Drug Test Before Road Test, Clinton Says
President Clinton has proposed that states test all teenagers for illegal drug use before granting them drivers licenses.
Mr. Clinton made the proposal in his weekly radio address Oct. 19. At that time, he also announced that the federal government would issue final rules under a new law requiring states to enact "zero tolerance" policies for drivers under age 21 who take the wheel after drinking. The rules were published in the Oct. 25 Federal Register.
Mr. Clinton has come under steady criticism from Republican challenger Bob Dole for his administration's drug-control strategy.
Early in his tenure, the president slashed the staffing of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He later told an audience on MTV that if he had it to do over, he would inhale a marijuana cigarette--a reference to his 1992 statement that he had tried marijuana in college but did not inhale.
New federal statistics have shown an increase in drug use among young people. Mr. Dole has blamed the president for the increase, saying he has not offered a strong enough message about the dangers of drug use.
Mr. Clinton notes that the upswing began before he took office.
The issue is one of a handful that Mr. Dole has used to dog the president in the fall campaign, and it is one of the few attacks that have drawn a response from Mr. Clinton.
President Clinton ordered retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the director of national drug-control policy, and Federico F. Pe¤a, the secretary of transportation, to draft a proposal to force states to adopt a drug-testing strategy for people under 18 seeking a driver's license. He asked them to report to him in 90 days.
He cited the drinking-and-driving legislation, passed by Congress in 1995, as a model.
"We should use the privilege of a driver's license to demand responsible behavior by young people when it comes to drugs, too," Mr. Clinton said in his radio address. "We're already saying to teens, if you drink you aren't allowed to drive. Now we should say that teens should pass a drug test as a condition of getting a driver's license."
Under the new rule implementing the anti-drinking law, states that do not have a zero-tolerance law for underage drinking and driving by Oct. 1, 1998, risk losing 5 percent of their federal highway funds. Each subsequent year without such a law would prompt a 10 percent loss.
Sixteen states and Puerto Rico have yet to enact such a law.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Dole said Mr. Clinton's drug-testing proposal "is simply too little, too late."
"It's a shame Bill Clinton has been asleep at the wheel of leadership in the last three years," the aide said.
Clinton Stumps for the College Vote
Mr. Clinton spent two days last week focusing on education as part of a strategy to draw contrasts with Mr. Dole on certain issues in the final weeks of the campaign.
The president offered a stinging attack on Mr. Dole's education record in an Oct. 21 speech at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio.
Mr. Clinton criticized Mr. Dole for voting against the creation of a federal student-loan program and the Department of Education, and he pointed out that Mr. Dole still favors eliminating the department.
In keeping with his recent get-out-the-vote emphasis, Mr. Clinton implored his college-age audience to vote.
"Your vote is going to decide whether we continue to expand access to college and student loans, or whether we eliminate the Department of Education, cut college aid, and tell our young people to fend for themselves," the president said.
A day later, the Clinton-Gore campaign held "College Day" in 15 states. Mr. Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and a host of other administration officials fanned out across the country to promote their higher education policies and encourage young voters to go to the polls Nov. 5.
"One of the groups he's most concerned about getting out to vote is college students," said Mark Nevins, the communications director for the College Democrats. "Their voting history isn't great."
Mr. Dole has not unveiled a higher education agenda.
But the president did not escape GOP criticism for his record on college aid. In a statement last week, Rep. John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said Mr. Clinton "has flip-flopped on a variety of popular education programs."
Mr. Kasich noted that Mr. Clinton's early budgets called for cutting or eliminating such programs as college work-study, supplemental opportunity grants, and Perkins student loans.
NEA is Big Spender in Federal Campaigns
The National Education Association ranks eighth among all contributors to federal campaigns, according to a recent study.
The NEA has donated $1.7 million--$1.6 million of it to Democrats--during the current election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
That ranks the 2.2-million-member union behind such corporate giants as the Philip Morris Cos. Inc. and the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., and such labor unions as the Teamsters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, but ahead of such contributors as the American Medical Association, the United Auto Workers, and the Lockheed Martin Corp.
The American Federation of Teachers, which has some 900,000 members, ranked 26th, according to the center, with $1.1 million in contributions. All but 1 percent went to Democrats, the center said.
The Washington-based center said most of the contributions were made between Jan. 1, 1995, and June 30, 1996.
In Texas, Morales Gets Reform Party Nod
The Reform Party of Texas has endorsed schoolteacher Victor Morales, a Democrat, in his longshot bid to unseat GOP Sen. Phil Gramm.
"Victor Morales has performed the most courageous act in recent Texas political years," Joe Montoya, a member of the endorsement commission, said in a news release. "He has not only campaigned against PAC money but has refused to accept political-action-committee gifts."
Mr. Morales said the endorsement indicates there is "another large group of people who are helping me in my fight."
The latest polling in Texas gives Mr. Gramm a double-digit lead.
--MARK PITSCH[email protected]
Vol. 16, Issue 09