Celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month May 25, 2000

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 25, 2000

Celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
May 25, 2000

Historic Economic Gains. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April, the lowest in more than three decades. In 1998, the median household income for Asian Pacific Americans was $46,600 -- higher than the national median income. The poverty rate of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders declined from 15.3 percent in 1993 to 12.5 percent in 1998.

Tax Cuts For Working Families. President Clinton'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 1998, the EITC lifted 4.3 million Americans out of poverty. This year the President has proposed expanding the EITC to provide tax relief to 6.8 million additional working families.

Over Three and a Half Times the Number of Small Business Loans. Between 1993 and 2000 the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved more than 30,200 loans to Asian Pacific American entrepreneurs under the 7(a), 504, and Microloan programs [as of 3/17/00]. In 1999 alone, the SBA granted 5,655 loans worth over $2.1 billion to Asian Pacific American businesses, more than three and a half times the number of loans granted in 1992.

Expanding Exports and Creating Jobs. Since President Clinton took office, the Administration has concluded nearly 300 new trade agreements. This export expansion has accounted for more than one-quarter of the record U.S. economic growth between 1992 and 1998 and has helped created jobs that, on average, pay 15 percent more than non-export related jobs. Thirty percent of U.S. exports go to Asia; this country exports more goods to Asia than Europe.

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 20 rural ECs that are creating new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. In the FY01 budget, the expanded wage credits and tax incentives will extend economic growth in the existing urban and rural Empowerment Zones and support the proposed third round of 10 new Empowerment Zones.

Encouraging Investment in Underserved Communities with New Markets. President Clinton's New Markets Initiative is bringing economic development and renewal to communities that have not benefited from the soaring economy. This year, the President is proposing to more than double the New Markets tax credit to spur $15 billion in new community development investment in economically distressed areas.

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.

Restoring Benefits to Legal Immigrants. The President believes that legal immigrants should have the same economic opportunity, and bear the same responsibility, as other members of society. In the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Agricultural Research Act of 1998, the President fought for and succeeded in reversing unfair cuts in benefits to legal immigrants. The FY 2001 budget builds on the Administration's progress of restoring these important benefits by providing $2.5 billion over five years to allow states to provide health care to certain legal immigrant children and their families and pregnant women, to restore SSI eligibility to legal immigrants with disabilities, and to restore Food Stamp eligibility to certain elderly immigrants and to legal immigrants in families with eligible children.

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. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $5 million for One America dialogues to promote and facilitate discussions on racial diversity and understanding.

An Administration that Looks Like America. The President has appointed the most diverse Cabinet and Administration in history, appointing more Asian Pacific Americans to serve in his administration and on the federal bench than any other president. Asian Pacific Americans make up 2 percent of the top positions requiring Senate confirmation, 3 percent of Presidential Appointments, 3 percent of the Schedule C positions, and 3 percent of the Non-career Senior Executive Service Positions.

Improving the Quality of Life of Asian Pacific Americans. In June 1999, the Clinton-Gore Administration issued the first ever Executive Order dedicated to improving the lives of Asian Pacific Americans. The Executive Order established the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and an interagency working group called the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to advise the President on ways to better serve Asian Pacific Americans by increasing their participation in Federal programs. On May 4, 2000 the President named the 15 members of The President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which will advise the President on the development, monitoring, and coordination of Federal efforts to improve the quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Commission will study ways to increase public sector, private sector, and community involvement in improving the health and well being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and increase their participation in Federal programs where they may be under served. In addition, the Commission will study ways to foster research and data collection on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including information on public health.

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 2.3 percent of Asian Pacific 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.

Proposing the Largest Head Start Expansion in History. Since 1993, this Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90 percent. The President's FY01 budget increases funding for Head Start by $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.

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.

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. More than 3 percent of the children served by Title I are Asian 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. This year, the President is proposing to double funding to turn around the nation's failing schools to ensure all children receive a quality education.

Helping to Assist Schools with More Foreign Language Programs. The Administration has restructured Foreign Language Assistance Programs to assist local schools in establishing programs in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The Clinton-Gore Administration strongly opposes legislation to make English the official language of the United States, which would have jeopardized services and programs for non-English speakers and jeopardized assistance to the tens of thousands of new immigrants and others seeking to learn English as adults.

Fostering Diversity. The White House awarded Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring Grants to both individual mentors and institutions that foster mentoring, helping to ensure that America's future scientists and engineers come from all of the nation's racial and cultural segments of the population.

Expanding Work Study and Pell Grants. One million students will be able to work their way through college because of the President's expansion of the Work Study Program, and nearly four million students will receive a Pell Grant of up to $3,300, the largest maximum award ever. The maximum award has increased 43 percent under the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Extended Health Care to Millions of Children with the Children's Health Insurance Program. In the Balanced Budget 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. 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 allow States to cover parents in the same plan as their children.

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 percent 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.

Raised Immunization Rates to All Time High. Since 1993, childhood immunization rates have reached all-time highs, with 90 percent or more of America's toddlers receiving the most critical doses of vaccines for children by age 2. For the most critical childhood vaccines, vaccination levels are nearly the same for preschool children of all racial and ethnic groups, narrowing a gap that was estimated to be as wide as 26 percentage points a generation ago.

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 new grants to increase community policing in high-crime and underserved neighborhoods. To help keep crime at record lows, 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 $650 million to continue this work and hire, train and equip more community police officers.

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. In April 1999, the President signed legislation designating the United States Post Office in Chino Hills, California as the "Joseph Ileto Post Office." Joseph Ileto was a Filipino American postal worker who was tragically murdered in 1998 in a hate crime.

Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement. In his FY01 budget, President Clinton and Vice President Gore 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.

Calling for Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation. The President and Vice President have called on Congress to complete work on common-sense gun legislation that includes closing the gun show loophole by requiring background checks at gun shows; requiring child safety locks for handguns sold; banning the importation of large-capacity ammunition magazines; and banning violent juveniles from owning guns for life.

More than 500,000 Felons, Fugitives and Domestic Abusers Denied Guns. Since the President signed the Brady Bill into law, more than 500,000 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 and Vice President Gore 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, and fund over 1,000 new federal, state, and local prosecutors to take dangerous gun offenders off the streets. This initiative will build on the Administration's success in cracking down on serious gun criminals: the number of federal firearms cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys increased 25%, from 4,754 in 1992 to 5,500 in 1999.

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