Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton's Cuts Not Enough, Gop Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton's Cuts Not Enough, Gop Says

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton's $1.61 trillion budget for the coming fiscal year would trim the deficit, compress 271 programs into a handful and kill 130 others. Republicans in Congress say they'll do even more.

The Republicans, running Congress for the first time in 40 years, say they won't ignore Clinton's blueprint, and will probably use some of his ideas. But they are betting that voters want a far stronger push to eliminate the deficit and much deeper cuts in spending, especially for programs that help the poor.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, said, "If this (Clinton's budget) was Evel Knievel trying to fly over the Snake Canyon, he'd fly over the edge of the cliff and he might fly a little while, but he wouldn't make it to the ledge on the other side."

But a senior White House official who briefed reporters on the budget Saturday scoffed at GOP claims that they would do more.

"To say we're `Republicans Lite' assumes Republicans actually have a plan that is `Republicans Heavy,' " said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We haven't seen it."

The president's budget, to be released Monday, reduces spending by $144 billion over the next five years by chopping defense, merging 271 public health, environmental and training programs into 27, and making other cuts. Only $28.7 billion of the savings come from benefit programs, which are the largest, fastest growing portion of the budget.

The $144 billion in savings pays for $63 billion worth of tax cuts for middle-income families and others, and $81 billion worth of deficit reduction.

It contains extra money for the Border Patrol, technological research and Clinton's AmeriCorps volunteer service program, as well as for environment and anti-crime efforts.

In all, the budget adds $9.6 billion for next year to programs Clinton believes will help the economy, including Head Start, nutrition programs for poor women and children, and his Goals 2000 effort to improve schools, the White House official said.

"Investment, especially in education, is very important to future living standards," said the official.

Playing to the public mood, the outline emphasizes cuts and efficiency. It restructures the departments of Transportation, Energy and Housing and Urban Development, the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, pares $10 billion from this year's $271 billion military budget, and gradually trims spending for agriculture and space.

"Our agenda is working," Clinton says in his introductory message to the document. "By cutting the deficit, investing in our people and opening world markets, we have begun to lay the foundation for a strong economy for years to come. …

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