In the fall of 1991, Governor Bill Clinton traveled to Georgetown University—his alma mater—to deliver three speeches on his vision for the future and plans for the presidency. He called this philosophy the “New Covenant.” Together, these speeches served as a road map for the nation, marking a “Third Way” between the old dead ends.
Over the next eight years, by acting on the belief that the United States lives in one world and shares one economy, and that the events and decisions made in our country have direct impact on everyday people everywhere, the administration helped restore people’s faith that government could be an instrument for the common good. “In 1992 we had a road map,” the President said in his 2000 State of the Union address. “Today, we have results.
State of the Nation
The 1990’s were a time of transformation. Rarely in our history had Americans lived through so much change in so many ways, and in so short a time. Quietly at first, but with gathering force, the United States entered an information age.
New technologies, such as the Internet and wireless communications, altered the way Americans worked and lived. Breakthroughs in biomedicine, including the mapping of the human genetic code, held the promise of cures for AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases.
The U.S. economy was also transformed. After a decade of deepening government deficits and declining incomes, the Clinton administration charted a new course. Its fiscal policies helped create a positive economic climate – of high growth, low interest rates, and record levels of job creation. The nation experienced the longest economic expansion in its history.
The economic boom helped lift millions out of poverty and swelled the ranks of the middle class. To help more people get jobs in this new economy, the administration more than doubled the U.S. investment in education and training.
Government, too, had to change. The administration reduced the federal work force and found new ways to work with business and individual citizens on crime, literacy, and job creation. It was an unprecedented national effort in which people of all backgrounds took responsibility for our common future.
United States 1992-2000: A Statistical Portrait
Crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants
Total non-farm employment
1992: 108.3 million
2000: 130.8 million
Percentage of people living below poverty line
People 25 and older who have a bachelor’s degree
1992: 34.3 million
2000: 44.8 million
Homes with computers
Percentage of poor children insured
Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Reports; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Census Bureau; Centers for Disease Control; National Center for Education Statistics; U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Census Bureau
State of the World
As the 1990’s began, the Cold War was ending. For the previous half-century, America had strengthened its defenses and built global alliances to contain Soviet communism, an enemy that had suddenly ceased to exist. In its wake, democracy spread. For the first time in history, a majority of the world’s people would live under governments of their own choosing.
At the same time, the global economy became a force for integration. Nations increasingly opened their doors to one another’s people, products, and ideas. New technology and a new understanding of the world’s interdependence drove this process, which helped create unprecedented prosperity for the United States and many other countries.
But the global economy also bred instability, by widening disparities in health, education, and income. New tyrants emerged, fanning the flames of religious and ethnic hatreds in places like central Africa and the Balkans. Open borders and new technologies gave terrorists wider reach and greater mobility.
The emerging mix of perils and opportunities made U.S. leadership more important than ever. In an interdependent world, President Clinton said, “we cannot build our future without helping others to build theirs.” During the 1990’s American constructed new alliances, partnerships, and economic institutions to advance the cause of peace and prosperity for all in the 21st century.
The World 1992-2000: A Statistical Portrait
Percentage of countries with electoral democracies
Total number: U.S., Russia, U.K., China, France
Number of people living on less than $1 a day
1990: 1,292 million
2000: 1,169 million
Literacy rate of young people 15–25 years old
World foreign direct investment
1990: $202 billion
2000: $1.5 trillion
Number of new web sites
Sources: Freedom in the World 2003; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; World Bank; United Nations Statistics Division; UNAIDS Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic; U.S. International Trade Commission; Web Growth Summary, Matthew Gray