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H.Doc.105-4 CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO SIGNIFICANT ...
105th Congress, 1st Session - - - - - - - - - - - House Document 105-1 STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting A REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE UNION <GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT> February 4, 1997.--Message referred to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed To the Congress of the United States: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the 105th Congress, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans: I think I should start by saying thanks for inviting me back. I come before you tonight with a challenge as great as any in our peacetime history, and a plan of action to meet that challenge, to prepare our people for the bold new world of the 21st century. We have much to be thankful for. With 4 years of growth, we have won back the basic strength of our economy. With crime and welfare rolls declining, we are winning back our optimism, the enduring faith that we can master any difficulty. With the Cold War receding and global commerce at record levels, we are helping to win an unrivaled peace and prosperity all across the world. My fellow Americans, the state of our union is strong, but now we must rise to the decisive moment, to make a Nation and a world better than any we have ever known. The new promise of the global economy, the information age, unimagined new work, life-enhancing technology, all these are ours to seize. That is our honor and our challenge. We must be shapers of events, not observers. For if we do not act, the moment will pass, and we will lose the best possibilities of our future. We face no imminent threat, but we do have an enemy: The enemy of our time is inaction. So tonight I issue a call to action, action by this Congress, action by our States, by our people, to prepare America for the 21st century. Action to keep our economy and our democracy strong and working for all our people; action to strengthen education and harness the forces of technology and science; action to build stronger families and stronger communities and a safer environment; action to keep America the world's strongest force for peace, freedom, and prosperity. And above all, action to build a more perfect union here at home. The spirit we bring to our work will make all the difference. We must be committed to the pursuit of opportunity for all Americans, responsibility from all Americans, in a community of all Americans. And we must be committed to a new kind of government, not to solve all our problems for us, but to give our people, all our people, the tools they need to make the most of their own lives. And we must work together. The people of this Nation elected us all. They want us to be partners, not partisans. They put us all right here in the same boat. They gave us all oars, and they told us to row. Now, here is the direction I believe we should take. First we must move quickly to complete the unfinished business of our country, to balance the budget, renew our democracy, and finish the job of welfare reform. Over the last 4 years, we have brought new economic growth by investing in our people, expanding our exports, cutting our deficits, creating over 11 million new jobs, a 4-year record. Now we must keep our economy the strongest in the world. We here tonight have an historic opportunity. Let this Congress be the Congress that finally balances the budget. In two days, I will propose a detailed plan to balance the budget by 2002. This plan will balance the budget and invest in our people while protecting Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. It will balance the budget and build on the Vice President's efforts to make our government work better even as it costs less. It will balance the budget and provide middle class tax relief to pay for education and health care, to help to raise a child, to buy and sell a home. Balancing the budget requires only your vote and my signature. It does not require us to rewrite our Constitution. I believe it is both unnecessary and unwise to adopt a balanced budget amendment that could cripple our country in time of economic crisis and force unwanted results, such as judges halting Social Security checks or increasing taxes. Let us at least agree we should not pass any measure, no measure should be passed that threatens Social Security. Whatever your view on that, we all must concede, we do not need a constitutional amendment; we need action. Whatever our differences, we should balance the budget now. And then for the long-term health of our society, we must agree to a bipartisan process to preserve Social Security and reform Medicare for the long run so that these fundamental programs will be as strong for our children as they are for our parents. And let me say something that is not in my script tonight: I know this is not going to be easy, but I really believe one of the reasons the American people gave me a second term was to take the tough decisions in the next four years that will carry our country through the next 50 years. I know it is easier for me than for you to say or do, but another reason I was elected is to support all of you without regard to party to give you what is necessary to join in these decisions. We owe it to our country and to our future. Our second piece of unfinished business requires us to commit ourselves tonight before the eyes of America to finally enacting bipartisan campaign finance reform. Senators McCain and Feingold, Representatives Shays and Meehan have reached across party lines here to craft tough and fair reform. Their proposal would curb spending, reduce the role of special interests, create a level playing field between challengers and incumbents and ban contributions from noncitizens, all corporate sources and the other large soft money contributions that both parties receive. You know and I know that this can be delayed, and you know and I know that delay will mean the death of reform. So let us set our own deadline. Let us work together to write bipartisan campaign finance reform into law and pass McCain-Feingold by the day we celebrate the birth of our democracy, July 4th. There is a third piece of unfinished business. Over the last four years, we moved a record two and a quarter million people off the welfare rolls. Then last year, Congress enacted landmark welfare reform legislation demanding that all able- bodied recipients assume the responsibility of moving from welfare to work. Now each and every one of us has to fulfill our responsibility, indeed our moral obligation, to make sure that people who now must work can work. Now we must act to meet a new goal, 2 million more people off the welfare rolls by the year 2000. Here is my plan: Tax credits and other incentives for businesses that hire people off welfare; incentives for job placement firms and States to create more jobs for welfare recipients; training, transportation and child care to help people go to work. Now I challenge every State: Turn those welfare checks into private sector paychecks. I challenge every religious congregation, every community nonprofit, every business to hire someone off welfare. And I would like to say especially to every employer in our country, whoever criticized the old welfare system, you cannot blame that old system anymore. We have torn it down. Now do your part. Give someone on welfare the chance to go to work. Tonight I am pleased to announce that five major corporations, Sprint, Monsanto, UPS, Burger King and United Airlines, will be the first to join in a new national effort to marshal America's businesses, large and small, to create jobs so that people can move from welfare to work. We passed welfare reform. All of you know I believe we were right to do it. But no one can walk out of this Chamber with a clear conscience unless you are prepared to finish the job. And we must join together to do something else, too, something both Republican and Democratic governors have asked us to do, to restore basic health and disability benefits when misfortune strikes immigrants who came to this country legally, who work hard, pay taxes and obey the law. To do otherwise is simply unworthy of a great Nation of immigrants. Now, looking ahead, the greatest step of all, the high threshold of the future we must now cross and my number one priority for the next four years is to ensure that all Americans have the best education in the world. Let us work together to meet these three goals: Every 8- year-old must be able to read; every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet; every 18-year-old must be able to go to college; and every adult American must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime. My balanced budget makes an unprecedented commitment to these goals, $51 billion next year. But far more than money is required. I have a plan, a call to action for American education based on these 10 principles. First, a national crusade for education standards, not Federal Government standards, but national standards representing what all of our students must know to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. Every State and school must shape the curriculum to reflect these standards and train teachers to lift students up to them. To help schools meet the standards and measure their progress, we will lead an effort over the next 2 years to develop national tests of student achievement in reading and math. Tonight I issue a challenge to the Nation: Every State should adopt high national standards, and by 1999 every State should test every fourth grader in reading and every eighth grader in math to make sure these standards are met. Raising standards will not be easy, and some of our children will not be able to meet them at first. The point is not to put our children down, but to lift them up. Good tests will show us who needs help, what changes in teaching to make, and which schools need to improve. They can help us to end social promotion, for no child should move from grade school to junior high or junior high to high school until he or she is ready. Last month, our Secretary of Education Dick Riley and I visited northern Illinois where eighth grade students from 20 school districts in a project aptly called ``First in the World'' took the Third International Math and Science Study. That is a test that reflects the world class standards our children must meet for the new era. And those students in Illinois tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math. Two of them, Kristin Tanner and Chris Getsla, are here tonight, along with their teacher, Sue Winski. They are up there with the First Lady, and they prove that when we aim high and challenge our students, they will be the best in the world. Let us give them a hand. Stand up, please. Second, to have the best schools, we must have the best teachers. Most of us in this Chamber would not be here tonight without the help of those teachers. I know that I would not be here. For years, many of our educators, led by North Carolina's Governor Jim Hunt and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, have worked very hard to establish nationally accepted credentials for excellence in teaching. Just 500 of these teachers have been certified since 1995. My budget will enable 100,000 more to seek national certification as master teachers. We should reward and recognize our best teachers. And as we reward them, we should quickly and fairly remove those few who do not measure up, and we should challenge more of our finest young people to consider teaching as a career. Third, we must do more to help all our children read. Forty percent, 40 percent, of our 8-year-olds cannot read on their own. That is why we have just launched the America Reads Initiative, to build a citizen army of 1 million volunteer tutors to make sure every child can read independently by the end of the third grade. We will use thousands of AmeriCorps volunteers to mobilize this citizen army. We want at least 100,000 college students to help. And tonight I am pleased that 60 college presidents have answered my call, pledging that thousands of their work/study students will serve for 1 year as reading tutors. This is also a challenge to every teacher and every principal: You must use these tutors to help your students read. And it is especially a challenge to our parents: You must read with our children every night. This leads to the fourth principle: Learning begins in the first days of life. Scientists are now discovering how young children develop emotionally and intellectually from their very first days and how important it is for parents to begin immediately talking, singing, even reading, to their infants. The First Lady has spent years writing about this issue, studying it, and she and I are going to convene a White House Conference on Early Learning and the Brain this spring to explore how parents and educators can best use these startling new findings. We already know we should start teaching children before they start school. That is why this balanced budget expands Head Start to 1 million children by 2002. That is why the Vice President and Mrs. Gore will host their annual family conference this June on what we can do to make sure that parents are an active part of their children's learning all the way through school. They have done a great deal to highlight the importance of family in our life, and now they are turning their attention to getting more parents involved in their children's learning all the way through school. And I thank you, Mr. Vice President, and I thank you especially, Tipper, for what you are doing. Fifth, every State should give parents the power to choose the right public school for their children. Their right to choose will foster a competition and innovation that can make public schools better. We should also make it possible for more parents and teachers to start charter schools, schools that set and meet the highest standards and exist only as long as they do. Our plan will help America to create 3,000 of these charter schools by the next century, nearly seven times as many as there are in the country today, so that parents will have even more choices in sending their children to the best schools. Sixth, character education must be taught in our schools. We must teach our children to be good citizens, and we must continue to promote order and discipline, supporting communities that introduce school uniforms, impose curfews, enforce truancy laws, remove disruptive students from the classroom, and have zero tolerance for guns and drugs in schools. Seventh, we cannot expect our children to raise themselves up in schools that are literally falling down. With the student population at an all-time high and record numbers of school buildings falling into disrepair, this has now become a serious national concern. Therefore, my budget includes a new initiative: $5 billion to help communities finance $20 billion in school construction over the next 4 years. Eighth, we must make the 13th and 14th years of education, at least 2 years of college, just as universal in America by the 21st century as a high school education is today, and we must open the doors of college to all Americans. To do that, I propose America's HOPE scholarship, based on Georgia's pioneering program, 2 years of a $1,500 tax credit for college tuition, enough to pay for the typical community college.
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