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Transcript of Draft of President's Radio Address on Expanding Opportunities

[Handwritten]: 10-18-99

Good morning. Today, I want to talk about what we must do to make sure people with disabilities who are ready, willing and able to work can be a part of our nation’s prosperity.

Work is an important part of who we are as Americans. It connects us with our communities and provides dignity for our families. And today, [handwritten]: since January ‘93, when I took office, more Americans are working than ever before [handwritten]: with the lgest peacetime expan in history. We’ve created more than 19 million new jobs in the last six and a half years and [scratched out] unemployment is at a 29-year low [handwritten]: , welfare next to 30 yr low, pro a 20 yr, with 1st B to B bud surpluses in 42 yrs.

In spite of the good economic news, [handwritten]: there are people and places still untouched by our prosperity, among them are almost three out of four Americans with severe disabilities who want to work are not [crossed out] [handwritten] but who aren’t working. That’s not just a missed opportunity for Americans with disabilities. It’s a missed opportunity for America.

If we want to keep our economy growing with continued low inflation and low unemployment, we must draw on the untapped potential of our people. We can strengthen core values like fairness and dignity while we strengthen our economy [crossed out] [handwritten] That’s why I launched our EZ/EG init 6 ½ years ago under the ldship of VP Gore – to bring jobs to rural & urban Hi unem. areas. That’s why I am working to pass our new mkts init in Cong to give Am the same incent to invest in poor communities in America we give them to I in poor comm in LA, As, Af, Eur.

That’s why I established a Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities last year to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from going to work. In December, Vice President Gore received the first set of recommendations by the Task Force – and I’m proud to say that we’ve taken action on every one.

The budget I proposed last January would invest more than $2 billion in health care, tax credits and new technologies for people with disabilities. I also signed an executive order to eliminate unfair barriers to federal employment for people with disabilities.

Today, I am announcing new steps that I am taking to ensure that when it is comes to the employment of people with disabilities, the federal government leads by example. Today, I am releasing the first-ever government plan to ensure positive career paths for people with disabilities in the federal workforce.

I am directing every federal agency and department to take concrete action to expand opportunities for people with disabilities in all levels of the federal workforce – from the entry level to the senior ranks.

And I am calling on all agencies to recruit and promote people with disabilities, reach out to students with disabilities, and provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities.

I am also calling on our federal human resources agency – the Office of Personnel Management – to ensure that every agency gets the help it needs to fulfill these commitments. The federal government is the nation’s largest employer – I want it to be a model for private industry. This plan will help do just that.

But there’s more we must [crossed out] [handwritten] to do together to tackle the challenge [crossed out].

One of the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities is the fear of losing their health insurance when they get a job. Under current law, many people with disabilities cannot keep their Medicaid or Medicare coverage if they work - creating a tremendous disincentive to work [handwritten]: bec. They have to have HCare & neither they nor their em can afford or even find it

There’s a common sense bipartisan bill to change that. It’s called the Work Incentives Improvement Act and it was sponsored by Republican Senators Jeffords and Roth and Democratic Senators Kennedy and Moynihan. Simply put, it will make sure that people with disabilities don’t lose their health care when they gain a job.

The legislation passed the Senate 99 to zero. A bipartisan majority in the House has already cosponsored it. I say to Congress: don’t water that bill down; guarantee its financing [handwritten]: it will make & for Am, & it will make more taxpayers w/o resources to allocate. If you finish the job and [crossed out] send me that bill [handwritten] without delay – I’ll sign it. Americans with disabilities who want to work shouldn’t have to wait one more day.

After years of delay, the House of Representatives finally heard the voice of the American people and passed a strong, enforceable Patients’ Bill of Rights. By choosing progress over partisanship, we can also pass the Work Incentives Improvement Act and keep America working.

The time for action in this Congress is quickly running out. I urge the leadership to seize this opportunity. Make this a season of progress – not a winter of politics. Let’s finish the job the American people sent us here to do.

Thanks for listening.