Bill Clinton on Families & Children
President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)
Medical Leave Act made real difference in people's lives
If you listened only to the right-wing echo chamber, it would be easy to forget that innovative programs like the FMLA were not just slogans, they were often turning points in individual lives. Clinton signed the FMLA in 1993, which enabled workers to
take up to 12 weeks of leave, whether to look after a newborn baby or to care for a sick family member.
Again and again, I heard stories from people who had decided to take advantage of the provisions of the
FMLA and ended up having a truly life-altering experience. Often they would get emotional as they told me about the time they had spent being there for a close family member, or being at home with their wives and sharing a baby's
first weeks of life in a way their fathers never experienced.
The FMLA was just one of the hundreds of programs enacted in the Clinton years that made a real, palpable difference in people's lives.
Source: What A Party!, by Terry McAuliffe, p.197-198
, Jan 23, 2007
1990s: Doubled federal funding for child care
There was no mystery why Clinton had such high marks from the people. He had earned it, working during his 8 years to compile an unprecedented record of accomplishments:
Source: What A Party!, by Terry McAuliffe, p.263-264
, Jan 23, 2007
- Highest homeownership rate in history at 67.7 %
Lowest poverty rate in 2 decades, down to 11.3 %
- Child poverty declined a record 28.7%
- Expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, lifting 4.1 million out of poverty
Created the FMLA, allowing nearly 9.1 million workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with family medical crisis
- Doubled federal funding for child care
Increased the hourly minimum wage for $4.25 to $5.15
- Created AmeriCorps, allowing 400,000 young people to serve their communities
- Largest investment in education in 30 years
A strong America requires strong community
[One of the principles of the New Democrat philosophy is that] a strong America requires a resurgent sense of [community],
a strong sense of mutual obligations, and a conviction that we cannot pursue our individual interests independent of the needs of our fellow citizens.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.327
, Jun 21, 2004
Family and Medical Leave Act: pro-family & pro-work
We need to take another look at our work and family agenda. We're the pro-family, pro-work party. That's why we supported the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Our positions were very effective in the
1990s with a lot of middle-class people who work in the New Economy. Now that most parents are working, we need to find new ways to expand unpaid family and medical leave, and to provide incentives for paid leave and for more flex-time.
You can't call a society successful unless people feel they can work and raise their children--while doing a good job at both.
The Bush administration wants to withdraw the option I gave states to use excess unemployment funds to finance paid family leave.
Source: Crossroads, by Andrew Cuomo, p. 42
, Oct 14, 2003
New Initiatives to Collect more Child Support
Since the President took office, child support collections have doubled from $8 billion in 1992 to nearly $16 billion in 1999. Today, parents who owe child support have their wages garnished, their bank accounts seized, their federal loans denied,
and their tax refunds withheld. Over $1.3 billion was collected from federal income tax refunds for tax year 1998, double the amount since 1992. In addition, a new program established in 1999 that matches records of parents who owe child support with
multi-state financial institutions, has already identified nearly 900,000 delinquent parents with accounts valued at $3 billion. In June 1998, the President signed the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, enacting tougher penalties for parents who repeatedly
fail to support children living in another state or who flee across state lines. The number of fathers taking responsibility for their children by establishing paternity rose to a record 1.5 million in 1999, triple the 1992 figure of 516,000.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Sep 6, 2000
Incentives for home ownership
There is no more crucial building block for a strong community and a promising future than a solid home.“ The Clinton Administration is dedicated to making the dream of homeownership a reality for all Americans. In 1995, the Administration, in
partnership with 50 key public and private sector organizations, formed a National Homeownership Strategy with the goal of helping more Americans become homeowners.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site
, Aug 1, 2000
- Highest Homeownership Rate in History, 67.2% in the 2nd
quarter of 2000.
- Lowering Interest Rates by Paying Off the National Debt.
- Record Levels of Homeownership Assistance via 1.3 million loans from the Federal Housing Administration.
- Helping Renters Buy Their First Home via homeownership vouchers
for 50,000 families.
- Providing Incentives to Save for a Home via Individual Development Accounts, providing incentives through federal matching funds for low-income families to save for a first home, higher education, or to start a new business.
Parenthood makes you less self-absorbed
In 1992, when asked "Why have kids?" he responded:
"Apart from the fact that it keeps civilization going--someone's got to do it--
I think the experience of putting someone else first, constantly in a way that is full of joy even in the tough times, makes you a better person, a fuller person, more whole.
I mean, I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I'd never become a father. I'm certain that I will have been a better person, better husband, better governor, better president, for having been a father.
Parenthood ties you to the rest of life in a way and makes you less self-absorbed."
Source: Clinton on Clinton, by Wayne Meyer, p. 47-48
, Nov 9, 1999
No drive-through maternity; no drive-through mastectomy
Just as we ended drive-through deliveries of babies last year, we must now end the dangerous and demeaning practice
of forcing women home from the hospital only hours after a mastectomy. I ask your support for bipartisan legislation to guarantee that a woman can stay in the hospital for 48 hours after a mastectomy.
Source: Pres. Clinton's 1997 State of the Union message to Congress
, Feb 4, 1997
Establish a national registry of sex offenders
In a speech to the US Conference of Mayors in the summer of 1996, President Clinton said that recent efforts to monitor and deter sex offenders haven't gone far enough and he endorsed a national registry to track sexual predators as they cross state
Establishing a national registry would expand upon the state registries for sex offenders that were mandated by the Clinton Administration's 1994 Crime Bill.
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p. 28
, Aug 1, 1996
Triple funding for battered women's shelters
The 1994 Crime Bill included:
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p. 19
, Aug 1, 1996
- Violence Against Women Act. Provides new grants to bolster local law enforcement and prosecutors, and a multitude of victims' services: tripled funding for battered women's shelters; improved police and court
response to domestic violence crimes; added lighting in public places; and required sex offenders to pay restitution.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline. Established this 24-hour hotline served (800-799-7233) to provide callers with immediate
crisis information, counseling, and referrals. Operators offer information on domestic violence, emergency shelters, legal advocacy, assistance programs, and social services. The Hotline, which began operation in early 1996, has to date received more
than 20,000 calls from victims of domestic violence. The issue of domestic violence cannot be fully addressed, Pres. Clinton stated, until the nation's "completely overburdened" 911 emergency number system is fixed.
Crack down on parents who avoid child support
PROMISE: To crack down on parents who avoid child support.
STATUS: The Administration's child support enforcement program provides for the suspension of the deadbeat parent's driver's license, encourages states to adopt statewide new-hire reporting
programs, and tracks delinquent parents across state lines. In its 1st national push to crack down on deadbeat parents, the Department of Justice filed 28 cases seeking over $1 million in overdue payments in Dec. 1994, and more than 200 cases are under
review. Also, each of the 94 US attorneys has designated a child support enforcement coordinator, and prosecution guidelines have been developed to assist them in going after the most egregious violators.
Clinton's Work and Responsibility Act includes
the toughest child support provisions ever. These provisions would double child support collections to $20 billion by 2000, and place more emphasis on the withholding of wages of those who do not regularly pay their child support.
Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p.135
, Aug 1, 1996
Parents controlling what kids watch on TV is not censorship
All strong families begin with taking more responsibility for our children. To the media, I say you should create movies and CD's and television shows you'd want your own children and grandchildren to enjoy.
I call on Congress to pass the requirement
for a V-chip in TV sets so that parents can screen out programs they believe are inappropriate for their children. When parents control what their young children see, that is not censorship; that is enabling parents to assume more personal
responsibility for their children's upbringing. And I urge them to do it.
To make the V-chip work, I challenge the broadcast industry to do what movies have done, to identify your program in ways that help parents to protect their children. And
I invite the leaders of major media corporations in the entertainment industry to come to the White House next month to work with us in a positive way on concrete ways to improve what our children see on television. I am ready to work with you.
Source: Pres. Clinton's 1996 State of the Union message to Congress
, Jan 23, 1996
Get tough on youth violence and gangs
We established a National Gang Tracking Network and sent a message to the gangs that are at the root of today’s drug culture and youth violence: we mean to put you out of business, to stop you from terrorizing our neighborhoods, and to put you away for a
very long time.
All our efforts are designed to rescue kids in trouble. At night, children belong at home, under a curfew, if necessary. During the day, they belong in school, not on the street. At any time, our children are our responsibility.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p. 85-86
, Jan 1, 1996
Favors parental choice in childcare & in education
Some of the Children's Defense Fund's positions pitted Bill and Hillary Clinton against each other. When the CDF lobbied for an array of federal standards governing child care,
Bill Clinton, then head of the National Governors' Association, opposed them and won.
They also parted company on the
ABC child-care program, a proposal designed to encourage national standards, centralized service delivery, and credentialized care-givers. Hillary strongly supported the bill, which Bill opposed, and it was defeated in Congress in 1990.
Bill Clinton's own Arkansas child-care bill, like his education reforms, includes elements of parental choice.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 211
, Aug 1, 1993
Give parents tools to balance work and family.
Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":
Strengthen America’s Families
While the steady reduction in the number of two-parent families of the last 40 years has slowed, more than one-third of our children still live in one- or no-parent families. There is a high correlation between a childhood spent with inadequate parental support and an adulthood spent in poverty or in prison.
To strengthen families, we must redouble efforts to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies, make work pay, eliminate tax policies that inadvertently penalize marriage, and require absent fathers to pay child support while offering them new opportunities to find work. Because every child needs the attention of at least one caring and competent adult, we should create an “extended family” of adult volunteer mentors.
Family breakdown is not the only challenge we face. As two-worker families have become the norm, harried parents have less time to spend on their most important job: raising their children. Moreover, parents and
schools often find themselves contending with sex- and violence-saturated messages coming from an all-pervasive mass entertainment media.
We should continue public efforts to give parents tools to balance work and family and shield their children from harmful outside influences. For example, we should encourage employers to adopt family-friendly policies and practices such as parental leave, flex-time, and telecommuting. Public officials should speak out about violence in our culture and should press the entertainment media to adopt self-policing codes aimed at protecting children.
Goals for 2010
Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC4 on Aug 1, 2000
- Cut the rate of out-of-wedlock births in half.
- Recruit a million mentors for disadvantaged children without two parents.
- Provide affordable after-school programs at every public school.
- Make every workplace “family-friendly.”
- Promote policies that help parents shield their children from violence and sex in entertainment products.
- Click here for definitions & background information on Families & Children.
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- Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Bill Clinton.
Other past presidents on Families & Children:
Bill Clinton on other issues:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)
Past Vice Presidents:
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Page last updated: Sep 12, 2018