LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — President-elect Bill Clinton took time Monday to offer his personal diagnosis of the financial problems facing California, and provided a prescription--economic growth.
His comments came near the end of a daylong session that meandered through much of the nation's troubled economic terrain, including slow productivity gains, weak job creation, stagnant wages and other long-term problems.
Then a telephone caller from Lynwood told Clinton that the state had cut her welfare payments "quite drastically," making it harder for her to get by as a student. "What hope, if any, can you give to people like me?" asked the accounting major.
Clinton's response was not designed for immediate gratification. "The hard truth is that California doesn't have the money to pay for the levels of benefits that it formerly did or, unfortunately, to pay for the access to higher education," he said, noting California's high unemployment and huge welfare rolls.
Moreover, he said, federal mandates of recent years have required state officials to divert some spending to health care, reducing the amount for welfare and education.
He concluded that "the best thing I can do for you is to try to get you a growing economy out there again, so that there will be some money to spend on education and public assistance, and so that there will be fewer people needing the help."