America's Challenge: Background on President's State of the Union Address
Background on President Clinton's
State of the Union Address to Congress
January 23, 1996
Families are the foundation of American life. The
President challenges families to stay together, respect one another, end
domestic violence, and for parents to take responsibility for their children.
1. CHALLENGE ON FAMILIES: Cherish our children and
strengthen the American Family.
Cut Down On TV-Violence.
The Administration wants to give parents the information they need to
determine what their children see and hear. For this reason, the President
supports the V-chip and voluntary rating system established by the television
industry. The Administration also supports action to increase and improve
the quality of programming for children.
To this end, the President has urged the Commissioners of the Federal
Communications Commission to require broadcasters to air at least three hours
per week -- and preferably more - of quality children's programming and has
supported Public Broadcasting and the quality programming option it offers
children and adults. The President's meeting with leaders of major media
corporations and the entertainment industry will discuss voluntary ways to
achieve these goals without delay.
More than 300,000 Americans every year die because of illnesses associated
with tobacco use. Every single day, another 3,000 children become regular
smokers. One thousand of these children will eventually die from
smoking-related disease. It is up to all of us -- family, schools and
communities -- to work together to protect our children from the deadly
disease of nicotine addiction.
This past year, President Clinton proposed targeted measures to fight
this deadly problem. The Administration has proposed regulations designed to
restrict the methods used by the tobacco industry to sell tobacco products to
children. Specifically, these proposals cut off children's access to tobacco
and reduce the appeal of these products.
Just last week, the Clinton Administration gave states guidance on how to
implement the Synar Amendment, which requires states to have and to
enforce laws banning the sale and distribution of tobacco products to children.
Child Support Enforcement.
The President reiterated his proposal for the toughest child support
enforcement measures ever: streamlined paternity establishment; employer
reporting of new hires to catch non-paying parents who move from job to job;
uniform interstate child support laws; computerized state-wide
collections to speed up payments; and tough new penalties, like drivers'
license revocation. Together, these measures will send a clear and consistent
message that both parents must take responsibility for the children they bring
into this world. Congress should pass them now as part of real, bipartisan
In last year's State of the Union Address, the President called for a
national campaign to address teen pregnancy, which he called "our most
serious social problem." This year, the President announced that his
call has been answered. A diverse and bipartisan group of prominent Americans
is about to announce the formation of A National Campaign to Reduce Teenage
Pregnancy. Their goal is to reduce teenage pregnancy by one-third over the
next ten years. This is a serious, nonpartisan effort to mobilize many sectors
of American society -- business, entertainment, media, religious leaders and
others -- to tackle this serious problem. The Clinton administration has
worked to help the organizers of this independent effort get started, and the
President has promised his active support for their work.
2. CHALLENGE ON
our schools for the new century and open wide the doors of college.
Over the past three years, President Clinton has led efforts to
dramatically reform education and training policy. Now, President Clinton
proposes several new initiatives to bring
more technology into the classroom; urge states, communities, and schools
to raise standards; give parents more public school choice; and greatly
expand access to college.
Nothing is more critical to preparing our public schools for the 21st
century than ensuring they have the modern technology to prepare students for
the information age. The President challenges the nation to work together
in a major new national effort to help every student become
technologically literate for the 21st century.
Specifically the President has four goals:
- Provide access to modern computers for all teachers and students;
- Connect every school in America to the Information Superhighway;
- Develop effective software in all subject areas, and
- Give every teacher the development they need to help students use
and learn through technology.
To reach these goals the President will lead a national effort that
will include the following new initiatives:
- The President and Vice President will lead an effort to wire all of the
nation's classrooms for computer access to the Internet by the year 2000.
- The President is calling for the creation of an Educational Technology
Fund -- a private/public technology "matching fund" to help ensure
that every student has adequate access to a cutting-edge computer and every
teacher has the skills and software to make the best possible use of
- Challenge to educational software and entertainment leaders to
produce better educational software to make learning more exciting and
Higher Education Standards For Students And Teachers.
Perhaps no challenge is more central to ensuring America's competitive
strength in the 21st century than renewing our public school system. The
President wants to see public schools driven by demanding high standards
for students and teachers.
President Clinton challenges states and school districts to enact
professional standards of excellence for teachers, and high standards of
achievement for students. He also urged that all parents should have the
opportunity to change schools or start new ones if their child's school
is not performing.
Schools need to be safe and drug-free, and need to teach well the
basics, good citizenship, responsibility, and core academics. The
President believes that schools need to be accountable for their
students' performance and that a high school diploma must mean something.
Public School Choice.
President Clinton believes that information, competition, and choice
among public schools should be the rule, not the exception. Any parent
who is dissatisfied with either their own child's or the school's
performance should have the opportunity to choose a public school that
will do better.
To ensure that every parent has this chance, the President is calling on
all 50 states to enact charter school laws within 12 months. Twenty
states currently have laws providing for the creation of charter schools
-- public schools, created and managed by parents, teachers and
administrators. They are held accountable for their results through a
performance-based contract with a local school board, state, or other
The President will also be asking for a substantial increase in federal
funding, up to $40 million annually, to help local efforts to start
nearly 3,000 new charter schools over the next five years.
The President believes strongly in the critical importance of parent
involvement in their children's education. Parents are and continue to
be their children's first and most important teacher. The President asks
parents to read with children, see that their homework is done, see that
they take the tough courses, know their children's teachers, talk to
their children directly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and talk
to them about the values they want them to have. These conversations
could literally save their lives. Businesses, schools, and religious
organizations can help parents find the time for all of this by being
family-friendly for learning.
Dramatically Expand Access To College.
President Clinton is deeply committed to ensuring that all deserving
students can afford to go to college, and to helping American families
invest in their children's and their nation's future. That is why he
will continue to block attempts to cap the
Direct Lending Student Loan program,
which makes college more accessible by allowing students to repay loans
as a percentage of their income and by cutting out the middle-man and
eliminating red tape. That is also why he will block attempts to cut
Pell Grant Scholarships and instead wants to increase their number and
the maximum award.
Now, President Clinton calls for the enactment of three key initiatives
to increase access to and the affordability of college education. Each
of these proposals rewards responsible students and hard-working families.
- Merit Scholarships. The President calls for the creation
of the largest-ever merit-based scholarship program, rewarding the top
5% of high school graduates in every school -- over 125,000 students
annually -- with $1,000 grants toward the cost of college. The
scholarships, rewarding excellence and achievement, will be awarded to
the top five percent of graduating students in every secondary school in
the United States.
- Expansion Of Work Study. The President proposed a
dramatic expansion of the College Work Study program, from 700,000
students to over one million over the next five years. This nearly 50
percent increase will significantly expand a program that reaffirms the
American ethic, rewarding hard work and helping ensure that all who want
a higher education are able to afford it.
- Tuition Tax Deduction. The President renewed his call for
a deduction of up to $10,000 for the cost of tuition and training. 16.5
million students stand to benefit from this proposal for tax relief to
Provide new security for the American family in the new economy.
America's economy is strong. Home ownership is at its highest rate
in 15 years and 7.8 million new jobs have been created during the last
three years. The President's 1993 Economic Plan has cut the deficit
nearly in half. And Taxes have been lowered for 15 million households by
dramatically expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. But our people are
working harder than ever, and they deserve what it takes to get ahead in
the new economy.
A G.I. Bill for America's Workers.
In the new economy, skills matter more. For workers, a year of either
on-the-job or formal training raises wages by about as much as a year of
college education. That is why the President challenged the Congress in
December 1994 to enact a new GI Bill for America's Workers.
Now, the President calls for the Congress to pass his fundamental
reform of the federal job-training system. The Administration's proposal
would eliminate at least 70 separate job training programs, replacing
them with an integrated system that minimizes red tape and maximizes
individual choice in each local community. Unemployed and low-income
workers would be able to get individual Skill Grants to use as they
choose for learning new skills to find new and better jobs.
The President's proposal would also provide workers access, through
networks of One-Stop Career Centers already under construction in the
States, to reliable computerized data on jobs, careers, what skills are
in demand, and the success records of training institutions, so that
workers can make good choices to improve their futures. States and
localities would have flexibility to work in partnership with the
private sector to tailor training programs and delivery systems to
reflect local conditions and priorities.
The Administration proposal also includes a youth component. Federal
education, training, and employment programs for youth would be reshaped
to support the community-based school-to-work movement already underway
in states under the School-to-Work
Opportunities Act of 1994. The proposal will enable schools,
colleges, and the private sector in each local community to offer all
youth work-based learning opportunities and clear pathways to good jobs,
rewarding careers, and lifelong learning.
Increase the Minimum Wage.
The President challenges Congress to raise the minimum wage and
provide the opportunity for Americans to lift themselves and their
families out of poverty. One year ago, the President proposed increasing
the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 an hour in two equal steps. If
Congress does not act now, the value of the minimum wage will fall to
its lowest level in 40 years. The President's proposal would help lift
the lives of the estimated 11 million Americans who earn less than
$5.15. For those people working full-time, this minimum wage increase
provides $1,800 -- enough money for the average American family to buy
groceries for seven months.
A rise in the minimum wage helps families that are working hard but
struggling to make ends meet. Most workers who earn the minimum wage are
adults; nearly 40 percent are the sole breadwinner in their family; and
the average minimum wage worker brings home half of their family's
earnings. And more than one dozen studies suggest that a modest minimum
wage increase -- like the President's proposal -- would not cost jobs.
Despite criticism in some corners, the minimum wage has traditionally
had bipartisan support. In 1989, the minimum wage increase passed the
House by a vote of 382 to 37, and 89 to 8 in the Senate. It's time to
raise the minimum wage. And it's time to ensure that those who work hard
and play by the rules can live with the dignity that they have earned.
The Earned Income Tax Credit and
President Clinton's 1993 Economic Plan expanded the Earned Income Tax
Credit to provide tax relief to 15 million working families and
households. The EITC encourages families to move from welfare to work by
making work pay. President Clinton has staunchly opposed deep cuts in
the EITC proposed by Republicans which would raise income taxes on
millions of hard-working families. The President's seven-year balanced
budget plan provides additional tax relief to working families. It would
provide a tax credit of up to $500 per child to families with incomes up
$500 Per Child Tax Credit.
Making Pensions More Accessible For All Americans.
Only about half of all full-time workers in the private sector are
covered by a pension. Three-quarters of workers in small businesses with
fewer than 100 employees are not covered by a pension plan. President
Clinton believes that we need to better empower Americans to save for
In June of last year, the President proposed a significant
simplification of our pension system, so that businesses of all sizes,
but particularly small businesses, could more easily make tax-advantaged
savings programs available to their employees. The NEST option would
enable businesses with 100 or fewer employees to establish a retirement
savings program by sending the IRS a simple one-page form. By getting
rid of the family aggregation rules, families who work together in small
or large businesses could save as individuals. Larger businesses and
tax-exempt organizations could also offer simpler plans, so more money
could go to workers' retirement and less to accountants, lawyers, and
other consultants. These proposals are all part of the President's
budget offer of January 18, 1996. Similar reforms have been passed by
the Congress. This is an area where agreement to benefit all Americans
is both possible and close to fruition.
Safeguarding Retirement Savings.
The Clinton Administration has taken important actions to make certain
that pension savings are there when people need them. The Retirement
Protection Act enacted in 1994 protects the pension funds of more than
40 million workers and retirees in traditional pension plans, including
more than 8 million in plans that remain underfunded. Pension
underfunding has been reduced for the first time in a decade -- from $71
billion in 1993 to $31 billion in 1994. The Department of Labor's 401(k)
enforcement program and proposed legislation and regulations are
designed to ensure that employees' savings are actually contributed to
their retirement plan and invested. The Department has already recovered
more than $3.5 million for 2,800 workers. This Administration
has demonstrated its commitment to safety and security in the pension system.
Opposing Raids on Pension Funds.
No corporation should be able to raid your hard-earned savings. The
Clinton Administration will continue to fight cynical Republican efforts
to fund tax cuts by allowing corporations to raid their pension funds --
the same kind of raids that cost workers about $20 billion in the 1980s
to fund corporate mergers and leveraged buyouts. The Republican proposal
would allow corporations to reduce pension fund assets by approximately
Reform -- Portability Protections.
The President calls on the Congress to pass meaningful health insurance
reforms that would guarantee that insurers no longer apply pre-existing
condition exclusions to previously insured workers who have had at least
one year of coverage. Providing for this portability protection and
eliminating "job-lock" for all Americans has always been one
of President Clinton's top priorities. His proposal would also require
plans to renew coverage without regard to health status.
Insurance reform bills similar to the President's have received
broad, bipartisan support in the Congress. Over 35 insurance market
reform bills have been introduced since 1990, including legislation
cosponsored by Republican Senator Kassebaum and Democratic Senator
Kennedy that was unanimously reported out of the Labor Committee last year.
Protect Medicare and Medicaid:
Medicare. The President's proposal preserves and enhances
Medicare. In so doing, he rejects proposals that structurally undermine
the program through excessive cuts and unwise programmatic changes that
unnecessarily harm beneficiaries and providers. Instead, the President
proposes reforms that achieve savings that limit the per person growth of
the program to just below the private sector growth rate, extends the life
of the Medicare Trust Fund through at least 2010, adds new cost-effective
preventive benefits, and provides a new respite benefit for families of
beneficiaries with Alzheimer's disease.
Reform that Protects and Strengthens the Programs.
In addition, the President proposal expands plan choices for
beneficiaries to include HMOs with a
point-of-service option, Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and
Provider Service Networks. These options work to promote
competition on the basis of cost and quality, rather than
to "cherry-pick" at the expense of the sick and the elderly.
Medicaid. Like the Medicare program, the President calls on the
nation to maintain its commitment to a strong, but more flexible and
cost-conscious Medicaid program. He rejects proposals that block grant the
program and provide for harmful and excessive cuts that could deny health
benefits to 3-6 million Americans in 2002, including more than 1 million
children. Instead, President Clinton advocates making the program more
flexible by removing unnecessary Federal health care delivery and
reimbursement strings that tie a Governor's hands in administering an
efficient and responsive program. In so doing, however, he maintains the
Federal guarantee to a set of meaningful benefits, retains financial and
quality protections for the states (through his per capita cap, which
provides more dollars during economic downturns), and continues protections
of recipients and their families (through retention of nursing home
quality, spousal impoverishment, and family financial resources
protections, and retention of coverage of low-income Medicare
beneficiaries' premiums and costsharing).
Health Insurance Reforms -- Building On Portability Protections:
The President believes that individuals who lose their health insurance
when they lose their job should be eligible for premium subsidies to pay
for private insurance coverage for up to six months. Such a proposal
would provide coverage for 3.8 million more Americans a year.
Health Insurance For the Temporarily Unemployed.
Health Insurance Reform -- Making Insurance More Accessible
In addition to the insurance reforms outlined above, the President's
proposal would require plans to make coverage available to all groups of
businesses, regardless of the health status of any of the group's
members ("guaranteed issue"). Insurers would be required to
provide an open enrollment period of at least 30 days for all new
employees (whether or not they had been previously insured). Moreover,
insurers could not individually underwrite new enrollees, i.e., their
premiums would have to be the same as other enrollees with similar
demographic characteristics. These provisions also have broad,
and Affordable For Small Business And Their Employees.
To address the issue of affordability, the President's insurance reforms
would also limit premium variations for small businesses by phasing out
the use of claims experience, duration of coverage, and health status in
determining rates. To put the self-employed on a more equal footing with
other businesses, the President proposes to gradually increase the
self-employed tax deduction from 25 to 50 percent. And finally, to help
provide small businesses with the type of purchasing clout larger
businesses have, technical assistance and funding ($25 million a year in
grants) would be provided to states to set up voluntary purchasing
cooperatives. (Purchasing cooperatives are also included in the
Under the President's plan, the State could request that commercial
insurers providing Federal Employee Health Benefit Plans (FEHBP) also
offer insurance products to small businesses in a voluntary purchasing
cooperative. To assure cost control within the Federal program, the
Federal employee and private sector "pools" would be kept separate.
Cracking Down On Health Care Fraud And Abuse.
In the last three years alone, the Administration has saved an
unprecedented $15 billion by cracking down on fraud and abuse in the
Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The President's balanced budget plan continues these aggressive
policies. It strengthens the fraud and abuse laws so that we can better
prosecute health care fraud in all government programs and private plans,
makes it easier to restore money to Medicare and Medicaid and to American
taxpayers, and increases penalties so that wrongdoers are punished severely.
It expands "Operation Restore Trust" nationwide -- a program
currently operating in five states that coordinates anti-fraud activities
and uses new technology to fight fraud and abuse. Finally, it guarantees
funding to investigate and prosecute those who have defrauded the Medicare
and Medicaid programs and the taxpayers who support them.
4. CHALLENGE ON
Take back our streets from crime, gangs, and
America has begun to find the way to stop
crime. In New York City murders are down 25%, in St. Louis 18%, and in
Seattle 32%. The President's
is putting more police on the streets -- 31,000 just this last year. The
Brady Bill has stopped 44,000 felons and over 20,000 fugitives, stalkers,
and others from buying handguns. The Assault Weapons Ban is keeping UZIs
out of the hands of drug runners, and the Violence Against Women Act has
cracked down on abusers of women while improving servicesfor victims so
that they have somewhere to turn. The President's anti-crime strategy is
The President reiterated that he will veto any attempt to
repeal the Brady Bill, the Assault Weapons Ban, or the COPS program --
which will put an additional 25,000 cops on the streets of America in 1996.
In addition, the President announced several new initiatives to build on his
Administration's successful efforts to win the war on crime and
Over the past decade, street gangs have become the major force in the
distribution of narcotics and the commission of
Gangs are a significant problem affecting not only our inner cities but
also suburban and rural communities throughout the country. Over the last
year, the Justice Department's Anti-Violent Crime Strategy -- in which
Federal prosecutors work in tandem with members of their local law
enforcement and communities -- has lead to the prosecution of thousands
of violent and repeat offenders.
- Building on that success, the President directed the FBI and
other investigative agencies to wage a
coordinated war on gangs that involve juveniles in violent crime. The
Justice Department has also developed a comprehensive anti-gang strategy
that it will submit to Congress later this week. In addition, the
Administration has submitted legislation to Congress that would afford
Federal prosecutors the discretion to prosecute juvenile offenders as
adults. Juveniles who commit adult crimes should be treated like adults.
President Clinton calls on the Congress to pass this legislation now.
At the same time, we will hold adults who traffic crime guns to kids
accountable by launching an initiative in over 10 cities that will track,
arrest, and prosecute these gun peddlers.
One Strike And You're Out -- A Directive To
President Clinton is committed to cracking down on gangs and drugs in
public housing. Large, violent street gangs have controlled entire
projects in some of our cities, recruiting children as young as 7 years old
to sell drugs.
Remove Criminals From Public Housing.
President Clinton challenges HUD, local governments and public housing
residents to link arms in ousting drug dealers and violent crime from
public housing. In city after city, the count for abusive residents
involved in drugs and crime will now be "one strike and you're
out." Under this plan, the President will direct the Secretary of
HUD to implement a one strike program for public housing. We will no longer
tolerate these drug dealers and violent offenders terrorizing residents in
State and local prison populations continue to grow. Unfortunately,
some correctional systems faced with rising prison populations have
released offenders when their institutions reach a certain population level.
The result is that prisoners are released before they finish serving their
full sentence. This is a hoax being played on the American public. The
Federal criminal justice system resolved this problem some time ago by
adopting truth-in-sentencing. Federal prisoners serve at least 85% of the
sentence imposed and are not eligible for parole. Now is the time for the
States to get on board and stop releasing criminals back into the general
public before they serve their time. That is why the President is challenging
the States to ensure that by theyear 2000 State prisoners serve at least
85% of their sentence.
New Drug Czar -- General Barry R. McCaffrey.
Ending the drug scourge in America has and will be a top priority for
the Clinton Administration. That is why President Clinton announced during
the State of the Union that he will be nominating General Barry R. McCaffrey
to be his next Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
A Four Star General, McCaffrey served in four combat tours, was
wounded three times in action, and was decorated twice with the
Distinguished Service Cross and twice with the Silver Star.
In praising President Clinton for choosing McCaffrey, The Miami Herald
described him as "decisive, analytical, candid,
soldier's soldier, the Army's most decorated officer... says what he
thinks, and he thinks with great clarity."
As Commander of U.S. forces in Latin America McCaffrey built an
international and interagency
coalition that has achieved significant successes over the last two years
against narcotraffickers attempting to bring cocaine into the United States.
His service and leadership in Latin America will build upon the success that
his predecessor, Lee Brown, contributed in dismantling the Cali Drug Cartel.
General McCaffrey's skills and background make him perfectly suited for
this position -- a proven military leader who commands respect from young
Americans, pursues his goals with efficiency and order, and expects positive
results. He has spent his military career engaged in coordinated campaigns
that are directed toward solutions and winning. He will not tolerate
bureaucratic turf wars or grandstanding on this critical issue.
For the past generation we have made great progress in
protecting the environment. We now have cleaner and safer air and water.
Lead levels in children's blood have been cut 70 percent and toxic emissions
from factories are cut in half. 25 years ago, lake Erie was dead, now it is a
thriving resource. Now, President Clinton challenges Congress to move
forward, not backward, on the environment, and called on Congress to abandon
reckless proposals to cut environmental enforcement by 25% and make
taxpayers -- not polluters -- pick up the tab for environmental cleanup.
Project XL -- Tougher Standards And More Flexibility.
As the nation has made progress in protecting the environment, the system
created to address the environmental crises of 25 years ago must change with
To achieve better environmental results at less cost, provide regulatory
flexibility, and maintain accountability, President Clinton announced Project
XL -- for excellence and leadership -- in March 1995. In November 1995, the
President named eight pilot projects from six companies and a state and a
local government as the first of 50 projects.
Project XL is based on the premise that by giving businesses, states and
communities the flexibility to explore creative solutions for controlling
pollution, they will develop innovative ways to achieve results that go
beyond the ones required by environmental regulations -- and do so in more
common-sense and cost-effective ways.
In his 1996 State of the Union
Address, the President offered this challenge to all businesses:
If you can meet even higher environmental standards, we will cut red tape and
regulations, so that you can find the cheapest and most efficient way to do it.
Expanding Community Right-To-Know About Toxic Chemicals
For nearly a decade, Americans have had an important right: the right to
know what dangerous chemicals are being released into their
communities. Armed with Community-Right-To-Know information, citizens
around the country are taking action to solve local environmental problems
that affect their health and safety. Since the inception of these laws in
1986, reported releases of toxic chemicals have declined by 43% nationwide.
Released In Their Communities.
EPA's Toxics Release Inventory is an annual listing of chemical hazards
that industries have released into the environment, organized by zip code.
Citizens have easy access to these reports through local libraries, state
and federal environmental offices, the internet, and EPA's toll-free
hotline. President Clinton has acted to strengthen and expand the public's
right to know about local pollution by requiring Federal facilities and
government contractors to report on chemical releases, by expanding the
number of chemicals that must be publicly reported, and by making it
easier for small businesses to report right-to-know information. Now,
President Clinton calls on Congress to work with his Administration to
expand and strengthen communities' right-to-know.
Brownfields Initiative -- Common Sense Approach
The Administration is taking a new approach to environmental regulation,
one that tackles problems with common sense. Throughout America's cities,
hundreds of thousands of old industrial sites lie neglected. These
so-called "brownfields" have lingered as trash-strewn eyesores
while businesses have shifted their operations to pristine locations in the
suburbs and the countryside.
To Cleaning The Environment.
The President pledges that his Administration would revitalize
America's cities by challenging American business to work with their
communities to clean up brownfields that are a blight to our communities,
a threat to our health, and an obstacle to economic growth. Under this
proposal, EPA will continue to make common sense policy changes that speed
the cleanup of brownfields and provide grants to cities to cleanup and
redevelop contaminated land.
The President is proposing to offer new purchasers and other businesses
that will redevelop brownfields a new targeted tax incentive to recover the
cost of clean-up in distressed communities over a shorter period of time.
This initiative will spur the private sector to create jobs, return land to
productive use, and clean up the environment. As part of this package, the
Administration will also ask Congress to enact legislation to protect
lenders who finance the clean-up or redevelopment of these sites. This common
sense, cost-effective initiative captures the best of what we can do together
to revitalize the cities of this country.
6. CHALLENGE ON
Meet our responsibility to lead
President Clinton has continued the strong tradition of American
leadership in the world that has brought our people 50 years of security and
prosperity. He has addressed the challenges of today: ethnic and religious
hatreds; aggression by rogue states; the spread of weapons of mass
destruction; terrorism; crime; drug trafficking; environmental decay --
because problems that start beyond our borders can quickly become problems
within them. The United States cannot be the world's policeman, because our
reach and resources are limited. Instead, where our interests and values
demand it -- and where we can make a difference -- America takes the lead.
the fight for freedom and peace.
- We stayed engaged with Russia -- now there are no Russian missiles
pointed at our cities or citizens.
- Our patient pressure persuaded North Korea to freeze its nuclear
- By threatening to use force in Haiti, we gave democracy a second chance
and stopped the flow of refugees to our shores.
- By standing with those who take risks for peace in
Northern Ireland and the
Middle East, we have helped people turn from conflict to cooperation.
- By opening markets abroad, we have created more jobs for Americans at home.
- By standing up for peace in Bosnia, we have helped end the worst
atrocities in Europe since World War II.
- We are bringing the nations of Europe closer together, modernizing and
preparing to expand NATO, working with Russia and revitalizing the economies
of Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union.
- America is leading because we've kept out military strong and know when
to use it.
Ratification of START II Treaty To
Cut Nuclear Stockpiles
By Another 25%.
President Clinton calls on the Senate to give its advice and consent to
ratification of the Treaty Between the United States and Russian Federation
on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II)
now. Before Christmas l995, the Senate virtually completed debate on the
Treaty and adopted a unanimous consent agreement that no further amendments
to the resolution of ratification would be in order.
When ratified by Russia and entered into force, START II will require
far-reaching nuclear arms reductions. In combination with the START I
Treaty, START II will eliminate launchers that carried over 14,000 of the
21,000 warheads deployed when the START I Treaty was signed in 1991 -- a
reduction of two-thirds. In addition, START II will eliminate the most
destabilizing strategic nuclear arms -- heavy ICBMs and multiple warhead
ICBMs. The President urges no further delay in reducing the nuclear threat
to all Americans.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
President Clinton challenges the 38 nations participating in the Geneva
Conference on Disarmament to finish work on the Treaty so that it is ready to
be signed this fall as called for by the United Nations General Assembly last
December. As President Clinton said on August 11, "American leaders
since Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy have believed a comprehensive test
ban would be a major stride toward stopping the proliferation of nuclear
weapons. Now, as then, such a treaty would greatly strengthen the security of
the United States and nations throughout the world. But now, unlike then,
such a treaty is within our reach."
Last August, the President announced his decision to ban nuclear testing
for all time by negotiating a true "zero yield" Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT). This decision was an historic milestone in our efforts to
reduce the nuclear threat and to strengthen U.S. and global security
that will stop an entire generation of new nuclear weapons.
Chemical Weapons Convention.
The President calls upon the Senate to outlaw poison gas once and for
all by ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention now. At the UN General
Assembly last October, the President pressed for ratification of this vital
treaty, stating: "As the Cold War gives way to the global village, too
many people remain vulnerable. No one is immune .... We must press other
countries and our own Congress to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention."
Since the use of chemical weapons in World War I, the United States has
led the effort to control and ultimately eliminate them. We outlawed the
wartime use of poisonous gas in the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and today
President Clinton is working hard to outlaw not only the use but also the
development, production and possession of chemical weapons. Completed in 1992
and opened for signature in January 1993, 160 countries now have signed the
Convention and 47 have ratified it. It is time the United States did so too.
In the past three years, the President has devoted unprecedented attention
to the fight against terrorism. New strategies and resources resulted in the
arrest of World Trade Center bombers; increased pressure on the most
dangerous terrorist groups, including preventing other bombing plots;
blocking the fundraising by terrorist groups opposed to the Middle East peace
process; and improved our effectiveness in coping with terrorism involving
chemical and biological weapons. The Clinton Administration was preparing
to counter this new scourge well before the terrifying Sarin attack in
One year ago this month, the President asked Congress for legislation to
strengthen our ability to combat international terrorism. On April 19, 1995
terrorists bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing
and maiming scores of innocent workers, visitors, and children. In response,
the President asked Congress to expand the international terrorism bill to
include domestic terrorism. Although the Senate acted quickly, the House has
failed to act. This bill is essential if we are to keep overseas terrorists
from attacking Americans here at home; to prevent terrorist groups from
raising funds here; to respond effectively to chemical or biological
attacks; and give our Federal law enforcement agencies the tools they need to
bring terrorists to justice before they strike again. The President calls
upon Congress to act now on this bill creating a more secure America at home.
Supporting Resources for Leadership.
America cannot lead without adequate resources. Some want to retreat in
the post-card war era, while others want to lead on the cheap. Our ability
to lead now faces a clear and present danger from efforts to drastically cut
our foreign affairs budget. Such cuts could eliminate aid to some states of
the former Soviet Union and hinder our efforts to reduce the nuclear threat;
cripple our non-proliferation efforts; eliminate our contribution to peace
operations, which can save us from deploying our own forces; limit our
ability to promote peace in the Middle East; undermine our efforts to expand
U.S. exports; and slash programs to wipe out production and smuggling of
drugs that ultimately destroy our neighborhoods.
Support for these programs requires only 1% of the Federal budget. This
is good investment for the American people -- and a good bargain.
America must maintain the best trained, best equipped, and best
prepared military in the
world. Together with a strong military, an adequately funded international
affairs programs will preserve our security, expand our prosperity and
advance democracy. The President calls on Congress to give us the resources
we need to lead for peace.
This government must again become one of the people, by the people, and
for the people. The President challenges Congress to curb special interest
influence in politics by passing the first truly bipartisan campaign finance
reform in a generation. And the President challenges government to continue
down the path of reinvention and downsizing, creating the smallest, smartest,
and cheapest government in 30 years.
Political Reform -- Endorsement of The McCain-Feingold
In his first three years in office, the President has pursued a strong,
wide-ranging political reform agenda. He imposed the toughest-ever ethics
code on his appointees, closed the tax provision that allowed corporations to
deduct the cost of lobbying expenses, signed the Motor Voter law, and cut the
White House staff by 25%.
Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Bill.
Last year the President signed two major reform bills that he had promised
to enact in Putting People First. The Congressional Accountability Act which
requires Members of Congress to live by the laws of the land and lobbying
Yet, two major reforms have yet to be sent to his desk. President Clinton
calls on Congress to send him the line-item veto bill so he can sign it
immediately and to pass the McCain-Feingold bipartisan campaign finance
reform legislation. This legislation would provide thirty minutes of free
television time and require broadcasters to sell advertising at 50% of the
lowest available unit rate for candidates who abide by voluntary spending
limits; would limit PAC contributions to $1,000; toughen bundling rules; ban
personal use of campaign funds; increase disclosure and accountability of
those who engage in political advertising and restrict the use of soft money.
Under the Vice President's
National Performance Review, the Clinton Administration has cut 16,000
pages of unnecessary rules and regulations and cut the Federal workforce by
205,000 employees, making it the smallest in 30 years.
President Clinton feels strongly that never again should a public
servant threaten the full faith and credit of the United States and no
public servant should ever again shut down the government of the United States.
Federal workers who remain are working harder and delivering better value
for less money. In the coming weeks the Administration will be pursuing even
more initiatives for governing with less resources. The guiding principle
behind these initiatives is the need to manage government in a way that
rewards performance and not red tape.
Critical to this goal will be the following initatives: transforming
the federal work force via Civil Service Reform, transforming certain
government organizations into Performance Based Organizations,
reinventing federalism via the establishment of more Performance
Partnerships with States and localities, transforming the regulatory
agencies in the federal government in order to improve compliance, and
establishing specific, widely publicized customer service standards for
those American citizens who interact with the federal government.
Executive Order To Revoke Federal Contracts Of
The President is preparing to issue an Executive Order that is intended
to ensure that Federal Government contracts are not awarded to companies
than employ illegal workers. Consistent with federal law prohibiting such
employment, this order provides for debarment of any federal contractor who
knowingly employs illegal workers thereby depriving U.S. legal workers of
opportunities to hold those jobs. Unfortunately, this does occur. A recent
INS enforcement action, Operation SouthPAW, found that illegal aliens
were employed in the construction of a federal building in Atlanta.
Nothing in this order relieves employers of their obligations to avoid unfair
immigration-related employment practices and to comply with all
antidiscrimination requirements of applicable law.
Businesses That Hire Illegal
1996 State of the Union Address
In Statement On Teen Pregnancy
Protect Our Children From Tobacco
America's Challenge: Background on President's State of the Union Address
Statement By The President On Direct College Loans
President Clinton's 1996 State of the Union Address as delivered
State of the Union Address - Background
State of the Union 1995 - Picture
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