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February 12, 1998

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"Together, we have shaped a new kind of government for a new era -- leaner, more flexible, a catalyst for new ideas. But most of all, a government that gives the American people the tools they need to make the most of their own lives. The smallest government in 35 years, but a more progressive one. A smaller government, but a stronger nation."

President Bill Clinton
February 12, 1998

Today, President Clinton meets with Congressional Democrats to outline legislative goals for strengthening American families. This agenda presents a legislative road map to maintaining the strong economy we currently enjoy and addressing the concerns families wrestle with every day: preparing for retirement, educating children and raising them in safe neighborhoods, and having access to quality health care.

The legislative agenda presented today addresses real problems affecting Americans. It commits to:

Balancing The Budget And Saving Social Security First. By passing a balanced budget three years ahead of schedule, we will be able to eliminate the deficit and pay for every proposal in the President's budget while reserving the surplus until we strengthen Social Security.

Reducing Average Class Size And Modernizing Schools. The President's proposed budget reduces average class size to 18 students per classroom for the first through third grades by helping local communities hire 100,000 new teachers with certified skills to teach basic reading and math.

Establishing A Patients' Bill Of Rights. The President is calling for legislation that assures patients high quality health care by guaranteeing important protections such as access to the specialists they need, coverage for emergency services, an internal and external appeals process, confidentiality, and patient participation in medical decisions.

Extending Medicare. The President will work to give one of America's most vulnerable and difficult to insure populations new options for obtaining adequate, affordable health care coverage. The President's targeted Medicare proposal extends new security to millions of people by enabling Americans ages 62 to 65 and displaced workers ages 55 to 65 to purchase Medicare health coverage and enabling retired workers ages 55 to 65 to buy coverage if their former employer drops their coverage.

Raising The Minimum Wage. Recognizing the value of work, the President is calling for an increase in the minimum wage to give millions of hardworking Americans a pay raise.

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