[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[January 3, 1998]
[Pages 1-2]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
January 3, 1998

    Good morning. The beginning of a new year is a time of promise, and 
at the start of 1998, we have much to be thankful for. We've made much 
progress on our mission of preparing America for the 21st century and 
making our country work for all our people. Both unemployment and crime 
are at their lowest level in 24 years. The welfare rolls have dropped by 
a record 3.8 million. The deficit has been cut by 90 percent.
    In 1997 in Washington, we passed the historic balanced budget; 
embraced the idea of national academic standards for our schools for the 
first time; extended health insurance coverage to 5 million children; 
moved ahead with our environmental agenda to save the Everglades, the 
ancient forests in California, and Yellowstone Park. And we made a 
safer, more prosperous world by ratifying the Chemical Weapons 
Convention, expanding NATO, keeping the peace in Bosnia, and opening new 
opportunities for American high-tech products to be sold around the 
world. We also continued the work of building one America with our race 
initiative and the Presidents' Summit on Service.
    As 1998 dawns, American families can look forward to tax cuts for 
their children and to truly historic tax relief that will make community 
college free for almost all Americans and help to pay for the cost of 
all education after high school, the largest such effort since the GI 
bill 50 years ago. I have done my best to give the American people a 
Government for the 21st century, not one that tries to do everything,

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nor one that does nothing, but a Government that gives Americans the 
tools and conditions to make the most of their own lives in a new world 
of information and technological revolution and globalization.
    But I've also done my best to call forth a new spirit of citizen 
service here at home, as necessary to meet our new challenges and to 
fulfill our obligations both at home and around the world.
    From the beginning, I have worked to give more Americans the chance 
to serve, to join with their fellow citizens to take responsibilities 
for their communities and our country. We created AmeriCorps, which has 
already given more than 100,000 young Americans the opportunity to serve 
our Nation and earn money for a college education. We strengthened that 
commitment with the Presidents' Summit on Service in Philadelphia, which 
already has moved thousands and thousands of Americans to give our 
children a helping hand. And this year, the day we honor Dr. Martin 
Luther King will be a day of service in communities all across America.
    Today I want to talk about how we can strengthen one of the finest 
examples of citizen service, the Peace Corps. When President Kennedy 
founded the Peace Corps in 1961, he saw it as a bold experiment in 
public service that would unite our Nation's highest ideals with a 
pragmatic approach to bettering the lives of ordinary people around the 
world. He also saw it as an investment in our own future in an 
increasingly interdependent world. In the years since, it's paid off 
many times over.
    Three decades ago, Peace Corps volunteers worked as teachers in 
villages in Africa and Asia, Latin America and the Pacific region. They 
helped communities inoculate their children against disease, clean their 
water, increase their harvests. In so doing, they helped communities and 
countries become stronger and more stable, making them better partners 
for us as we work together to meet common goals.
    Today, the Peace Corps continues these efforts, but it's also 
adapting to the new needs of our era. Since the fall of communism, Peace 
Corps volunteers have gone to work in new democracies from Eastern 
Europe to central Asia, helping to nurture and strengthen free markets 
by teaching new entrepreneurs how to get their businesses running. 
Volunteers now work to protect the environment and help prevent the 
spread of AIDS.
    Under Director Mark Gearan, the Peace 
Corps is also preparing to meet the challenges of the next century. To 
ensure that it does, I will ask Congress next month to continue its 
longtime bipartisan support for the Peace Corps and join me in putting 
10,000 Peace Corps volunteers overseas by the year 2000. That's an 
increase of more than 50 percent from today's levels. I'll request that 
funding for the Peace Corps be increased by $48 million, the largest 
increase since the 1960's.
    In a world where we're more and more affected by what happens beyond 
our borders, we have to work harder to overcome the divisions that 
undermine the integrity and quality of life around the world, as well as 
here at home. Strengthening the Peace Corps, giving more Americans 
opportunities to serve in humanity's cause is both an opportunity and an 
obligation we should seize in 1998.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 1:37 p.m. on January 2 at a private 
residence in Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for 
broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on January 3.