SUMMIT TO LAUNCH VOLUNTEERISM DRIVE : PRESIDENTS TO CALL FOR CITIZENS TO PITCH IN.Byline: Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Rennert Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
Faced with a shrinking safety net, President Clinton travels to Philadelphia today to launch a nationwide campaign to enlist every American in volunteer work to help the poor - an idea applauded by many conservatives but viewed with skepticism by liberals in his own party.
Clinton will be joined by Nancy Reagan and former Presidents Bush, Carter and Ford at the first Summit on Citizen Service - a three-day event three-day event
a competition in the pleasure horse sport comprising usually one day each for dressage, cross country and show jumping. that will attract religious and civic groups, business, labor unions, educators, service organizations and prominent entertainers.
Oprah Winfrey “Oprah” redirects here. For the show, see The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Oprah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is the American multiple-Emmy Award winning host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated talk show in television history. and John Travolta will lend glitzy glitz Informal
Ostentatious showiness; flashiness: "a garish barrage of show-biz glitz" Peter G. Davis.
tr.v. support to 2,000 delegates from 140 communities who are due to pledge an all-out commitment to help 2 million young people rise out of poverty into the American economic mainstream.
With Independence Hall as a symbolic backdrop, Gen. Colin Powell Noun 1. Colin Powell - United States general who was the first African American to serve as chief of staff; later served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush (born 1937)
Colin luther Powell, Powell , retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking overall military officer of the United States military, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. , will preside over the summit and chart strategy to implement its recommendations in coming months.
The project fits Clinton's move to the center of the political spectrum and his New Democrat leanings toward a leaner but still activist government that works in partnership with the private sector to move the country forward.
With Congress under GOP control, it allows him to adopt a strong bipartisan stance at a time when he needs Republican help to advance his agenda.
Having proclaimed an end to big government and signed a welfare-overhaul bill that reduces Washington's role in helping the needy, the president views expanded volunteerism as a popular way to offset cuts in social programs.
Beyond the White House, however, views differ sharply about the summit's purpose and usefulness.
Many conservatives see it as vindication of their push for a much smaller government and greater reliance on personal responsibility and community efforts.
For example, Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington (born Arianna Stassinopoulos (Greek: Αριάννα Στασινόπουλου) on July 15, 1950 in Athens, Greece) is an author and nationally syndicated columnist in the , who founded the Center for Effective Compassion in 1995 after her husband's unsuccessful bid to unseat California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein (born June 22, 1933) is the senior U.S. Senator from California, having held office as a senator since 1992. She is a member of the Democratic Party. , is going to Philadelphia to encourage families to volunteer with their children.
Her organization promises to generate 50,000 volunteers in five major cities, including the nation's financially strapped capital.
``With two working parents and a growing number of single parents, finding time to volunteer becomes very difficult indeed,'' she said. ``Bringing children along makes it part of family time and an educational tool to teach our children how important service is in our lives.''
But that outlook is not shared by many urban Democrats in Congress who applaud expansion of volunteer service but insist that it cannot come close to offsetting a steady decline in public aid for the needy.
Along with many childhood and anti-poverty advocacy groups, they worry that a full-court publicity press promoted by the White House will give Americans a false sense of comfort that serious social problems can be solved by letting taxpayers off the hook.
``The summit is an overstated o·ver·state
tr.v. o·ver·stat·ed, o·ver·stat·ing, o·ver·states
To state in exaggerated terms. See Synonyms at exaggerate.
o and overplayed event,'' said Rep. Robert Matsui, D-Sacramento. ``It will create illusory expectations and a willingness to shatter the social safety net. It's a feel-good affair that will make it almost impossible to put public policy back on the right track.''
Bruce Reed, Clinton's domestic policy adviser, argues that the Philadelphia summit is a logical outcome of Clinton's successful battle to redefine the role of government. While Washington continues to be an important player, ``citizens also have to live up to their responsibilities,'' he contends.
``We still have problems,'' he adds. ``Millions of kids are without adult role models, and schools need to be wired to the Internet. Volunteer service is not a substitute for national action. Each sector needs to do its part. The country needs both.''
Solving social problems
Reed said the summit's main goal will be to challenge all Americans to help solve social problems. More specifically, he said, Clinton hopes to create a national network of volunteers who will help youngsters with school work, give them access to better health care, teach them marketable skills, increase their sense of safety and instill in·still
To pour in drop by drop.
instil·lation n. in them a duty to serve.
Among some mainstream charities, the summit has generated ambivalent feelings.
``Voluntary efforts should supplement a decent public policy,'' said John Carr John Carr may refer to:
After last November's elections, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a non-profit think tank which describes itself as a "policy organization ... working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. , a Washington think tank that monitors programs to help the poor, issued a report that spending cuts over the last two years fell disproportionately on low-income families.
``We obviously need appropriate levels of private and public efforts,'' said Robert Greenstein Robert Greenstein is founder and executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington, DC think tank that focuses on federal and state fiscal policy and public programs affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. , the center's director. ``But there is a risk that the message could be conveyed that the private sector can do more than it actually can do.''
Bush curtly dismissed as a ``stupid liberal perception'' concerns that the summit will let politicians feel less guilty about cutting government programs.
``Most of that kind of comment you hear from those who want bigger government and more government spending Government spending or government expenditure consists of government purchases, which can be financed by seigniorage, taxes, or government borrowing. It is considered to be one of the major components of gross domestic product. ,'' he said. ``We need innovation to solve these problems that comes only from private people getting in and participating at the local and the community and the state level.''