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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 31, 2001

Radio Address by the President to the Nation

listenListen to the President's Remarks

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, the House of Representatives approved my budget plan and next week the Senate will vote on it, as well.

My budget is shaped by a simple commitment: we can address our country's needs and still be responsible with taxpayers' money. And we can fund our priorities without expanding government beyond the bounds of responsibility.

Today, I want to give you a little more detail about some of my top priorities: the education and health and character of American children. My budget spends additional money on these goals, and spends it in effective, creative ways. We place a new national emphasis on teaching reading, with a Reading First program to help all children learn to read by the 3rd grade.

Reading First will more than triple the existing funding for federal reading programs, funding for early intervention and teacher training. Another program called Early Reading First will put the best reading methods to use in pre-school and Head Start programs. Again, Early Reading First will triple the existing funding for federal early reading programs.

My budget increases the funding for Head Start, while giving it a clear mission: to prepare our nation's most disadvantaged children to learn as soon as they enter school.

My budget cares for children's health, as well as for their minds. In 2002, we'll spend well over $25 billion on health coverage for children under Medicaid and related programs. We invest more than a billion dollars, up 12 percent from 2001, in research into childhood diseases at the National Institutes for Health. We fund 1,200 new community health centers over the next five years, to bring better care to poor children. Thirty percent of the health care center patients are under 12 years old.

We add $94 million to the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. In 2002, that program will aid more than 7 million people. The Centers for Disease Control will get a $22 million increase for their childhood immunization program. My budget plan increases federal spending on child care by $350 million, to reach a half million additional children.

We provide $200 million extra to provide services for children, services that prevent child abuse and keep families together. And we offer $60 million to help children raised in the foster care system with the cost of college or vocational training.

The values of our children must be a priority of our nation. So my budget invests in abstinence education and drug treatment. We create a new $67 million program that will make grants to faith-based and community organizations who mentor the children of parents in prison.

This is a long list, but I wanted to make a point: my budget is active and compassionate. Discretionary spending grows by a healthy, responsible 4 percent, enough to meet our needs. We fund goals like education, health and defense. We reduce debt at a record rate. We set aside a fund for future emergencies. We then have enough money to provide broad tax relief, including relief from the marriage penalty and a doubling of the child tax credit.

Those of us in Washington must always understand the surplus is not the government's money. The surplus is the people's money.

My budget has the right balance. And I hope you'll encourage your representatives in Congress to support my budget. And I thank you for listening.