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August 5, 1998: A Domestic Agenda for the 21st Century

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Because of the progress we have made, America is in a golden moment of prosperity. Now we must take the lead in meeting America's big challenges as we approach the 21st Century.

President Bill Clinton
August 5, 1998

Today, President Clinton addresses the House Democratic Caucus on the legislative issues that remain during the last weeks of the second session of the 105th Congress. The President will discuss his domestic agenda: Saving Social Security First, A Patients' Bill of Rights, Education and Safe Schools, and Protecting the Environment.

Saving Social Security First. Five years ago today, Congress passed, without a single Republican vote, the President's 1993 Economic plan, which cut the deficit, helping to lower interest rates, raise business investment, and create a cycle of economic activity that has helped turn a $290 billion deficit in 1992 to the first budget surplus in 30 years. The President's first priority is to reserve every penny of that surplus until Social Security is reformed and strengthened. The President supports targeted tax cuts, which are fully paid for and do not spend any of the surplus, but would oppose any tax reductions that spend surplus dollars until Social Security is put on a sound footing.

A Patients' Bill Of Rights. President Clinton urges Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights that includes:

  • Guaranteed Access To Needed Health Care Specialists;
  • Access To Emergency Room Services When And Where The Need Arises;
  • Continuity Of Care Protections To Assure Patient Care will not change abruptly if their provider is dropped;
  • Access To A Timely Internal And Independent External Appeals Process for consumers to resolve their differences with their health plans;
  • A Limit On Financial Incentives To Doctors;
  • Assuring That Doctors And Patients Can Openly Discuss Treatment Options;
  • Assuring that Women Have Direct Access To An OB-GYN;
  • An Enforcement Mechanism That Ensures Recourse For Patients who have been maimed or die as a result of health plan actions.

Investing In Education, Investing In Our Children. The President is calling on Congress to support his proposals to hire 100,000 new teachers, reduce class sizes, and build or modernize 5,000 schools nationwide. The President strongly opposes House Republican legislation that would reduce the access youth have to summer jobs, tutors, and after-school programs, and is asking Congress to support his efforts to improve our educational system so our children are taught in a world-class learning environment that gives them every opportunity to gain the knowledge they will need in the 21st Century.

The President Stands Firm For America's Working Families. Congress has yet to send a single Appropriations Bill to the President for his signature. The President has said that:

  • He will not sign the Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill as currently drafted, since it eliminates the summer jobs program and dramatically reduces funding for important programs, including, Head Start, Safe and Drug Free School Zone Coordinators, and the America Reads Challenge.
  • He will not sign the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations Bill if full funding is not given for the Decennial Census without any restrictions on the use of scientific, statistical methods. These methods would provide the most accurate census, and virtually eliminate the large undercounting of minorities, children and other groups that occurred in 1990.
  • We must continue our progress on environmental issues, cleaning our air and water, protecting our families from toxic material, preserving our public lands, and protecting our planet from global warming. Republican legislative riders are nothing but backdoor assaults on the environmental protections Americans hold so dear.

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