Public Papers

Statement on Urban Aid Initiatives


Today I am discussing with Congress a strategy to bring hope and opportunity to distressed communities. Our action is based on bedrock American values: personal responsibility, work, and family. We must end the cycle of dependency and give all Americans a place at the table of economic opportunity.

Clearly, the time has come to set aside old ideas and try something new. We in Government have a responsibility to act now to guarantee a hopeful future for the children of this Nation, a future where people are safe, neighborhoods can flourish, children can learn, and jobs can be created.

All Americans share the common goals of equal opportunity, advancement, and upward mobility. But the American dream is hindered by too many obstacles: unsafe cities, slow economic growth, an out-of-date education system, and dependency-creating Government programs.

We must start with policies that refocus programs to serve those who are most needy and increase the effectiveness of Government services through innovation, competition, and choice. Our approach is a radical break with the policies of the past. But as Abraham Lincoln once said, ``It is time to think and act anew.''

My action plan consists of six core components:

(1) ``Weed and Seed'': Our families cannot thrive and jobs cannot flourish in a climate of lawlessness and fear. Our ``Weed and Seed'' initiative to combat crime wins back our inner cities by weeding out gang leaders, drug dealers, and career criminals and seeding communities with expanded employment, educational, and social services.

(2) HOPE: When people lack jobs, opportunity, or ownership of property, they have little or no stake in their communities. Our HOPE (Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere) initiative fosters a sense of community pride by offering inner-city residents a chance for homeownership and management of public housing.

(3) Enterprise Zones: We must spark an economic revival in urban America to create jobs and opportunity. Our enterprise zones initiative encourages businesses to reenter our inner cities by creating tax credits, expanding capital investment, and bringing regulatory relief to some of the Nation's most economically depressed areas.

(4) Education Reform: It is time to reform and improve American education. Our education reform strategy, America 2000, envisions an America in which all parents have the choice of the best schools available, public, private, or parochial.

(5) Welfare Reform: While no one disputes that government has an obligation to provide a safety net to those in need, there is too much emphasis on programs that penalize ambition, promote alienation, and destroy individual dignity. We must encourage family formation and allow individuals to fulfill their potential for a productive, meaningful life.

(6) Youth Jobs -- Youth Apprenticeships and Job Training 2000: The health of our cities and our economy depend on a skilled work force and facilitating the transition of students from school to work. Prompt enactment of our proposals can help provide job opportunities and training this summer.