Sunday, April 13, 2014

Highlights from the Clinton Papers - March 28, 2014 release

By Charles Brooks

In a recent post, I wrote about the March 28th release of the Clinton papers from the Clinton Presidential Library - the third such release since February 14th.  Below you will find highlights from selected correspondence on various topics from corporate responsibility to Clinton's Race Initiative.

Highlights from selected correspondence (letters, memos, emails, etc)

 “Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library.”

An internal memo on corporate responsibility
The program we're discussing is sponsored by Procter and Gamble, which, as one of the Labor Dept. people pointed out yesterday, MAY NOT BE A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN.

By giving the President a speech about corporate responsibility in Ohio, we are potentially involving him in the GM strike. Even if he "no comments" or says we don't involve ourselves in these matters when talks are underway, he's going to look out of touch with the very issues-- .how companies treat their workers-- that he's coming to Ohio to address. Is a Catholic University the best venue for this sort of speech? It should be held somewhere like the Detroit Economic Club.

July 1995 internal memo from speechwriter Michael Waldman
Empowerment-Zone event: On Wednesday, July 26, the President will be speaking at the Empowerment Zone event. The question is whether this should be framed as a budget hit (11 the GOP budget is devastating to urban America''), or whether that detracts from the larger message discipline. - It is a rare opportunity to give a message targeted to urban interests. -However, it need not be framed as a budget message.

Advice/suggestions from Secretary of Transportion, Frederico Pena for 1996 State of the Union
The four-prong message the White House has been using (Leadership/Family/Opportunity/Common Ground) has proven very effective indeed. I believe the element of Family particularly the view of broader family or community typified by Americans' support for victims of Oklahoma City and the many natural disasters that have occurred in recent years - should particularly be emphasized. Within each of these overall themes, however, we believe the State-of-the-Union should highlight another aspect of Administration policy -- "Keeping Promises." At base, voters are dissatisfied because they see a disconnect between the promises of political candidates and campaigns and the actual execution of government policy. It is particularly important to address this concern as we move into this next year. And we have a terrific story to tell -:promises kept that don't receive much attention in the conflict-focused national media. (An effective variation on this theme is to contrast talk -- especially from members of Congress and the rest of the Washington establishment-- with real change-oriented action.)
December 1995 internal memo from Bruce Reed to Chief of Staff
Declaring war on gangs, the way Bobby Kennedy declared war on organized crime: We would want to know how much we can actually accomplish before taking on such an ambitious challenge. But there is no question that gangs are responsible for much of the crime and drugs on our streets, and have literally destroyed childhood for millions of young Americans. A war on gangs might include: More aggressive. prosecution, including: an FBI Most Wanted List of the 10 Most Dangerous Gangs, high-profile indictments of gang leaders, and an anti-gang community policing initiative through the 100,000 cops program. Banning members from public housing: We've asked Justice for constitutionally permissible ways to restrict gang activity. One housing authority is using a two-strikes-and-out policy to evict repeat offenders. Stiffer sentences for criminals who wear bullet-proof vests. Target criminals with: (Department of) Justice is developing police gun detectors that can spot concealed weapons. These could be deployed in combination with more aggressive use of constitutionally permissible police authority to stop and frisk suspicious characters for weapons.

Dec 97 Internal memo from HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
…The program would stress 'opportunity’ for public housing residents and be a nice complement to our responsibility plank: One Strike and You're Out. It would also be making more public housing units available by moving people out - an added bonus. (401 – part II)

Dec 97 Internal memo from HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
Please allow me to argue a simple point: there must be an urban agenda piece as a policy cornerstone· of the One America Initiative - in the State of the Union. Here are the seven urgent reasons supporting this point…The absence of an urban program in the State of the Union - given the challenges posed by the passage of welfare reform and the steady and highly visible discussion in past months on the Race Initiative will be glaring…

You cannot credibly address racial issues without an urban strategy. An expanded empowerment agenda can be a lesson learned from the One America dialogue and can be the action item to complement and strengthen the dialogue. If the One America Initiative is principally dialogue with a few scattered programs not directly and explicitly linked to an urban agenda, few will believe that there is a solid policy foundation underlying the Initiative.

I would urge three big new ideas as the centerpiece of such an "urban agenda" (those words are important) focusing on the empowerment theme. If the word "urban" is objectionable, I would suggest the One America Opportunity Agenda· as a fall back. These ideas are ones that could have the most immediate impact - and ones for which the President would get significant credit. especially among the elite audience discussed above. These three ideas (as well as the other items that follow) achieve the traditional progressive goals we all support -opportunity for all, community, and fairness-'-- through new means -leveraging private sector investment, offering bottom-up, community driven solutions rather than Washington mandates, and building on mainstream values of family, hard work and  self-reliance. Together, these policy options offer a multi-issue approach to lifting the underclass into productive work and ensuring the vitality of America's communities. In short, this is not "your father's" urban agenda.

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