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No high marks yet for Clinton domestic program.


CASEBOLT: It seems to me you have to understand three points to look at the Clinton administration on environmental/ecological reform.

1. The economy is not their highest value. They feel the need to stimulate the economy and have a growing GNP, so environmental concerns fall under that.

2. They are constrained by the budget, have not dealt effectively with the military budget, and the peace dividend has not come to us.

3. The way they operate is through consensus.

Generally what you've got is people in charge of God's creation, if I can put it that way, who have a totally secular viewpoint. I'm not against sharing with the secular community, I just believe they ought not to have the whole thing.

Issues: Climatic change - administration promises don't seem to fit the performance. Clinton has given up on the BTU (energy) tax and it looks like he'll give up on increasing fuel economy standards for autos.

He has not moved on the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, which is a big concern for the religious community. We have been telling people for a decade now that minority and low-income communities are adversely and unfairly targeted for hazardous waste facilities.

We're happy about the biodiversity treaty and Clinton's commitment ($30 million in 1994) to reduce worldwide deforestation, but he gets not quite as good a grade on our own Northwest forests. As so frequently happens in this administration when they get an economic/environmental interests clash, they find it difficult to come down on the side of the environment.

D'ANTONIO: On the social environment, Clinton has taken a lead with regard to population dynamics. For 12 years we had an almost negative attitude toward our concern about population growth in this society and around the world. If we say government is ultimately responsible for health care, for example, then what is government's role with regard to family size in society's future?

I'm pleased with positive moves on family planning, including the appointment of Dr. Joycelyn Elders as surgeon general. Immigration is another aspect of the environment and will lead to pockets of crises - Florida, Texas, California. There is an educational factor here - many of us have relatives who came to this country illegally, yet the national mood is anti-immigrant. This is an ideological issue too hot for Clinton to handle.

FIEDER: Where's Al Gore?

CASEBOLT: His promises and commitment are not as strong as when he wrote his book. He made promises to deal with incinerators close to residential communities. But the administration backpedaled in Ohio and that incinerator is burning but not meeting EPA standards. There is a lot of money involved, representing people who contributed heavily to Clinton's campaign.

FIEDLER: The population increases that have the greatest effect on the environment are those in the First World because of the kind of resources we use and waste. Globally and locally, the former U.S. military bases are loaded with toxic wastes. Is there a plan?

CASEBOLT: There is neither a plan nor the money.

Military budget/

economic conversion

DEAR: You cannot feed the poor and feed the Pentagon at the same time. As long as Clinton continues to feed the Pentagon with $290 billion, I don't think he will have a genuine domestic policy to speak of.

What Clinton allows the military to do affects everything else. We as a people are addicted to violence. We need leadership that will help make us sober and a people of nonviolence. The Clinton administration is encouraging the addiction.

On July 17, the 15th Trident submarine - $2.2 billion - was launched, and he intends to build six more. I'm glad Clinton continued the nuclear weapons testing moratorium. He needs a clear commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

BUSH: Economic conversion isn't working because none of the defense contractors want to convert. The president has not cut any weapons systems from the Cold War. Defense Secretary Aspin can display leadership, but the result so far with Clinton has been no significant change. They're seeking reasons to keep the defense budget up.

The reasons to cut the budget are clear and simple. The reasons we don't are convoluted and indirect.

FRIEDMAN: We at Network believe this post-Cold War moment presents an opportunity, but it's a little too early to predict what's going to happen. The administration has rightly rejected a technological model based on spinoffs from military R&D (research and development), yet endorsed a |dual-use' technology potentially capable of meeting both military and commercial application requirements.

Under such a strategy, the force driving technology still remains the Defense Department. The Defense Reinvestment and Economic Growth Initiative calls for $18 billion from 1994 through '97. We applaud and are excited about that.

Again, Clinton has the opportunity to demonstrate a commitment. If large contractors are not interested in conversion and prefer to grab for diminishing resources, then the administration should move forward with economic conversion programs for small subcontractors and actively support labor-management cooperation in promoting conversion planning.

The Pentagon's lead role in economic conversion should be turned over to the Commerce and Labor Departments, and conversions importance should be emphasized by establishing a White House-level commission, like the one for health care.

One other possibility is to actively oppose certain congressional measures, such as the proposed Arms Exports Loan Guarantee program, which defers inevitable conversion and runs counter to efforts to control the international arms trade.

FIEDLER: In economic terms, the military is seen as a jobs creator. I'm not sure this topic fits under "military reform" but the gay and lesbian issue is extremely disappointing. Clinton started out so bravely, then backed down.

BUSH: Clinton is commander in chief. If he would ever assume that posture I think be would find the military would follow him.

RILEY: I'd like to see him assert his leadership with the military chiefs of staff on this, saying that we are not a civilization that is led by the military.

D'ANTONIO: Clinton should tell Sam Nunn to jump, which he didn't.

PINKERTON: Sam Nunn's running the show.

BUSH: House Armed Services Committee chairman Ron Dellums has to crack some committee heads. It's the same thing. Take away their perks if they don't go along.

PINKERTON: There's a whole bunch of women on the Armed Services Committee, so watch for change.
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Title Annotation:Catholic activist's opinions
Author:Jones, Arthur; Vidulich, Dorothy
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Panel Discussion
Date:Oct 15, 1993
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