Rivlin Won't Spell out Final Cuts for Balanced Budget

Article excerpt

The White House is refusing to disclose which programs it would cut by $67 billion to achieve a balanced budget in 2002, saying the cuts might never be made.

Budget Director Alice Rivlin said in a letter to Congress last week that better-than-expected economic growth might enable the administration to avoid the cuts in 2001 and 2002, even though the Congressional Budget Office says they will be necessary.

Mrs. Rivlin's refusal to spell out the additional cuts heightened concern in Congress yesterday about what some call the White House's "two-faced" budget strategy and prompted one senator to call into question Mrs. Rivlin's nomination to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Senate votes on that nomination today.

The administration has laid out about $400 billion of spending curbs over six years, but the CBO says those reductions would leave a deficit of $81 billion in 2002. It said an additional $67 billion to $100 billion of cuts will be needed.

"Dr. Rivlin has shown that she is unwilling to answer questions about the president's budget honestly and forthrightly," said Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, calling her defense of the president's "budget charade" an "artful dodge."

"The Federal Reserve Board of Governors . . . simply must be above the political fray," he said. "I'm not prepared to promote a political partisan to the Federal Reserve."

The depth of discontent among Senate Republicans with Mrs. Rivlin's nomination is not clear, but those senators have become increasingly angry about the administration's refusal to acknowledge the need for deep cuts to achieve a balanced budget in six years. …