Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this evening praised President Clinton for laying out an agenda on which Democrats can build for the 21st century. "President Clinton outlined some very important policy areas in which we must work to secure economic justice, improve education, protect the environment and set the stage for an America in which all Americans share in our prosperity," Pelosi said.
"A living wage and pay equity are central to addressing the issue of economic justice along with providing economic opportunity," Pelosi said. President Clinton proposed a $1 increase in the minimum wage over the next two years and an Equal Pay Initiative which would begin to address the inequities in wages earned by women when compared to men. "Unless we take basic steps to remedy inequities in the workplace we make it difficult for working families to achieve the American dream," Pelosi said.
The President addressed the challenge of a senior boom in the 21st century by using the budget surplus to help save Social Security, strengthen Medicare, and by supporting families that provide long term care for their loved ones.
Rep. Pelosi has supported the idea of diverting the budget surplus to ensure Social Security's solvency, but is concerned the Long-term Health Care Tax Credit does not go far enough. "A $1,000 tax credit for people who care for elderly family members at home misses the point. This is not about money. It is about helping people address the problems associated with caring for elderly family members at home," Pelosi said.
Rep. Pelosi joined President Clinton in support of expanding Medicare coverage to Americans age 55 to 65. She is an original cosponsor of legislation that would allow the uninsured in this age group to buy into Medicare. "55 to 65 year olds are not only one of the hardest groups to insure, but also represent one of the fastest growing groups of uninsured Americans," Pelosi said.
President Clinton's education initiatives include funding to modernize buildings and reduce class size. "We tell our children that education is important for their own self-fulfillment, for the competitiveness of our country, indeed for our national defense. We can no longer allow them to go to schools that are overcrowded, crumbling, leaking, and not equipped for the demands of the 21st century. We invest in the future when we invest in our children," Pelosi said.
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