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Clinton Touts New Economic Numbers

Family income up, poverty level down

clinton

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 29) -- President Bill Clinton today heralded new Census Bureau numbers showing increased family income and lower poverty rates as "more evidence that our economic strategy is succeeding."

The just-released annual Census report indicates family income notched up 1.2 percent above inflation -- $2,200 over its 1993 level, Clinton noted. The poverty level for African Americans was 28.4 percent, its lowest level since the bureau started collecting statistics in 1959. The overall poverty rate dipped for the third straight year to 13.7 percent (36.5 million people). (352K wav sound)

Clinton, highlighting the report's good news at a White House briefing, noted the increase in family income does not take into account benefits from HOPE education scholarships, the recently enacted $400-per-child tax credit, and expanded individual retirement accounts.

The president, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not mention the report's finding that for families, the biggest gains were realized by the richest 20 percent, whose incomes rose 2.2 percent over inflation. The poorest 20 percent saw their incomes lag behind inflation by 1.8, while middle class families were up between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent over inflation.

Clinton cited one piece of bad news, that 1.1 million more people lacked health insurance, among those 800,000 children. But he noted that the recently enacted budget agreement would provide expanded health for poor children. (384K wav sound)

"Thank goodness many of these children will now be eligible for coverage under the balanced budget's historic $24 billion child health initiative which takes effect this week," he said.

Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute was less sanguine than Clinton on the new report.

"Despite low unemployment levels we have been enjoying, male wages continued to erode," he told The Associated Press.

The president took a few questions from reporters after his brief comments.

Asked about prospects for campaign-finance reform, Clinton said he saw encouraging signs in both the House and Senate. The administration supports the McCain-Feingold bill now being debated in the Senate that would ban soft money donations to the political parties, and he said critical to passage would be to "just keep the public spotlight on this and keep going until we get legislation."

Republicans say Clinton is pushing campaign-finance reform in an attempt to change the subject from the ongoing fund-raising controversy, which in recent weeks has focused on him, with Attorney General Janet Reno considering the need for an independent counsel.

But today the president suggested it was Republicans like House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- who this weekend called for an investigation of alleged Democratic violations of campaign law -- who want to change the subject.

"The remarks this weekend were an attempt to divert the public attention from the fact that the leadership of the Republican party in the House opposes campaign finance reform, and has consistently and continues to do so." (384K wav sound)

The Senate began debate on the McCain-Feingold bill last Friday and is expected to continue this week, with no votes expected for at least a week.


In Other News:

Monday Sept. 29, 1997

Clinton Touts New Economic Numbers
Fund-Raising Scandal Trickles Down To CIA
International Conservative Conference Meets In Washington
Half Of States Unlikely To Meet Welfare Deadline
AllPolitics E-Wire

E-mail From Washington:
Forbes Reiterates Call For Flat Tax Plan

Poll:
Americans Want Campaign Reform





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