President Bill Clinton presented a $21-billion tax relief plan for low-income families Jan. 12 in GW’s Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre.
The plan will increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, an initiative launched in 1975 as an incentive for families to stay off welfare.
The main idea here is still the old idea of the American dream, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to have a decent life and a chance for your children to have a better one, Clinton said, according to a White House transcript.
Clinton asked the audience, including the Democratic Leadership Council, to expand the EITC’s maximum credit for working families with three or more children, according to a University press release. He also called for a change in the EITC marriage penalty, so married couples could earn more money before losing benefits.
Clinton said the plan will provide tax relief for about 6 million hard-pressed working families. But the proposed plan would cost Americans $21 billion over a 10-year period.
The President added that the booming economy is no excuse for complacency.
The thing I worry about most is that when people have been through tough times, and they’ve achieved a lot, the first thing that you want to do is sort of relax, he said. And most everybody here who’s lived any number of years can remember at least once in his or her life when you made a mistake by getting distracted, or short-sighted because things seemed to be going so well you didn’t think you had to think about anything else.
In addition to proposing tax cuts for the working class and encouraging continued efforts, Clinton reminisced about the first time he visited GW in September 1964. He went to a Judy Collins concert at Lisner Auditorium.
That’s the last time we had this sort of economic growth, and this kind of range of interest in our country toward helping people who had been left out and left behind or were in distress, he added.
But Clinton said obstacles in the 1960s like the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War prevented the United States government from helping low-income families.
In my lifetime, we have never had a chance like this – never, he said.