Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate (10/25/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                           October 25, 2000


                                 October 25, 2000

Dear Mr. Speaker:   (Dear Mr. Leader:)

We are well beyond the time when Congress should have finished its work,
with many of our most important issues still left unresolved.  It is
crucial that we now take all possible steps to find common ground.

In that spirit, I would like to put forward a consensus tax offer to help
resolve the impasse on taxes.  This offer does not contain everything that
my Administration and Congressional Democrats would prefer; nor does it
contain all that Congres-sional Republicans hope to see.  Rather, it
recognizes that both sides need to give a little in order to accomplish
bipartisan tax legislation this year and that we should keep the overall
tax cut size to an amount that ensures we continue on our path of debt
reduction and fiscal discipline.

First, we can raise the minimum wage without eroding traditional worker
protections, while at the same time providing reasonable and targeted tax
relief for small businesses.  Accordingly, in exchange for my proposed
minimum wage increase, I would accept the core elements of Speaker
Hastert?s offer on a small business tax package, costing approximately $30
billion over 10 years, provided that the FLSA and FUTA provisions are
eliminated, the welfare-to-work tax credit is extended, and modifications
are made to the meals and entertainment deduction and amortization of
reforestation expenses.  I discuss your health care proposal later in this

Second, it is essential that the Labor/HHS bill include the Rangel/Johnson
proposal to build and modernize 6000 schools through $24.8 billion in
school construction financing, costing $8.5 billion over 10 years.
Considering the estimated need for  $125 billion to meet our nation's
demand for safe and modern schools, this proposal is the least we should do
for our children.

Third, the offer includes pension legislation adopted by the House and
Senate, costing about $50-60 billion over 10 years, provided that certain
modifications that the Treasury Department has discussed with the
tax-writing committees are made to ensure that employer-provided pensions
for workers are not harmed, to provide meaningful protections for workers
affected by cash balance conversions, and to provide progressive savings
incentives for low- and moderate-income workers.

Fourth, the package includes the tax and other incentives from the
bipartisan New Markets/Community Renewal legislation, at a cost of about
$25 billion over 10 years, with some changes that we have previously
discussed and other associated items upon which we can agree.  This will be
an historic commitment to expand the promise of free enterprise and
entreprenuership to our nation's poor and underserved urban and rural

It is also important that we provide the bipartisan credit for vaccine
research and purchases, which will save lives and advance public health,
costing about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Finally, it is essential for our commitment to economic growth to include
the replacement of the Foreign Sales Corporation regime, which has passed
the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, costing about $4.5
billion over 10 years.

I believe the package I have outlined above can be the basis for bipartisan
consensus on a tax package.

While Congress has failed to send me a strong, enforceable Patients? Bill
of Rights and a voluntary Medicare prescription drug plan for all seniors,
I believe it is possible to forge a bipartisan agreement that would expand
health care coverage for uninsured working Americans.  The best way to do
this is through the FamilyCare plan that builds on the successful
Children?s Health Insurance Program and expands affordable insurance to
over four million parents.  A deduction for the purchase of private health
insurance in the individual nongroup market is an inefficient and costly
way to do coverage, is far less equitable than other options that use
refundable tax credits, and could lead to private employers dropping health
coverage.   However, in the spirit of bipartisanship and breaking gridlock,
I propose that your deduction be modified to a credit with necessary
consumer protections in the individual insurance markets and that the
credit be coupled with the bipartisan FamilyCare proposal.

I further believe we should find a common agreement to ease the burden of
long-term care on American families.  The best means to accomplish this
goal is through our proposal to provide a $3,000 tax credit for people with
long-term care needs or the families who care for them.  This tax credit
would provide immediate assistance to those burdened by these long-term
care costs today.  While I cannot support your proposal to turn this into a
deduction, on grounds of both equity and effectiveness, if you are willing
to support our $3,000 tax credit, I would be willing to agree to your
proposal to provide an enhanced deduction for the purchase of private
long-term care insurance provided there are appropriate consumer
protections. This bipartisan, long-term care package has already been
endorsed by the AARP, the Alzheimer?s Association, and the Health Insurance
Association of America.

In the spirit of compromise, I believe we can work together quickly to pass
this balanced legislation that I can sign into law and that can benefit the
American people.


                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

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