Local Matters in Economic Policy

By Barnes, Bill | Nation's Cities Weekly, January 11, 1993 | Go to article overview

Local Matters in Economic Policy


Barnes, Bill, Nation's Cities Weekly


NLC's Ninth Annual Opinion Survey reports that local elected officials view improved performance in the American economy as greatly important to the nation's cities and towns. In turn, the performance of local economies will be central to President-elect Bill Clinton's ability to, as he says, "grow the American economy again."

In economics and in economic policy, "local" matters very much.

Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio and Clinton's selection to lead HUD, told the NLC Board of Directors on November 28 that "increasingly there is scholarly work being done that stresses the importance of cities to the economy.'

Some of that research has been sponsored by NLC. The most recent publication, "City Distress, Metropolitan Disparities, and Economic Growth," declares that the U.S. economic system is "an interdependent system" of local economies. The report warns that 'the nation pays a high price for policies that ignore variations' among these local economies.

Four questions shape the policy agenda for .national attention to local economic matters.

1) As Clinton sots up his economic policymaking apparatus, which parts of it will be charged with tracking the performance of local economies and proposing needed policies?

Such analyses" require data and conceptual frameworks far different from the conventional macro-economic focus on national averages or business sector assessments. This task should be a part of the job of the Council of Economic Advisors. Cisnercs' HUD could also have a stake in this, but the HUD Secretary does not seem to be included at the economic policymaking table. Could Labor (with JTPA) or Commerce (EDA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis) carry this agenda?

2) If Clinton proposes a stimulus package, will it include programs that deliver money directly to the local level?

The recommendations made by the NLC Board of Directore at their New Orleans meeting (see The Nation's Cities Weekly, December 7, page 2) take this approach. …

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