Clinton outlines legislative agenda
He urges Congress to pass school construction, health care bills
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bill Clinton Tuesday outlined a laundry list of legislative priorities for the year, saying that his administration can accomplish a great deal despite his "lame duck" status.
Speaking to members of the AFL-CIO building trades unions in Washington, Clinton called on Congress to pass bills concerning school construction and Medicare prescription benefits.
"This is a time to concentrate on our unique ability to meet the big, long-term challenges of America," the president said.
While Congress wrangles with its own budget numbers, the president criticized lawmakers who want to spend the budget surplus on what he called "risky tax cuts." Instead, he said that money should go to taking care of "basic business."
The president said he would soon sign a bill removing the Social Security earnings limit, so that people who want to work past the age of retirement could do so without losing their benefits.
The Social Security earnings limit currently affects about 800,000 program recipients aged 65 to 69. Both the House and the Senate unanimously passed legislation repealing the limit in March.
Clinton also said that he has asked Congress to dedicate the interest savings from paying down the national debt to the Social Security Trust Fund, which will add 54 years to its life.
The president said he is also calling on Congress to pass a budget that will approve funds to build, renovate and repair public schools.
"The school districts of this country do not have the money or the means right now to do what our children need," he explained.
As for health care, Clinton said he wants the Medicare program to be modified to include a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.
"This is an opportunity to improve the process of aging in America, in a way that's humane and decent and completely affordable," the president said.