President Bill Clinton's State Of The Union Address Part 2
Jan. 27, 1998
CLINTON: A society rooted in responsibility must first
promote the value of work, not welfare.
We can be proud that after decades of finger pointing and
failure, together we ended the old welfare system. And we're
now replacing welfare checks with paychecks.
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.
This is a grand achievement, the sum of many acts of
individual courage, persistence and hope.
For 13 years, Elaine Kinslow of Indianapolis, Indiana was on
and off welfare.
Today, she's a dispatcher with a van company.
She's saved enough money to move her family into a good
neighborhood, and she's helping other welfare recipients go to
work. Elaine Kinslow and all those like her are the real heroes
of the welfare revolution. There are millions like her all
across America and I'm happy she could join the first lady
tonight. Elaine, we're very proud of you. Please stand up.
We still have a lot more to do -- all of us -- to make
welfare reform a success. Providing child care, helping
families move closer to available jobs, challenging more
companies to join our welfare-to- work partnership, increasing
child support collections from deadbeat parents who have a duty
to support their own children.
I also want to thank Congress for restoring some of
the benefits to immigrants who are here legally and working
hard, and I hope you will finish that job this year.
We have to make it possible for all hard-working families to
meet their most important responsibilities. 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.
This year, I challenge Congress to take the next historic
A hundred and sixty million of our fellow citizens
are in managed care plans. These plans save money and they can
improve care. But medical decisions ought to be made by medical
doctors, not insurance company accountants.
I urge this Congress to reach across the aisle and write into
law a consumer bill of rights that says this.
You have the right to know all your medical options, not just
You have the right to choose the doctor you want for the care
You have the right to emergency room care wherever and
whenever you need it.
CLINTON: You have the right to keep your medical records
Thank you. Thank you.
Now, traditional care or managed care, every American
deserves quality care.
Millions of Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 have lost
their health insurance. Some are retired. Some are laid off.
Some lose their coverage when their spouses retire.
After a lifetime of work, they are left with
nowhere to turn.
So I ask the Congress, let these hard-working Americans buy
into the Medicare system. It won't add a dime to the deficit,
but the peace of mind it will provide will be priceless.
Next, we must help parents protect their children from the
gravest health threat that they face -- an epidemic of teen
smoking, spread by multimillion dollar marketing campaigns.
I challenge Congress -- let's pass bipartisan, comprehensive
legislation that will improve public health, protect our tobacco
farmers and change the way tobacco companies do business
forever. Let's do what it takes to bring teen smoking down.
Let's raise the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50
a pack over the next 10 years with penalties on the tobacco
industry if it keeps marketing to our children.
Tomorrow, like every day, 3,000 children will start smoking,
and 1,000 will die early as a result. Let this Congress be
remembered as the Congress that saved their lives.
In the new economy, most parents work harder than ever. They
face a constant struggle to balance their obligations to be good
workers and their even more important obligations to be good
parents. The Family and Medical Leave Act was the very first
bill I was privileged to sign into law as president in 1993.
CLINTON: Since then...
... about 15 million people have taken advantage of it -- and
I've met a lot of them all across this country. 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 is the next frontier we must face to enable people
to succeed at home and at work.
Last year I co-hosted the very first White House conference
on child care with one of our foremost experts -- America's
Thank you. Thank you.
From all corners of America, we heard the same message,
without regard to region or income or political affiliation:
We've got to raise the quality of child care. We've got to make
it safer. We've got to make it more affordable. So here's my
Help families to pay for child care for a million more
Scholarships and background checks for child care
workers and a new emphasis on early learning. Tax credits for
businesses that provide child care for their employees, and a
larger child care tax credit for working families.
Now, if you pass my plan, what this means is a family of four
with an income of $35,000 and high child care costs will no
longer pay a single penny of federal income tax.
You know, I think this is such a big issue with me because of
my own personal experience. I have often wondered how my
mother, when she was a young widow, would have been able to go
away to school and get an education and come back and support me
if my grandparents hadn't been able to take care of me.
She and I were really very lucky. How many other families
have never had that same opportunity?
We don't know the answer to that question. But we
do know the answer should be. Not a single American family
should ever have to choose between the job they need and the
child they love.
A society rooted in responsibility must provide safe streets,
safe schools, and safe neighborhoods. We pursued a strategy of
more police, tougher punishments, smarter prevention, with crime
fighting partnerships with local law enforcement and citizen
groups where the rubber hits the road.
I can report to you tonight that it's working. Violent crime
is down. Robbery is down. Assault is down. Burglary is down.
For five years in a row, all across America.
CLINTON: Now, we need to finish the job of putting 100,000
more police on our streets.
... again, I ask Congress to pass a juvenile crime bill that
provides more prosecutors and probation officers to crack down
on gangs and guns and drugs and bar violent juveniles from
buying guns for life.
And I ask you to dramatically expand our support for
I think every American should know that most juvenile crime
is committed between the hours of 3 in the afternoon and 8 at
We can keep so many of our children out of trouble
in the first place if we give them someplace to go other than
the streets, and we ought to do it.
Drug use is on the decline. I thank General McCaffrey for
his leadership and I thank this Congress for passing the largest
anti-drug budget in history. Now...
... I ask you to join me in a groundbreaking effort to hire
1,000 new border patrol agents and to deploy the most
sophisticated available new technologies to help close the door
on drugs at our borders.
Police, prosecutors and prevention programs -- good as they
are -- they can't work if our court system doesn't work.
Today there are large numbers of vacancies in our
federal courts. Here is what the Chief Justice of the United
States wrote: "Judicial vacancies cannot remain at such high
levels indefinitely without eroding the quality of justice."
I simply ask the United States Senate to heed this plea and
vote on the highly qualified nominees before you, up or down.
We must exercise responsibility not just at home but around
the world. On the eve of a new century we have the power and
the duty to build a new era of peace and security. But make no
mistake about it. Today's possibilities are not tomorrow's
America must stand against the poisoned appeals of
extreme nationalism. We must combat an unholy axis of new
threats from terrorists, international criminals and drug
traffickers. These 21st century predators feed on technology
and the free flow of information and ideas and people, and they
will be all the more lethal if weapons of mass destruction fall
into their hands.
To meet these challenges, we are helping to write
international rules of the road for the 21st century protecting
those who join the family of nations and isolating those who do
Within days, I will ask the Senate for its advice and consent
to make Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic the newest
members of NATO.
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
For 50 years, NATO contained communism and kept America and
Europe secure. Now these three formerly communist countries
have said yes to democracy. I ask the Senate to say yes to
them, our new allies.
By taking in new members and working closely with new
partners, including Russia and Ukraine, NATO can help to assure
that Europe is a stronghold for peace in the 21st century.
Next, I will ask Congress to continue its support for our
troops and their mission in Bosnia.
Thank you. Thank you.
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.
The progress there is unmistakable, but it is not yet
irreversible. To take firm root, Bosnia's fragile peace still
needs the support of American and allied troops when the current
NATO mission ends in June.
I think Senator Dole actually said it best. He said, "This
is like being ahead in the fourth quarter of a football game.
Now is not the time to walk off the field and forfeit the
I wish all of you could have seen our troops in Tuzla.
They're very proud of what they're doing in Bosnia
and we're all very proud of them. One of those...
One of those brave soldiers is sitting with the first lady
tonight, Army Sergeant Michael Tolbert. His father was a
decorated Vietnam vet. After college in Colorado, he joined the
Army. Last year he led an infantry unit that stopped a mob of
extremists from taking over a radio station that is a voice of
democracy and tolerance in Bosnia.
Thank you very much, Sergeant, for what you represent.
CLINTON: Please stand up.
In Bosnia and around the world, our men and women in uniform
always do their mission well. Our mission must be to keep them
well trained and ready, to improve their quality of life and to
provide the 21st century weapons they need to defeat any enemy.
I ask Congress to join me in pursuing an ambitious agenda to
reduce the serious threat of weapons of mass destruction. This
year, four decades after it was first proposed by President
Eisenhower, a comprehensive nuclear test ban is within reach.
By ending nuclear testing, we can help to prevent
the development of new and more dangerous weapons and make it
more difficult for non-nuclear states to build them.
I'm pleased to announce that four former chairmen of the
joint chiefs of staff -- Generals John Shaliskasvili, Colin
Powell, and David Jones and Admiral William Crowe -- have
endorsed this treaty. And I ask the Senate to approve it this
Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical
and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists and
organized criminals seeking to acquire them.
Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and
much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi
people, but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons, and the missiles to deliver them.
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.
I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and
Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot defy the
will of the world.
And when I say to him, you have used weapons of mass
We are determined to deny you the capacity to use
Last year the Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention
to protect our soldiers and citizens from poison gas. Now we
must act to prevent the use of disease as a weapon of war and
terror. The Biological Weapons Convention has been in effect
for 23 years now. The rules are good, but the enforcement is
We must strengthen it with a new international inspection
system to detect and deter cheating.
In the months ahead, I will pursue our security
strategy with old allies in Asia and Europe and new partners
from Africa to India and Pakistan, from South America to China.
And from Belfast to Korea to the Middle East, America will
continue to stand with those who stand for peace.
Finally, it's long past time to make good on our debt to the
More and more, we are working with other nations to achieve
If we want America to lead, we've got to set a good
example. As we see...
As we see so clearly in Bosnia, allies who share our goals
can also share our burdens. In this new era, our freedom and
independence are actually enriched, not weakened, by our
increasing interdependence with other nations. But we have to
do our part.
Our founders set America on a permanent course toward a more
perfect union. To all of you, I say it is a journey we can only
make together, living as one community.
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
But -- at least equally important, we have to address the
real reason for the explosion in campaign costs -- the high cost
of media advertising. I will...
For the folks watching at home, those were the groans of pain
in the audience. I will formally request that the Federal
Communications Commission act to provide free or reduced cost
television time for candidates to observe spending limits
The airwaves are a public trust, and broadcasters
also have to help us in this effort to strengthen our democracy.
Under the leadership of Vice President Gore, we've reduced
the federal payroll by 300,000 workers; cut 16,000 pages of
regulation; eliminated hundreds of programs; and improved the
operations of virtually every government agency. But we can do
Like every taxpayer, I'm outraged by the reports of abuses by
the IRS. We need some changes there.
New citizen advocacy panels, a stronger taxpayer
advocate, phone lines open 24 hours a day, relief for innocent
Last year, by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, the House of
Representatives passed sweeping IRS reforms. This bill must not
now languish in the Senate.
Tonight, I ask the Senate -- Follow the House. Pass the
bipartisan package as your first order of business.
I hope to goodness before I finish I can think of something
to say follow the Senate on so I'll be out of trouble.
A nation that lives as a community must value all its
For the past five years, we have worked to bring
the spark of private enterprise to inner city and poor rural
areas with community development banks, more commercial loans
into poor neighborhoods, clean-up of polluted sites for
Under the continued leadership of the vice president, we
propose to triple the number of empowerment zones to give
business incentives to invest in those areas.
We should -- thank you. We should also give poor families
more help to move into homes of their own. And we should use
tax cuts to spur the construction of more low-income housing.
Last year, this Congress took strong action to help the
District of Columbia. Let us renew our resolve to make our
capital city a great city for all who live and visit here.
Our cities are the vibrant hubs of great metropolitan areas.
They are still the gateways for new immigrants, from every
continent, who come here to work for their own American dreams.
Let's keep our cities going strong into the 21st
century. They're a very important part of our future.
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
... I ask you to join me in launching a new clean water
initiative, a far reaching effort to clean our rivers, our
lakes, and our coastal waters for our children.
Thank you. Thank you.
Our overriding environmental challenge tonight is the
worldwide problem of climate change, global warming, the
gathering crisis that requires worldwide action. The vast
majority of scientists have concluded unequivocally that if we
don't reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses at some point in
the next century, we'll disrupt or climate and put our children
and grandchildren at risk.
This past December, America led the world to reach a historic
agreement committing our nation to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions through market forces, new technologies, energy
We have it in our power to act right here, right
now. I propose $6 billion in tax cuts and research and
development to encourage innovation, renewable energy,
fuel-efficient cars, energy- efficient homes. Every time we
have acted to heal our environment, pessimists have told us it
would hurt the economy. Well, today our economy is the
strongest in a generation. And our environment is the cleanest
in a generation. We have always found a way to clean the
environment and grow the economy at the same time.
And when it comes to global warming, we'll do it again.
Thank you. Thank you.
Finally, community means living by the defining American
value, the ideal heard round the world: That we're all created
Throughout our history, we haven't always honored
that ideal, and we've never fully lived up to it. Often, it is
easier to believe that our differences matter more than what we
have in common. It may be easier, but it's wrong.
What we have to do in our day and generation to make sure
that America becomes truly one nation -- what do we have to do?
We're becoming more and more diverse. Do you believe we can
become one nation?
The answer cannot be to dwell in our differences, but to
build on our shared values. We all cherish family and faith,
freedom and responsibility. We all want our children to grow up
in a world where their talents are matched by their
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.
Let us begin by recognizing what we still must
overcome. Discrimination against any American is unAmerican.
We must vigorously enforce...
Thank you. Thank you.
We must vigorously enforce the laws that make it illegal. I
ask you help to end the backlog at the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission. Sixty thousand of our fellow citizens
are waiting in line for justice, and we should act now to end
CLINTON: We should also recognize that the greatest progress
we can make toward building one America lies in the progress we
make for all Americans -- without regard to race.
When we open the doors of college to all Americans, when we
rid all our streets of crime, when there are jobs available to
people from all our neighborhoods, when we make sure all parents
have the child care they need, we're helping to build one
We in this chamber and in this government must do all we can
to address the continuing American challenge to build one
America. But we'll only move forward if all our fellow citizens
-- including every one of you at home watching tonight -- is
also committed to this cause.
We must work together, learn together, live together, serve
together. On the forge of common enterprise, Americans of all
backgrounds can hammer out a common identity.
We see it today in the United States military, in
the Peace Corps, in AmeriCorps.
Wherever people of all races and backgrounds come together in
a shared endeavor and get a fair chance, we do just fine. With
shared values and meaningful opportunities and honest
communications and citizen service, we can unite a diverse
people in freedom and mutual respect.
We are many. We must be one.
In that spirit, let us lift our eyes to the new millennium.
How will we mark that passage? It just happens once every
This year, Hillary and I launched the White House Millennium
Program to promote America's creativity and innovation and to
preserve our heritage and culture into the 21st century.
Our culture lives in every community, and every
community has places of historic value that tell our stories as
Americans. We should protect them. I am proposing a
public/private partnership to advance our arts and humanities
and to celebrate the millennium by saving America's treasures,
great and small.
And while we honor the past, let us imagine the future.
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
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
Soon, we will be able to carry all the phone calls on
Mother's Day on a single strand of fiber the width of a human
hair. A child born in 1998 may well live to see the 22nd
Tonight as part of our gift to the millennium, I
propose a 21st century research fund for pathbreaking scientific
inquiry, the largest funding increase in history for the
National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation,
the National Cancer Institute.
We have already discovered...
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
We have already discovered genes for breast cancer and
diabetes. I ask you to support this initiative so ours will be
the generation that finally wins the war against cancer and
begins a revolution in our fight against all deadly diseases.
As important as all this scientific progress is, we
must continue to see that science serves humanity, not the other
We must prevent the misuse of genetic tests to discriminate
against any American.
And we must ratify the ethical consensus of the scientific
and religious communities and ban the cloning of human beings.
We should enable all the world's people to explore the far
reaches of cyberspace. Think of this -- the first time I made a
State of the Union speech to you, only a handful of physicists
used the World Wide Web -- literally, just a handful of people.
Now, in schools and libraries, homes and businesses, millions
and millions of Americans surf the net every day.
We must give parents the tools they need to help protect
their children from inappropriate material on the Internet.
But we also must make sure that we protect the
exploding global commercial potential of the Internet. We can
do the kinds of things that we need to do and still protect our
For one thing, I asked Congress to step up support for
building the next generation Internet. It's getting kind of
clogged, you know? And the next generation Internet will operate
at speeds up to 1,000 times faster than today.
Even as we explore this inner space in the new millennium,
we're going to open new frontiers in outer space. Throughout
all history, humankindness had only one place to call home --
our planet Earth.
Beginning this year, 1998, men and women from 16 countries
will build a foothold in the heavens.
The international space station, with its vast
expanses, scientists and engineers will actually set sail on an
uncharted sea of limitless mystery and unlimited potential.
And this October, a true American hero, a veteran pilot of
149 combat missions and one five-hour space flight that changed
the world, will return to the heavens. Godspeed, John Glenn.
John, you will carry with you America's hopes.
And on your uniform once again, you will carry
America's flag marking the unbroken connection between the deeds
of America's past and the daring of America's future.
Nearly 200 years ago, a tattered flag -- it's broad stripes
and bright stars still gleaming through the smoke of a fierce
battle -- moved Francis Scott Key to scribble a few words on the
back of an envelope -- the words that became our national
Today, that star spangled banner, along with the Declaration
of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are on
display just a short walk from here. They are America's
treasures and we must also save them for the ages.
I ask all Americans to support our project to
restore all our treasures so that the generations of the 21st
century can see for themselves the images and the words that are
the old and continuing glory of America. An America that has
continued to rise through every age against every challenge, a
people of great works and greater possibilities, who have
always, always found the wisdom and strength to come together as
one nation. To widen the circle of opportunity. To deepen the
meaning of our freedom. To form that more perfect union.
Let that be our gift to the 21st century.
God bless you and God bless the United States.