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March 3, 1999

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We have a duty to use this time to strengthen our nation for the challenges ahead -- not to coast, not to bask in our prosperity, but to meet our obligations to the next generation. I am very proud that we stand together behind an agenda to do that.

President Bill Clinton
March 2, 1999

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore will meet with leaders from Congress to outline an agenda that will keep America strong as we enter the 21st Century and make crucial investments to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, ensure our children receive a world-class education, protect Americans in their health care decisions, and secure our environment for generations to come.

Investing The Surplus For The Future. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are committed to using this time of fiscal prosperity to secure our future. Rather than consuming the surplus for today, the Clinton-Gore Administration proposes to reserve nearly 90 percent of the projected budget surpluses -- almost $4 trillion -- over the next 15 years to help America meet our long-term retirement challenge. President Clinton proposes to reserve 62 percent of the surpluses for Social Security, 15 percent for Medicare, and 12 percent for USA Accounts. By practicing fiscal responsibility, the Administration's proposal will pay down nearly $3 trillion of our national debt. As a result, the publicly held debt will be cut by more than two-thirds and, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), will fall from 44 percent today to 7.1 percent in 2014 -- its lowest level since 1917.

A Presidential Commitment To Strengthening Our Nation's Schools. Today's announcement is part of the President's comprehensive plan to provide our children with a world-class education for the 21st Century. The President's education agenda calls for:

  • Strengthening accountability by ensuring that states and school districts end social promotion, fix failing schools, ensure that teachers are qualified to teach the subjects they are assigned to teach, issue school report cards and adopt discipline policies;
  • Reducing class size in the early grades by hiring 100,000 well-prepared teachers;
  • Building and modernizing up to 6,000 public schools nationwide and tripling funding for after-school programs.

Enabling Families To Succeed At Home And At Work. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are working to ensure that health care protection is strong and child and after school care are affordable and available:

  • Protecting Patients through a Strong, Enforceable Patients Bill of Rights: The Patients' Bill of Rights should contain a range of protections, including guaranteed access to needed specialists, access to emergency room services, access to a meaningful independent and external appeals process, and the right to be compensated when a health plan's decisions lead to injury or death;
  • Child Care: The President's plan would improve the accessibility and safety of child care through expansion of the child care and development block grants to help working families and improve quality by increased training and support services for care givers;
  • After School Care: The President is calling for an expansion in after school care to enable 1.1 million children each year to participate in after school and summer school programs that give them additional learning time and keep them safe and off the streets.

Strengthening Our Communities For The 21st Century. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are calling for initiatives to keep our communities safe, secure, and livable in the 21st Century:

  • Recognizing the value of work and supporting working families by giving millions of Americans a pay raise by increasing the minimum wage;
  • Putting up to 50,000 more police on the street and better technology in their hands to fight crime;
  • Ensuring clean air and water, safe food, continued toxic waste clean up and lasting protection for our national parks and other natural treasures;
  • Provide new tools and resources to help communities across America reduce traffic congestion, preserve green space, and grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth.

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