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Clinton Calls for a New Debate on Economic Policies

Speech: He says at a fund-raiser that strict limits on growth hurt ordinary people.

February 16, 1996|PAUL RICHTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — President Clinton on Thursday made an impassioned call for a new debate on how fast the economy should be allowed to grow, in remarks that seemed to challenge the cautious economic doctrine of Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Board chairman Clinton is expected to renominate soon.

In a speech at a Democratic fund-raiser, Clinton declared that he is not convinced of the view--widely associated with Greenspan--that growth must be held to a moderate rate to keep the economy on course. He suggested that excessive restrictions on growth hurt ordinary Americans who are struggling in a changing economy.

Clinton said he had wanted to nominate as Fed vice chairman Felix Rohatyn, a Democratic financier with a view of economic policy that is more pro-growth than Greenspan's. And Clinton denounced as "outrageous political treatment" a move by Senate Republicans to discourage Rohatyn's nomination.

The president said, "If you believe that we should give everybody a raise when the economy does better and you don't want to engage in class warfare, if you believe all these people that are inevitably downsized when big corporations become smaller should have the opportunity to go on with their lives and you don't want to engage in class warfare, if you are perplexed by how we can generate 8 million new jobs and record numbers of new businesses and still have half the Americans not get a raise, one clear area where we ought to debate is whether the conventional wisdom about how fast this economy can grow is right."

He added later, "The truth is nobody, but nobody, knows for sure this economy can't grow faster in the Information Age than it did between 1970 and 1995."

Mike McCurry, the president's press secretary, said Clinton intended no criticism of Greenspan or Fed policies in his remarks.

Clinton is expected to renominate Greenspan by early March, when Greenspan's term ends.

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