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President Announces 21st Century Community Learning Grants

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 17, 1998


Rose Garden

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies andgentlemen, Hillary and I are delighted to have all of you here in theRose Garden today for a subject that we care a great deal about. Ithank especially Senator Jeffords for his leadership, CongressmanBoswell, all the members of Congress who are here. I thank SecretaryRiley and the Attorney General for their consistent and dedicatedefforts for our children and to improve the lives of our children.And Chief Frazier and Gloria Nava did, I thought, a marvelous job.

Let me say, as Hillary and Gloria made clear, formillions of Americans, Home Alone is not a funny movie, it is aserious risk that children and parents undertake every day all acrossthis country. On any given school day in America, there will be asmany as 15 million children left to fend for themselves, idle infront of the television sets or out on the streets and exposed togangs and guns and drugs.

Incidents of violent crime by juveniles more than doublein the hour after school lets out, and interestingly enough, ourchildren are also at greatest risk of becoming victims of crime inthe hours immediately after school. But in communities wherechildren have something positive to do, youth crime is dropping andacademic performance is on the rise.

The Justice Department and the Department of Educationare today releasing a report to every school district in the countryand to the public at large which shows just how much of a differencethese after-school programs are making. In Chicago, for example, aprogram with which Hillary and I are familiar, the Lighthouse Programis now reaching more than 110,000 children and nearly 250 schoolsaround the city with intensive after-school instruction in readingand math. This remarkable program also provides children with threemeals a day in the school. And I'm very proud that the Department ofAgricultural, with its support, helps to make this possible. Sincethat program began, not surprisingly, gang activity is down andreading and math scores are up.

We have to do everything we can to give every communityin this country the tools to follow that lead. Today we areannouncing $40 million in competitive grants that will help more than300 schools to start after-school programs of their own. As all ofyou know, they're part of the 21st Century Community Learning CenterInitiative, which was sponsored in 1993 in my first year in office bySenator Jeffords.

These grants will give now thousands more children asafe place to go before and after school, and good things to do. SanFrancisco, for example, will use the grant specifically to targetkids most at risk of joining gangs or using drugs. Baltimore County,which already has, as you heard, successful after-school programs,will focus on helping more children to improve their academicperformance.

But I think it's important to note two things. One is-- not withstanding the wind -- (laughter) -- this is a universallysuccessful strategy. This is not complicated. This is somethingsimple, that has broad support, that saves lives and improveslearning. The second thing is, out in America everybody has figuredthis out, so that for every grant we will able to give, there were 20schools that applied but aren't getting help today. So we have to domore.

In January, as part of my efforts to give qualityaffordable child care to all the families in this country who needit, I proposed the largest after-school commitment in America'shistory, $200 million a year over the next five years to expand the21st Century Community Learning Center program, to reach a half amillion children. Now, these programs have broad bipartisan support,and I very much hope that Congress soon will act to fund this requestfully. Remember, there were 20 schools that had good programs thatwanted this money for every one school on that map. We can dobetter, and we must.

Let me also say again to Senator Jeffords, this is thekind of bipartisan support that works for our country. Whenever weput the progress of the American people and the future of ourchildren ahead of partisan politics in Washington, America wins. Andthat's what we need to do. (Applause.)

Before we close, I just have to mention -- make a coupleof other points. In that spirit, I have been working for six monthsto craft a comprehensive, bipartisan bill to protect our childrenfrom the dangers of tobacco -- the biggest public health for childrenin America today. As we speak, the Republican Caucus in the Senateis meeting behind closed doors to discuss, perhaps even to decide,the fate of the tobacco bill. I urge them not to turn this meeting,literally, into a smoke-filled room; to protect the children and notthe tobacco lobby.

We have worked very, very hard to make this legislationfair and bipartisan. We have met the majority in the Senate morethan halfway. They said they wanted a tax cut to be part of thetobacco bill since we were raising the price of cigarettes todiscourage children from buying them. We said, all right. They saidthey wanted some money in this bill to fight drugs as well as todiscourage children from using tobacco. We said, fine.

Now, if there is a move to kill or gut this legislation,there can be no possible explanation other than the intense pressureand the awesome influence fueled by years of huge contributions ofbig tobacco. So I again call upon the Senate majority, and indeedall those in the Senate, to pass this tobacco bill. Let's get itover to the House, let them have a chance to pass a bill, and let'sdo something that will give this country to have a lasting publichealth legacy in a bipartisan way. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, what will you do if the Senatedecides to pull the tobacco bill, sir? What are your alternatives?

Q Mr. President, about Japan, how far are you willingto go to support the yen?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me -- you all don't even need to sitback down. I'm going to answer this one question; then we'll visit.

The question was about the support of the United Statesfor the Japanese yen. Let me say, I talked to Prime MinisterHashimoto last night, oh, for 20 or 30 minutes at about 11:30 p.m.our time. Japan is very important to the world, especially to theUnited States and to the efforts we're making to support an economicrecovery in Asia, which is very important to keeping our own economicprogress going. It is important that they take some critical steps,and as they do them, we will support them.

I was very encouraged by the Prime Minister's statementthat he intends to pursue aggressive reform of their bankinginstitutions and intends to do the things that are necessary to getthe economy going again. And, therefore, I thought it was importantthat we support them.

In terms of the details of our support, they arecontained in Secretary Rubin's statement today and I couldn't do abit better than he has done. But we're doing the right thing and Ithink the Prime Minister of Japan has done the right thing, and we'vegot a chance to turn that situation in Asia around before it gets anyworse. And America needs a strong, growing, stable economy in Asia.And I am encouraged by what the Prime Minister said last night andheartened, and we're glad to help and we hope we will be of some helptoday.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, what are you going to do about theHouse plan to scrap the tax code?

THE PRESIDENT: I think this plan to scrap the tax codeis superficially appealing to since there is something about the taxcode that everybody dislikes, but it would be a significant mistaketo vote to do that without a replacement, especially now. Why?Because if you voted to get rid of it without saying what thereplacement was, you would put individual Americans and families inan uncertain position about their investments in health insurance, inretirement, in education, in homes. You would put businesses in aperiod of uncertainty about their long-term investments and the taxtreatment of that. It could create uncertainty in the financialmarkets and, therefore, could have a significant negative economiceffect on America.

Now, with all this other economic uncertainty around theworld, everyone is looking to us as a stable, rock-solid,forward-moving country, trying to give stability to other countries.The last thing in the world we need to do right now is to send somesignal of instability, that we've decided to get rid of our whole taxcode without knowing what to replace it with.

Now, I'm all for simplifying the tax code. I wouldn'trule out any option if I knew what the alternative was. The Congresshas a bill and has had a bill for months that has already passed bothHouses to dramatically simplify and overhaul the way that IRS works;it still hasn't been sent to me. And I hope it will be sent soon.

But this would be a bad mistake in my view in enactingthis procedure.

Q Would you veto it? You would veto it?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to do my best to beat it. AndI don't want to give anyone the excuse to vote for it by saying I'llveto it. Because sometimes when you do that, you wind up having somany people vote for it that you don't have enough people to sustainyour veto.

But it's not -- this is something we shouldn't playgames with. This is a period of instability in Asia, of uncertaintyin other parts of the world. We're working with our friends inJapan, our friends in Russia, with the people in other parts of theworld to try to stabilize their economy and restore growth. We don'twant to send out a signal of instability and uncertainty now. And wedon't want to do it to individual families as well. So this issomething that sounds good, but I'm convinced it isn't. Youshouldn't get rid of what you have until you know what you're goingto replace it with.

Q Was changing the -- intervening on the yen reallyagainst U.S. policy ordinarily?

THE PRESIDENT: No -- well, not necessarily, but it'ssomething we've done rarely. But, as I said, I talked to the PrimeMinister last night, and I've been working with him now for more thana year to deal with these difficulties. Keep in mind, Japan has beenin a period of very low growth for several years now, and I'mconvinced that he has been methodically trying to deal with thesechallenges. And last night he said some things which made it clearthat he was prepared to take some bold strokes, bold steps to try tomove the Japanese economy forward, restore growth and opportunity.And I believe in that context we should be supportive.

You never know whether what you do in all these thingswill make a large difference, but I wanted to send a clear signal tothe markets that the United States supports Japanese reform, believesthe Japanese people can pull out of this economic slump and restoregrowth and opportunity. And it's very important to all of Asia.It's a very big deal to all of Asia.

So I think we did the right thing. I don't have anyquestion about that.

Q Mr. President, your alternative would be to -- pullthe tobacco bill, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: They need to pass it. They need to passit. I know the tobacco companies have been running these ads allover America and I know that the Cancer Society and the HeartAssociation and the Lung Association doesn't have the money to runads against them. But down deep inside, the American people knowwhat the truth is. The Senate needs to pass this bill. That willput pressure on the House to pass the bill. Then we'll go toCongress and fashion the best possible bill we can that we can passin both Houses and do something good for America this year. That'swhat we ought to do.

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What's New - June 1998

National Ocean Conference

Equal Pay Act

Family Re-Union Conference

Portland State University Commencement

Ocean Conference

South Asia

Thurston High School Remarks

National Ocean Conference

Presidential Scholars

Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act

ISTEA Legislation

SAVER Summit

Speaks to DLC

National Ocean Conference, Plenary Session

New Efforts to Protect Our Oceans

The Opening of the Thoreau Institute

Oceans Announcements

Fight Against Drugs

Welcoming Ceremony in Xian, China

Korean President Kim Dae Jung

Roundtable Discussion in Xiahe, China

President Kim of South Korea

Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act

21st Century Community Learning Grants

Pritzker Awards Dinner

Nominations of Bill Richardson and Richard Holbrooke

Remarks to Religious Leaders

Family Re-Union Media Advisory

Meeting With Economic Advisors

Conference Address

A Fair, Accurate Census

New Data On Teen Smoking

Roundtable Discussion Remarks

Landmark Agricultural Bill

Conference Remarks

Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Champions

Family Re-Union Press Release

U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century

Roundtable Discussion in Shanghai, China.

MIT Commencement Address

Commencement Address to MIT Graduates