January 4, 1998




Clinton's Tropical Respite Gives Way To Work


ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AllPolitics) -- President Bill Clinton is headed back to work with a busy agenda after a six-day winter vacation with his family in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The president planned to meet with advisers on Monday to work on the details for the budget he will present to Congress next month.

He also begins a series of appearances intended to give Americans a piece-by-piece advance look at what he will propose on pet issues such as child care and education.

Medicare proposal debated

On Tuesday, the president plans an announcement detailing a proposal to let people between ages 62 and 64 pay up to $400 a month for Medicare health coverage.

The proposal, already widely reported in the press, drew criticism Sunday from Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

"To add more people to a system that is running out of money doesn't make any sense," Kasich said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But a prominent Democratic liberal said the buy-in plan was an idea whose time had come.

On ABC's "This Week," Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., said the idea is good because "too many people in the country are either not old enough for Medicare, ... or they're not poor enough for Medicaid and they're not fortunate enough to have a good health insurance plan."

Clinton also is considering ways to get a solution to a looming financial crisis for the Social Security system in hand within the next year or two and may put forth proposals to Congress later this month. Among the possibilities: a special session of Congress after the November elections to dramatize the need for a solution.

Meetings with Netanyahu, Arafat set

On the foreign policy front, Clinton is to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 20 and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on January 22, the White House confirmed Sunday.

Officials said there were no plans at this stage for a joint meeting.

"The president thought this was the right time to bring both leaders to Washington to try to move the peace process forward," said White House spokesman Joe Lockhart.

Fund-raising efforts continue

And as the midterm congressional election campaigns begin, Clinton will continue fund-raising efforts. On Thursday, he will attend lunches and dinners with donors in New York and Texas.

In a virtual repeat of his 1997 New Year's retreat, Clinton ventured to the secluded island beaches with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea. This year, however, the family was joined by Buddy, their new Labrador puppy, who got presidential lessons in swimming and fetching on the private, white-sand beach outside the Clintons' borrowed villa.

"He learns how to swim a lot quicker than I did," Clinton quipped.

He wound up his lazy vacation with a brief stop Saturday night at an invitation-only party thrown by Gov. Roy L. Schneider at the swank Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Amid the revelry of colorfully costumed Caribbean dancers on stilts, Clinton thanked locals for their hospitality, then retreated to Zorba's, a nearby Greek restaurant, for a quiet family dinner.

Chelsea, on holiday break from Stanford University, returns to school this week.

CNN White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report.

In Other News

Weekend Jan. 3 & 4, 1998

Clinton To Push For Social Security Fix
Ferraro To Enter N.Y. Senate Race Monday
Clinton's Tropical Respite Gives Way To Work
White House Delights In Rehnquist's Rebuke Of GOP
Clinton Wants $48 Million Increase in Peace Corps Funding
Family, Friends Grieve At Michael Kennedy's Funeral

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