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Clinton proclaims agenda, ignores allegations threatening presidency


WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bill Clinton proclaimed some
bold plans for the final three years of his second term in
the White House on a night when week-old charges about his
personal life made it uncertain if he would be in office to
seek to fulfill those intentions.
In his Jan. 27 State of the Union address, Clinton made
proposals to salvage the Social Security system and to
reduce the size of elementary-school classrooms and issued a
warning to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. He did not refer,
however, to the scandalous allegations threatening his
presidency.
The cloud of charges hung over the House of
Representatives chamber where the president spoke and the
American people to whom he spoke on national television, but
there was no mention during the 74-minute address of
allegations he had a sexual relationship with a young White
House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and told her to deny the
affair.
Instead, Clinton gave a blueprint to “build the America
within reach” before the close of the 20th century.
He called for any budget surplus to be used on Social
Security, the retirement system critics have said may not
survive.
“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,” the president said. “What
should we do with this projected surplus? I have a simple,
four-word answer: Save Social Security first.
“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.”
On education, he announced the “firs-ever national
effort to reduce class size in the early grades.”
A balanced budget will assist in the hiring of 100,000
new teachers in order to produce an average 18-to-1
student-teacher ratio in the first three grades, Clinton
said. To provide the classrooms needed, he proposed a school
construction tax cut to help localities renovate or build
5,000 schools.
On child care, a subject the White House has given
increasing attention to lately, the president proposed a
larger child-care tax credit for families in which both
parents work. “Now, if you pass my plan, what this means is
that a family of four with an income of $35,000 and high
child-care costs will no longer pay a single penny of
federal income tax,” Clinton said.
He also warned Hussein, whose refusal to allow United
Nations inspectors to search for and destroy Iraq’s nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons has brought the United
States near military action.
“I know I speak for everyone in this chamber,
Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein,
‘You cannot defy the will of the world,’ and when I say to
him, ‘You have used weapons of mass destruction before; we
are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again,'”
the president said.
In the Republican Party’s response, Senate Majority
Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi backed the president while
referring to the allegations surrounding him.
“Let me make one thing clear to Saddam Hussein or
anyone else who needs to be told: Despite any current
controversy, this Congress will vigorously support the
president in full defense of America’s interests throughout
the world,” Lott said to a national television audience
after Clinton’s speech.
The president also asked Congress to take the following
actions:
— Pass a ban on human cloning.
— Enact protection from genetic discrimination in
employment.
— Adopt campaign finance reform.
— Raise the price of cigarettes by as much as $1.50 a
pack the next 10 years and penalize tobacco companies if
they keep targeting children.
— Reform the Internal Revenue Service.
— Assist in the hiring of 1,000 new border patrol
agents to halt drug smuggling.
— Help in making Hungary, Poland and the Czech
Republic members of NATO.
In his response, Lott said Clinton “seems to think that
big government can solve all your children’s problems if you
will just give government more of your money and more
control over your lives. Nonsense!”
On the issue of child care, Lott said the federal
government should cut taxes and treat stay-at-home mothers
the same as those who work outside the home. “After all, all
moms work — whether at home or in an outside job,” he said.
Bill Mattox, chairman of Family Research Council’s
Cultural Renewal Initiative, agreed with Lott. “There’s a
failure by the president to understand or appreciate the
important role that parents play” in rearing preschool
children, Mattox told Citizen Issues Alert, a newsletter by
Focus on the Family.
On the budget surplus, Lott again disagreed with the
president. “If there is a surplus, we should use part of it
to pay down the national debt and return the rest to you,
the taxpayer. After all, it is your money,” he said.
He also called for the elimination of “the IRS as we
know it today,” the adoption of a new tax code and passage
of parental choice in education.
Lott challenged Democrats in the Senate to help
override Clinton’s second veto of a bill banning the
“dreadful practice of partial-birth abortions.”
In October, the president most recently vetoed
legislation prohibiting a gruesome form of abortion that
typically is performed in the fifth or sixth month of
pregnancy. An override attempt is planned this year. When it
was last passed, the House easily achieved the two-thirds
majority required for an override, but the Senate fell three
votes short.
Clinton and Lott both are members of churches
affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.