|Size of Government
|I thank the vice president for his leadership
and the Congress for its support in building a government that is leaner,
more flexible, a catalyst for new ideas and, most of all, a government
that gives the American people the tools they need to make the most of
their own lives.
We have moved past the sterile debate between those who say government is the enemy and those who say government is the answer. My fellow Americans, we have found a third way. We have the smallest government in 35 years, but a more progressive one. We have a smaller government, but a stronger nation.
|When I took office, the deficit for 1998
was projected to be $357 billion and heading higher. This year, our deficit
is projected to be $10 billion and heading lower.
For three decades, six presidents have come before you to warn of the damage deficits pose to our nation. Tonight I come before you to announce that the federal deficit, once so incomprehensibly large that it had 11 zeros, will be simply zero.
|Tax Cuts||It is the product of hard work by the American
people and of two visionary actions in Congress—the courageous vote in
1993 that led to a cut in the deficit of 90 percent.
And the truly historic bipartisan balanced budget agreement passed by this Congress.
Last year, together we enacted targeted tax cuts so that the typical middle class family will now have the lowest tax rates in 20 years.
|Social Security||What should we do with this projected surplus?
I have a simple, four-word answer: Save Social Security first.
Tonight I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus, that’s every penny of any surplus, until we have taken all the necessary measures to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century.
|Education||Expanding public school choice. Opening the
way to 3,000 new charter schools. Working to connect every classroom in
the country to the information superhighway. Committing to expand Head
Start to a million children. Launching America Reads. Sending literally
thousands of college students into our elementary schools to make sure
all our 8-year-olds can read. Last year, I proposed and you passed 220,00
new Pell grant scholarships for deserving students.
Student loans—student loans, already less expensive and easier to repay, now you get to deduct the interest.
Families all over America now can put their savings into new tax- free education IRAs. And this year, for the first two years of college, families will get a $1,500 tax credit—a Hope scholarship that will cover the cost of most community college tuition. And for junior and senior year, graduate school, and job training, there is a lifetime learning credit.
|Trade||In the last five years we have led the way
in opening new markets with 240 trade agreements that remove foreign barriers
to products bearing the proud stamp, Made in the USA.
Today, record-high exports account for fully one-third of our economic growth.
|I will also renew my request for the fast-track negotiating authority necessary to open more new markets, create more new jobs, which every president has had for two decades.|
|Asian Monetary Crisis||But when nations are willing to undertake serious economic reform, we should help them do it. So I call on Congress to renew America’s commitment to the International Monetary Fund.|
|Welfare||Last year after a record four-year decline
in welfare rolls, I challenged our nation to move two million more Americans
off welfare by the year 2000. I’m pleased to report we have also met that
goal—two full years ahead of schedule.
|Health Care||Two years ago, we helped guarantee that Americans
can keep their health insurance when they change jobs. Last year, we extended
health care to up to five million children....
The Family and Medical Leave Act was the very first bill
I was privileged to sign into law as president in 1993. Since then...
I ask you to extend that law to cover 10 million more workers and to give parents time off when they have to go see their children’s teachers or take them to the doctor.
|Child Care||Last year I co-hosted the very first White House conference
on child care with one of our foremost experts—America’s first lady.
|Crime||Violent crime is down. Robbery is down. Assault
is down. Burglary is down. For five years in a row, all across America.
Now, we need to finish the job of putting 100,000 more police on our streets.
|NATO||For 50 years, NATO contained communism and kept America and Europe secure. Now these three formerly communist countries have said yes to democracy.||
|Bosnia||This Christmas, Hillary and I traveled to Sarajevo with Senator and Mrs. Dole and a bipartisan congressional delegation. We saw children playing in the streets, where two years ago they were hiding from snipers and shells. The shops were filled with food. The cafes were alive with conversation.|
|Iraq||The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq’s arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf War. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.||
|Campaign Finance Reform||First, we have to continue to reform our government, the instrument of our national community. Everyone knows elections have become too expensive, fueling a fundraising arms race. This year, by March the 6th, at long last the Senate will actually vote on bipartisan campaign finance reform proposed by Senators McCain and Feingold. Let’s be clear—a vote against McCain-Feingold is a vote for soft money and for the status quo. I ask you to strengthen our democracy and pass campaign finance reform this year.||
|Environment||Our communities are only as healthy as the
air our children breathe, the water they drink, the earth they will inherit.
Last year, we put in place the toughest ever controls on smog and soot.
We moved to protect Yellowstone, the Everglades, Lake Tahoe. We expanded
every community’s right to know about toxics that threaten their children.
Just yesterday, our food safety plan took effect using new science to protect consumers from dangers like E. coli and salmonella.
|Race Relations||I have launched this national initiative on race to help us recognize our common interests and to bridge the opportunity gaps that are keeping us from becoming one America.|
|Scientific Research||Now, think about this—the entire store of
human knowledge now doubles every five years. In the 1980s, scientists
identified the gene causing cystic fibrosis. It took nine years.
Last year, scientists located the gene that caused Parkinson’s Disease in only nine days. Within a decade, gene chips will offer a road map for prevention of illness throughout a lifetime.
|Now, in schools and libraries, homes and
businesses, millions and millions of Americans surf the net every day....
Even as we explore this inner space in the new millennium, we’re going to open new frontiers in outer space