Hoping to further reduce teen birth rates beyond 60-year lows, President Clinton said in his weekly radio address Saturday that he had ordered new steps to increase the number of "second-chance homes" for teenage mothers.
The homes allow teen mothers to live with adult supervision and receive advice in parental skills, job counseling, education and other aid. Clinton said they also help reduce the rate of second births by young mothers.
"Teen birth rates have fallen for the eighth year in a row, and now we have the lowest teen birth rate in 60 years," Clinton said, citing figures released this week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency reported that the birth rate for teenagers fell by 3% from 1998 to 1999 to a 60-year low of 49.6 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19. That is down 20% from 1991.
Clinton attributed the decline to several factors, including welfare reform legislation requiring minors with children to stay in school and live under adult supervision.
However, he said, "too many of America's children are still having children."
He has asked Congress for $25 million in fiscal 2001 to build more of the second-chance homes.
The steps he announced Saturday, which do not require congressional approval, would make it easier for religious charities and communities to acquire vacant or foreclosed property for the homes, and give advice on how communities can create them and find federal and state aid.
In the Republicans' weekly radio address Saturday, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania repeated his party's call for tax relief for American families, saying nearly 40% of their income goes to taxes at a time of record surpluses.
"In fact, the average American family is paying more in taxes than on food, clothing, housing and transportation combined," he said.
He called the situation unfair.
He criticized Clinton for vetoing a Republican bill to end the so-called marriage penalty on taxes for two-income couples, and said the White House promises to do the same to a measure that would repeal the federal estate tax.