Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ashcroft Outlines Goals for New Job: Better Cities, Safer Streets

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ashcroft Outlines Goals for New Job: Better Cities, Safer Streets

Article excerpt

Around the dawn of 2001, as Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., looks back upon the just-completed six-year term Missourians gave him Tuesday, how does he hope to be regarded?

As the Missourian who took on the institution he's joining - Congress - and changed it. More precisely: Shrunk it.

"I would like . . . to be considered to have been a participant in fundamentally changing the way Congress does business," he said.

By personality (cautious) and philosophy (conservative), Ashcroft might be expected to keep a low profile in the Senate. After all, he has a history of avoiding early positions on tough issues, and he does not believe in noisy, in-your-face government.

But, if getting government out of people's lives requires an activist governmental role, Ashcroft said he's quite willing to do just that.

"I'll either coach or I'll quarterback, depending on what gets us to the goal lines," he said.

Those goals, as he describes them, include ending government's "radical regulation" of business; weakening the dominance of career politicians by term limits "which I think could be ratified by the people by 2001"; and stopping welfare's "assault on the American family."

Handing out welfare checks hurts those who get them by creating dependency and spurring family breakups, and hurts those who pay the tab by depleting their resources, he said.

One of the few areas where Ashcroft wants more - not less - government involvement is in rectifying what he deems a national embarrassment: the decline of America's cities. Sounding much like former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, Ashcroft, 52, said the government needs to get more involved in urban revitalization.

Ashcroft dismissed the "premise that in order to be conservative, you have to be quiet. There is a conservative agenda that might require just as much activity as a bureaucratizing approach. …

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