Fact Sheet: President Clinton Calls on Congress to Act on America's Education Priorities (10/19/00)
                             October 19, 2000

Today, President Clinton will join Senator Daschle, Congressman Gephardt
and the Democratic Caucus to call on Congress to complete its work and send
him a fiscally responsible budget that pays down the debt while investing
in America?s key priorities -- especially the education of our children.
The President will challenge the Republican leadership to not leave town
without producing a responsible budget that offers tax cuts targeted toward
working families -- such as our school construction initiative to help
communities modernize crumbling schools -- and invests in key education
initiatives, such as after-school programs; reducing class size,
strengthening accountability for fixing failing schools; and helping put a
qualified teacher in every classroom.  The President also will call on the
Republican leadership to act on other important priorities before
adjourning for the year ? including an affordable prescription drug benefit
for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients? Bill of Rights, a
minimum wage increase, hate crimes legislation and a proposal to increase
fairness in immigration laws.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore sent Congress a balanced and
fiscally responsible budget that makes investments in key education
initiatives.  Three weeks into the fiscal year, the President has signed
three continuing resolutions and Congress has yet to complete and send to
the President 8 of 13 spending bills.  In particular, Congress still has
not completed an education budget, and is now neglecting America?s
priorities and loading spending bills with election-year, earmarked
projects for special interests.  The Republican budget provides:

?    No guaranteed funding for urgent school repairs, $1.3 billion below
the President?s budget.  President Clinton?s plan would help school
districts repair roofs, heating and cooling systems, and electrical wiring.
The Republican plan could deny much-needed renovations to up to 5,000

?    $0 in new School Modernization Bonds, while the President?s budget
would support $25 billion in bonds.  The Republican plan would prevent the
modernization and construction of 6,000 schools;

?    $600 million for after-school programs, $400 million below the
President?s budget.  The Republican plan would deny safe extended learning
environments to 1.6 million children by supporting 3,100 fewer centers in
900 fewer communities than the President?s budget would;

?    No guaranteed funding for class-size reduction, $1.75 billion below
the President?s budget.  The Republican plan fails to ensure that school
districts can hire 20,000 new teachers and support the 29,000 teachers
already hired under the Class Size Reduction initiative, potentially
denying smaller classes to 2.9 million children;

?    $473 million to improve teacher quality, $527 million below the
President?s budget.  The Republican plan would fail to fully fund support
for teacher professional development, recruitment, and rewards, and would
not help ensure a qualified teacher in every classroom;

?    $0 for the Accountability Fund, $250 million below the President?s
budget.  The Republican plan would deny resources to states and school
districts to turn around low-performing schools and hold them accountable
for results.

Congressional leaders have also failed to pass targeted tax cuts for
working families, an affordable prescription drug benefit for all Medicare
beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients? Bill of Rights, hate crimes
legislation, or reform of our immigration laws.  Congress also has made
virtually no progress toward passing a minimum wage increase, despite a
commitment from Speaker Hastert to do so.  President Clinton will call on
Congress to complete work on major priorities before adjourning to return
to their districts to campaign for re-election, including:

?    Pass Targeted Tax Cuts: President Clinton?s package of responsible,
targeted tax cuts provides more tax relief for middle-class families at
less than half the cost of Republican plans.  It would allow America to
maintain our fiscal discipline, strengthen the solvency of Social Security
and Medicare, invest in key priorities, and pay off the debt by at least
2012.  President Clinton?s fiscally responsible plan provides tax cuts that
reward retirement savings, expand college opportunity, and help families
with the rising costs of long-term care. To ensure that all Americans share
in the nation?s unprecedented prosperity, the President has proposed New
Markets tax credits to spur investment in under-served communities across
the nation.

?    Increase the Minimum Wage. At a time when we are experiencing the
longest economic expansion in history, the proposed $1 increase before
Congress would merely return the real value of the minimum wage to the
level it was in 1982.  This small raise would help more than 10 million
workers, including millions of women and hard-pressed families, make ends
meet.  Full-time workers would receive an annual raise of about $2,000 a
year -- enough to pay for nearly 7 months of groceries or 5 months of rent.

?    Provide an Affordable, Accessible Prescription Drug Benefit Option for
All Medicare Beneficiaries. Three out of five Medicare beneficiaries have
inadequate prescription drug coverage or none at all.  In the context of
broader reform that ensures that Medicare revenues are only used for
Medicare, the President has proposed a voluntary, affordable Medicare
prescription drug benefit for all beneficiaries.  Beginning in 2002, it
would provide prescription drug coverage that would have a zero deductible
and cover half of all prescription drug costs up to $5,000 when fully
phased in.  It would limit all out-of-pocket medication costs to $4,000.
This optional benefit would also provide negotiated discounts that would
guarantee that Medicare beneficiaries no longer pay the highest prices in
the marketplace.  And, it would explicitly pay for the cost of prescription
drugs in managed care plans beginning next year to ensure that they
continue to offer this important benefit. Beneficiaries would be guaranteed
access to all medically necessary drugs and their community pharmacies.

?    Enact A Meaningful Patients? Bill Of Rights. The majority of the
United States Senate supports passing a strong, enforceable Patients? Bill
of Rights, similar to the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients? Bill of
Rights.  Unfortunately, the Republican leadership continues to support an
approach that leaves over 135 million people without protections and does
not assure that plans are held accountable when they make decisions that
harm patients.  The Norwood-Dingell legislation, endorsed by over 200
health care providers and consumer advocacy groups, is the only bipartisan
proposal currently being considered that protects state-based
accountability provisions already available under current law and includes:
protections for all Americans in all health plans; protections for patients
accessing emergency room care from financial sanctions; guarantees that
assure access to necessary and accessible health care specialists; and
meaningful enforcement mechanisms that ensure recourse for patients who
have been harmed as a result of a health plan?s actions.

?    Pass Legislation to Prevent Hate Crimes.  Congress should send the
President meaningful hate crimes legislation to sign into law immediately.
This legislation would enhance the Federal government's ability to
prosecute violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national
origin and would authorize Federal prosecution of crimes motivated by
sexual orientation, gender, or disability.  There have been strong
bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate on hate crimes.  In June, the
Senate voted 57-42 in favor of adding hate crimes legislation to the
Defense Department authorization bill.  In September, the House voted
232-192 to retain hate crimes as part of that bill.  With these strong
bipartisan votes there is no justification for failing to pass hate crimes
legislation this year.

?    Reforming Immigration Law.  People who have been living in the United
States for many years and have developed strong ties to their communities
deserve the opportunity to normalize their immigration status, and families
should be allowed to stay together while an adjustment of status
application is pending.  Congress should address these injustices in the
immigration system by updating the registry date, amending the Nicaraguan
Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to ensure fairness for
Central Americans, Haitians and Liberians, and reinstating Sec. 245(i).
The President will insist that Congress enact these common-sense measures,
supported by both business and fundamental fairness, this year.


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