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In addition, Senator Patrick Moynihan of New York will succeed Bentsen as chairman of Finance. While Pat Moynihan is not Ted Kennedy, he is far more liberal than Bentsen, and Moynihan has said that his first priority running the committee will be to advance President Clinton’s agenda. One member of Clinton’s economic team, Rep. Leon Panetta, chairman of the White House budget office, spoke on the day he and Bentsen were appointed of “our failure to invest in our society,” and Panetta said Clinton and he “share a common commitment, not only to long-term deficit reduction, but to making the investments in education and health care Administration has failed to make over the last few years.” It is a relief that Lawrence Summers was passed over in favor of a Berkeley .economist for chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. If Henry Cisneros is appointed as Secretary of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he will be tested ultimately there faced with the nation’s homeless and our deteriorated housing stocks, he will succeed or fail clearly and he will also have been removed from the reach of.Ann Richards’ wand for the Senate seat Bentsen is vacating. Robert Reich, spurning the managerial job as Clinton’s new economic security adviser, will advance, potently, the causes of apprenticeship, job retraining, and better education as Secretary of Labor; Donna E. Shalala, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, succeeded Hillary Clinton as chair of the Children’s Defense Fund and should make a superb champion of immunizing all American children, expanding the Head Start program, and combating AIDS more effectively; Al Gore’s protege, Carol M. Browner, is the first unabashed environmentalist who will run the Environmental Protection Agency, which Clinton wants elevated to Cabinet status. Timothy Wirth at Energy and Bruce Babbitt at Interior would be good, too, if, as reported as of this writing, they are appointed to preside over those departments. We do not yet have nearly enough to go on, about Clinton as President, to discern now. whether his choice of Bentsen foretells the coming of a deeply compromised “neoliberal” Administration or is, rather, Clinton’s calculation about where the chairman of Senate Finance may be expected to do the most good, and can do the least harm, for Clinton’s reform agenda. If Clinton has acted on the latter thinking, however, he could well turn out, in the event, to have outsmarted himself. Give an old fox a vast field of play and he is certain to range in it. School Funds The failure of the legislature to enact Governor Ann Richards’ statewide school-tax equalization proposal is not yet final. The legislators in the regular session will try again. But if they fail, too, the courts will do something. This gross injustice of radically unequal spending per-pupil in school districts has been exposed now for a quarter of a century, since parents in the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio first went to court over the issue. My thinking has begun to turn toward a national solution, for this is not a problem bounded by any state’s borders. Why not abol: ish local school taxes and enact a national school tax on property, with its proceeds allocated to school districts on an equal per-capita basis? Local control of the schools would continue, but the funding would be equalized. I would like to hear about this from readers who give it thought. Concerning the Governor Ann Richards is going for the truth about actual insurance costs with the proposal that an independent group will collect and evaluate the data which underlie commercial and insurance rates. As she is quoted in the Dallas Morning News, retorting to industry propaganda that her proposal would raise insurance rates: “The real issue, and the industry knows it, is who controls the facts about insurance costs and claims.” The Governor’s appointees recently forced through a decision at the Texas Board of Criminal Justice that the state will pay prevailing wages to workers who are building new prisons, effectively raising their minimum wages. Good for the Richards Administration. Yet Richards stands against considering the points made by the 18,000 or so people who signed the petitions opposing the bullet-train project, who object to the fact that an appointed board awarded the franchise for it \(to a private who are concerned about effects on property values. The Governor has been quoted: “There is no appropriate way in which anyone other than the High-Speed Rail Authority can inject themselves into this issue.” How’s that again? Only appointed bureaucrats can have anything to do with the public’s business? What about the terrible condition of the state’s housing? Should not the Administration of “the New Texas” be doing as much as, say, New York State and our major cities as much, say, as New York City to house the homeless? States are touted as “laboratories” for social experiments: Where is the Richards study and plan to provide new low-cost housing and improve the housing we have? A study of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, released in November, shows that of the 10 American cities with the worst substandard housing among poor households in the late 1980s. the worst four were all in Texas, San Antonio at 54 percent, Fort Worth-Arlington at 38 percent, Dallas at 33 percent, and Houston at 30 percent! \(The median for the 44 cities in the study was 6 percent. See “Texas Housing Among Worst,” elsesis is certainly most distinctively a Texas crisis. Some Texas cities, like Dallas, are trying to get something started. In tandem, perhaps, with whatever Cisneros might come up with if he takes over HUD, Richards should create a stateand-local Texas task force on low-cost housing and the homeless in Texas, a group composed of citizens who really know and care about this. R.D. Wake up your friends with a gift subscription to the Texas Observer. Special Holiday Savings! First gift or your renewal: $32 Each additional gift: $16 Send gift subscriptions to: Name Address City State Zip Sign gift announcement Name Address City State Zip Sign gift announcement Name Address City State Zip Sign gift announcement Name Address City State Zip Sign gift announcement Your Name Address City State Zip Shall we enter or extend your own subscription? Yes No Payment enclosed. THE TEXAS ewer 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5