Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Numbers Good for Clinton

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Numbers Good for Clinton

Article excerpt

The president says it is "a golden opportunity for us to educate the American people." What he may also have been saying is that the Democrats are entitled to gloat a little and to make sure that the follies and excesses of the Republican budget sink in.

For the first time in his presidency, Bill Clinton is sitting in the catbird seat. The gibes about irrelevance subsided in the wake of his presidential performance in the Oklahoma City crisis. He offered a shoulder to cry on, and the country was grateful. His poll numbers went up. He stood firm on the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster to be surgeon general, and Senate Democrats stood with him. He stuck to his guns in his quarrel with the National Rifle Association, and the next thing he knew former President George Bush, a lifelong member, quit the group.

But some Democrats think that telling the country what it already knows about the Republican budget - that it is a document about numbers rather than people - is not enough. They want to see Clinton make some moves. They want him to pull back his tax-cut proposal. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, came out and said so on "Meet the Press." Others agree.

Democrats crave the high ground. They think if Clinton renounced a tax cut, as Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., had the wit to do in the Senate budget, they would have the Republicans on the run. But when the subject came up at the White House leadership meeting, the presidential reception was cool - some say hostile.

Clinton is sentimentally attached to the middle-class tax cut. In the 1992 campaign, he talked incessantly about the raw deal the middle class was getting, and he spoke about the tax cut as a "declaration," a kind of sympathy card for people who felt left out of the dream. But when he assumed office, and the deficit, he had second thoughts. In February 1993, Clinton called it off.

But after the November debacle, the president panicked and put the tax cut back on the agenda and is loath to take it off again. Now he is arguing that the middle class needs the cuts to help with their children's educational costs.

He is also getting advice from Capitol Hill about Medicare reform. …

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