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Cold war end brings economic hopes, says Mitchell.

Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) expressed hope that the nation will recover from current economic difficulties, and called the end of the Cold War an opportunity to re-think budget priorities.

Mitchell outlined Senate Democratic leadership economic recovery plans for delegates during the Congressional-City Conference.

"The greatest threat to American security no longer comes from the Soviet Union or some other foreign power," he said. "It comes from within, from the steady decline of the American economy, the steady erosion of the American standard of living."

The senator noted the drop in real wages and slowed job-creation rate and their effects on all levels of government, as well as the decrease in federal aid to localities since 1980--a trend expected to continue.

"These proposals amount to nothing more than dumping problems onto state and local governments," he said of Administration budget proposals. "It's passing the buck without passing any bucks."

"What we need is a partnership defined by one overriding principle--responsibility and resources should go to that level of government closes to the people that's best able to get the job done," Mitchell said.

The majority leader noted Congressional efforts such as extension of unemployment insurance benefits and a tax and economic growth package to provide incentives for investment without increasing the federal deficit.

He stressed that the tax bill is a first step and described a fiscal stimulus package to provide immediate aid to state and local governments that will help in meeting federal mandates.

Mitchell said the most important part of the plan is investment for future growth, and he discussed the real economic growth the nation enjoyed in the quarter-century following World War II that brought the greatest period of sustained prosperity of any nation in history.

"The prosperity of the 1980's was a false prosperity," he declared. "It was based on a binge of consumption--not investment. And the consumption was financed by $2 trillion of debt. We're now paying the price."

"It's time to go 'back to the future'--back to what works, to what has proven to be effective," the majority leader said of the fiscal stimulus portion of the recovery plan. "We must make long-term investments in our people, in our plants and equipment that will promote the same kind of sustained economic growth we enjoyed for the quarter-century following the Second World War."

"The Cold War is over. It's time to re-think and rearrange our budget priorities," Mitchell said, discussing Congressional efforts to change federal budget rules to permit redirecting funds to domestic programs.

HE termed defense conversion a defining issue of the 1990's which, with proper leadership and planning, can provide an opportunity to build communities with strong civilian-based economies. "The possibilities for post-Cold War America are unlimited," he asserted. "The workers who developed the best defense technologies in the world can develop a manufacturing and technology base that will permit the United States to lead the world into the 21st century."

"We face hard times now. But we'll come out of it, as we always have," he continued. "I believe America's best yearts lie in the future."

"The spirit that lifted us out of the Great Depression, the determination that enabled America to lead the world in crushing facism, the perseverance that enabled us to stand firm against communism in the long years of the Cold War--they're still alive in America today waiting to be rekindled," he concluded. "Together, let's light the spark."
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Title Annotation:Senator George Mitchell
Author:Turner, Laura
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 16, 1992
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