Clinton fights for volunteer force

January 27, 1995

United States president Bill Clinton has decided to take on Newt Gingrich, the new Republican House of Representatives Speaker, over opposition to his national service plan.

At a Martin Luther King Day rally, Mr Clinton said the $500-million programme, which encourages young people to do community service in exchange for government help in repaying their college loans, should be spared the Republican axe.

Mr Gingrich has made no secret of his opposition to the scheme since its introduction by President Clinton in 1993. He and other republicans voted against it.

In an interview with the magazine Newsweek last week, he said: "I am totally, unequivocally opposed to national service. It is coerced volunteerism. It is a gimmick."

Although he did not attack Mr Gingrich by name, President Clinton made clear this was an issue on which he parted company with the Republican Party and was prepared to fight.

"I was told . . . in this new Congress there may be a move to abolish the national service corps to save money to pay for tax cuts," he said.

He agreed on the need for leaner government and middle-class tax cuts but said the programme was not a bureaucracy and should be spared.

"The purpose of all this is not to wreck the government, not to give us a mean-spirited government, but to give us a lean government that will work with us to solve all our problems," President Clinton said.

While the president was speaking in Denver, Colorado, Eli Segal, the man in charge of Americorps, the national service programme, summoned reporters to the White House to tell them of the hundreds of community service programmes around the country.

The programme, which includes 20,000 young people, is not run from the centre, but was precisely what voters wanted, Mr Segal said -- a non-bureaucratic effort that "enables young people to give a hand to their communities, get a hand in paying for college and show all of us what is best in America".

Those taking part in the scheme work more than 1,700 hours a year on projects involving public safety, health, education, or the environment. They receive $4,725 a year for college in return.

Senior White House officials were amazed that the newspeaker had decided to take a stand on the issue.

"You have got to be able to provide incentives for volunteerism and that is what national service is all about," said a presidential aide. "It is a little bit difficult to understand tax credits as incentives, tax cuts as incentives, but not support national service."

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns