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four Americans with severe disabilities who want to work, but aren't 
working. This is not just a missed opportunity for them; it's a missed 
opportunity for all the rest of us, too.
    If we want to keep our economy growing with continued low inflation 
and low unemployment, we must draw on the untapped potential of our 
people. That's why I launched our enterprise zone and enterprise 
community initiative 6\1/2\ years ago, under the leadership of Vice 
President Gore, to bring investment and jobs to rural and urban areas 
with high unemployment.
    That's why I'm working now to pass our new markets initiative in 
Congress, to give Americans the same incentive to invest in poor 
communities in America we now give them to invest in poor communities in 
Latin America, Asia, Africa, and central Europe. And that's why I 
established a Presidential task force on the employment of adults with 
disabilities last year, to help remove the barriers that prevent people 
with disabilities from going to work.
    In December Vice President Gore received the first set of 
recommendations by the task force, and I'm proud to say we've taken 
action on every one. The budget I proposed last January would invest 
more than $2 billion in health care, tax credits, and new technologies 
for people with disabilities. I also signed an Executive order to 
eliminate unfair barriers to Federal employment for people with 
psychiatric disabilities.
    Today I announce new steps we're taking to ensure that when it comes 
to the employment of people with disabilities, the Federal Government 
leads by example. And today I'm releasing the first-ever Government plan 
to ensure positive career paths for people with disabilities in our 
Federal work force. I'm directing every Federal agency and department to 
take concrete action to expand opportunities for people with 
disabilities in all levels of the work force, from entry to senior 
    And I'm calling on all agencies to recruit and promote people with 
disabilities, to reach out to students with disabilities, to provide 
reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with 
disabilities. I'm also calling on our Federal human resources agency, 
the Office of Personnel Management, to ensure that every agency gets the 
help it needs to fulfill these commitments. We are the Nation's largest 
employer. I want it to be a model for private industry, and this plan 
will help to do just that.
    But there's more to do. One of the biggest barriers facing people 
with disabilities is the fear of losing their health insurance when they 
get a job. Under current law, many people with disabilities cannot keep 
their Medicaid or Medicare coverage if they work. This creates a 
tremendous disincentive to work, because they have to have health care, 
and neither they nor their employer can afford, or often even find, 
health insurance.
    There's a commonsense, bipartisan bill to change that. It's called 
the ``Work Incentives Improvement Act;'' it was sponsored by Republican 
Senators Jeffords and Roth and Democratic Senators Kennedy and Moynihan. 
Simply put, it will make sure that people with disabilities don't lose 
their health care when they gain a job. This bill passed the Senate 99-
0. A bipartisan majority in the House has already cosponsored it. So I 
say to Congress, don't water the bill down, guarantee its financing, and 
go ahead and send it to me so we can sign it without delay.
    It will make money for America. It will make more taxpayers. And 
we'll be spending the Medicaid money regardless. Americans with 
disabilities who want to work shouldn't have to wait one more day.
    After years of delay, last week the House of Representatives finally 
heard the voice of the American people and passed a strong, enforceable 
Patients' Bill of Rights. By choosing progress over partisanship again, 
we can also pass the ``Work Incentives Improvement Act'' and keep 
American working and growing.
    I urge the leadership to seize this opportunity. Make this a season 
of progress, not

[[Page 2067]]

a winter of partisan politics. Let's finish the job the American people 
sent us here to do.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 2:39 p.m. on October 15 in the Oval 
Office at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on October 16. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
September 15 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2067]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Memorandum on Hiring People With Disabilities in the Federal Government

October 16, 1999

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Hiring People with Disabilities in the Federal Government

    Since I became President, we have created over 19 million new jobs 
and unemployment is as low as it has been in 29 years. Still, almost 75 
percent of working-age Americans with severe disabilities remain 
unemployed. If this Nation is to live up to its promise of equal 
opportunity, and our economy is to continue to strengthen and expand, we 
must draw on the untapped energy and creativity of these millions of 
capable Americans.
    One of the most glaring barriers to work for people with 
disabilities is that they frequently become ineligible for Medicaid or 
Medicare if they go back to work, putting them in the untenable position 
of choosing between health care coverage and employment. That is why my 
budget fully funds the Work Incentives Improvement Act, investing $1.2 
billion over 5 years in health care and employment services so that 
people with disabilities can work. This legislation was unanimously 
endorsed by the House Commerce Committee on May 19 and has been 
cosponsored by a majority of the House of Representatives; it passed the 
Senate 99-0 on June 16. It is time for the Congress to finish the job 
and pass the Work Incentives Improvement Act immediately. People with 
disabilities who want to work should not have to wait one more day.
    Vice President Gore and I have already taken a number of steps to 
increase the employment of people with disabilities. On March 13, 1998, 
I signed Executive Order 13078 establishing the National Task Force on 
Employment of Adults with Disabilities to create a coordinated national 
policy to bring working-age individuals with disabilities into gainful 
employment. In December, the Task Force presented the Vice President 
with its first report, and I am proud to say we have taken action on all 
the Task Force's formal recommendations.
    As we fight to ensure that all people with disabilities have the 
health care and other assistance they need to go to work, we must also 
lead by example and make the Federal Government a model employer of 
people with disabilities. On June 4, 1999, I signed an Executive order 
eliminating the Federal Government's stricter hiring standards for 
people with psychiatric disabilities, an issue highlighted by Mrs. Gore 
earlier in the year. And last December, the Vice President asked the 
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to develop a plan to increase the 
representation of adults with disabilities in the Federal workforce.
    Today I am pleased to release that plan, Accessing Opportunity: The 
Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal 
Government, and the companion employment guide prepared by OPM. These 
documents give agencies detailed and practical information on ways to 
recruit people with disabilities for positions at all levels of 
government; provide opportunities for students with disabilities; ensure 
career opportunities for people with disabilities; collect and maintain 
data to monitor their success; and provide reasonable accommodations for 
applicants and employees with disabilities.
    I therefore direct you to implement this plan immediately within 
your departments and agencies and to bring qualified people with 
disabilities into the Federal workforce. This plan is proof of the 
Federal Government's commitment to empowering people with disabilities; 
now is the time for us to fulfill that commitment.
                                            William J. Clinton

[[Page 2068]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2068]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Proclamation 7242--National Character Counts Week, 1999

October 16, 1999

By the President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

    The character of our citizens has enriched every aspect of our 
national life and has set an example of civic responsibility for people 
around the world. The diligence and determination that are part of our 
Nation's work ethic have strengthened our economy, and the firm 
convictions of our spiritual leaders have helped guide our communities, 
fostering unity, compassion, and humility.
    In this dynamic time of unparalleled opportunity and possibility, 
our children will encounter a variety of new challenges that will test 
the strength of their character and convictions. As the dawn of the new 
millennium fast approaches, we must work together--parents, public 
officials, educators, entertainers, and business and religious leaders--
to impart to our youth the core values they need to be good citizens.
    We know that parents play a critical role in imparting moral values 
to their children. But in today's complex and fast-paced society, when 
parents must spend longer hours at work and more families are headed by 
a single parent, parents have less time to spend with their children--an 
average decrease of 22 hours a week over the past 30 years, according to 
a report released this spring by my Council of Economic Advisers. We 
must seek innovative ways to address this problem and to promote 
stronger families, including greater flexibility in paid work hours, 
more affordable child care, and increased support for low-income 
    My Administration is committed to providing families with the tools 
they need to fulfill their responsibilities at home and at work. Our 
agenda includes tripling our investment in after-school programs through 
the 21st Century Community Learning Center program and a historic 
initiative to make child care better, safer, and more affordable for 
working families. We are also working to expand the Family and Medical 
Leave Act to cover more workers and to allow leave for more parental 
activities, such as parent-teacher conferences and routine doctor 
    While Americans are striving to seize the opportunities presented by 
this exciting new era, we must continue to preserve the fundamental 
ideals and ethics that have sustained our country for more than two 
centuries. By sustaining these shared values and passing them on to our 
children, we can realize our common hope for a more just and honorable 
society and a brighter future for the generations to come.
    Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United 
States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the 
Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 
17 through October 23, 1999, as National Character Counts Week. I call 
upon the people of the United States, government officials, educators, 
religious, community, and business leaders, and the States to 
commemorate this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and 
    In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day 
of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, 
and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred 
and twenty-fourth.
                                            William J. Clinton

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:37 a.m., October 19, 

Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on October 

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2068-2070]
Monday, October 25, 1999
Volume 35--Number 42
Pages 2065-2124
Week Ending Friday, October 22, 1999
Remarks at a National Italian American Foundation Dinner

October 16, 1999

    Thank you ladies and gentlemen. First of all, let me thank you for 
your warm welcome to Hillary and me. Thank you, Frank Guarini, for being 
my friend for all these years. Thank you, President Joe Cerrell. To all 
the distinguished guests here and the honorees, the Members of Congress, 
Gerry Ferrarro, Ambassador Foglietta, Ambassador Rosapepe. To our 
distinguished Italian guests, Maria Bartiromo, Ambassador Salleo and, 
especially, Foreign Minister Dini.

[[Page 2069]]

    I would like to say a special word of appreciation at this point to 
the Prime Minister and the Government of Italy for standing with us and 
working with us for the cause of our common humanity in Kosovo and, 
before that, in Bosnia, We could not have done it without Italy, and I 
am grateful.
    Justice Scalia and Cardinal Hickey and all the others here--you 
stole my line about 50 percent of my four Chiefs of Staff being Italian. 
The other two wish they were. [Laughter] I thank you for all the gifts 
from Campania, including the beautiful flowers for Hillary. We visited 
there when the 1994 conference of the G-7 nations was held in Naples. 
And we have been very blessed by our times there. I understand my friend 
Dick Grasso and the Barnes & Noble CEO, Leonard Riggio, are both from 
that region of Italy. I'm about to go back to Florence, and I'm only 
supposed to stay a day, so if I play hooky and stay an extra day I want 
3,000 of you to write an excuse for me, just like I used to get when I 
missed a day of school.
    I guess I ought to say, since this is baseball season, that I'm sure 
of one person who would like to be here tonight who can't be is Joe 
Torre. Now, I'm not taking sides in the baseball series, but the Yankees 
do have two Italian-Americans on their team--Joe and the catcher, Joe 
Girardi. And no city in America has been better to me than Boston, but 
the Red Sox haven't had an Italian since their pitcher Frank Viola 
retired. So I think we ought to get the Red Sox an Italian baseball 
player to balance out our equal opportunity agenda through the country.
    You know, from the beginning of our country, Italian-Americans have 
made invaluable contributions. And I want to say a special word of 
thanks, not for all those which I could litanize, and you know them, but 
for the National Italian American Foundation's leadership for our 
efforts to build one America.
    I'm very grateful that this is a country in better shape than it was 
7 years ago when I first came here. I am very grateful for the chance 
that I have had to serve. I'm grateful for the Italian-Americans who 
have helped to ensure the success of our administration. I'm glad that 
we have the lowest unemployment rate in 29 years and the lowest welfare 
rolls in 30 years and the lowest poverty rates in 20 years, the lowest 
crime rates in 26 years and the first back-to-back surpluses in 42 

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