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"We have a rare opportunity to act today to provide for ourchildren tomorrow. If we seize this moment, we can enter the 21stCentury stronger and more united than ever."
Today, President Clinton is briefed by the four Social Security and Medicare Trustees -- Secretaries Rubin, Shalala, Herman and Social Security Commissioner Ken Apfel -- on their annual report on the future financial health of Social Security and Medicare. While the report shows improvements in the outlooks of both programs, it highlights the need for further action on Social Security and Medicare reform.
An Opportunity To Strengthen America For The 21st Century. President Clinton has led America on a course of fiscal discipline and economic growth that has helped build the strongest economy in a generation. Today, our nation has its first balanced budget in decades; 15 million new jobs have been created since 1993; our unemployment is at its lowest level in a quarter century; typical family income is up more than $2,000; and home ownership is at an historic high. The Trustee's report shows that the success of this economic strategy offers us a unique opportunity to strengthen our nation for the 21st Century by reforming Social Security and Medicare.
Medicare -- Stronger Than It Has Been In Over A Decade. The Trustees report shows that the Balanced Budget Act, signed into law by President Clinton last year, significantly improved the financial future of Medicare. The law's unprecedented reforms extended new preventive benefits and provided more health choices for Medicare beneficiaries, while cutting the Medicare deficit in half and extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund for a decade. President Clinton is now waiting for recommendations from a bipartisan commission on further steps that can be taken to strengthen Medicare for the next century.
Social Security -- Improving Its Outlook. The Trustees report shows that the strength of the American economy has extended the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund for three years, from 2029 to 2032. While an improvement, this projection underscores the challenge America faces to make certain that Social Security remains as strong for our children as it has been for our parents.
Social Security First. President Clinton is committed to strengthening Social Security over the next two years. He is calling for projected budget surpluses to be reserved pending Social Security reform. The President is also calling for 1998 to be used as a year to educate all Americans about Social Security reform -- building public awareness of the nature and scope of the challenge, and building public consensus for solutions.
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