Keeping Up The Flow Of Capital Ideas

President Clinton has made one thing clear in his frenetic first weeks: For better or worse, he aims to reverse 12 years mf laissez-faire with a burst of government activism not seen since the Great Society. BUSINESS WEEK's 16-person Washington bureau, the largest of any business magazine, is ready.

Soon after the election, Senior Editor Lee Walczak, a 24-year Washington veteran who heads our bureau, anticipated the new activism by shifting beats and assignments. The result: more intensive coverage of Clinton's hands-on economics, especially trade and technology policy, health reform, and worker training. Also expect closer scrutiny of once-dormant agencies that could hit business with a flood of new regulations.

Our Washington team swung into action well before the Feb. 17 State of the Union message. Reporters sifted through a blizzard of leaks, helping readers separate the trial balloons from real initiatives. An early prognostication from economics writer Howard Gleckman: Don't be fooled by scuttlebutt of a huge stimulus package. Indeed, Clinton's concern about the budget mess will produce a minimal public-works program--and a big deficit-reduction package.

As Clinton put the final touches on his speech, economics correspondent Paul Magnusson was interviewing top policymakers. White House reporter Susan B. Garland touched base with virtually all the President's men and women and prepared to hop aboard Air Force One to accompany Clinton on his two-day dash to sell the package.

Meanwhile, congressional correspondent Richard S. Dunham sounded out the Hill. Other Washington specialists, armed with reporting from our bureaus in major commercial centers, spoke to corporate lobbyists to gauge the winners and losers in business.

Even though President Clinton didn't wind up his speech until after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the magazine's deadline day, BUSINESS WEEK weighed in with a package of news and analysis that told readers what the new policies would mean and what to expect next.

The reporting didn't stop there. Hours after Clinton spoke, Walczak and New York editors conferred with Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and White House official Robert E. Rubin, head of the National Economic Council.

Just a typical week in the life of the Washington bureau. It helped produce the second-week package of stories starting on page 26. Count on our Washington bureau to keep abreast of important developments, week in and week out.

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