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National Archives

Public Papers - 1992 - May

Remarks on Urban Aid Initiatives and an Exchange With Reporters

1992-05-12

The President. I will be talking to the leadership in a few minutes, and we will be proposing these initiatives, all of them designed to increase personal responsibility, offer hope to these communities. And it's a good program.

I think most are familiar with ``Weed and Seed,'' to weed out the criminals and then seed the neighborhoods. We talked about this up in Philadelphia yesterday and in Los Angeles last week, and I think there's strong support for this program.

HOPE is a homeownership program. And we believe that owning the home is the best way to strengthen the family and to give the community stability.

On enterprise zones, that almost is universally accepted now. It's a proposal that will bring businesses, act like a magnet to bring businesses into these communities. We are going to increase the attractiveness of this proposal that we've had up there. But in any event, it's going to be -- I think it will be accepted by the Congress. We're going to push hard for it, as we will for the others.

I think most are familiar in the country now with our America 2000, but again, we believe that educational choice will help. This is a little longer range proposal, but it fits in. Without education, we are not going to restore hope to our cities.

Welfare reform is important. We're going to go forward not just with waivers that encourage work- and learning-fare, but we're going to try to broaden out the amount of monies that a family can keep before they have to go off of welfare. I believe the limit now is ,000, and I think we're talking now about ,000, which would say to a person, if you save anything, you're not going to be thrown off of welfare right away.

Then on a youth job program, we have a program of 3 million, I believe it is. But with our apprentice program and our job opportunity program that I've announced and that we talked about down there in terms of job training, we want to go forward with some new legislation on that.

All of these are designed to restore hope and to bring some cohesion to these communities and offer these young people some opportunities. So I will be taking this to the leadership; in the spirit of working together, I hope we can get it done.

Q. Is there anything new, and does it require -- --

The President. These are all new. Most of these -- well, ``Weed and Seed'' is in operation now a little bit. There are some model grants right now. Philadelphia is working on one. But all of these need to be tried. They're all new in a way, yes.

Q. New monies?

The President. Yes. Well, we'll be asking for some.

Q. Price tag, please?

The President. On what?

Q. On this whole program, on your agenda.

The President. I don't know that I can give you the price tag on the whole program. I've written down some numbers. On the ``Weed and Seed,'' for example, with going up from the model demonstrations of nine to, I believe, half a billion dollars, that's new.

Q. That's the same figure, though, that was announced in February, the 0 million.

The President. We haven't gotten it yet. It's new. It has not been enacted. This has not been done. A proposal that hasn't been tried is new. We need to try these new ideas; that's the figure.

Q. And where -- --

Q. Sir, did I understand you to say you were going to give the families going off of welfare ,000?

The President. No. I think what it is now is that if you save more than ,000, you're off of welfare. We're talking about making it ,000 so people can at least save a little bit of money while they're on welfare.

HOPE, billion in '93, that's what we're asking for.

Enterprise zones, it's hard to put a price on that because we are trying to make it more attractive in terms of how the tax structure will treat these investors. But there's no price tag on that one. It is a very, very important part of it.

Education, you know the numbers there, I think. We're not asking for anything different than we've proposed on that one.

Welfare reform, I've told you the difference there.

And on youth jobs there's, I think it's 683 for the summer, and now we're going up for new authorization on youth apprenticeship and Job Training 2000.

Q. Mr. President, where would this money come from? The Democrats say that if you're serious about this program, that you would agree to either a tax increase or reducing even further the Pentagon budget.

The President. I don't think the American people need to pay more taxes right now. I think this is a good program. It is coming from within the budget. Some of it, as I say, is asked for new authority in fiscal '93, but the idea that you have to raise taxes at this time when the economy is just starting to recover, I'm sorry, I will not support that.

Q. But then where would the money come from specifically?

The President. You will have to ask Dick Darman to tell you because it's all in the very complicated budget proposal.

Q. Would you give us a little more detail about that welfare, going off of welfare?

The President. Well, you know, I think -- --

Q. You think people can save up to ,000 before they go off of welfare?

The President. No, I just think that that's a good thing for them to be able to do. That's not going to get them off of welfare. What's going to get them off of welfare is jobs, and that's what all this is designed to do, is to create jobs in the private sector. Now there are summer job programs, but we are trying to work to bring hope to the cities.

You know, it's very interesting to me that the community workers in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia, heavily impacted areas, are saying now is the time to try enterprise zones. We think they'll act like a magnet to bring private business into these areas of despair, and it ought to be tried. It is new, and it has not been tried at the Federal level.

Q. Did it take riots to do all this for all of you?

The President. No, because as you know and have been pointing out to me, some of these things have been proposed before. But we're going to now fight for them to get them passed. I'm going in there in a couple of minutes in the spirit of cooperation, holding out my hand to Congress and saying, ``Look, let's not try to get credit; let's try to get something done for this country. Get it back to work, help these cities.'' And I think this is a good program, and the fact that some of these ideas have been proposed before and have not been enacted does not mean that they're not new. They are new.

Race Relations

Q. Mr. President, how are you going to address the racial divisions and racial misunderstandings in this country?

The President. Speak out against it as I've been doing and continue to. And I think that's the best thing a President can do, speak out against bigotry and racial hatred. I believe I've been doing that over and over again, and I'll keep doing it.

U.N. Conference on Environment

Q. The Secretary-General of the U.N. Is here today. Have you decided to go to Rio? Are you going to tell him that you're going to Rio?

The President. Stay tuned. We'll talk about that when I see him.

Cooperation With Congress

Q. Sir, will you be listening to the Democratic proposals as well? I know some match, but -- --

The President. Yes, some match. And certainly what we want to do is find common ground and move this country forward. And I think we've got to do that, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].

HOPE

Q. Can you give us a little more detail on number two?

The President. Homeownership?

Q. Yes.

The President. Well, it's just simply a question of encouraging people to own their own homes instead of building more projects. You know, some accuse us of pulling back on housing funds. That is not correct. Now, we don't believe that building these projects is the answer. We want to see the money going into tenant management and homeownership.

Thank you all very much. We've got to get ready for the meeting.

Philadelphia and Los Angeles

Q. How did you like Philadelphia? Pretty bad, huh?

The President. Interesting, though. Golly, I like the spirit of the people. But yes, the last part was more desolate than the first part. But the first part showed that the police getting involved like that made a tremendous difference on the drug fight. The message was very, very encouraging and upbeat. We would go out into these satellite precinct stations, and it was wonderful.

Incidentally, in here I have not talked about the things we have done in terms of dollars for Los Angeles up to now, some 0 million-plus, not counting the law enforcement part of that. So there's a substantial amount of money going into L.A. that I -- --

Q. Do you think, though, that the riots are going to at least make it more possible for these programs to be accepted?

The President. I hope so. I think so. Yes, I do, because I think people are saying we've got to do something new. And I hear that from both sides of the aisle, so we'll see.

Cooperation With Congress

Q. Are you willing to meet the Democrats halfway, sir, compromise?

The President. I don't know what that means. I'm willing to try to get some new programs going, and these are the ones I'm going to push. So I don't know what halfway is on a proposal like that.

Q. Is this a new, new you?

The President. No, same me. [Laughter] Actually, it's not a bad way to do it.

Q. You like being conciliatory, don't you?

The President. I've always been that way, Helen; you've known that for years.

Note: The President spoke at 9:35 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House, prior to a meeting with congressional leaders. Part of this exchange could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

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