Good morning. As we all rejoice in this magnificent spring and the promise of renewal that it brings, we should also feel renewed as citizens, renewed by the progress that is being made in Washington, the progress we are making in strengthening the American economy to help us be more competitive, to grow, to work for the middle class again. Gridlock is on the way out, and our plan to rebuild the economy and restore opportunity for all Americans is moving through Congress.
Look at the progress. Just 3 months ago, I submitted to Congress a balanced economic plan that asked everyone to work together to invest a little more in deficit reduction today, so that we can all enjoy better jobs and higher incomes tomorrow. It says we can do what no generation has ever been called upon to do before, that we can reduce our deficit sharply and still increase investment wisely in jobs and education and new technology, because we must do both to be a competitive America, to create more jobs and economic growth.
We began by forcing real discipline on the big spenders by making deep and enforceable cuts in the Federal Government in over 200 specific programs. And believe me, these cuts are real. We've taken on spending groups and interest groups that have never been taken on. We've made tough decisions, and now Congress is working with me to make them stick. It wasn't easy.
We'd made major reductions in the so-called entitlement programs like medical care, agriculture, Federal retirement programs. Virtually no area of domestic spending was left untouched. And we're now on our way to the largest deficit reduction package in American history. And we will not raise taxes without knowing that these spending cuts are part of the project.
These cuts are real, and our plan is fair. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office bas concluded that 75 percent of all the taxes in this plan fall on the top 6 percent of Americans, those earning $100,000 a year or more. It asked those who got a tax break in the 1980's to pay their fair share in the 1990's. These proposals which reduce the deficit and increase tax fairness were adopted by all the important House of Representatives committees last week.
But I'm asking the Congress to go further. This week I proposed that when we cut programs, we lock the savings up in a deficit reduction trust fund so that you can trust that the money can only be used to reduce the Federal deficit. That's right. No taxes without spending cuts and the spending cuts and the taxes put into a deficit reduction trust fund so that the money must be used to reduce the deficit.
In addition to cutting the spending deficit, the other essential goal of our plan is to create opportunity in our society where hard work is supported and initiative is rewarded. That's why there were important tax incentives added to this plan: increasing the small business expensing provision to $25,000 a year, a goal long sought by the American small business community; a new venture capital gains tax; big investment incentives for larger corporations to invest in new plant and equipment to create new jobs. These and other initiatives to ease the credit crunch and to keep these interest rates at historic lows will mean billions of dollars of new investment into our economy in the near future.
Our economic plan includes also a proposal to create empowerment zones in our most depressed urban and rural communities. We offer significant incentives to those who will go into those neighborhoods and build a business because they will be giving people a chance who haven't had one in a long time. There's not enough Government money in a country to rebuild our cities or our distressed rural areas, but we can do it through free enterprise if we have enough incentive. The Government in the empowerment zones will be the best partner the free enterprise system could have.
This plan also deals with another important problem. No one in America should work hard at a full-time job with children in the home and still live in poverty. But millions of Americans do. Because our economy and our tax system hasn't been working, millions and millions of responsible people are among the working poor who still live below the poverty line. That's the wrong signal to send. That's an incentive to get on welfare, not to get off welfare.
Our plan includes an earned-income tax credit that puts into law this basic principle: If you work 40 hours a week and you have a child at home, you will not be in poverty. This important proposal also is proceeding quickly to congressional approval. The Tax Code was also changed to protect those with incomes of under $30,000 from the impact of the proposed BTU or energy tax, and to phase that tax in so that the average family will pay about a dollar a month next year and about $5 a month the year after, with the full impact of the tax for people with incomes of $40,000 a year or above triggering in at about $16 to $17 a month in 1996.
Just days after we offered our new approach to make college loans available to every qualified American student, regardless of income, this plan was also approved by the House Education and Labor Committee. This is a very important thing. It will save lots of money to taxpayers and make college loans available at lower interest rates and better repayment terms with mandatory repayment to all students in the United States. This is a change that we're working on, cutting wasteful spending, increasing taxes fairly, driving down the deficit while increasing the investment we make through private sector incentives and in education training and technology.
These are the ideas which will make our economy strong and competitive. For every new dollar of investment in America and the American people, there are $3 in spending cuts. This is the right way to go. All told, we've come a long, long distance in the last 3 months, to restoring our economy and reaffirming the values of the middle class and to opening up our democracy again.
I'm especially gratified that just this week we've passed the motor voter bill which will make it easier for people to register and vote. And I fervently hope it will bring more young people into the democratic process. It was the young Americans all across this country who convinced me to redouble my efforts to work hard to pass this bill.
The United States Senate has just passed a lobbying reform bill which will require all of our lobbyists to register for a change and require them to report any gifts beyond a very small amount that they give to any Member of Congress. And I've introduced the toughest campaign finance reform law ever, to lower the cost of campaigns, reduce the influence of political action committees, and open the airwaves to honest debate, all paid for by lobbyists, by repealing the lobbyist tax deduction.
This is a bright and a hopeful day. We've come together not to better one group or one cause but to work together in the common cause of a reinvigorated America. We've been able to bring deep discipline to our budget, positive purpose to our spending, and created the sea change the American people voted for in November, or at least the beginning of that sea change. Now we've got to see through it all the way to the end. The rest of the road won't be easy, just as the last 3 months have not been. But we can do it, and then we'll have something to really celebrate when we've passed the budget, an economic plan, and gotten this country turned around.
Even as we celebrate these changes, let's also remember why we're free enough to make them. May the 15th is Armed Forces Day. And I would like to conclude by honoring those who serve, whose bravery and sacrifice and devotion to country has preserved our liberties and made America the custodian of freedom's dream for the entire world.
I speak for all in my administration in expressing gratitude and profound respect for each member of our Armed Forces, for their supportive families and for their mission. From my first months in office, I can assure you that America has the strongest, best trained, and most faithful Armed Forces in the word, men and women so worthy of the great responsibilities borne by them in our Nation. May God protect them and guide the United States.