Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raps Start on Clinton Budget Republicans Say Plan Ignores Hard Choices

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raps Start on Clinton Budget Republicans Say Plan Ignores Hard Choices

Article excerpt

The battle lines on President Bill Clinton's $1.61 trillion budget proposal formed Sunday with Republicans attacking Clinton for "taking a walk" on the hard choices needed to control the deficit.

The GOP's top budget officials in Congress promised to be more courageous by tackling entitlement programs, focusing particularly on Medicare, which provides health coverage for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does the same for the poor.

Top administration officials countered that the president had cut the deficit more than any president in history. The budget proposal for the year beginning Oct. 1 will be released officially today. Highlights already have been published.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said Sunday that the 1996 deficit in Clinton's budget was $30 billion higher than Clinton projected a year ago. "This budget does not go far enough," Domenici said. "Essentially what (Clinton) did was take a walk on the deficit."

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., complained that Clinton's budget didn't provide any clues on how to balance the budget: "It doesn't cut spending. He doesn't even cut the deficit."

And Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Budget Committee, charged that Clinton's budget proposal "clearly lacks courage. . . . The bottom line is they refused to deal with entitlements, and we are going to have to if we are going to get to zero over seven years in terms of a balanced budget."

The Republicans charged that Clinton focused almost all of his deficit-cutting on discretionary government programs, which account for just one-third of total spending. Virtually untouched were the one-half of spending that is accounted for by government benefit programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and farm subsidies.

Domenici suggested that $100 billion in savings could be achieved in Medicaid by restraining growth in the program to 6 percent annual increases instead of 11 percent.

Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss. …

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