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Clinton economic summit puts emphasis on stimulus, little said about cities.

President-elect Bill Clinton's economic summit ended last week with a consensus on the need for a short term economic stimulus and a long term deficit reduction p]an.

At a news conference after the two-day meeting, Clinton listed a number of issues on which he believed consensus had been gained, including:

* increased investment in education;

* the need to spur financial institution reinvestment;

* repairing the nation's health care system; and

* balancing increased domestic investment with long term deficit reduction.

While Clinton indicated he is undecided about the size of a stimulus program and unlikely to make any firm decisions until after the first of the year, business and academic leaders appeared to favor a short term economic stimulus package introduced simultaneously with a long term deficit reduction package--similar to the NLC economic recovery p]an.

No city officials, little discussion of urban issues

The summit meeting in Little Rock included some 300 business and academic leaders. No elected officials from any level of government were invited.

The first day was focused on defining economic problems, while the second day was dedicated to exploring possible solutions. On each day, the President-elect, who served as moderator throughout the 18 hour session, invited presenters on specific topics.

While several speakers presented testimony about the growing disparity between-rich and poor Americans, there was little focus on the alienation and fear in many cities, much less the events that led up to the civil disturbances in Los Angeles.

But almost all participants agreed that the economy could not grow its own way out of the recession and that some federal role would be crucial. Three areas of special attention seemed to be infrastructure, job training and education, and financial institutions.

Clinton himself made clear that state and local infrastructure projects would be a key to his economic growth package. He said programs to build highways and high technology networks could improve U.S. productivity and long-term economic growth:

"We need to do it not just in roads and bridges and water and sewer systems, but we need to do it in new rail systems, air transportation systems-there are all kinds of things out there for us to do."

Other economists emphasized the importance of job training, both to accommodate the conversion from military to economic security, and to prepare more young people to be competitive in the market place.

Finally, bankers, business leaders, and economists noted that finding ways to unleash the vast amounts of capital in financial institutions and pension funds for reinvestment in the domestic economy could dwarf any federal stimulus program. One bank leader noted that just a four percent increase in commercial bank lending would produce some $84 billion in new small business lending.

Where to tax, cut, spend

The summit meeting produced consensus on the need for a credible, long term deficit reduction plan, but little agreement on the specific details. But many participants urged Clinton to move promptly on the deficit. Reminding him that a new President always has the benefit of a honeymoon, they urged that the "brutal" deficit reduction decisions be made at the beginning in a spirit of shared sacrifice.
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Title Annotation:Bill Clinton
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 21, 1992
Words:523
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