THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam)
Saturday, November 18, 2000
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE NATION
Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm speaking to you from Hanoi,
Vietnam, where I'm working to fulfill America's commitment to the families
of those still missing from the war, and opening a hopeful new chapter in
our relationship with Vietnam and its people. Today I want to talk to you,
however, about the new steps we're taking at home to strengthen our working
It may be hard to remember, but just eight years ago many Americans
were out of work, and Washington was out of ideas. Our economy was
stagnant, burdened by a crushing debt and rising unemployment. I said I
would work hard to turn the country around, to create a situation where
everybody who was willing to work and take responsibility has the
opportunity to live the American Dream.
Since then we've worked hard to restore the value of work, increasing
the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, helping more than
15 million Americans work their way out of poverty toward the middle class.
Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave law, which has given over 20
million Americans the chance to take time off from work to care for a
newborn child or a sick loved one. And we passed welfare reform, ending
welfare as we knew it; cutting the welfare rolls in half, to their lowest
levels in 32 years, and helping millions of parents move into the work
We were able to do this while protecting health care and nutrition for
children, investing more in child care, transportation and housing, to help
parents go to work and to succeed at home and at work.
By rewarding work and promoting responsibility, we've helped put the
American family back on top again, with 22 million new jobs, the lowest
poverty in 20 years, the lowest Hispanic and African American unemployment
ever recorded, and the highest home ownership in history. While we have
made great progress, no one who works hard every day should have trouble
putting food on the table at night. And the fact is there are still too
many hard-pressed families struggling to get ahead and to make the often
difficult transition from welfare to work.
Every day, 17 million of our fellow Americans rely on food stamps for
proper nourishment. These food stamps allow parents to give their children
the necessities while getting their own feet on the ground. But as they
return to work and struggle to make ends meet, many don't realize they're
still eligible for food stamps. And in some states, parents who do sign up
for food stamps have to fill out paperwork as often as once a month, and
leave the workplace in order to do so.
Now, this simply should not be the case. So today I'm announcing new
steps to remove some of the barriers facing working Americans, and to help
the families get the food they need.
First it would allow states to provide recipients with an automatic
three-month food stamp benefit as they make the transition from welfare to
work. This gives new workers stability in what can be a trying time.
Second, were eliminating unnecessary bureaucracies by allowing recipients
up to six months to report income changes, reducing the amount of time they
spend in food stamp offices. Third, if we want people to work, they need
to be able to get to work. Today's action will make it easier for food
stamp recipients to own a dependable car without having to sacrifice proper
nutrition for their children. This builds on the steps we took in the
Agriculture appropriation bill I signed last month. Finally, to ensure
that the families who need assistance get it, we are requiring states to
let recipients know that they're still eligible for food stamps when they
start to work again.
Supporting hard-pressed working families is the right policy for
America. It's also the smart thing to do. It encourages millions of
people to take responsibility, to strengthen their families, as well as our
economy. I urge our nation's governors to implement these steps so that
all working families get the nutritional benefits they need and deserve.
And again I call on Congress to restore food stamp benefits to hard-working
legal immigrants, and to raise the minimum wage for all working families
this year. No family working full-time and playing by the rules should
have to raise children in poverty. In the coming weeks, Congress still has
the chance to honor and award work by raising the minimum wage for our
hardest-pressed working families.
Thirty years ago, Robert Kennedy reminded us that work is the meaning
of what the country is all about. With the actions outlined today, we can
create new opportunities for hardworking families, and move our nation
closer to the time when everyone willing to work for it can achieve the
Thanks for listening.