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Clinton promises 'new beginning' for America.

"The American people have voted to make a new beginning," President-elect Bill Clinton told supporters celebrating his victory in Little Rock, Arkansas last week:

"This election is a clarion call for our country to face the challenge of the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the next century. It is a call for our country to face problems too long ignored, from AIDS to the environment to the conversion of our economy from a defense to an economic giant. And perhaps most important of all, to bring our people together as never before so that our diversity can be a source of strength."

More than 100 million voters in cities and towns across the country sent a strong message of change in sweeping out 12 years of Republican rule in the White House last week to elect Clinton, to provide for the most massive changes in the Congress in four decades, and to usher into the House and Senate an unprecedented number of women, blacks, and Hispanics.

But unlike the mandate that swept former President Ronald Reagan into office in 1980, the mandate for change this time holds ambiguities. Clinton became the first President since 1968 to be elected by a plurality rather than a majority. So while it is clear the voters are seeking change, there is no clear mandate on exactly what changes they want.

His victory marked the first for a Democrat since 1976 and will mark the first time one party has had control of both the White House and Congress in more than a decade.

As the new President, Clinton will command large Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. He has already begun the task of accepting what many have called the "challenge of governing and accountability."

Having pledged during his campaign to meet with leaders of the 102nd Congress and newly elected members of the 103rd between the election and his inauguration, Clinton already has commenced work on the task of coming up with an agenda for his first 100 days.

Working with a new Congress, setting up a transition team, writing a budget due in less than 100 days, and setting a new agenda for the nation will impact communities in every corner of the nation.

A New Congress

Clinton will work with a 103rd Congress that has solid Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate and few changes in its leadership. But while the leadership in both parties will remain nearly unchanged, the ranks that follow have changed dramatically.

The House will have 110 new members--more than a 25 percent turnover. The Senate will have 11 new members.

The extraordinary level of turnover, the greatest change in 40 years, is almost certain to lead to changes in the way the Congress works. When the so-called Class of 1974 took office--a much smaller turnover--House freshmen organized early after their election and affected major changes both in the House leadership and process.

The new class, moreover, boasts an extraordinary level of experience at the state or local level. Nearly three quarters of the newly elected House members have experience as state or local officials, promising a far greater understanding of the issues and concerns of states and local governments.

The newly elected members of the Class of 1992 will meet outside Washington next month and are expected to have a major impact when the new Congress convenes in January.

House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) congratulated Clinton on his victory and promised "you will see early cooperation, early action." He said it will be an exciting Congress.

Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) supported Clinton's commitment to make the economy the first priority in the new Congress: "I think the highest priority must be economic growth, the creation of new jobs in our country, the deficit, and health care reform."

For municipal leaders, the changes in the Congress could mean an end to the gridlock. With the Congress no longer able to blame the deficit and economic problems on the White House and vice versa, the era of vetoes should end.

But with the Democrats falling short of the 60 vote majority they needed in the new Senate to shut off filibusters, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kans.) sent a warning shot across the President-elect's bow:

"Keep in mind that 57 percent of the voters voted for someone else [other than Clinton], so there was no mandate, no coattails, no majority." So that even though Dole promised to give the administration a fair hearing, he has already attempted to claim the leadership of not only the Republicans, but also the Perot-backers.

Transition and A New Agenda

With fewer than 90 days before the 103rd Congress meets and barely more than 100 to draft a budget proposal for next year, Clinton is expected to appoint a transition team immediately--both to focus on setting his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency and to select the thousands of appointees to his new administration.

Key members of the transition team are expected to include NLC Past President Henry Cisneros, former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin, Washington civil rights attorney Vernon Jordan, and former Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

The first priority of the new team and administration is expected to be a job stimulus package. The President-elect had set a target of introducing a jobs-investment package on his first day in office.

Indicating his wish to replace "trickle down" economics, Clinton proposed both a Rebuild America Fund and tax credits for private investment in his campaign as part of a jobs program that would jumpstart the economy, but provide long term results.

How the new Clinton team will shape this agenda and how it will affect the nation's cities and towns remains to be seen.
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Title Annotation:Bill Clinton
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 9, 1992
Previous Article:NLC's election process for 1993 leadership is underway.
Next Article:Women make gains at local level.

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