The chairman of the House Banking Committee yesterday offered his own prescription for ailing cities, much of which involved not starting "expensive new things," but stopping "expensive old and wrong things."
Among the ideas Rep. Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis.) put forth was a reduction in the various kinds of federal aid - including revenue sharing - that now go to wealthier communities. He also suggested cost-of-living differentials for Social Security, veterans' and other benefits to help residents of places - like cities - where costs are high.
The federal governemnt, he said, should "[WORD ILLEGIBLE] forget about urban renewal programs and urban expressways which chew up neighborhoods with no compensating gains . . . terminate tax incentives for landerds to milk their properties . . . stop rewarding know-nothing state governemnts for neglecting the waste of local land and the decay of local fiscal capacity needy instead of deattering [WORD ILLEGIBLE] most everywhere."
Reuss also chairs a new subcommittee on cities created this year. His program. Set forth in a 60-page personally written essay printed by but not approved by his subcommittee emphasizes the social benefits of cohesive neighborhoods and the need to retain, restore and rebuild, instead of moving to the suburbs and building from scratch.
The Carter administration is debating internally what its approach to a national urban policy should be. In his essay. Reuss calls on the President to bring Congress and all other interested parties in on that debate by calling a White House conference on the issue.
"A national urban policy is not one to be handed down by Washington . . .," he said. Reuss wants neighborhood groups, labor unions and interested individuals brought into the process. He is scheduled to meet with Carter Tuesday to discuss his ideas and those of the President, an aide said.
Reuss' program, based, the aide said, on a year's worth of hearings, bears some similarities to what the administration is known to be considering, including an emphasis on government incentives to create private jobs, together with some public-service jobs.
His long list of suggestions includes:
A change in the rules for investment tax credits and tax-free industrial revenue bonds to make it more appealing to build plants in central cities instead of the suburbs.
A halt to the building of new federal offices in the Washington area. These contracts should be farmed out to cities where jobs are needed, he says.
More effective enforcement of open-housing and fair-employment laws. combined with an end to restritive suburban zoning, so that low and moderate-income city residents can move where jobs are available.
An end to tax provisions that favor low-density suburban sprawl over high-density urban development, one family homes over multi-family units, and the construction of new buildings over the maintenance and repair of old ones.
Encouragement to low-income groups to develop neighborhood institutions such as credit unions, food cooperatives and community development corporations.
Relocation aid, under which a family unable to find work in an area could get a cash grant to move.
Reuss suggested the White House should convert a White House conference on balanced growth, scheduled for February, into an urban policy conference.
The administration has no plans for that. One White House work plan calls for finifhing the preliminary draft of an urban policy statement for the President in late December or early January, well before the balanced-growth conference is scheduled to begin.
Among the proposals being considered by the White House are an urban development bank to provide grants and low-interest loans to businesses willing to invest in cities, tax incentives to encourage the same thing and methods to make it easier to invest in rehabilitative housing in rundown neighborhoods.