Project 21 News: July 27, 1996

Conservatives Propose Their Own Brand of Urban Renewal: Proposal to "Save Our Children" and Revitalize Low-Income Areas Gets Its Day in Congress

Contact: Arturo Silva at 202/543-4110 or [email protected]

Nearly 250 children are expected to attend a joint Congressional hearing and press conference on "Saving Our Children: The American Community Renewal Act of 1996" (H.R. 3467) -- a sweeping plan to renew urban areas through free market economics rather than government programs. The children will be wearing T-shirts that bear the name of the legislation. The press conference will be held on Tuesday, July 30 at 9:30 AM in front of Capitol Hill's largest hearing room, 1100 Longworth HOB. The hearings held by the Subcommittees on Human Resources and Early Childhood, Youth and Families will be held the same day at 10:OO AM. A floor vote on the legislation is likely to occur in the House this summer.

The African-American leadership group Project 21 has published Briefing Points on "Saving Our Children: The American Community Renewal Act of 1996," legislation sponsored by Reps. Jim Talent (R-MO) and J.C. Watts (R-OK). The Briefing Points summarize The Heritage Foundation's Issue Bulletin 228, a more lengthy analysis of the Watts-Talent legislation. Project 21 member, grassroots activist, and former welfare mother Star Parker will speak at the hearings, and the Reverend Lester James, also a Project 21 member, will speak at the press conference. Other Project 21 members are also voicing their support for the general principles of free market urban renewal.

"I truly believe this proposal addresses society's great need for moral and economic renewal," said Project 21 member Rev. Lester James. "As a Reverend, I especially believe it speaks to the moral needs of this nation."

"This proposal allows for the community collaboration that is necessary for people to solve their own problems," says Project 21 Frank Jewett, the former Vice-Chair of the Community Development Block Grant Commission for San Jose, California. "The earned income tax credit, charitable contributions, and investment opportunities are the tools this bill provides that can make people feel like they have a stake in their community. When people are given a sense of self-worth, and are able to make a contribution to society, they become productive. Similarly, the school choice provision in this proposal will give children the opportunities they need to also become productive. We should no longer just throw money at the problem. It's time to start getting a return on our public investment."

In a letter to Rep. Talent in support of his efforts, Project 21 Chairman Edmund Peterson wrote: "...Ironically, the supposed beneficiaries of big government have proven to be its most devastated victims. More than any other Americans, the poor have suffered the most from the creation of the welfare state... Rather than empower government, your proposal empowers people. Instead of asking what Americans can give to government, your proposal encourages them to give to each other..." The Watts-Talent plan stresses:

  1. increased job creation;
  2. small business expansion and formation;
  3. moral renewal;
  4. expanded educational opportunities;
  5. greater private philanthropic to aid the poor; and,
  6. greater participation by religious organizations in providing services to the poor.

In January of 1995, Project 21 proposed a Contract with Black America that asked the House leadership create a task force to craft legislation to provide relief to low-income areas. Majority Leader Dick Armey and Speaker Newt Gingrich formally accepted that "contract," and followed-up by creating the Task Force and providing key support for its work. "Saving Our Children: The American Community Renewal Act of 1996" is a product of their work, that of the Task Force, and many outside organizations and community groups. For the Briefing Points mentioned above, or an interview with a Project 21 member, contact Arturo Silva at 202/543-4110 or at [email protected] -30-


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