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January 5, 1998

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Optimism in the New Year

When I came to office I was trying to prove America could work again... I wanted to get the economy going; I wanted to deal with social problems like crime and welfare; and I wanted to pull the country together... Now, I want to see us spend the next three years fleshing out that agenda and working on the nation's long-term challenges... On this occasion, at the end of this year, I think our country is in better shape than it was five years ago, and I believe three years from now, if we continue to work on this agenda, we'll be in better shape still.

President Clinton,
December 16, 1997


A year of action and accomplishment. In 1997, the first year of President Clinton's second term, significant progress was made in his agenda to prepare America for the 21st century and make the country work for all our people. Today, America enjoys the strongest economy in a generation. Unemployment and crime are at their lowest levels in 24 years. Welfare rolls have dropped by a record 3.8 million people. And the deficit has been cut by 90 percent. Seizing this unique moment of peace and prosperity, President Clinton will lead the nation in 1998 to address the long-term issues that continue to challenge America's working families.

Momentum for greater success. The accomplishments of the past year create a solid foundation and strong momentum for this continued work. The Clinton Administration enters 1998 with these historic achievements:

  • The first balanced budget in a generation.
  • A middle class tax cut for 27 million working families with children.
  • Crime has gone down for the last 5 years in a row.
  • The largest investment in education in 30 years, including support for Head Start, America Reads, charter schools, technology in classrooms.
  • The largest increase in college scholarships, Pell Grants, in 20 years.
  • The largest investment in children's health care since 1965, ensuring up to 5 million children.
  • The expansion of NATO.
  • The toughest new air quality standards in a generation.
The issues and work that lie ahead will be approached with the same determination and commitment that made so much possible in the past year.

Building an America for the future. In 1998 President Clinton will continue his work to build an America for the 21st century. The President will lead with the belief that government's role is to help provide opportunity for those who are willing to take responsibility, and to marshal the forces of all sectors of society to work together to meet our challenges, to:

  • Continue the growth of our economy and implement a balanced budget.
  • Strengthen families and communities and provide safe neighborhoods for all children.
  • Invest in our children's education and expand educational opportunity.
  • Keep America engaged as the world's strongest force for peace, freedom and prosperity.
  • Work to build One America with the President's Initiative on Race and citizen service.

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