President Clinton Challenges Congress To Act On Americas Priorities
July 27, 2000
Full Report as PDF File
President Clinton, joined by Democratic Leaders Daschle and Gephardt and members of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, today will call on the Congressional majority end the legislative logjam on Americas top priorities. He will release a new state-by-state analysis that compares the number of Americans that would benefit from the recently passed estate tax with the number of Medicare beneficiaries who are still waiting for the Congress to pass an affordable, meaningful prescription drug benefit. The President will emphasize that the tax cuts including the estate tax cut -- passed by the 106th Congress take America off the path of fiscal discipline, and could plunge the nation back into on-budget deficit (according to OMBs estimates) or use the entire $1.8 trillion on-budget surplus (based on CBOs more optimistic projections). In addition, the approach of the Republican leadership will leave no money for a Medicare prescription drug benefit, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, paying down the debt by 2012, or investing in key priorities like reducing class size and repairing crumbling schools. President Clinton will also urge Congress to pass his targeted tax cuts, which provide substantially more tax relief for middle class families at less than half the total cost of the Congressional proposals.
PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL TODAY RELEASE A NEW STATE-BY-STATE ANALYSIS COMPARING BENEFICIARIES OF ESTATE TAX REPEAL W/MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES WAITING FOR AN AFFORDABLE, MEANINGFUL PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT. This analysis documents that, nationwide, the estate tax repeal that the Republican leadership passed as one of their first priorities costs as much as the Presidents entire prescription drug plan when phased in but helps millions of fewer Americans. In fact, only about two percent of American families benefit from the estate tax repeal the wealthiest of all Americans for an average tax break of $800,000 each. Moreover, more than half of the benefits of estate tax repeal go to the top one-tenth of one percent of families. In contrast, a new Medicare prescription drug benefit would provide a new, affordable coverage option for 39 million beneficiaries whose annual incomes average $20,000.
The Presidents Medicare proposal also proposes to invest $40 billion in needed payment increases to health care providers, an investment that is complemented by major new investments in health insurance coverage for children, parents, people 55 to 65 years old, workers in between jobs, and legal immigrants.
PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ALSO CALL ON CONGRESS TO PASS HIS PROPOSED TARGETED TAX CUTS THAT PROVIDE SUBSTANTIALLY MORE TAX RELIEF AT LESS THAN HALF THE TOTAL COST OF THE CONGRESSIONAL PROPOSALS: President Clinton has proposed significant new tax relief for Americas working families as part of a budget framework that maintains our fiscal discipline, makes investments in key priorities, strengthens the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and pays down the debt by 2012. The President proposes $359 billion of gross tax cuts over 10 years of which $263 billion are paid for out of the surplus and $96 billion are paid for with corporate loophole closers and other measures. Highlights include:
Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs). The President proposes a tax cut to provide generous and progressive incentives to encourage families to save and invest together with tax incentives to encourage small businesses to offer high-quality pensions. (Cost: $70 billion over 10 years.)
Long-term Care. A $3,000 long-term care tax credit to compensate people with long-term care needs or their caregivers for costs associated with their care. (Cost: $26 billion.)
College Opportunity Tax Cut. A College Opportunity Tax Cut to provide a choice between a tax deduction or a 28 percent tax credit on up to $10,000 in tuition in order to make college, graduate school, and courses taken for a job more affordable. (Cost: $36 billion.)
School Construction. Tax credits for $25 billion of bonds for the construction and modernization of up to 6,000 schools. (Cost: $8 billion.)
Earned Income Tax Credit. The Presidents budget would increase and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to better reward work and family for 6.8 million hard-pressed working families [including larger families and married couples]. (Cost: $23 billion.)
Marriage Penalty and Broad Tax Relief. The Presidents proposal would reduce the marriage penalty by increasing the standard deduction by more than $2,000 for married, two-earner couples. (Cost: $45 billion.)
Tax Credits for Medicare 55-65 and Americans In Between Jobs. The Presidents budget would provide tax credits to help make his Medicare buy-in proposal affordable and to for people in between jobs. (Cost: $14 billion.)
Child Care. The Presidents proposal would expand the child care tax credit to defray up to 50 percent of expenses and make it refundable in order to help working families afford child care. (Cost: $31 billion.)
Energy Efficiency. In order to improve energy efficiency and help the environment, the President proposes $9 billion in tax credits for energy-efficient cars, homes, and appliances. (Cost: $9 billion.)
Philanthropy. Encouraging philanthropy by allowing non-itemizers to take a tax deduction for charitable giving, improving the tax treatment of foundations, and allowing larger donations of stock and assets by individuals. (Cost: $14 billion.)
President Clintons tax cut proposals build on a successful strategy that has resulted in the lowest total Federal tax rates on typical families in over two decades. The tax cuts signed into law by the President in 1993 and 1997 for example, the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, the $500 child tax credit, the $1,500 HOPE Scholarship Tax Credit, and expanded IRAs have reduced taxes for American families. The total Federal tax rate for the median-income family of four has dropped from 24.5 percent in 1992 to 22.8 percent in 1999 thats the lowest tax rate since 1978. For families at one-half the median income, the effective Federal tax rate has been slashed from 19.8 percent in 1992 to 14.1 percent in 1999 thats the lowest tax rate since 1968.
PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ALSO CALL ON CONGRESS TO COMPLETE WORK ON AMERICAS KEY PRIORITIES:
Provide an Affordable, Accessible Prescription Drug Benefit Option For All Medicare Beneficiaries: Medicare beneficiaries face prescription drug costs that are increasing at double the rate of inflation, and a growing number of seniors are finding themselves with inadequate prescription drug coverage or none at all. The President has proposed a voluntary, affordable Medicare prescription drug benefit for all beneficiaries. Beginning in 2002, it would provide prescription drug coverage that would have a zero deductible and cover half of all prescription drug costs up to $5,000 when fully phased in. An increase will also limit all out-of-pocket medication costs to $4,000. This optional benefit would also provide negotiated discounts that would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries no longer pay the highest prices in the marketplace.
Raise The Minimum Wage: Congress has delayed increasing the minimum wage for over a year by attaching costly and unnecessary tax cuts to this long-overdue measure. Each day Congress delays, it takes money out of the paychecks of 10 million minimum wage workers, many who are moving from welfare to work. A full-time minimum wage worker has already lost over $900 as a result of this delay. The minimum wage has not been increased in nearly four years. It now enjoys broad bipartisan support and should not be held hostage to an irresponsible tax cut aimed at helping special interests.
Enact A Meaningful Patients Bill Of Rights: The Senate is only one vote away from passing a strong, enforceable, Patients Bill of Rights, similar to the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients Bill of Rights. This legislation, endorsed by over 200 health care provider and consumer advocacy groups, is the only bipartisan proposal currently being considered that protects state-based accountability provisions already available under current law and includes: protections for all Americans in all health plans; protections for patients accessing emergency room care from financial sanctions; guarantees that assure access to necessary and accessible health care specialists; and meaningful enforcement mechanisms that ensure recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of a health plans actions.
Approve Common Sense Gun Safety Legislation: Sensible gun safety legislation has languished in Congress for over a year, while an estimated 30,000 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence. In May 1999 the Senate passed common sense gun safety measures, with Vice President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote. Since then, Republican Congressional leaders have delayed and bottled up this legislation at the behest of the gun lobby. The President will call on the Republican Leadership to put the public safety interests of Americas families first and pass a bill that closes the gun show loophole, requires child safety locks to be sold with handguns, bans the importation of large capacity ammunition clips and prevents violent juvenile offenders from buying guns as adults.
Pass A Fiscally Responsible Budget That Invests In Education, School Modernization & Key Priorities: The President proposed a balanced and fiscally responsible budget that makes investments in key priorities for the American people. The Presidents budget includes important investments in education including modernizing 6,000 schools and repairing 25,000 more, meeting our commitment to hire 100,000 quality teachers to reduce class size, identifying and turning around failing schools, increasing after school opportunities, improving teacher quality, mentoring at-risk youth to increase college success, and increasing accountability. To pay for fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, Congressional Republicans have cut key priorities resulting in fewer quality teachers for schools, fewer law enforcement officers and prosecutors to fight crime, reduced environmental protection, and less funding for National Science Foundation research. This year, as he has for the past seven, President Clinton will insist that Congress produce a responsible budget that honors our values and invests in the American people.
Pass Of Expanded Federal Hate Crimes Law. The President today will also make the case for expanded federal hate crimes legislation. In particular, he will urge Congress to pass the bipartisan hate crimes legislation pending in Congress this year. The Senate has already passed this legislation, and the President will urge the House to act expeditiously to pass this critical legislation. This legislation would punish hate crimes based on a victims sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Current federal law does not cover such cases. In addition, this legislation also recognizes that state and local law enforcement still have primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
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