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When will America come first?

As Congress rushes toward adjournment, it risks leaving cities behind--victims of gridlock and other priorities.

The urban aid bill promised with such fanfare by President Bush and the bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate faces an uncertain fate. It has been bogged down with amendments unrelated to addressing the critical issues confronting the nation's cities. The President has indicated to Republican leaders he will veto the bill.

The bill is not a comprehensive response. But it is a first step. Final action on the bill will be a measure of leadership for both the President and the Congress.

After 50 years of borrowing and spending to fight the Cold War the events in Los Angeles briefly woke the nation. For a short time, all Americans understood that the hopes and opportunities of America will depend on economic strength, and security. American leadership in the fields of health, education, and infrastructure will be more critical to our security in the 21th Century than any foreign military threat.

The rioting sent a clear message: Things are just not right in our cities. And not just in L.A., but in communities of every size and every region of the nation. No jobs and no job opportunities have increased alienation, crime, and fear. And the federal government has become increasingly irrelevant.

Our people, our communities, and our children live in a new world where American strength and courage will be tested by our ability to remake ourselves and invest in the future. The fear and alienation captured on TV screens across the nation reflected the costs of a federal system that has accelerated fiscal disparities and ignored the central importance of communities to families and the national economy.

A decade ago, the federal government reinvested in American communities $4 in for every $1 sent overseas in foreign aid. This year the federal government will spend more of our taxes on foreign aid than it will return back to our communities.

It is ironic that as the urban aid bill languishes between the White House and the Congress, Congressmen and Senators are hard at work to complete action on a $24 billion Russian bailout. It is one of the administration's highest priorities.

When will American cities will be one of the highest priorities?
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 28, 1992
Previous Article:Disaster bill signed; city block grants await funding approval.
Next Article:Working with the public: in search of the public soul.

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