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pd23au99 Memorandum on Additional Refugee Admissions...

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J. Wade Gilley, Coach Phillip Fulmer, and Volunteers team members Tee 
Martin, Mercedes Hamilton, Travis Henry, and Peerless Price; and 
University of Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1648-1649]
Monday, August 23, 1999
Volume 35--Number 33
Pages 1633-1654
Week Ending Friday, August 20, 1999
Statement on the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

August 18, 1999

    Today's 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reveals that we 
have turned an important corner on youth drug use. Last year youth drug 
use declined significantly, and fewer young people tried marijuana for 
the first time. This encouraging news shows that more young people are 
getting the message that drugs are wrong and illegal and can

[[Page 1649]]

kill you. And today's report contains even more good news: Current 
cigarette use dropped to the lowest rate ever recorded by the survey.
    While these results give us reason to be optimistic, we cannot let 
up on our efforts. We must continue our unprecedented media campaign to 
reach our children with powerful antidrug messages, not cut it back just 
as it is making an impact. We must expand our partnerships with 
community antidrug coalitions and work to enact our long-term drug 
strategy. Together, we can steer our children away from drugs and toward 
a brighter future.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1649-1652]
Monday, August 23, 1999
Volume 35--Number 33
Pages 1633-1654
Week Ending Friday, August 20, 1999
Remarks on the Baby Boom Echo Education Initiative

August 19, 1999

    Thank you very much, and welcome to the announcement of the 
administration's program to save the future for Secretary Riley's 
grandchildren. [Laughter]
    Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your passionate dedication and 
leadership. Thank you, Wendell Greer. I also want to acknowledge here 
people who will be involved in, I think, briefing later: Dan Galloway, 
who is the principal of Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, 
Illinois; Dr. Daniel Domenech, the superintendent of the Fairfax County 
Schools; and Dr. Iris Metts, the superintendent of the Prince George's 
County Schools, who was here at the White House with us when I signed 
the ed-flex bill last April.
    This is a busy time for educators, and I appreciate them for taking 
the time to join us. It's a busy time for parents and students, too, 
thinking about the back-to-school season. In so many ways it represents 
a new beginning. People get used to new teachers, new classmates, new 
schoolbooks, new jeans and clothes. It reminds us of the vital role that 
education plays in our children's lives and in the life of our Nation.
    Today I want to talk about what the previous speakers have said in 
terms of what it means for America, not just in a new school year but in 
a new century. In our lifetimes we have never had a better chance to 
prepare America's children and America's schools for the demands of the 
21st century. We can do it because of the longest peacetime expansion in 
our history, the highest homeownership, over 19 million new jobs, 
welfare at a 32 year low, crime a 26-year low, teen smoking, teen 
pregnancy, and as our annual survey showed just yesterday, teen drug 
abuse all down. We have a record surplus of $99 billion, and it's 
projected to grow and to sustain itself over the next 10 years.
    Now, there's a great debate in Washington about what we should do 
with this surplus and, in a larger sense, how to fulfill the promise and 
the obligation of preparing our schools and our children for the 21st 
century. How will we seize this chance to shape the future?
    The big challenge, as Secretary Riley said, is that we're going to 
have young people in record numbers. They are also more diverse than 
ever before, and therefore, educating them represents more interesting 
and diverse challenges than ever before. But it's also important to 
recognize that, ironically, as we have young people in record numbers, 
we will also have senior citizens in record numbers. The number of 
people over 65 will double in the next 30 years.
    So the question is, how are we going to meet the challenge of the 
aging of America, the challenge of the swelling ranks of our 
schoolchildren, when education is more important not only to them but to 
our Nation than ever before, and how are we going to keep this economy 
going and spread its opportunities to the people who have not yet felt 
    I believe, as all of you know, that we should make a commitment to 
invest in our future and to do it in a way that enables us to save 
Social Security, to save and strengthen Medicare, to invest in 
education, and to pay off the publicly held debt for the first time 
since Andrew Jackson was President in 1835, which will guarantee us 
long-term lower interest rates for everything from business investment 
to home mortgages to college loans to car payments.
    We can do all this and still have sensible tax cuts. We cannot do it 
unless we make the commitments to do first things first.

[[Page 1650]]

Today we are releasing a report by the Department of Education that 
makes it clear that any part of a long-term successful strategy for 
America requires us to do more, not less, to meet our children's growing 
educational needs. Every year the halls of our schools resound more 
loudly with what has been called, as Secretary Riley said, the baby boom 
    The children of the baby boom generation are breaking enrollment 
records for the fourth year in a row now. This academic year, 53.2 
million students will fill our elementary and secondary schools. That's 
nearly half a million more than last year. All the details are in this 
report, and they will be released later today. But think about it, over 
53 million students, more diverse than ever before, from more 
backgrounds, giving us a chance to be the best prepared country in the 
world for the global society of the 21st century if, but only if, we 
educate them well.
    There's another thing I want to emphasize about it that this report 
said that I just hadn't thought about until I was briefed on it. The 
pattern of enrollment is changing. As the children grow older, it is the 
high schools and colleges, even more than the elementary and middle 
schools, that will carry the burden. During the next decade, our high 
schools are projected to swell with the ranks of 1.3 million new 
students. This report gives our Nation an important assignment, to make 
the investments necessary to meet the demands of the future and our 
obligations to these children.
    We've worked hard for 6\1/2\ years to invest in education and to 
bring real change to our schools. Secretary Riley's leadership has 
helped us to make historic investments. We've opened the doors to 
college to virtually every American with the HOPE scholarship and 
increased Pell grants and other loans and grants and credits. We have 
worked hard--and I think we're going to make it--to connect every 
classroom to the Internet by the year 2000. We have worked to strengthen 
performance and accountability in our schools and to help them meet the 
Nation's educational goals.
    But Principal Greer described the conditions that exist in an awful 
lot of our schools, far too many--overcrowded classes held in trailers, 
the shortage of individual attention by trained teachers. The challenges 
are going to increase as enrollment rises and a projected 2 million of 
our teachers retire in the next few years.
    The baby boom echo is another reason why I feel so strongly that we 
have to act now, to build new schools and fix old ones, to hire trained 
teachers, especially in math and science, especially for our high 
schools. I have proposed, as part of our balanced budget, to build or 
renovate up to 6,000 schools nationwide; and to fulfill the commitment I 
made to Congress to hire 100,000 new teachers for our Nation's schools, 
to lower class size in the early grades, coincidentally freeing up 
resources for our schools to hire the other teachers they need in other 
    Unfortunately, the congressional majority wants to back off from our 
commitment to more teachers and smaller classes, and the tax plan they 
have proposed would do further damage to those priorities. It would not 
do anything approaching what we've proposed to build or modernize 
schools--about a tenth of what we recommended. It would not allow us to 
pay off the debt. It would not add a day to the life of the Social 
Security Trust Fund or the Medicare Trust Fund. It would also lead, if 
the present budget discipline holds, to substantial, even drastic cuts 
in education and other national priorities, like national defense, 
medical research, and fighting crime and protecting the environment.
    Now I have said that I will veto this plan, and I know that there's 
a lot of hoopla going on around the country, from town meetings to paid 
political ads, to try to change the opinion of the American people. But 
no matter how much advertising is done or how much argument is made--
since we're talking about education today, I think one of the central 
achievements of this administration has been to restore arithmetic to 
the budgeting of the Government. [Laughter] You know, this is not 
trigonometry. This is not algebra. This is not calculus, and it is not 
supply side economics. It's basic arithmetic.
    We got from a $290 billion deficit to a $99 billion surplus while 
almost doubling our investment in education and training by going back 
to arithmetic in Washington. And no

[[Page 1651]]

amount of argument will change the arithmetic of the population of the 
kids going into our schools. No amount of argument will change the 
arithmetic of the doubling of our seniors. No amount of argument will 
change the arithmetic that there are going to be relatively fewer people 
working while more people draw Social Security and Medicare. No amount 
of argument will change the arithmetic of the number of teachers who are 
going to retire. And the truth is that the American people deep down 
inside sort of sense this.
    So yes, I'll veto the tax plan. But let's don't stop with a 
negative. Let's make something good happen here. This is about something 
positive. This can be a great thing for America, having all these kids 
in the schools from all these different backgrounds. They can make us a 
bigger, stronger, more diverse, richer, more successful country.
    But we have to do right by them. We've got to give them a good 
economy. We've got to make sure that when the baby boomers retire, the 
parents of these children don't have to spend money that they would 
otherwise spend educating their children and helping them grow, taking 
care of their parents because we haven't done right by Social Security 
and Medicare. And we've got to give them a decent, world-class 
education. And if we could just go back to arithmetic, we can figure it 
    Now let me tell you what the alternative is. If this tax bill that's 
just passed, if I said, ``Oh, well, they had all these town meetings, 
and they had all these ads,'' and, ``Oh, the polls have changed,'' and, 
``Oh, I better sign it,'' and ``Oh, we had a big

celebration here,'' within fairly short order, we would find the following: 
Today, we help 12 million kids in poor communities to make more of their 
education. If the tax plan passes, over the new few years, we'd have to 
tell 6 million of them we couldn't do it anymore. Today, we help a million 
children learn to read independently by the third grade. If the plan 
passes, we'd have to tell more than half of them we couldn't help them 
anymore. Today, we're nearing our goal of enrolling a million preschoolers 
in Head Start. If the plan were to pass, we'd have to turn over 400,000 

    Compared to our proposal, this tax plan would mean to those already 
in school--never mind the ones that are coming, already in school--
larger classes, fewer teachers, more trailers. That's what it means. 
Sounds like a country song, doesn't it? [Laughter] Larger classes, fewer 
teachers, more trailers. [Laughter] I like country music, but we can do 
better than that. [Laughter]
    So again I say, let's put first things first. Let's decide--before 
we do the tax cut, let's decide what we have to do as a nation to be a 
great nation. Let's decide what it takes to take care of the aging of 
America, so the children of the baby boomers don't have to take funds 
away from raising their grandchildren; to save Social Security and 
Medicare. Let's decide what it takes, in addition to the surplus 
generated by Social Security taxes, to just get us out of debt in the 
next several years, to guarantee a whole generation of lower interest 
rates and higher economic growth. Let's decide what we have to do to 
give our children a world-class education.
    Then let's put that against the projected surplus--and I emphasize 
the word ``projected''--and string all those numbers out for 10 years, 
along with whatever we think we have to do for our farmers, who are 
getting killed out there in this very difficult international market; 
what we have to do for medical research; what it takes to protect the 
environment; and subtract from the projected surplus those things, after 
which there will be a number. Let's give that number back to the 
American people in a tax cut. And you know, since it's 10 years and it's 
projected, maybe there's some little play one way or the other but not a 
    Now, ironically, the tax cut I proposed gives about the same dollar 
benefits to the middle class as the one that the Congress passed. People 
in my income group wouldn't get anything out of

it, but people in my income group, by and large, and higher, have done 
pretty well in this economy, in this stock market, and care far more about 
keeping interest rates down and economic growth going, because they know 
they'll do well.

    The only other thing that I think is very important is, I think that 
my new markets tax cuts ought to pass, because I think we

[[Page 1652]]

ought to give investors the same incentives to invest in poor areas in 
America we give them to invest in poor areas around the world now, from 
the Caribbean to Latin America to Africa to Asia, so that we can keep 
economic growth going by bringing economic opportunity to the 
communities that haven't had it yet and to the people who haven't had it 
    We can do this if we go back to priorities and arithmetic. What's 
the most important thing? A time like this comes along once in a 
generation. People my age, to 10 or 15 years older than me, to 20 years 
younger than me, they've never known anything like this. Never have we 
had an opportunity like this.
    And with our children going back to school, with more of them than 
ever, with the educational needs crying out there--and, I might add, one 
thing that Secretary Riley didn't say, to toot his own horn and the horn 
of these educators back here and all the rest of you, is that we now 
know what works. The test scores are going up. We're learning how to 
educate this incredibly diverse group of kids. And if we make the right 
investments in the right way, we can get the right results.
    So again I say, let's have the right priorities. Let's make an ``A'' 
in arithmetic. Let's think about the 21st century and all these 
children. We'll make the right decisions.
    Thank you very much

Note: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. in Presidential Hall (formerly 
Room 450) in the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he 
referred to Wendell Greer, principal, Manual Arts High School, Los 
Angeles, CA, who introduced the President.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 1652]

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