June 16, 2003 - CBS News: Clinton And Dole debate Volunteerism

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Clinton And Dole debate Volunteerism

Read and comment on this interview from CBS News between President Clinton and Senator Dole on volunteerism at:

Clinton And Dole: Volunteerism*

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Clinton And Dole: Volunteerism

June 15, 2003

(CBS) In the latest in a series of two-minute debates for CBS News 60 Minutes, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former President Bill Clinton discuss volunteerism. Following is a transcript of their debate:

PRESIDENT CLINTON: "Ask what you can do for your country," President Kennedy said, and we Americans always have. In the last decade, over 250,000 Americans are in the domestic Peace Corps called Americorps. After 9/11, President Bush wisely called for a 50 percent increase in Americorps.

Unfortunately, his allies in Congress have a "cap-and-cut" policy - cap the number of volunteers, and cut the budget by 30 percent. As a result, the number of young people in Americorps this year may drop to 25,000, far below the 75,000 President Bush requested.

Republicans should go along with the president's expansion, because the American spirit of service is stronger than ever and never more needed. I've seen it firsthand through my work with "City Year," an Americorps program that does great things in 12 cities all across our nation.

Senator, you've been a great advocate of citizen service. I hope you'll agree that we need to provide more opportunities for our young people to put their energy and idealism to work.

SENATOR DOLE: Mr. President, call me old-fashioned, but when I think about volunteerism, I think about citizens doing things on their own - not a federal program and a budget number. Why is it that democrats can't talk about good citizenship and public service without complaining that congress needs to spend more and more money.

Ever heard of Casa Verde builders, Mr. President? It's one of Americorps boondoggles and it cost taxpayers $100,000 per so-called volunteer. Until Congress implemented reforms, Americorps failed its audits and had millions in tax dollars missing.

Eighty-four million Americans volunteer with organized charities - all without an Americorps paycheck. If you call people who get paid volunteers, what do you call folks who don't get paid? I call them good people and taxpayers. And they know there's more to citizen service than another government program.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Look, Senator, like Peace Corps volunteers, the young people of Americorps serve full-time, so they have to be paid a little bit. With so many young people eager to serve, we should give more of them the opportunity to do so, not less. Thatís what the president wants and so do I.

SENATOR DOLE: Look, President Bush is fixing the program. He understands we just canít just hire more volunteers. We need more real volunteerism. And since I have the last word, let me help. I urge everybody to volunteer. Tutor a child, visit a veterans hospital or even teach creative writing. Hey, maybe Hillary could help with that one.

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