Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Enacts Gop-Led Budget Jubilant Republicans Target Deficit, Taxes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Congress Enacts Gop-Led Budget Jubilant Republicans Target Deficit, Taxes

Article excerpt

Triumphant Republicans steered their landmark plan for balancing the budget and slashing taxes through Congress on Thursday, moving a key step toward their goal of changing the role of government.

By an almost party-line vote of 239-194, the House approved the fiscal framework that the GOP says will halt federal deficits by 2002 while envisioning $245 billion in tax cuts for families, investors and businesses. Only one Republican and eight Democrats deserted their parties' positions.

Shortly afterward, the Senate voted for the measure by a straight party-line vote of 54-46.

"This is why we came to Congress," said Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Like other Republicans, Kasich was giddy with victory. He said the measure's goal was "to put America over politics, to put the future over the present."

But Democrats insisted that the GOP plans would hurt most people.

"What was the middle-class squeeze becomes the middle-class squash, and that is something we should not allow to happen," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo.

Among its provisions, the plan:

Cuts spending below today's levels over the next seven years for education and training, transportation, environment, foreign aid, science, energy and agriculture.

Slows spending increases for Medicare from 10 percent a year to 6 percent a year over the next seven years.

Slows spending increases for Medicaid from 10 percent a year to 4 percent a year over the next seven years.

Doesn't touch Social Security.

Instructs tax-writing committees to specify up to $245 billion in tax breaks over seven years. Possibilities include a $500 per child tax credit and cut in the capital gains tax rate.

Spokesman Mike McCurry said President Bill Clinton might have to veto bills reflecting the measures "if we are going to protect the interests of the American working family and protect the American economy. …

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