Clinton, Gingrich square off over drug policies
February 14, 1998
Web posted at: 4:16 p.m. EST (2116 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton proposed a new drug
strategy Saturday aimed at cutting illicit drug use in half
over the next decade, but his goal was immediately ridiculed
by House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a "timetable for defeat."
Speaking in his weekly radio address, the Democratic
president said his plan "builds on our strategy of tougher
punishment, better prevention and more partnerships to shut
down the international drug trade."
Clinton said there had been successes in the war on drugs,
citing studies that show the number of Americans using drugs
has fallen by 50 percent since 1979.
"But that number is still too large," he said. "We can
and must cut drug use in America by another 50 percent."
Parts of the Clinton administration plan were previously
disclosed by White House drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey.
The president wants more prevention education; the hiring of
1,000 Border Patrol and 100 Drug Enforcement Administration
agents; 100,000 additional police officers, spread among the
nation's cities; and expanded drug testing and treatment for
prisoners and parolees.
The administration's drug-fighting plan would be funded
through a $17.1 billion drug-control budget request for next
year, a 6.8 percent increase.
Clinton also called on parents to fight against drugs at
"kitchen tables all across America."
"Even the world's most thorough anti-drug strategy won't ever
do the job, unless all of us pass on the same clear and
simple message to our children: Drugs are wrong, drugs are
dangerous and drugs can kill you," he said.
Gingrich on the attack
As Clinton spoke, however, Gingrich, speaking in the GOP's
weekly radio address, accused the president of neglecting the
narcotics issue for five years, and as a consequence allowing
drug use among teen-agers to rise by 70 percent over that
The Georgia Republican pledged that in lieu of Clinton's
plan, Congress would create a drug-free 21st century for
"This president would have us believe that with all of the
resources, ingenuity, dedication and passion of the American
people, we can't even get half way to victory in the war on
drugs until the year 2007 -- nine full years from now,"
Gingrich said. "That is not success; that is the definition
of failure. ... We cannot accept this administration's
proposed timetable for defeat."
Gingrich said the Republican-run Congress would pass
- Helps communities build anti-drug coalitions
- Gives parents anti-drug information
- Provides market incentives so businesses will create drug-
- Establishes a national clearinghouse for anti-drug
He did not provide specific dollar amounts or other figures.
Gingrich said he would introduce a House resolution calling
on Clinton and McCaffrey to withdraw their plan.