Radio Address by President Clinton to the Nation (10/21/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Lowell, Massachusetts)
Saturday, October 21, 2000


          THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  By any standard, this fall is
something special.  Today, New York hosts the first game of the first
"subway series" since 1956.  We're about to hold the first presidential
election of the 21st century.  And this school year features the biggest
class of students in our nation's history.

          Fall is also budget season in Washington -- time for Congress to
put everything else aside, step up to the plate, and complete its work on
behalf of our students and all Americans.  Instead, we're three weeks into
the new fiscal year and still running the government on a week-by-week
basis.  And still fighting to get a budget that reflects the priorities of
our American people.  Today I want to talk about what's at stake, starting
with education -- because in the last days of this Congress, our first
priority should be the future of our children.

          Al Gore and I came to Washington almost eight years ago now with
a strategy of fiscal discipline, targeted tax cuts, and investment in our
people.  Our determination to live within our means has brought our country
out of an age of deficits into an era of surpluses.  We're actually paying
down the national debt, and government spending is the smallest percentage
of national income it's been since 1966.  And our education strategy --
higher standards, accountability, greater investment, is being embraced all
across America and it's working.

          The dropout rate is down, test scores and graduation rates are
up.  The percentage of kids going on to college is at an all-time high,
thanks in part to the largest expansion of college aid since the GI Bill.

          This past February, I submitted a balanced budget that would
sustain America's prosperity by maintaining our fiscal discipline and
investing in our future.  The budget strengthens Social Security and
Medicare, adds a Medicare prescription drug benefit, keeps us on track to
pay down the debt by 2012, and invests in education, technology, the
environment and health care.

          Unfortunately, while we've been working to save money for our
nation's future, the Republican majority in Congress has been focusing on
ways to spend it -- loading up the spending bills with record amounts of
pork-barrel spending.  So, again this week, I'm asking Congress to bring
its priorities back into line with the nation's.  And there's no better
place to start than education.

          We can't lift our children up in schools that are simply falling
down.  Congress should approve my plan to help communities build new
schools and repair old ones.  Every day they fail to act is another day too
many children attend class in drafty trailers, crowded classrooms and
crumbling buildings.  There's a bipartisan majority ready to pass tax
credits for school construction; it's time for the Republican leadership to
stop blocking it, schedule a vote and let it happen.

          We've also made a bipartisan commitment to hire 100,000 new
teachers to reduce class sizes in the early grades, and  proposed an
initiative to improve teacher quality.  We've hired about 30,000 of those
teachers.  But now, the Republican leadership is trying to back out of our
commitment.  Instead, we should follow through.  I've also proposed
doubling our funding for after-school programs to cover 1.6 million

          We know after-school programs result in higher test scores, lower
juvenile crime rates and fewer drug problems.  We ought to do it.  And
we're still waiting for Congress to show that it supports holding our
schools accountable by providing the resources to turn around failing
schools or shut them down and reopen them under new management.

          Congress also needs to finish the rest of its work, passing a
real patients' bill of rights, strong hate crimes legislation, and a raise
in the minimum wage.  Now, in all these cases, there is a bipartisan
majority in both Houses for these bills.  But the majority party's
leadership again is blocking progress.  Congress should also act to ensure
equal treatment for immigrants and equal pay for women.  And it should pass
the right kind of tax cuts for middle-class Americans -- targeted tax cuts
that preserve our fiscal discipline, allow us to get this country out of
debt, and still give Americans tax relief to save for retirement and meet
the costs of long-term care, child care and college tuition; and tax
credits that support investments in our inner cities, rural areas, Native
American reservations and other places our prosperity has not yet reached.

          These priorities deserve attention now, not later.  If I were a
member of Congress, I wouldn't want to go home and ask people to send me
back to Washington so I could finish last year's work next year.

          Yesterday I signed a fourth continuing resolution -- to keep the
government open until next Wednesday.  But I told the leadership that if
they fail to meet yet another deadline, we're going to have to take the
continuing resolutions one day at a time until we get the job done.  So I
urge them:   Come back next week and let's finish work on the budget, so
the benefits can start flowing to students and families who need them most.

          Thanks for listening.


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