Fact Sheet: President Clinton and Vice President Gore: Putting America's Interests Before Special Interests (9/28/00)
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|               PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:                |
|                           September 28, 2000                            |
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Today,  President  Clinton  will  meet  with  the members of his Cabinet to
outline  his priorities for the remainder of this Congress.  Last February,
the  President  proposed  a  fiscally  responsible  budget  that  maintains
America?s   prosperity   by   paying  down  the  debt,  providing  targeted
middle-class  tax  cuts  and making key investments in improving education,
promoting  national  security,  protecting  the  environment,  and fighting
crime.   With  just  two  days remaining in the fiscal year, the Republican
Congress  has  completed only two of 13 spending bills and is now rejecting
America?s   priorities  and  loading  spending  bills  with  election-year,
earmarked projects for special interests. In the Cabinet meeting, President
Clinton  will  call  on  Congress  to reduce wasteful spending and focus on
maintaining  our  prosperity  by passing a fiscally responsible budget that
invests  in America?s key priorities. The President will also note the lack
of   accomplishments   of  the  latest  do-nothing  Congress  and  call  on
Congressional  leaders  to  stop  blocking passage of priorities such as an
affordable  prescription  drug  benefit  for  all Medicare beneficiaries, a
meaningful  Patients?  Bill  of  Rights,  a  minimum wage increase and hate
crimes legislation.

Republican Congressional leaders promised two weeks ago to make progress on
America?s  priorities,  they have failed to pass an affordable prescription
drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients? Bill of
Rights,  or  hate  crimes legislation.  Congress also has made virtually no
progress  over  the  last  month  toward  passing a minimum wage, despite a
commitment from Speaker Hastert to do so.  President Clinton promised to do
his  part  to  avoid  a  government  shutdown  by  signing  the  continuing
resolution  passed  by  Congress  this  week,  but will call on Congress to
complete  work  on  major  priorities  during  the  remaining  weeks of the
session, including:

?   Investing In Education. The President?s budget includes important
investments in education ? such as modernizing 6,000 schools and repairing
25,000 more, meeting our commitment to hire 100,000 quality teachers to
reduce class size, funding teacher training to put qualified teachers in
every classroom, increasing accountability including identifying and
turning around failing schools, increasing after-school opportunities, and
preparing at-risk youth for college success. Congress cut off funding that
would continue hiring 100,000 qualified teachers to reduce class size and
provides only $600 million of the President?s $1 billion effort to create
more after-school learning opportunities.  They shortchange teacher quality
and recruitment programs and do nothing to help ensure a qualified teacher
in every classroom.  Congress denies participation in GEAR UP to 600,000
students by freezing funding for this initiative to prepare disadvantaged
students for college at $200 million, $125 million below the President?s
request, and fails to institute real accountability to turn around failing

?   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 which 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.
?   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.

?   Protecting the Environment. The President?s budget provides important
funding to protect public health, provide Americans with clean air and
clean up the nation?s rivers, lakes and coastal areas from pollution.  In
addition, the President has repeatedly urged Congress to pass legislation
which would provide permanent funding to support federal protection of
natural treasures and to help states and communities protect urban parks,
farmland, forests, battlefields, coastland, and other green spaces.
Permanent funding would ensure that the federal government, states, and
local communities have a consistent and reliable funding source to protect
open spaces, farmland, forests, ocean and coastal resources, and urban and
suburban parks. It would mean that citizens could enjoy more open spaces,
and that future generations of Americans can appreciate the incomparable
natural treasures that are among this nation?s greatest riches.  The
President has also called upon Congress to send him budget bills free of
anti-environmental riders, which aim to weaken public health protections,
undercut efforts to combat global climate change, and surrender public
lands to private interests.

?   Approve Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation. Sensible gun safety
legislation has languished in Congress for over a year.  Meanwhile, an
estimated 30,000 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence.  The
Senate passed common-sense gun safety measures in May 1999, with Vice
President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote to close the gun show
loophole.  Since then, Republican leaders have delayed and bottled up this
legislation at the behest of the gun lobby, despite the fact that 10
children are killed by gunfire every day.  The President will call on the
Republican Leadership to put the safety of America?s children first as they
return to school by passing a bill that closes the gun show loophole,
requires child safety locks to be sold with handguns, bans the importation
of large capacity ammunition clips and prevents violent juvenile offenders
from buying guns as adults.

?   Pass Legislation to Prevent Hate Crimes and Legislation to Combat
Violence Against Women. The President will also urge Congress to pass
bipartisan legislation to prevent hate crimes and further respond to
violence against women. The President will urge Congress to send him
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. The President will also call on
Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  This Act provides
support for the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officials, victim
advocates, and health and social service professionals as they respond to
the problems of violence against women in communities throughout the

?   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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