Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tonight praised President Clinton's State of the Union Address, last of his Presidency and first of the new Millennium, as "visionary" in its scope and reach. "The President has painted the definitive landscape of policy initiatives at this point in American history," said Pelosi. "His speech unveiled the Democratic vision of a better life for all Americans -- Building Community, Creating Opportunity, and Demanding Responsibility. Congress now has the duty to bring the canvas to life."
Specifically, the San Francisco Democrat underscored the President's $50-million investment to encourage individuals to avoid behaviors resulting in HIV transmission and his $125-million addition to the Ryan White Program -- almost 8% over last year's funding -- to provide primary medical care, pharmaceuticals, and other support services for people living with HIV and AIDS. The Clinton Administration also wants a sharp step-up in research vital to the development of vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. "These intitiatives, coupled with legislation to fight hate crimes, will help our community remain enlightened and livable," said Pelosi.
Representative Pelosi also applauded the $110-billion, 10-year initiative for expanding health insurance to cover at least five million uninsured Americans and grant access to millions of others. She also emphasized the President's renewed call to reform health-maintenance organizations with a real Patients' Bill of Rights and to modernize Medicare with a voluntary prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. Also highly significant is the President's proposed $3,000 tax credit for people with long-term needs for health care. "We are living longer now," said Pelosi, "and we should recognize and honor the obligations that accompany such demographic shifts. Such a tax credit manifests a true sense of family values."
Pelosi also noted that President Clinton paid particular attention to issues that affect American women directly, such as an Equal Pay Initiative to combat unfair and inadequate pay shedules for women and a new search for the possible environmental causes of serious disease, including breast cancer. Similarly, she praised the President's call to legislate gun safety, raise the minimum wage, strengthen social security, and repair, renovate, and renew American public schools.
If the President insists on providing China with a new trading status, Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), Congresswoman Pelosi would remain highly skeptical of the proposal. "The annual vote on China's trading status remains our only real means of promoting the development of fair trade, democracy, and human rights in China," said Pelosi. "It is unfortunate that the Administration has brought forth this proposal while the Chinese government intensifies its repression of political activists and others involved in the peaceful pursuit of academic research and religious enlightenment. PNTR will not make the trade fairer, the people freer, and the world safer."
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