CLINTON: Will Push Health Care in State of the Union
President Clinton is expected to push for his $110 billion health insurance proposals during his State of the Union address Thursday, including a $27 billion long term care tax credit and a $76 billion plan to insure four million parents of children enrolled in CHIP. The president will probably push for a Medicare prescription benefit as well as the patients' bill of rights. During a recent Democratic National Committee gala, Clinton said, "For the next year, I'm going to do my best to finish the unfinished business of the last Congress. I'm going to try to chart the long-term direction that I want America to go in. And then I'm going to have as ambitious a program for what we can do in the next year as I have ever offered the American people in the State of the Union, because I think they hired us to show up for work." Clinton's "confidence comes from a belief that [his] agenda addresses the top priorities of the American people and that the public wants action on those issues," White House spokesperson Joe Lockhart said. He added, "If you look at the issues that the president is going to put forward, we're very confident this will be a year of legislative accomplishment" (Roth, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/24). Clinton also "refuses to buy the notion that he is a lame duck," the Los Angeles Times reports.
No Friends in Congress
But he might "not find much sympathy on Capitol Hill." Rep. John Edward Porter (R-Ill.) said, "I see this president as being basically irrelevant. He makes great speeches, but his ability to get things done in Congress is basically zero." James Thurber, government professor at American University, added, "He doesn't have many friends in Congress. Even the ranking Democratic leaders are not close to him. Those personal relationships make a difference in this kind of a year." However, White House aides have said that if Congress does not pass his legislative proposals, Clinton will "advance his agenda through executive orders" (Alonso-Zaldivar/Hook, 1/24).