uninsured children, speed coverage for patients with Lou Gehrig's disease,
and increase payments to hospitals, teaching facilities, home health
agencies and nursing homes, in order to ensure quality health care.
We have also secured an extra $817 million to help working
families afford child care, to meet their responsibilities both at work and
at home. These and other child care resources will serve over 2.2 million
children next year.
In this budget, we're also passing our historic new markets and
community renewal initiative, the most significant effort ever to help
hard-pressed communities lift themselves up through private investment and
entrepreneurship. With the help of our New Markets tax credit, 40
strengthened empowerment zones and 40 renewal communities, this initiative
will spur billions and billions of dollars in private investment to
communities that have not yet shared in our nation's great economic
From the streets of our central cities, to the hills of
Appalachia, to the rugged vistas of our Native American reservations, to
the Mississippi Delta, we are giving people the tools of opportunity to
make the most of their potential.
Finally, this budget also includes vital investments in our
children and their education. With over $900 million dedicated, for the
very first time, to school renovation, thousands of local school districts
finally will be able to give our children the classrooms they deserve.
We've increased funding by 25 percent to stay on track to hire
100,000 highly-qualified new teachers, to reduce class size in the early
grades. We have nearly doubled funding for after school programs, to help
more than 1.3 million students, while increasing support for teacher
training and for turning around failing schools. And to open the doors of
college even wider, so that more of our young people can walk through them,
we've increased the maximum Pell Grant to an all-time high of $3,750.
That's up nearly $1,500 since 1993.
If we continue to invest in our people and create opportunities
for them, if we continue to honor and reward work, our possibilities are
truly without limit. By reaching out and working together, our best days
still lie ahead. This budget proves it. The work of the American people
prove it. The successful desire of people to move from welfare to work
Thanks for listening.