President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Building One America (9/16/00)
If every American really believed that we were one nation under God; if every person really believed that we are all created equal; if every person really believed that we have an obligation to try to draw closer together and to be better neighbors with others throughout the world, then all the rest of our problems would more easily melt away. And so I ask you…keep in your mind…the enormous potential you have to reach the heart and soul of America, to remind them that we must be one."
Remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus
September 20, 1999
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES:
Historic Economic Gains. The unemployment rate and poverty rate for African Americans are both at the lowest levels on record, with an average unemployment rate of 7.7% in 2000 (down from 14.2% in 1992) and a poverty rate of 26.1% in 1998 (down from 33.1% in 1993). Median household income for African Americans is up 15.1% (or $3,317) since 1993.
Tax Cuts For Working Families. President Clinton and Vice President Gore's 1993 Economic Plan provided tax cuts to 15 million hard-pressed working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The average family with two children who received the EITC received a tax cut of $1,026. In 1997, the EITC lifted 1.1 million African Americans out of poverty. This year the President and Vice President have proposed expanding the EITC to provide tax relief to 6.4 million additional working families.
Minimum Wage Increased. The President raised the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour -- directly benefiting 1.3 million African American workers. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have called for passage of an additional $1.00 an hour increase.
Creating New Tools to Help Families Move from Welfare to Work. Since enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law, millions of families have moved from welfare to work. With the President's leadership, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act included $3 billion to move long-term welfare recipients and low-income non-custodial fathers into jobs. The Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire long-term welfare recipients. The President's Access to Jobs initiative helps communities design innovative transportation solutions, such as van services, to help former welfare recipients and other low-income workers get to work, and this year the President is proposing $150 million for this initiative, double last year's level. President Clinton has secured 110,000 new housing vouchers in the last two years to help welfare recipients and hard-pressed working families move closer to job opportunities, and this year he is proposing $690 million for 120,000 new housing vouchers.
More than Three Times the Number of Small Business Loans. Between 1993 and March 2000 the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved more than 16,100 loans to African American entrepreneurs under the 7(a), 504, and Microloan programs. In 1999 alone, the SBA granted 2,456 loans, worth $386.3 million, to African American small business owners -- more than three times the number of loans granted in 1992.
Expanding Investment in Urban and Rural Areas. Spurring economic development in distressed communities, the Clinton-Gore Administration has created 31 Empowerment Zones and more than 100 Enterprise Communities, including 50 rural ECs, which are creating new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. This would have a dramatic effect in the areas with high unemployment, weak economies, shortages of affordable housing and other problems. The President won $70 million in funding for Rural and Urban Empowerment Zones in FY 2000 -- after Congress initially provided no funding. On July 25, 2000, the House passed a bipartisan agreement that would extend and expand the incentives in the existing EZs, as well as create nine new Round 3 Empowerment Zones. The Administration's agreement with Speaker Hastert also includes a first-time commitment for additional funding for Round 2 EZs
Encouraging Investment in Underserved Communities with the New Markets Initiative. President Clinton's New Markets Initiative will help bring economic development and renewal to communities that have not benefited from the soaring economy by spurring more than $22 billion in new investment in urban and rural areas. On July 25, 2000, the House of Representatives passed the President's New Markets Initiative in a historic bipartisan agreement that included extension and expansion of Empowerment Zones, and an increase in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. The President has taken three New Markets Tours of underserved communities, which have helped generate more than $1 billion in private sector investment commitments.
Closing the Digital Divide. Increasing access to technology and bridging the growing "digital divide" has been a top priority for President Clinton and Vice President Gore. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY01 budget includes a comprehensive initiative to bridge the digital divide, broaden access to computers and training, and create new opportunity for all Americans.
BUILDING ONE AMERICA:
President's One America Initiative. President Clinton has led the nation in an effort to become One America: a place where we respect others' differences and embrace the common values that unite us. The President has been actively involved in public outreach efforts to engage Americans in this historic effort, and followed up on the work of the Initiative on Race by appointing Robert B. (Ben) Johnson as Assistant to the President and Director of the new White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America. The office is working to ensure that we have a coordinated strategy to close the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities and the underserved in this country, and build the One America we want for all of our nation's children.
An Administration that Looks Like America. The President has appointed the most diverse Cabinet and Administration in history, with twice as many African American appointees as any previous administration. African Americans make up 12 percent of the Clinton Cabinet, 14 percent of Administration appointees, and 17 percent of Federal bench nominations. The President has appointed more African Americans to federal judgeships (62 total) than were appointed during the last sixteen years combined (57 total).
Working to Ensure a Fair, Accurate and Complete Census. The Clinton-Gore Administration is working to ensure that Census 2000 is as accurate as possible using the best, most up-to-date scientific methods as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The 1990 Census had a net undercount of 4 million and 4.4 percent of African Americans were not counted. A fair and accurate Census is a fundamental part of a representative democracy and is the basis for providing equality under the law. The President and Vice President are determined to have a fair and full count in 2000, and in February 2000 the President announced new steps to encourage all Americans to participate in Census 2000. The President launched a Census in the Schools Challenge, to ensure that children are counted and educate both students and parents; reiterated that Census information is strictly confidential; and directed federal agencies to step up activities in support of the Census.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION:
Established the First African American Advisory Board. The President and Vice President established the President's Board of Advisors for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to strengthen the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide quality education and advised on ways to increase the private sector's role in these institutions. In addition, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education has been vigilant in its efforts to expand college opportunities through enforcement to eliminate vestiges of discrimination in formerly racially segregated higher education systems. The Office for Civil Rights at Education works to ensure minority student access to higher education, impacting both HBCUs and historically white universities.
Increased Funding and Grants for HBCUs. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have increased funding for Historically Black Colleges by over $250 million between FY92 and FY98 -- an increase of nearly 25 percent. Today, America's 105 HBCUs are educating almost 300,000 African American students.
Record Enrollment. 66 percent of high school graduates went on to college in 1998, compared to 60 percent in 1990. The percentage of African American high school graduates enrolling in college increased from 48 percent in 1992 to 59 percent in 1997 -- the highest number ever.
Proposing the Largest Head Start Expansion in History. Since 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent. The President's FY01 budget increases funding for Head Start by another $1 billion – the largest increase ever proposed for the program – to provide Head Start and Early Head Start to approximately 950,000 children. This funding will bring within reach the President's goal of serving one million children in 2002 and builds the foundation for the long-term goal of universal pre-school.
Turning Around Failing Schools. 11 million low-income students now benefit from Title I- Aid to Disadvantaged Students, and all our children are benefiting from higher expectations and a challenging curriculum geared to higher standards. In the 1996-97 school year, 28 percent of the children benefiting from the Title I program were African American. Last year the President won $134 million for an accountability fund to help turn around the worst performing schools and hold them accountable for results through such measures as overhauling curriculum, improving staffing, or even closing schools and reopening them as charter schools. This year, the President and Vice President are proposing to double funding for this fund to turn around the nation's failing schools to ensure all children receive a quality education.
Class Size Reduction Initiative. Last year President Clinton and Vice President Gore won a second installment of $1.3 billion for the President's plan to help school districts hire and train an additional 100,000 well-prepared teachers to reduce class size in the early grades. Already, 29,000 teachers have been hired through this initiative. This year, the FY01 budget includes $1.75 billion for this program, an $450 million increase – enough to fund about 49,000 teachers.
New Plan to Place Quality Teachers in Underserved Areas. This year, the President and Vice President proposed a new $1 billion teacher quality plan to recruit, train and reward good teachers. The Teaching to High Standards Initiative includes a Hometown Teacher Recruitment program to empower high-poverty school districts to develop programs to recruit homegrown teachers to address the shortage of qualified teachers. It also includes $50 million for Teacher Quality Rewards, which will reward school districts that have made exceptional progress in reducing the number of uncertified teachers and teachers teaching outside their subject area.
Established the GEAR-UP Mentoring Program for Middle School Children. The President and Vice President created and expanded GEAR-UP, a mentoring initiative, to help over 750,000 low-income middle school children finish school and prepare for college. This year the President has proposed a 62.5 percent increase to serve 1.4 million students. On September 12, 2000, President Clinton released 80 new GEAR UP grants totaling $46 million.
New Tax Incentives to Make College More Affordable. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have proposed the College Opportunity Tax Cut, which would give families the option of taking a tax deduction or claiming a 28 percent credit for tuition and fees to pay for higher education. When fully phased in, this proposal would provide up to $2,800 in tax relief annually to help American families pay for college.
Helping Students Finish College. This year, the President and Vice President proposed new College Completion Challenge Grants to help reduce the college drop-out rate, with pre-freshman summer programs, support services and increased grant aid to students. This $35 million initiative will improve the chances of success for nearly 18,000 students. Currently, 29 percent of African Americans drop out of college after less than one year, compared to 18 percent of whites.
Dual Degree Programs for Minority-Serving Institutions. The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed a new program to increase opportunities for students at minority-serving institutions that offer four-year degrees. Students would receive two degrees within five years: one from a minority-serving institution, and one from a partner institution in a field in which minorities are underrepresented. This new $40 million program will serve an estimated 3,000 students.
IMPROVING OUR NATION'S HEALTH:
Extended Health Care to Millions of Children with the Children's Health Insurance Program. In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, President Clinton won $24 billion to provide health care coverage to up to five million uninsured children. In October 1999 the President announced new outreach efforts to enroll millions of eligible, uninsured children. African American children make up 25 percent of all uninsured children -- more than twice their percentage of the overall population. To reach this vulnerable population, the Administration and states have made special efforts to advertise the availability of the program and provide enrollment materials printed in Spanish. This year, the budget includes several of Vice President Gore's proposals to accelerate enrollment of children in CHIP. The President and Vice President are also proposing a new FamilyCare program, which would give States the option to cover parents in the same plan as their children.
New Initiative to Expand Health Coverage to Uninsured Americans. This year, the President and Vice President have proposed a 10-year, $110 billion initiative that would dramatically improve the affordability of and access to health insurance. The proposal would expand coverage to at least 5 million uninsured Americans and expand access to millions more.
Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by 2010. President Clinton's initiative will help eliminate racial disparities in six key health areas: infant mortality, diabetes, cancer screening and management, heart disease, AIDS and immunizations. President Clinton and Vice President Gore won a 200% increase for this initiative in FY00, and this year they have proposed $35 million in funding to continue the effort.
Providing Access to Health Care Services for Uninsured Workers. Last year, the President proposed and won $25 million in funding for a program to coordinate systems of care, increase the number of services delivered and establish an accountability system to assure adequate patient care for the uninsured and low-income. This year, the President has proposed funding this initiative at $125 million, representing a substantial down payment on his plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years.
Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Minority Community. Minority communities make up the fastest growing portion of the HIV/AIDS caseload. Last year, the President won a $210 million investment -- a 45 percent increase -- to improve prevention efforts in high-risk communities and expand access to new HIV therapies. This year's budget continues that investment.
MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER:
Putting 100,000 More Police on the Streets. In 1999, ahead of schedule and under budget, the Clinton-Gore Administration met its commitment to fund an additional 100,000 police officers for our communities. As a part of the COPS Program, the President announced a distressed neighborhood grant program to increase community policing in high-crime and underserved neighborhoods. To help keep crime at record lows, in fall 1999, the President won funding for the first installment toward his goal to hire up to 50,000 more officers by 2005. This year, the Clinton-Gore budget includes over $1 billion to continue the successful COPS initiative to hire more officers, hire new community prosecutors, give police the tools and technology they need to fight crime, and to fund community-wide crime fighting efforts.
Preventing Hate Crimes. The President signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, which provides for longer sentences for hate crimes, and hosted the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in order to strengthen hate crimes laws. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $20 million to promote police integrity and for hate crimes training for federal, state, and local law enforcement.
Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement. In FY 2000, President Clinton won a six percent increase in funding for federal civil rights enforcement agencies including $82 million for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, a 19 percent increase. In the FY01 budget, the President and Vice President have proposed $698 million in funding for civil rights enforcement agencies, a 13 percent increase, to expand investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct) and fair housing and lending practices; help the EEOC reduce the backlog of private-sector cases; and allow HUD to take steps to reduce housing discrimination.
Working to End Racial Profiling. To help determine where and when racial profiling occurs, the President directed Cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement. The President has also supported increased resources for police integrity and ethics training and to improve the diversity of local police forces.
Working to Pass Common-Sense Gun Laws. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called on Congress to build on the success of the Brady Law by quickly passing a set of common sense gun safety measures designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives. The Administration has proposed legislation, that passed in the Senate last year with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Gore, that would require background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows; require child safety locks for every handgun sold; bar the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips; and ban the most violent juvenile offenders from owning guns for life.
More than Half a Million Felons, Fugitives and Domestic Abusers Denied Guns. Since the President signed the Brady Bill into law, more than 536,000 felons, fugitives and domestic abusers have been prevented from purchasing guns through Brady background checks. This year, the President and Vice President have proposed a State-based licensing system for handgun purchases. Under the proposal, every purchaser of a handgun must first have a valid state-issued photo license, showing that the buyer has passed a Brady background check and a gun safety training requirement.
Largest Gun Enforcement Initiative in History. This year, President Clinton has proposed the largest gun enforcement initiative ever. The initiative would provide a record $280 million to add 500 new federal ATF agents and inspectors to target violent gun criminals and illegal gun traffickers that supply guns to criminals and juveniles, and fund over 1,000 new federal, state, and local gun prosecutors to take dangerous gun offenders off the streets. This initiative would also expand the ATF's crime gun tracing program by providing tracing equipment and training to 250 additional law enforcement agencies and by creating the first nationally integrated ballistics testing system. The new ballistics testing system will help law enforcement use the unique "fingerprints" of bullets or shell casings left at the scene of a crime to identify gun criminals -- even in the absence of a firearm.
National Church Arson Task Force (NCATF). In 1995, President Clinton created NCATF to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement in the battle against arsons, bombings and attempted bombings of places of religious worship. NCATF has opened 945 investigations that have led to 431 arrests and 305 convictions so far. The NCATF arrest rate is twice that of the general arrest rate for arsons nationwide. Thanks to the successful coordination efforts of the Clinton Administration, the number of arsons and attacks on places of worship continues to decrease.