[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 25, 1998]
[Page 618]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 618]]

The President's Radio Address
April 25, 1998

    Good morning. This morning I'd like to talk to you about one way we 
are working to restore Americans' faith in our National Government, in 
our efforts to shore up Social Security and other vital benefits by 
cracking down on fraud and abuse.
    For 60 years, Social Security has meant more than just an ID number 
on a tax form, even more than a monthly check in the mail. It has 
reflected our deepest values, the duties we owe to our parents, to each 
other, to our children and grandchildren, to those whom misfortune 
strikes, to those who deserve a decent old age, to our ideal of one 
    That's why I was so disturbed some time ago to discover that many 
prisoners, who are by law barred from receiving most of these Federal 
benefits, were actually collecting Social Security checks while locked 
up behind bars. Inmates were, in effect, under our law, getting away 
with fraud, primarily because it was so difficult to gather up-to-date 
information on criminals in our Nation's more than 3,500 jails. But 
thanks to an unprecedented Federal, State, and local cooperation, as 
well as new, innovative incentive programs, we're now finishing the job.
    The Social Security Administration has produced a continually 
updated database that now covers more than 99 percent of all prisoners, 
the most comprehensive list of our inmate population in history. And 
more important, the Social Security Administration is using the list to 
great effect. By the end of last year we had suspended benefits to more 
than 70,000 prisoners. That means that over the next 5 years we will 
save taxpayers $2.5 billion--that's $2.5 billion--that will go toward 
serving our hard-working families.
    Now we're going to build on the Social Security Administration's 
success in saving taxpayers from inmate fraud. In just a few moments I 
will sign an Executive memorandum that directs the Departments of Labor, 
Veterans Affairs, Justice, Education, and Agriculture to use the Social 
Security Administration's expertise and high-tech tools to enhance their 
own efforts to weed out any inmate who is receiving veteran's benefits, 
food stamps, or any other form of Federal benefit denied by law.
    We expect that these comprehensive sweeps by our agencies will save 
taxpayers millions upon millions of more dollars, in addition to the 
billions already saved from our crackdown on Social Security fraud. We 
will ensure that those who have committed crimes against society will 
not have an opportunity to commit crimes against taxpayers as well.
    The American people have a right to expect that their National 
Government is always on guard against every type of waste, fraud, and 
abuse. It is our duty to use every power and every tool to eliminate 
that kind of fraud. We owe it to the American people to ensure that 
their Social Security contributions and other tax dollars are benefiting 
only those who worked hard, played by the rules, and are, by law, 
eligible to receive them. That's exactly what we're trying to do.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Oval Office at the 
White House.