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State Of The Union

 Clinton Stays On His Message (01-27-98)

 Lott Charts a Slightly Different Course (01-27-98)

 Analysis: Speech Memorable For What Clinton Didn't Say (01-27-98)

 Lewinsky Allegations Overshadow State Of The Union (01-27-98)

 Full List Of President's Guests (01-27-98)

 Clinton Repeats Denial (01-26-98)

 Analysis: Delay The State Of The Union (01-26-98)

 Toon: Bill Mitchell's "State of the Union" (01-26-98)


Poll

 Clinton Gets A Bounce (01-27-98)


Transcripts

 President Bill Clinton's State Of The Union Address (01-27-98)

 Sen. Trent Lott With The GOP Response To The President's State Of The Union Address (01-27-98)


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 President Clinton's State Of The Union Address (01-27-98)

 Sen. Trent Lott With The Republican Response (01-27-98)


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President Bill Clinton's State Of The Union Address

Jan. 27, 1998

CLINTON: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of the 105th Congress, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans, since the last time, we met in this chamber, America has lost two patriots and fine public servants. Though they say on opposite sides of the aisle, Representatives Walter Capps and Sonny Bono shared a deep love for this House and unshakable commitment to improving the lives of all our people.

In the past few weeks, they've both been eulogized. Tonight, I think we should begin by sending a message to their families and their friends that we celebrate their lives and give thanks for their service to our nation.

(APPLAUSE)

For 209 years, it has been the president's duty to report to you on the state of the union.

Because of the hard work and high purpose of the American people, these are good times for America.

We have more than 14 million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 24 years, the lowest core inflation in 30 years.

Incomes are rising, and we have the highest home ownership in history. Crime has dropped for a record five years in a row, and the welfare rolls are at their lowest levels in 27 years.

Our leadership in the world is unrivaled. Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our union is strong.

(APPLAUSE)

But with barely 700 days left in the 20th century, this is not a time to rest. It is a time to build -- to build the America within reach. An America where everybody has a chance to get ahead with hard work, where every citizen can live in a safe community, where families are strong, schools are good and all our young people can go on to college.

An America where scientists find cures for diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer's to AIDS. An America where every child can stretch a hand across a keyboard and reach every book ever written, every painting ever painted, every symphony ever composed.

Where government provides opportunity and citizens honor the responsibility to give something back to their communities. An American which leads the world to new heights of peace and prosperity. This is the America we have begun to build. This is the America we can leave to our children, if we join together to finish the work at hand.

Let us strengthen our nation for the 21st century.

(APPLAUSE)

Rarely have Americans lived through so much change in so many ways in so short a time. Quietly, but with gathering force, the ground has shifted beneath our feet, as we have moved into an information age, a global economy, a truly new world. For five years now we have met the challenge of these changes as Americans have at every turning point in our history, by renewing the very idea of America. Widening the circle of opportunity. Deepening the meaning of our freedom. Forging a more perfect union.

We shaped a new kind of government for the Information Age.

I thank the vice president for his leadership and the Congress for its support in building a government that is leaner, more flexible, a catalyst for new ideas and, most of all, a government that gives the American people the tools they need to make the most of their own lives.

(APPLAUSE)

We have moved past the sterile debate between those who say government is the enemy and those who say government is the answer. My fellow Americans, we have found a third way. We have the smallest government in 35 years, but a more progressive one. We have a smaller government, but a stronger nation.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We are moving steadily toward an even stronger America in the 21st century, an economy that offers opportunity, a society rooted in responsibility, and a nation that lives as a community.

First, Americans in this chamber and across our nation have pursued a new strategy for prosperity: Fiscal discipline to cut interest rates and spur growth. Investments in education and skills and science and technology and transportation to prepare our people for the new economy. New markets for American products and American workers.

When I took office, the deficit for 1998 was projected to be $357 billion and heading higher. This year, our deficit is projected to be $10 billion and heading lower.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

For three decades, six presidents have come before you to warn of the damage deficits pose to our nation. Tonight I come before you to announce that the federal deficit, once so incomprehensibly large that it had 11 zeros, will be simply zero.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. I will submit to Congress for 1999 the first balanced budget in 30 years. And...

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

And, if we hold fast to fiscal discipline, we may balance the budget this year, four years ahead of schedule.

You can all be proud of that because turning a sea of red ink into black is no miracle. It is the product of hard work by the American people and of two visionary actions in Congress -- the courageous vote in 1993 that led to a cut in the deficit of 90 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

And...

(APPLAUSE)

And the truly historic bipartisan balanced budget agreement passed by this Congress.

(APPLAUSE)

Here's the really good news. If we maintain our resolve, we will produce balanced budgets as far as the eye can see.

We must not go back to unwise spending or untargeted tax cuts that risk reopening the deficit.

(APPLAUSE)

Last year, together we enacted targeted tax cuts so that the typical middle class family will now have the lowest tax rates in 20 years.

(APPLAUSE)

My plan to balance the budget next year includes both new investments and new tax cuts, targeted to the needs of working families.

For education. For child care. For the environment. But whether the issue is tax cuts or spending, I ask all of you to meet this test. Approve only those priorities that can actually be accomplished without adding a dime to the deficit.

(APPLAUSE)

Now if we balance the budget for next year, it is projected that we'll then have a sizable surplus in the years that immediately follow. What should we do with this projected surplus? I have a simple, four-word answer: Save Social Security first.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Tonight I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus, that's every penny of any surplus, until we have taken all the necessary measures to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Let us say -- let us say to all Americans watching tonight -- whether you're 70 or 50 or whether you just started paying into the system -- Social Security will be there when you need it.

(APPLAUSE)

Let us make this commitment...

(APPLAUSE)

... Social Security first. Let's do that -- together.

(APPLAUSE)

I also want to say that all the American people who are watching us tonight should be invited to join in this discussion.

In facing these issues squarely. In forming a true consensus on how we should proceed. We'll start by conducting nonpartisan forums in every region of the country. And I hope that lawmakers of both parties will participate.

We'll hold the White House conference on Social Security in December. And one year from now, I will convene the leaders of Congress to craft historic, bipartisan legislation to achieve a landmark for our generation: A Social Security system that is strong in the 21st century.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

In an economy that honors opportunity, all Americans must be able to reap the rewards of prosperity. Because these times are good, we can afford to take one simple, sensible step to help millions of workers struggling to provide for their families.

We should raise the minimum wage.

(APPLAUSE)

The information age is first and foremost and information age in which education will start at birth and continue throughout a lifetime. Last year, from this podium, I said that education has to be our highest priority. I laid out a ten-point plan to move us forward and urged all of us to let politics stop at the schoolhouse door.

Since then, this Congress, across party lines, and the American people, have responded, in the most important year for education in a generation. Expanding public school choice. Opening the way to 3,000 new charter schools. Working to connect every classroom in the country to the information superhighway. Committing to expand Head Start to a million children. Launching America Reads. Sending literally thousands of college students into our elementary schools to make sure all our 8-year-olds can read.

Last year, I proposed and you passed 220,00 new Pell grant scholarships for deserving students.

(APPLAUSE)

Student loans -- student loans, already less expensive and easier to repay, now you get to deduct the interest. (APPLAUSE)

Families all over America now can put their savings into new tax- free education IRAs. And this year, for the first two years of college, families will get a $1,500 tax credit -- a Hope scholarship that will cover the cost of most community college tuition.

And for junior and senior year, graduate school, and job training, there is a lifetime learning credit. You did that and you should be very proud of it.

(APPLAUSE)

And because of these actions, I have something to say to every family listening to us tonight. Your children can go on to college. If you know a child from a poor family, tell her not to give up. She can go on to college. If you know a young couple struggling with bills, worried they won't be able to send their children to college, tell them not to give up -- their children can go on to college.

If you know somebody who's caught in a dead-end job and afraid he can't afford the classes necessary to get better jobs for the rest of his life, tell him not to give up -- he can go on to college.

Because of the things that have been done, we can make college as universal in the 21st century as high school is today.

And my friends, that will change the face and future of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

We have opened wide the doors of the world's best system of higher education. Now we must make our public elementary and secondary schools the world's best as well.

(APPLAUSE)

By raising standards, raising expectations and raising accountability. Thanks to the actions of this Congress last year, we will soon have for the very first time a voluntary national test based on national standards in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math. Parents have a right to know whether their children are mastering the basics. And every parent already knows the key -- good teachers and small classes.

Tonight, I propose the first ever national effort to reduce class size in the early grades.

(APPLAUSE)

My -- thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

My balanced budget will help to hire 100,000 new teachers who pass the state competency test. Now, with these teachers -- listen, with these teachers, we will actually be able to reduce class size in the first, second and third grades to an average of 18 students a class all across America.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, if...

(APPLAUSE)

If I got the math right, more teachers, teaching smaller classes requires more classrooms. So I also propose a school construction tax cut to help communities modernize or build 5,000 schools.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

We must also demand greater accountability. When...

(APPLAUSE)

When we promote a child from grade to grade who hasn't mastered the work, we don't do that child any favors.

It is time to end social promotion in America's schools.

(APPLAUSE)

Last year -- last year in Chicago, they made that decision -- not to hold our children back, but to lift them up. Chicago stopped social promotion, and started mandatory summer school to help students who are behind to catch up.

I propose...

(APPLAUSE)

I propose to help other communities follow Chicago's lead. Let's say to them -- Stop promoting children who don't learn and we will give you the tools to make sure they do.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I also asked this Congress to support our efforts to enlist colleges and universities to reach out to disadvantaged children, starting in the sixth grade, so that they can get the guidance and hope they need so they can know that they, too, will be able to go on to college.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

As we enter the 21st century, the global economy requires us to seek opportunity not just at home but in all the markets of the world. We must shape this global economy, not shrink from it.

In the last five years we have led the way in opening new markets with 240 trade agreements that remove foreign barriers to products bearing the proud stamp, Made in the USA.

Today, record-high exports account for fully one-third of our economic growth. I want to keep them going because that's the way to keep America growing and to advance a safer, more stable world.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, all of you know, whatever your views are, that I think this is a great opportunity for America. I know there is opposition to more comprehensive trade agreements.

I have listened carefully, and I believe that the opposition is rooted in two fears. First, that our trading partners will have lower environmental and labor standards, which will give them an unfair advantage in our market and do their own people no favors, even if there's more business.

And second, that if we have more trade, more of our workers will lose their jobs and have to start over. I think we should seek to advance worker and environmental standards around the world.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It should...

(APPLAUSE)

I have made it abundantly clear that it should be a part of our trade agenda, but we cannot influence other countries' decisions if we send them a message that we're backing away from trade with them.

This year, I will send legislation to Congress and ask other nations to join us to fight the most intolerable labor practice of all -- abusive child labor.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

We should also offer help and hope to those Americans temporarily left behind by the global marketplace or by the march of technology, which may have nothing to do with trade.

That's why we have more than doubled funding for training dislocated workers since 1993, and if my new budget is adopted, we will triple funding.

That's why we must do more and more quickly to help workers who lose their jobs for whatever reason.

You know, we help communities in a special way when their military base closes. We ought to help them in the same way if their factory closes.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

Again, I ask the Congress to continue its bipartisan work to consolidate the tangle of training programs we have today into one single GI Bill for workers -- a simple skills grant so people can on their own move quickly to new jobs, to higher incomes and brighter futures.

Now, we all know in every way in life, change is not always easy. But we have to decide whether we're going to try to hold it back and hide from it or reap its benefits.

And remember the big picture here. While we've been entering into hundreds of new trade agreements, we've been creating millions of new jobs.

So this year, we will forge new partnerships with Latin America, Asia and Europe. And we should pass the new African Trade Act. It has bipartisan support.

(APPLAUSE)

I will also renew my request for the fast-track negotiating authority necessary to open more new markets, create more new jobs, which every president has had for two decades.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, whether we like it or not, in ways that are mostly positive, the world's economies are more and more interconnected and interdependent. Today an economic crisis anywhere can affect economies everywhere.

Recent months have brought serious financial problems to Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and beyond.

Now why should Americans be concerned about this?

First, these countries are our customers. If they sink in a recession, they won't be able to buy the goods we'd like to sell them. Second, they're also our competitors. So if their currencies lose their value and go down, then the price of their goods will drop, flooding our market and others with much cheaper goods which makes it a lot tougher four our people to compete.

And finally, they are our strategic partners. Their stability bolsters our security.

(APPLAUSE)

The American economy remains sound and strong and I want to keep it that way. But because the turmoil in Asia will have an impact on all the world's economies, including ours, making that negative impact as small as possible is the right thing to do for America and the right thing to do for a safer world.

(APPLAUSE)

Our policy is clear. No nation can recover if it does not reform itself.

But when nations are willing to undertake serious economic reform, we should help them do it. So I call on Congress to renew America's commitment to the International Monetary Fund.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

And I think we should say to all the people we're trying to represent here that preparing for a far-off storm that may reach our shores is far wiser than ignoring the thunder until the clouds are just overhead.

(APPLAUSE)

A strong nation rests on the rock of responsibility.

Go to Part 2

In Other News

Tuesday Jan. 27, 1998

Clinton: Use Budget Surpluses To Fix Social Security
Lott Charts a Slightly Different Course
Grand Jury Convened Without Lewinsky Testimony
Details Of A Settlement Offer
Lewinsky Allegations Overshadow State Of The Union
White House Scandal At A Glance
Report: Lewinsky Allegedly Forged Document
Hillary Clinton: 'This Is A Battle'
Chelsea Deals With A Scandal

Analysis:
Speech Memorable For What Clinton Didn't Say

Poll:
Clinton Gets A Bounce
Gender Gap Shows Up In Controversy
Most Americans Still Have Confidence In Clinton

Profile:
Kenneth Starr

Transcripts:
President Bill Clinton's State Of The Union Addresss





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