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What will Clinton bring?

As President-elect Bill Clinton prepares for his inauguration this month, African-Americans are speculating what the next four years under his reign may be like. Now that the Republican hold on the White House has been broken, most analysts believe African-Americans are expecting some long-awaited relief. Are they likely to get what they expect?

Because Clinton stressed inclusion during his campaign, most analysts believe he will support affirmative action, but not in terms of quotas. "He will try to decrease the percentage of unemployed in the minority community by creating jobs programs that will systematically include women and minorities," says Robert W. Ethridge, an executive board member of the American Association for Affirmative Action. Ethridge expects Clinton's plan to enable students to receive college loans in exchange for public service to be enacted quickly. He also foresees Clinton working to reinterpret minority scholarship rules to ensure that they are maintained.

Some are not so quick to believe Clinton's strong support of affirmative action. Anthony Robinson, president of the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense Fund, says a Clinton presidency only represents "a clean slate that might hold some real opportunity" for minority businesses. But for the opportunity to be realized he says, "it is up to the minority business community to take an agenda to Clinton, because he has no clear record of strong minority business programs."

Robinson also says it will be interesting to see if Clinton will be willing to set up separate small business programs for white women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses or be willing to strongly enforce federal set-aside legislation.

David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, believes a Clinton administration will be much tougher at enforcing the law--from civil rights to the environment. He suggests Clinton will have a "more activist" government, a great contrast from President George Bush's emphasis on less government involvement. Bositis sees sweeping changes that will create job training programs, produce jobs through public works programs, begin health care initiatives and raise major funding to tackle urban issues.

Henry Espy, president of the National Conference of Black Mayors, says a Clinton presidency is probably the best news cities have had in a decade. "I think he will develop plans with us," says the Clarksdale, Miss., mayor. "Being from a poor region [like Arkansas], Clinton will understand how to articulate our needs to the House of Representatives and the Senate."

With the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate all controlled by the Democratic Party, Clinton should have all the pieces in place to do an effective job. He'll also have the help of 17 new black, seven new Hispanic and two new Asian members of Congress. But a great deal of what four years of Clinton will bring for African-Americans depends largely upon the level of negotiating skills and desire to articulate their concerns.
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Author:Scott, Matthew S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Biography
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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