[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 5, 1998]
[Pages 332-333]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Prior to a Meeting With the National Bipartisan Commission on 
the Future of Medicare and an Exchange With Reporters
March 5, 1998

    The President. Good day, everyone. I am glad to be joined here by 
members of the Medicare Commission. In a few moments we will talk for 
the very first time about what we have to do as Americans to preserve 
Medicare, a system that has served our country so well for 33 years now. 
It's more than a program; it is a way we honor our duty to our parents 
and build a future for our children. It has been one of the great 
achievements of American society in the 20th century.
    We've already done a lot in the last few years to strengthen 
Medicare: The balanced budget will extend the Medicare Trust Fund for at 
least a decade; $20 billion has been saved by reducing fraud, abuse, and 
mismanagement in the system; we're giving people on Medicare a wider 
range of health plan choices and preventive services, including 
mammograms and diabetes management.
    When Medicare was first passed into law, President Johnson said, and 
I quote, ``It proved that the vitality of our democracy can shape the 
oldest of our values to the needs and obligations of changing times.'' 
I'm confident that the Medicare Commission will help us to build a new 
consensus to meet the challenges of a new era, strengthening Medicare 
for the 21st century

[[Page 333]]

and giving our people the security they need to thrive.
    I'd like to thank Senator Breaux for 
agreeing to chair the Commission. He has a longstanding record, both in 
his work on the Aging Commission and the Finance Committee--the Aging 
Committee and the Finance Committee--of working to develop consensus on 
important issues affecting our senior citizens.
    I'd also like to thank Congressman Thomas for his leadership on this issue and on the Commission. He 
is well known for his expertise on the Medicare program. He shepherded 
the Medicare provisions in the Balanced Budget Act through and helped to 
assure that we could achieve bipartisan agreement on these reforms. And 
for that I am very, very grateful.
    So I'd like now to give the Vice President and Senator Breaux and 
Congressman Thomas a chance to say a few 

[At this point, the Vice President, Senator John B. Breaux, and 
Representative William M. Thomas made brief remarks.]

Deposition in Paula Jones Civil Lawsuit

    Q. Mr. President, are you upset by the leaking of your Jones 
deposition--or did your people actually do the leaking?
    The President. Well, let me say, the court has made it absolutely 
clear that it is illegal to leak or to discuss it. And I think, Mr. 
Donaldson [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], I should 
follow the law. And so I don't have anything else to say. I know you've 
got to ask the question; it's your job. But I'm going to just do my job. 
That's what I'm doing here. And I'm going to follow the law. That's what 
I wish everyone else would do.
    Q. Sir, you never answered the important questions that I think a 
lot of people out there would like to hear you on.
    The President. Well, I believe I have given all the answers that 
matter. And I don't have anything else to say at this time. I'm just 
going to go back and do my job.
    Q. Mr. President, do you stand by the facts in the deposition as 
reported by the newspaper?
    Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. 
Do you care what Medicare is, Sam? Do you care what Medicare is?
    Q. We all care, sir. Mr. President, it says in the deposition as 
reported that you asked Betty Currie to see if she could help Monica 
Lewinsky get a job.
    The President. For one thing, I haven't read the article. For 
another thing, I don't know whether the article is accurate or not. 
Finally, whether it is or not, it is against the law. The judge has 
ordered us neither to release such materials or to discuss them. 
Somebody in this case ought to follow the law. I intend to be that 
person, so that I can go back to work about these things. I have nothing 
else to say.
    Q. Things seem to have gotten very personal between you and Kenneth 
Starr, Mr. President. It seems to have gotten very personal between you 
and Kenneth Starr, Mr. President. I'm asking a question not about the 
    The President. Sam never quits. He never 

Note: The President spoke at 12:25 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to U.S. District Judge Susan Webber 
Wright. A reporter referred to Betty Currie, the President's personal 
secretary, and Monica S. Lewinsky, former White House intern and subject 
of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's expanded investigation.