August 19, 1992 PRESIDENT BUSH: PROTECTING AMERICAN FAMILIES +quot;We must do everything i
August 19, 1992
PRESIDENT BUSH: PROTECTING AMERICAN FAMILIES
"We must do everything in our power to preserve the
institution that nurtures faith, the family. And I am firmly
convinced that our greatest problems today -- from drugs and
welfare dependency to crime and moral breakdown -- spring from
the deterioration of the American family. Families must come
first in America."
President George Bush
March 3, 1992
o President Bush was raised to believe that the family is the
most important institution of American life -- that the family
is crucial to preserving our nation's culture and values. As
he has said, the strength of our Nation is based on the
strength of its families. The President believes that strong
families sustain us as individuals, and are instrumental in
nurturing our children, and instill in them the traditional
values of faith, hard work, and responsibility.
o The President's initiatives to strengthen America's families
include tax incentives to ease the cost of raising children
and to help families achieve the American dream of
homeownership; empowering parents to choose the best school
for their children; new resources to fight drugs and crime,
including tougher sentences for criminals and law and order
judges committed to imposing them; and, reforming welfare to
require self-reliance through work and responsible behavior.
o From his lifetime of experience as a father, a businessman,
and a public servant, George Bush knows that parents,
business, and government must all play a role in strengthening
America's families. Parents need to take more responsibility
for raising their children and teaching them values; business
needs new incentives to create jobs and invest in workers; and
government needs to reform welfare, fight crime, and ensure
Strengthening the Family
o President Bush's initiatives will strengthen the family by
easing the cost of raising a child, making real the dream of
home ownership, and making it easier for families to invest
and save for their future. The President understands that
providing for families' economic security helps ensure a
better future for our children.
o The President has pushed Congress to enact measures to help
families achieve these goals, including:
-- increasing the per child personal exemption by $500 to
ease the cost of raising a child;
-- enacting a $5,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers to
help hundreds of American families achieve the dream of
-- creating Flexible IRA Accounts that allow penalty-free
withdrawals for first-time homebuyers, and to pay for
educational and medical expenses;
-- increasing funding for the HOPE Initiative (Home
Ownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere) to a
record $4.8 billion. HOPE gives low-income families new
control over their lives, helping them to bur their own
homes ore manage government properties; HOPE instills
self-reliance and dependency by giving these families a
real stake in where they live;
-- permitting the deduction of interest on student loans, to
help parents afford their children's college education or
recent graduates to pay off their debts without
defaulting on loans;
-- increasing access to a college education by expanding
funding for Pell Grants (portable college grants to
middle- and low-income undergraduates) for middle-income
families. The President's Lifelong Learning and Youth
Apprenticeship Acts will also provide new assistance
(including a $25,000 line of credit) to help adults
improve their job skills and recent high school graduates
in the job market.
o President Bush is deeply concerned about the stresses that are
undermining the American family. His family initiatives will
create new opportunities and choices for families to empower
parents and ensure economic security.
o Education Reform: The President's AMERICA 2000 strategy to
revitalize America's schools will give parents new power to
hold schools accountable for results. Through world class
standards and a new voluntary system of assessments, parents
will be able to tell whether their children are achieving.
With new accountability, parents will be able to demand change
from their children's schools, and with school choice, they
will be able to send their children to schools that yield
o In April 1991, the President announced AMERICA 2000, his
innovative strategy to achieve the National Education Goals.
The President's strategy includes:
-- creating World Class Standards and voluntary national
exams that will let parents know how well their children
-- giving all parents real choices in selecting which school
best meets their children's needs.
-- Giving reform-minded teachers and principals new freedom
from bureaucratic controls to reform schools.
-- creating "break-the-mold" New American Schools to help
children better learn basic and advanced subjects using
computers, videos, and other new teaching methods.
The AMERICA 2000 movement is spreading rapidly. Over 1,500
communities and 44 states across the country have accepted the
President's challenge to adopt the national goals, develop a
strategy to reach them, design a report card to measure their
progress, and plan to develop at least one New American
o School Choice: President Bush believes that parents should be
able to send their children to whichever school they think
best meets the needs of their child, whether it is a public,
a private, or a religious school. President Bush is
championing parental choice as the cornerstone of his strategy
to revitalize America's schools: it gets parents directly
involved in their children's futures, and uses the power of
competition to spur innovative thinking by teacher and
-- School choice is already working from Milwaukee to
Harlem. At least 22 states have implemented some form of
choice, with 10 states having enacted major school choice
-- The President's most recent initiative to promote
parental choice in education is the GI Bill for Children,
a demonstration project that will provide $1000
scholarships to children of middle- and low-income
families to be used at the school of their choice --
public, private, or religious.
o Head Start: In keeping with his goal of having children
arrive at school ready to learn, the President has expanded
Head Start, increasing both its budget and the number of
children served. This year, the President proposed the
largest one-year funding increase in Head Start's history --
$600 million for fiscal year 1993 -- to make sure all eligible
four-year olds whose parents choose for them to participate
may do so. Should Congress approve the President's request,
funding for Head Start will have increased by 127% under
President Bush, and an additional 157,000 children will be
served over 1991 levels.
o Child Care: President Bush secured landmark Child Care
legislation in 1990 that helps working families and allows
parents choose their child care provider. The bill will
increase the income of low-income families by $31 billion in
payments and lower taxes over the next five years, helping
families afford child care.
-- President Bush fought for legislation that provides child
care assistance without government bureaucrats regulating
care or imposing their decisions on parents. In a
significant victory, the President's bill keeps choice of
child care in the hands of parents who have the full
range of options -- from church day care to a
o Child Support Enforcement: President Bush is committed to
making sure that absent parents meet their financial
responsibilities to help support their children. Accordingly,
the President has stepped up efforts by the federal government
to enforce child support provisions of the Family Support Act,
increasing child support collections through mandatory wage
withholding and establishing paternity in a many more cases.
-- In 1986, child support orders recovered by the federal
government totalled just $3.2 billion. Last year,
recoveries had more than doubled to $6.9 billion. About
$2 billion of that amount was collected on behalf of
families receiving welfare.
o Health Care: The President's reforms address the two major
problems facing the U.S. health care system -- the increasing
cost of health care coverage and the inadequate access of
working Americans to quality care. The President's reforms
make quality care accessible by making it affordable.
-- President Bush's plan would make a transferable health
insurance credit or tax deduction (up to $3,750)
available to moderate and low income families to cover
health insurance costs. This deduction is large enough
to cover the insurance costs of virtually all Americans.
When fully implemented, approximately 95 million citizens
would receive this assistance.
-- If this plan were in effect today, a family of four
earning $30,000 would be able to deduct (or receive a
credit) up to $3,750 in health insurance costs. In 1990,
for example, private health insurance costs averaged
$1,181 per capita. Thus, with the President's deduction
starting at $1,250, virtually every American can be
certain that their health insurance costs can be covered
by the President's deduction.
-- The President's plan will also eliminate the problems of
"job-lock" and preexisting condition exclusions that
inhibit workers from changing jobs for fear of losing
-- The President's plan will also help self-employed
individuals, who until now have only been able to deduct
one-quarter of their health insurance costs. Under the
President's plan, the self-employed will now be able to
deduct 100% of their health insurance costs, or receive
the applicable tax credit.
o Basic Nutrition for Poor Families: President Bush is
continuing his strong commitment to WIC (Women, Infants and
Children) to help low-income families. The President's FY93
Budget request represents the largest one year increase ever
proposed for the program. Support for WIC has increased 47%
Creating Stronger Communities and Safer Streets
o President Bush affirms the right of every family to be free
from fear in their homes, streets, and neighborhoods. To
achieve this, the President has led the fight against crime
-- Supporting the toughest possible sentences for those who
inflict fear and pain on American families and an
expanded death penalty.
-- Undertaking the largest prison expansion program in
history, which will double federal prison capacity to
ensure violent criminals stay behind bars.
-- Appointing approximately 1400 tough prosecutors.
Appointing 161 law-and-order judges willing to impose the
toughest penalties on violent criminals.
-- Establishing "Weed and Seed" projects in 20 cities.
Federal agents will help local police reclaim crime-
ravaged neighborhoods by "weeding" out drug traffickers
and gang leaders and then revitalizing the communities
with new opportunity -- investment, jobs, and drug
-- Doubling to 31 the number of cities with Federal anti-
gang task forces and transferring 300 FBI agents to work
with local authorities on gang crimes.
-- Launching "Operation Triggerlock" to prosecute career
criminals for use of guns in felonies. 6,454 defendants
were prosecuted under Triggerlock during its first year.
-- Building and activating new prisons using over $500
million in assets seized from drug dealers.
-- Securing new rights through the Supreme Court for
families of murder victims, allowing them to testify
about the effects of the crime during the convicted
Fighting Drug Abuse by Teaching Values
o President Bush developed the first National Drug Control
Strategy which emphasized preventing our young people from
ever trying illegal drugs. To President Bush, drug use is
fundamentally a moral issue, a basic question of right and
-- Among persons aged 12-17, current use of any illicit drug
is down more than 25% since 1988 and more than half since
1985 (14.9% to 6.8%).
-- The number of high school seniors using illegal drugs is
at an all-time low, since the annual survey of high
school seniors was begun in 1975.
-- Current cocaine use by adolescents has declined by 63%
-- The number of Americans who use drugs has dropped from
14.5 million in 1988 to 12.6 million in 1991.
o President Bush is committed to freeing the nation's schools
from the devastation of drugs. His National Education Goals
and AMERICA 2000 education strategy call for elimination of
drugs from schools by the year 2000. The President has urged
States to mandate drug-free school zones.
-- President Bush doubled Federal support for drug education
in the schools to more than $600 million.
o Tough Bush-appointed law and order judges are also making a
difference. In a recent appeals court case, a defendant
convicted of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school
objected to the severity of his sentence. Bush appointed
judges upheld the stiff sentence, making clear that the mere
presence of large quantities of drugs around schools is a
sufficient threat to children's safety and welfare.
President Bush proposed and Congress passed legislation
requiring that every school and college in America that
receives Federal assistance must implement comprehensive drug
prevention programs and policies.
President Bush created a new Community Partnership grant
program, which has helped provide more than $100 million
annually to start up broad-based community anti-drug
partnerships in over 250 American towns, cities, and
President Bush increased funding for drug prevention programs
in public and assisted housing communities from $8 million in
1989 to $165 million in 1992. These grants are helping public
housing residents to retake their communities from drug
pushers and criminals, making them once again safe for
children and families.
Strengthening Traditional Family Values
o President Bush firmly believes that the strength of the Nation
is based upon the strength of the family. In the President's
view, the commitment of the Nation to its principles begins
with the family's task of teaching values to our children.
Therefore, many of the President's policies for strengthening
America are rooted in initiatives aimed at strengthening the
o President Bush believes that pornography, like the scourges of
drugs and crime, is an affront to the values we hold precious.
The President is fighting pornography, particularly child
pornography, within the limits of the First Amendment, in
order to combat its effects -- violence toward and degradation
of women and children. This Administration has been very
aggressive in the front-line fight against so-called "kiddie
porn" and continues to work with Congress to crack down on
purveyors of such pornography.
o President Bush believes that every human life is a precious
gift and each human being has intrinsic dignity and worth.
Therefore, the President opposes abortion except when the life
of the mother is threatened or in cases of rape or incest.
o The President welcomed the Supreme Court's recent upholding of
most of the Pennsylvania law that requires minors to seek
permission from their parents before obtaining an abortion --
a provision supported by the vast majority of Americans.
President Bush believes this law supports family values in
what is perhaps the most difficult question a family can
confront by encouraging parents to take an active role, and
children to consult with their parents on serious moral
o The President believes that states should have the authority
to impose reasonable restrictions on abortion within their
boundaries. Consequently, he has vowed to veto the so-called
"Freedom of Choice Act" which would impose a national regime
of abortion-on-demand in all 50 states, and would outlaw many
the most modest and reasonable restrictions on abortion, such
as informed consent requirements.
o The President believes that one way to avoid the difficulties
posed by abortion is to reduce the incidence of unwanted
pregnancy by promoting conduct that emphasizes personal
responsibility such as abstinence and family planning.
o The President favors voluntary prayer in school as an
extension of our commitment to teach values and has called
upon the Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment
permitting students, if they and their parents wish, to have
a momentary reflection, meditation, or prayer.
o Welfare was intended to provide as temporary help for those in
need, allowing them a chance to get back on their feet. For
too many it has become a way of life.
o President Bush has established new objectives for welfare to
end the cycle of dependency. Requiring those on welfare to
work and behave responsibly will make dependent recipients
productive again, and will help prevent the current generation
of children from becoming another generation of welfare
parents. The President is encouraging states to find ways to
transform the way welfare works by measuring the success of
welfare programs by how many people move onto the job rolls
rather than how many move onto the welfare rolls; 550,000
welfare recipients participate in welfare-to-work programs
o The President is helping to accelerate welfare reforms by
working with states to test pro-family reforms, and removing
barriers that limit the extent of reform. Already the Bush
Administration has approved waivers for pro-family initiatives
in Wisconsin, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, and California.
o Wisconsin's welfare reforms highlight the kinds of changes the
President believes are important: encouraging teenage parent
welfare recipients to work and marry. Also, recipients will
be required to participate in education and job placement
services, refrain from having children out of wedlock.
Wisconsin's plan will increase the reward for taking jobs by
increasing the amount of monthly earnings that can be received
before AFDC payments are reduced.
o To help families escape dependency by saving money and owning
property, the President has proposed raising the maximum asset
limit to $10,000 for families already on AFDC, and allowing
families on AFDC to exclude some income from self-employment
to promote self-reliance. These policies will help ensure
that once off welfare, former dependents stay off welfare for
o In 1991, the Bush Administration created the Administration
for Children and Families (ACF) under the Department of Health
and Human Services to focus federal efforts concerning
America's children and families.
-- The President's FY 1993 budget request for ACF of $4.5
billion reflects the President's continued commitment to
protecting America's children and promoting parental
responsibility and family self-sufficiency.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank