Fact Sheet: President Clinton and Democratic Leaders Challenge Congress to Act Now on America's Priorities (9/5/00)
        PRESIDENT CLINTON AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERS CHALLENGE CONGRESS
                    TO ACT NOW ON AMERICA?S PRIORITIES
                             September 5, 2000

Today, following a meeting with House and Senate Democratic leaders,
President Clinton will call on Congress to put progress before
partisanship, and get back to work for the American people.  Joined by
Senator Daschle and Congressman Gephardt, the President and the Democratic
leaders will reaffirm their commitment to breaking the legislative logjam.
Instead of working to override the President?s veto of the estate tax bill
-- which would give tax cuts to 54,000 of America?s wealthiest families --
President Clinton will call on the Republican leaders to make their first
order of business raising the minimum wage to help more than 10 million
hard pressed workers make ends meet.  He will also urge Congress to move
forward with fiscal discipline, responsible tax cuts, and public
investments that fuel our prosperity, such as an affordable prescription
drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients? Bill of
Rights, and expanded health care coverage for low-income families.  He will
note the release of two new studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of
the Administration?s targeted approach to expanding health coverage.
President Clinton will also urge Congress to pass a fiscally responsible
budget that maintains America?s prosperity by paying down the debt,
provides targeted middle-class tax cuts, and makes key investments in
improving education, protecting the environment and fighting crime.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL CALL ON CONGRESS TO MAINTAIN AND EXPAND ECONOMIC
PROSPERITY: President Clinton?s economic strategy of maintaining fiscal
discipline, making investments in the American people and opening foreign
markets has created the conditions for the longest economic expansion in
history and put us on track to pay off the national debt by 2012.  Before
the 106th Congress adjourns it should take actions that will expand and
maintain our prosperity for future generations:

? Increase the minimum wage: At a time when we are experiencing the longest
economic expansion in history, the proposed $1 increase before Congress
would merely return the real value of the minimum wage to the level it was
in 1982.  This modest raise would help more than 10 million workers,
including millions of women and hard-pressed families, make ends meet.
Full-time workers would receive an annual raise of about $2,000 a year ?
enough to pay for nearly 7 months of groceries or 5 months of rent.
? Provide targeted tax cuts: President Clinton?s package of responsible,
targeted tax cuts provides more tax relief for middle-class families at
less than half the cost of Republican plans.  It would allow America to
maintain our fiscal discipline, strengthen the solvency of Social Security
and Medicare, invest in key priorities, and pay off the debt by at least
2012.  President Clinton?s fiscally responsible plan provides marriage
penalty relief for couples and tax credits that reward retirement savings,
expand college opportunity, help families with the rising costs of
long-term care and child care, and promote philanthropy  by encouraging
charitable giving.  The President is also committed to working with
Congress to achieve targeted estate tax relief for small businesses and
farmers.
? Maintain fiscal discipline: The Clinton-Gore Administration turned $290
billion deficits into the largest surpluses in our history and has put us
on track to pay off the entire national debt by at least 2012.  Fiscal
discipline has produced lower interest rates while encouraging productivity
and investment.  Republican tax cuts passed this year, combined with those
they have proposed for next year, squander the entire projected surplus,
leaving America permanently in debt and making it impossible to invest in
priorities like improving education or adding a Medicare prescription drug
benefit.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ALSO CALL ON CONGRESS TO COMPLETE WORK ON AMERICA?S
KEY PRIORITIES:

Provide an Affordable, Accessible Prescription Drug Benefit Option For All
Medicare Beneficiaries: Three out of five Medicare beneficiaries have
inadequate prescription drug coverage or none at all.  In the context of
broader reform that ensures that Medicare revenues are only used for
Medicare, 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.  It would limit all out-of-pocket medication costs to $4,000.
This optional benefit would also provide negotiated discounts that would
guarantee that Medicare beneficiaries no longer pay the highest prices in
the marketplace.  And, it would explicitly pay for the cost of prescription
drugs in managed care plans beginning next year to ensure that they
continue to offer this important benefit.

Enact A Meaningful Patient?s Bill Of Rights: The majority of the United
States Senate supports passing a strong, enforceable Patients? Bill of
Rights, similar to the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients? Bill of Rights.
Unfortunately, the Republican leadership continues to support an approach
that leaves over 135 million people without protections and does not assure
that plans are held accountable when they make decisions that harm
patients.  The Norwood-Dingell 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 plan?s actions.

Provide Affordable Health Insurance Coverage for Low-Income Families: The
President has proposed a new state option to cover millions of uninsured
parents and their children in CHIP FamilyCare, workers in between jobs, 55
to 65 year olds, young adults between 19 and 20, and legal immigrants. The
Administration?s approach is supported by two new studies being released
today by the independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and
the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA).  The CBPP report
concludes that coverage expansions including parents increase enrollment
among eligible but unenrolled children by nearly 25 percent.  The CEA
report documents that tax approaches such as those advocated by the
Republican leadership are highly inefficient, expensive, and ineffective
mechanisms to expand coverage, while policies such as the FamilyCare
initiative proposed by the President efficiently and effectively assure
coverage.

Pass A Fiscally Responsible Budget That Invests In Education and Other Key
Priorities: The President proposed a balanced and fiscally responsible
budget that extends the solvency of Social Security and Medicare and makes
investments in key priorities for the American people.  The President?s
budget includes important investments in education ? such as modernizing
6,000 schools and repairing 25,000 more, meeting our commitment to hire
100,000 quality teachers to reduce class size, funding teacher training to
put qualified teachers in every classroom, increasing accountability
including identifying and turning around failing schools, increasing after
school opportunities, and preparing at-risk youth for college success.  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.  The
President will also call on Congress to put the people?s interest above the
interests of big tobacco by fully funding federal tobacco litigation and
letting the American taxpayers have their day in court to recover
tobacco-related health care costs.

Approve Common Sense Gun Safety Legislation: Sensible gun safety
legislation has languished in Congress for over a year.  Meanwhile, an
estimated 30,000 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence.  The
Senate passed common sense gun safety measures in May 1999, with Vice
President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote to close the gun show
loophole.  Since then, Republican leaders have delayed and bottled up this
legislation at the behest of the gun lobby, despite the fact that 10
children are killed by gunfire every day.  The President will call on the
Republican leadership to put the safety of America?s children first as they
return to school by passing 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 Legislation to Prevent Hate Crimes and Legislation to Combat Violence
Against Women: The President will also urge Congress to pass bipartisan
legislation to prevent hate crimes and further respond to violence against
women.  The Senate has already passed hate crimes legislation that will
punish hate crimes based on a victim?s sexual orientation, gender, or
disability ? areas not covered by current law.  The President will urge the
House to act expeditiously to pass this critical proposal.  In addition,
this legislation also recognizes that state and local law enforcement still
have primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
The President will also call on Congress to reauthorize the Violence
Against Women Act to continue his support for the work of prosecutors, law
enforcement officials, victim advocates, and health and social service
professionals as they respond to the problems of violence against women in
communities throughout the country.

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