updated 12/30/2003 2:53:20 AM ET 2003-12-30T07:53:20

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean wants to improve the nation’s cities by putting $100 billion toward creating a million jobs, increasing the federal minimum wage to $7 an hour, and providing credit for urban businesses.

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The former Vermont governor unveiled his Initiative to Strengthen America’s Cities during an appearance Monday afternoon in downtown Detroit. In an advance copy of the plan obtained by The Associated Press, Dean said he would help put people back to work by creating a $100 billion Fund to Restore America aimed at adding at least a million jobs in the first two years it’s in place.

Cities and regions would use these funds to create jobs in education, health care, homeland security and other critical areas. The fund also would support local programs that help create, promote and retain good jobs and train workers in disadvantaged communities.

“Urban policy is something this administration doesn’t seem to think is necessary,” Dean told about 200 supporters at the downtown hotel. “I can’t decide whether he doesn’t know there is such a thing as urban areas ... or whether the president simply doesn’t care enough to have any kind of policy, as far as I can tell.”

An eye on overtime
Dean said he also wants to protect worker overtime pay and create a Small Business Capital Corporation to invest $1 billion in new loans aimed at creating 100,000 new small-business jobs in the first three years.

His plan would set up a national fund to provide a permanent source of funding to build, rehabilitate and preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families, and double the amount for the Community Development Block Grant program to $10 billion.

Dean said his plan is needed because President Bush’s policies have weakened American cities.

Other Democratic presidential candidates have promoted policies for strengthening cities and regaining lost jobs.

Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri has presented a plan for revitalizing jobs, especially those in urban areas. It would double the percentage of government contracts aimed at small, disadvantaged businesses. Gephardt also has outlined initiatives that would attract private capital to low-income areas and increase federal small-business loans for start up companies by $1 billion.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has pledged to regain 3 million manufacturing jobs lost under Bush and to give industry a boost through tax breaks and tougher trade policies.

After hearing Dean’s proposals, Wesley Clark’s campaign noted that several points appeared similar to Clark’s own plan, including a $100 billion jobs proposal that includes money for state and local governments, a $7-per-hour minimum wage, expanding the availability of credit and investing in affordable housing.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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