October 30, 1996
"The decision to have an abortion should be between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. Abortions should be safe, legal and rare."
President Clinton supports the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion. During his Presidency, he overturned the so-called "gag rule" which prohibited federally- funded clinics from giving women advice about abortion, supported Medicaid funding of abortions for poor women, and signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which tries to prevent blockades of abortion clinics.
"Affirmative action has been good for America. That does not mean it has always been perfect. It does not mean it should go on forever. It should be retired when its job is done, and I am resolved that that day will come. But ... the job is not done ..."
Last year, President Clinton ordered a review of the government's affirmative action programs which concluded that affirmative action was still effective and necessary, despite the need for some reforms. He has expressed his strong opposition to the California Civil Rights Initiative and other efforts to "turn back the clock" on affirmative action.
"We have to balance the budget in the way that reflects our most fundamental values -- increasing opportunity; asking all to assume responsibility; strengthening our families and the economy; recognizing the duty we owe to each other, to our parents, our children and those who need and deserve our help."
President Clinton has tried to stake out a moderate position on balancing the budget. He proudly takes credit for submitting the first balanced budget in 17 years, and for winning passage of the largest deficit reduction package in history. But while he promises to balance the budget by 2002, he is opposed to a constitutional amendment to mandate a balanced budget.
"Through AmeriCorps, our national service program, this year 25,000 young people will earn college money by serving their local communities to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors. These initiatives are right for America and we should keep them going."
President Clinton counts the creation of the AmeriCorps program, which gives young people college scholarships in exchange for national service, as one of the most significant achievements of his first term in office.
"We have begun to find a way to reduce crime, forming community partnerships with local police forces to catch criminals and prevent crime. This strategy, called community policing, is working. Violent crime is coming down all across America. Let's stick with a strategy that is working and keep the crime rate coming down."
President Clinton's first term has been marked by several major crime initiatives, including a ban on assault weapons, the Brady Bill which requires a waiting period for people purchasing handguns and a plan to hire 100,000 new police officers. The Clinton campaign points to decreasing crime rates as evidence of the Administration's success.
"Greater involvement by parents in their children's education will strengthen our schools and our families. We should give parents the right to choose which public school their children attend. We should also remind parents that they are their children's first teachers. They must turn off the television set more often, see that the homework gets done, and visit their children's classroom."
President Clinton's first term has seen him come out in support of school uniforms, sign the Goals 2000 bill which encourages states to develop standards for public education, and expand the Head Start program. While he supports giving parents a choice of public schools for their child's education, he opposes proposals to provide vouchers for private or parochial school education. He has strongly opposed plans to eliminate the Department of Education, which he considers essential.
"Our challenge is to leave our environment safe and clean for the next generation ... People do have a right to know that their air and their water are safe."
Although some environmentalists have criticized him for not going far enough on some issues, President Clinton's record shows that he signed legislation strengthening the Safe Drinking Water Act and vetoed attempts to weaken the Clean Water Act and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. He has also increased Environmental Protection Agency enforcement activity, and has defended the agency against proposed budget cuts.
"All over the world, even after the Cold War, people still look to us and trust us to help them seek the blessings of peace and freedom. But as the Cold War fades into memory, voices of isolation say America should retreat from its responsibilities ... Of course, we can't be everywhere. Of course, we can't do everything. But where our interests and our values are at stake, and where we can make a difference, America must lead. We must not be isolationist."
During President Clinton's administration, the United States has sent troops to Somalia, where the mission was widely regarded as a failure, and Haiti and Bosnia, which have been successes. The President helped facilitate the peace treaties between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and Jordan. He has also been a strong supporter of free trade, winning passage of GATT and NAFTA.
"For working families to succeed in the new economy, they must be able to buy health insurance that they do not lose when they change jobs or when someone in their family gets sick. We must do more to make quality health care available to every American."
There is probably no issue more connected with President Clinton's first term than health care. In the first two years of his Presidency, President Clinton proposed a sweeping health-care reform proposal which ultimately failed. He has, however, succeeded in getting several smaller legislative initiatives passed, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Kennedy-Kassenbaum Act which guarantees coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and people who change jobs, and a Childhood Immunization Initiative. He has also promised to continue to protect Medicare against proposed cuts, as he did in his first term.
"What we need to do is to have a sensible approach to immigration. It needs to be open. It needs to be nondogmatic and nonbigoted. We need to be firm but reasonable in the way we deal with the problem of illegal immigration. And we need to try to get as many of our immigrants who want to do so to become citizens as quickly as possible so that the American people will all see that this is a part of the process of American history which, is a good one for our country."
President Clinton's approach to immigration policy has been twofold. He has worked to limit illegal immigration by deploying a record number of Border Patrol agents and increasing sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants. On the legal immigration side, he has presented a plan which calls for fewer total immigrants, but which still allows for family reunification. The Administration's "Citizenship USA" program helped deal with a record number of applications for citizenship, in part through an increase in the Immigration and Naturalization Service's staff.
"In our schools, every classroom in America must be connected to the information superhighway, with computers and good software and well-trained teachers. We are working with the telecommunications industry, educators and parents to connect 20 percent of California's classrooms this spring, and every classroom and every library in the entire United States by the year 2000."
"This generation has a duty to give the next generation a future of genuine opportunity. Our young people deserve the best. I am determined that they will get it. We must work together to build the brightest, the best prepared, the most secure, and the most successful generation of young people in the history of our nation."
President Clinton has established several programs aimed at expanding students access to money for college. In addition to the AmeriCorps community service program (see "Community Service," above), his Direct Lending Program allows students to repay their loans on flexible terms, including pay-as-you-earn. During the campaign, the President has proposed a new HOPE scholarship, designed to pay the cost of the first two years of a community college education, a $10,000 per year tax deduction for the cost of college tuition, and a new merit-based scholarship program to provide the top five percent of high school graduates with $1,000 towards the cost of college.