Two years ago, President Clinton entered office with a vision for keeping the American dream alive as we prepare our nation for the challenges of a new century.
The end of the Cold War has changed the way we must think about our national security. A new global economy has emerged, where goods, services, and information speed around the globe.
When President Clinton took office, Americans were struggling in this new economy. A harsh recession thwarted growth, holding unemployment up and wages down. Middle class American families, playing by the rules, were working harder and harder just to stay in place. Education costs were rising out of control, at a time when the need for an education was more important than ever to raise standards of living. The difficulty of saving for retirement increased the financial pressures on working families. It seemed ordinary, middle class Americans were always the ones asked to make sacrifices in this new economy.
Yet a bloated government in Washington, trapped in yesterday's problems, worked more for the special interests than the public interest. The budget was out of control, with deficits projected to top $300 billion and head higher into the next century, limiting our ability to invest in the future.
President Clinton offered a vision for America in his speech announcing his candidacy for president. He said, We need a New Covenant to rebuild America, a solemn agreement between the people and their government. Government's responsibility is to create more opportunity for everybody, and our responsibility is to make the most of it.
President Clinton believes government should not be a savior, nor on the sidelines, but a partner as we fight to restore the American Dream. In a world of great opportunity, with a new economy, we need a new, leaner, more responsive government that will help give hardworking middle class Americans the tools to succeed and prosper. At the same time, all Americans must make the most of these opportunities.
Based on the New Covenant equation of creating more opportunity, while demanding more responsibility, President Clinton has led a fight to restore the American dream. This booklet describes the successes we have had so far, and the challenges that lie ahead. The booklet focuses on a broad array of issues, including:
The Economy. After 12 years of trickle down economics which had quadrupled the deficit and limitedopportunity, the President took on the special interests and fought to enact the largest deficit reductionpackage in history, which has reduced the deficit three straight years in a row, by over $600 billion.He expanded opportunity with tax relief for working families and by aggressively opening world markets for American goods and services. In just over two years, we have begun to turn things around. President Clinton's economic strategy has triggered the best combination of robust job creation and low inflation in 25 years.
Reinventing Government. Under the leadership of Vice President Gore, we are making a more efficient government. We have taken an ax to more than 300 wasteful government programs and eliminated 100,000 positions from the federal bureaucracy. We're on the way to reducing it by 272,900 positions, making the government the smallest since the Presidency of John Kennedy.
Education. Because education is the key to preparing Americans for the new economy, President Clinton is expanding opportunities for lifelong education: From pre-school to youth apprenticeship to direct lending for college loans to National Service to training for a new job in mid-career. At a time when education is more important than ever to succeed and prosper in the new economy, cutting education or National Service is like cutting defense spending in the middle of the Cold War.
The Middle Class Bill of Rights. Because too many families are unable to seize the opportunities of this new economy, President Clinton has proposed the Middle Class Bill of Rights to help restore the aspirations of America's working families. It includes a tax deduction for all education and training after high school; a $500 tax cut for each child under age 13; tax breaks for families that save for education, the purchase of a first home, or retirement; and Skill Grants given directly to workers, paid for by consolidating federal programs.
Welfare Reform. The President is fighting to make welfare a system of work and responsibility, not a way of life. He wants to create opportunities for people on welfare to help them get off, while demanding more responsibility.
Crime. Because an important part of the New Covenant is to make Americans more secure at home,President Clinton fought the special interests to enact a tough Crime Bill last year which puts 100,000 police on the streets, bans deadly assault weapons, expands the death penalty, and supports smarter prevention efforts which offer opportunities to young people to find a way out of the cycle of drugs and violence.
National Security. Finally, President Clinton believes that for America to be strong at home, it must be strong abroad. He has fought to preserve the tradition of American leadership in the world against a growing tide of isolationism.
President Clinton has dedicated his presidency to fighting for what's good for ordinary working Americans every day. He is fighting to expand opportunity for all, to infuse a new sense of responsibility in the country, and to put the American community on a path of restored hope and opportunity.