President Clinton accused Republicans on Saturday of offering tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of poor children and said his vision for the future is of a government that is “lean, not mean.”
Opening a public debate over the deep cuts in social welfare spending envisioned by the GOP’s “Contract with America,” Clinton used his weekly radio address to defend subsidized school lunches and efforts to rid schools of drugs.
He called on Congress to resist Republican calls to roll back and then scrap his signature Americorps program, which rewards volunteers for community service with help in obtaining a college education.
“I believe the purpose of government is to expand opportunity, not bureaucracy, to empower people through education to make the most of their lives, and to enhance our security on the streets and around the world,” Clinton said.
“I believe in a government that is limited but effective, lean but not mean, not a savior but not on the sidelines, a partner in the fight for the future.”
In the coming week, Clinton will address proposed cuts in summer jobs programs and in school lunch programs before the National League of Cities.
And he will focus on efforts to make the nation’s schools drug free in a speech to the national board of the Parents and Teachers Association.
Making clear in the radio address his sharp differences with the GOP approach, Clinton said his response to a bloated bureaucracy at the Agriculture Department was to close 1,200 unneeded offices around the country
“But the Republicans want to cut the school lunch program that’s helped our children thrive for 50 years,” he said.
Responding for Republicans, Rep. Scott Klug, R-Wis., said the GOP is on the right track in shifting many social welfare programs to the states and promoting personal responsibility instead of dependency.