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$17.1 Billion 1998 National Drug Control Strategy Claims Youth as Top Priority; McCaffrey Aims to Halve Drug Use in Ten Years; Gingrich Blasts Strategy, Calls For Its Withdrawal


February 1998

The 1998 National Drug Control Strategy provides for $17.1 billion in federal spending in FY 1999 for anti-drug programs, an increase of $1.1 billion (6.8%) over the FY 1998 enacted level. The author of the strategy, National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey, says the strategy begins a 10-year plan aimed at reducing "the availability and demand for illicit drugs" by 50% and cutting the number of "chronic drug users" in half (Robert L. Jackson, "White House Crafts Plan to Halve Illicit Drug Trade," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1998, p. A20; Nancy Mathis, "Record budget sought to carry out drug war," Houston Chronicle, February 14, 1998, p. 6A).

"The largest percentage increase is for activities which target youth", according to McCaffrey [emphasis added]. Youth drug prevention activities increase 15%, or $256 million in the plan. The FY 1999 budget includes $195 million for the "Youth Anti-Drug campaign," a five-year effort launched by McCaffrey in 1998 to buy anti-drug advertising on TV, radio, magazines, and the Internet. The strategy calls for $50 million to provide drug prevention services to 6,500 middle schools. $146 million is earmarked for programs to curb teenage smoking, a new initiative for what has been an effort traditionally directed against controlled substances.

Total spending targeted at youth is $2 billion but law enforcement remains the largest element of the strategy at $8.54 billion. Prevention spending amounts to only 13% of the total budget.

McCaffrey said the 1999 budget "starts to effectively link the drug treatment community and the criminal justice community." The strategy calls for an increase of $200 million in HHS Substance Abuse Block Grants, increasing the total to $1.5 billion. It also includes $85 million for testing, treatment, and sanctions for drug offenders in prisons and jails. Treatment spending would total $3.1 billion in 1999.

McCaffrey said the record budget will be used "to shut the door" on drugs coming into the U.S. from Mexico. The strategy includes $163.2 million for 1,000 new border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border and an increase of $66.4 million for Customs, including $54 million for inspection technologies, such as X-ray systems and remote video surveillance. The report says, "Mexico, both a transit zone for cocaine and heroin and a source country for heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, is key to reducing the flow of illegal drugs into the United States."

Regarding interdiction, the strategy calls for $75.4 million more to support Department of Defense counterdrug activities in the Andes, the Caribbean, and Mexico, and for the National Guard for a total of $1.81 billion. The plan includes $45 million for crop eradication and alternative development in the Andes and $35.7 million for Coast Guard interdiction capabilities, particularly in the Caribbean.

The plan describes a "methamphetamine initiative," which includes $24.5 million for 223 new DEA personnel including 100 new agents to fight trafficking, production, and abuse of methamphetamine.

The strategy would institute "performance measures of effectiveness" to evaluate progress being made by federal agencies in meeting the goals of the 10-year plan.

The strategy drew harsh criticism from Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA). In a radio address, Gingrich said he would press for a resolution urging the White House to withdraw the plan. "The president would have us believe that with all the resources, ingenuity, dedication and passion of the American people, we can't get even halfway to victory in the war on drugs until the year 2007 -- nine full years from now," Gingrich said (Associated Press, "Gingrich Scoffs at Clinton Anti-Drug Plan," Washington Post, February 15, 1998, p. A4; "Gingrich blasts Clinton's anti-drug plan as a `timetable for defeat,'" Houston Chronicle, February 15, 1998, p. 20A).

McCaffrey said Gingrich's criticism was "irresponsible." McCaffrey added, "I'm sympathetic to partisan wrangling and know that Newt Gingrich is looking for issues for the midterm election, but that's not what I signed up to do. I'm afraid he's going to do a disservice to a comprehensive strategy" (Associated Press, "Drug czar upset with Gingrich," Denver Post, February 17, 1998, p. 6A).

The strategy is on-line and can be obtained by calling the Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse at (800) 666-3332.

Office of National Drug Control Policy - 750 17th Street, NW, 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20006, Tel: (202) 395-6618.

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich - 2428 RHOB, Washington, DC 20515, Tel: (202) 225-4501, Fax: (202) 225-4656, E-mail: <>.

BUDGET ITEM FY 1999 Budget Request (in billions) % Change from FY 1998 % of Total Budget

Criminal Justice

$8.54 +4.4% 50%

Drug Treatment

$3.09 +7.2% 18%

Drug Prevention

$2.16 +12.1% 13%


$1.81 +11.8% 11%


$0.73 +6.7% 4%

International Efforts

$0.55 +9.6% 3%


$0.20 +7.2% 1%


$17.1 +6.8% 100%