Editor’s note: In early May, former Arkansas Governor President Bill Clinton delivered remarks at the Clinton School of Public Service to the Delta Grassroots Caucus, an influential group of political leaders across an eight-state region of the Mississippi Delta. In his speech, Clinton outlined the challenges and opportunities facing the Delta region.
The following are excerpts from his speech, provided by our content partner, KUAR-FM 89 News, which was on-hand to record his full remarks. You can listen to the entirety of Clinton’s speech at this link, courtesy of KUAR and the Clinton School.
“Number one, there’s never going to be enough government money to take a poor region of America out of the dumps all by itself. You’ve got to have private sector growth. Number two, in order to have private sector growth, you’ve got to have good government policy. You have to have government and the private sector working together.”
“All the debate in Washington tends to be about what I would call macro-economic policy. What’s a proper level of taxes? What’s a proper level of spending? How fast should you bring down the debt? You know, all the stuff they fight about. Right? But, real life is lived in what the economists call micro-economic policy.
Some people get investments, and others don’t. Sometimes there’s a job training program, and sometimes there’s not. Some places, family farmers get the support that they need to be competitive in a reasonable, national, and global economy, and some places they don’t.
Here’s what my experience is. The more you go to the micro, the more jobs you’re going to create, and the more bipartisan cooperation you’re going to have, because there is no Republican or Democratic way to locate a plant, to start up an agricultural project… we need all that today in the Delta.
We need to bring people together, and that’s why I like this project. For whatever it’s worth – and I’ve been doing this now for thirty years or more – I think that the debate in Washington constantly underemphasizes … microeconomics. The stuff you’re talking about here. The stuff you do. You can say all you want about what the general level of taxes or spending or deficit or interest rates ought to be, and if you don’t have community financing, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
“The details matter. And people used to make fun of me. I used to have extra long budget meetings in the White House, and people thought it was inappropriate for the President to be involved in the dirty, gritty details of whatever it was we were talking about. And I said, all I know is that’s where life is lived—in the nitty, gritty details. You can give a speech about the big stuff, but if you don’t know the details, you might as well be whistling Dixie, just shooting words in the air.”
“You cannot stop food becoming more important if you put two billion more people on the planet and you’re not making any more land. So I think that you should basically be upbeat about this. Our job has always been… to finally create an economy we can all live in, with shared opportunities, and shared responsibilities. Where everybody in our community can play a part, and if they work hard, they can get rewarded. I know it is frustrating work, but I think the tides, the big economic forces, and the demographic forces that are flowing through the country, and the world, are going to help the Delta. But you’ve still got to have the micro-economics and you’ve still got to have the cooperation between the public and the private and the not for profit sectors.”
“These global trends are going to make places like the Delta, long abandoned, look like a garden site, if we do it right.”
Click on this link to listen to Clinton’s full remarks.