Clinton presents $13 billion plan for job assistance

March 10, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton and Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich unveiled yesterday a five-year, $13 billion job training and assistance bill designed to help unemployed people get back to work faster -- the fourth major element of the administration's domestic policy agenda for the year.

"The existing system of unemployment and training is simply broken," Mr. Clinton declared at a White House ceremony held to launch the bill.

The administration's bill, he said, is designed to repair one that is "outmoded, bureaucratic and too often delays people getting back to work instead of accelerates their return to the work force. It will build a new system to help workers get the training and counseling they need to fill higher-wage jobs more quickly."

Although Mr. Reich first sold Mr. Clinton on the idea of the bill -- which he has dubbed the "re-employment act" -- at a time of steady, high unemployment, the proposal remains a high priority for Mr. Clinton even now that unemployment rates have dropped.

Mr. Clinton has argued in private to his aides that the proposal is key to raising the living standards of lower-income Americans and to reducing the fear of long-term unemployment. He has cited the re-employment proposal -- along with health care reform, welfare reform and anti-crime efforts -- as among the main items on his agenda for the year.

The administration's bill is aimed at the 1.8 million to 2 million people who get laid off each year with little chance of getting their old jobs back.

In place of the existing programs, the administration would create a single, new program that would provide intensive counseling and help in the search for new jobs. Current programs assist only about 570,000 dislocated workers per year.

Mr. Clinton's proposal also would provide grants to states for the establishment of "one-stop" employment centers that would consolidate existing programs. States would be required to begin screening all unemployed workers to determine which people have a reasonable chance of getting back their old jobs and which ones will need more intensive help in finding a new line of work.

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