Pork Barrels and Silicon: Challenges for President

AS Democratic candidates, Bill Clinton and Al Gore made peace with the supposedly conservative legions of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, reports staff writer Laurent Belsie. When the president and vice president returned last week to announce their technology plan, support was still high but had declined a bit, says Mark Macgillivray, managing director of H&M Consulting in Sunnyvale, Calif.

In a follow-up survey of 523 senior executives in the valley, Mr. Macgillivray found only 46 percent thought the plan would help their company's competitiveness. Another third withheld judgment, waiting for more details. The key to Clinton's success with the valley's conservative entrepreneurs "is really how he defines government as a partner," Macgillivray says. If the plan starts favoring certain industries at the expense of others, "then it's back to the old battle." Tapegate grows

President Bush may be out of office, but he is still generating controversy. Congressional Democrats, as well as some private watchdog groups, have attacked the former president for allegedly making a deal with US Archivist Don Wilson to keep control of more than 5,000 White House computer tapes.

This week, Mr. Wilson testified in a court deposition that, just weeks before he signed the order giving Bush control of the tapes, the ex-president and his son, George W. Bush, expressed interest in having Wilson take the helm of the Bush library center at Texas A&M University. Wilson has since become the library's director, fueling speculation of a quid pro quo. Cutting the fat, Part I: Gore on the job

Oink. Oink. The sound you hear is pork preparing to be trimmed from the federal government. Clinton was reportedly set yesterday to appoint Vice President Al Gore Jr. to head a campaign to streamline administrative costs. The National Performance Review, modeled after a similar Texas program, will target waste and fraud but will also try to make government "more user friendly."

Several senators, including William Roth Jr. (R) of Delaware, John Glenn (D) of Ohio, and Bob Kerrey (D) of Nebraska, have called for the appointment of a commission on government reform. By appointing Vice President Gore instead, Clinton maintains control of the project. Also, the commission study could take a year or two to complete, while the Texas audit took just five months. Cutting the fat, Part II: `mindless cuteness'

If Gore needs some ideas about where to trim government fat, he might turn to Citizens Against Government Waste. The watchdog group released its third annual list of federal pork-barrel programs this week.

The highlights (or lowlights) of the $6.2 billion list include: A $58 million bailout of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's shipbuilding business; a $1.1 million grant for the study of stress on plants; $1.5 million set-aside for a national pig research center in Iowa; $120,000 for a study of animal waste disposal; and $15 million to reserve and restore Egyptian antiquities.

At least one lawmaker was decidedly unamused by the list. Sen. Robert Byrd (D) of West Virginia, whose formal title is chairman of the Appropriations Committee but who is known informally as the "King of Pork," issued a blistering statement: "The mindless cuteness of ideological groups serves only to gratify their own need for publicity and contributes nothing to a serious debate on the nation's priorities." Cutting the fat, Part III: huffing and puffing

Citizens Against Government Waste isn't the only group trying to trim the fat. The Senate Republican leadership is doing its share, too.

During President Clinton's visit to the US Capitol on Tuesday, the Senate Republicans presented the chief executive with a $250 check to help pay for the construction of a White House jogging track. After receiving the check, Clinton said it was "probably the most extreme step ever taken by a member of either party to cut the fat out of the federal government."

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