• U.S.

A Flurry Of Activity: Clinton’s Second-Term Agenda

2 minute read
James Carney

The White House has spent the past few weeks rolling out proposals that the President will feature in his State of the Union address next week. The highlights:

PROPOSAL Balance in 1999 With the deficit shrinking faster than predicted, Clinton promises to submit a balanced budget for 1999, three years ahead of schedule

COST Free, thanks to the economy

PRO Allows Clinton to look like a fiscal conservative even as he calls for new spending

CON Adds to the let’s-spend-the-surplus fever already spreading through Washington

PROSPECTS A sure bet; House Speaker Gingrich had the idea before Clinton

[PROPOSAL] Expand Medicare Clinton would allow anyone between the ages of 62 and 64 to buy into the program early and give those from 55 to 62 without jobs or insurance the same option

[COST] $2 billion to $3 billion in temporary “loans” over five years if, as the Administration promises, the plan is “self-financed” by premiums

[PRO] Helps ease baby boomers’ preretirement anxiety

[CON] Could become another budget-busting entitlement

[PROSPECTS] Republicans may grumble, but this will pass unless they can convince the public that it’s Big Government again

[PROPOSAL] Improve Education Clinton will call for more money to hire thousands of new teachers, build new schools and repair old ones

[COST] A total of $15 billion over five years

[PRO] Overcrowded classrooms and dilapidated school buildings have become national issues

[CON] An expensive Washington remedy for a problem many Americans consider to be local

[PROSPECTS] With Republicans trying to get right on education, a compromise is likely

[PROPOSAL] Provide More Child Care The plan doubles the number of children receiving child-care subsidies to 2 million and increases child-care tax credits for lower-income families

[COST] $21.7 billion over five years

[PRO] It speaks to soccer moms everywhere

[CON] Should the feds really be messing with child care?

[PROSPECTS] Can you say gender gap? Republicans can’t wait to jump on this bandwagon

[PROPOSAL] Develop the Peace Corps Clinton, in nod to J.F.K., wants to nearly double the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers

[COST] $48 million a year

[PRO] Expands a practical program that no longer suffers from the naive idealism of its early years

[CON] Nonessential, so why now?

[PROSPECTS] With some prominent corps veterans in Congress, this should sail smoothly

–By James Carney

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