The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN Budget Battles

THE BUDGET FIGHT for me is the equivalent of Gettysburg in the Civil War,” Gingrich told reporters in August 1995.1 Although he was not as fond of military metaphors as Gingrich, Clinton would have agreed with the point: the party that won the battle over the budget would likely win the ideological war. For many observers, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich personified the larger struggle between the two parties about the role of government in American life at the end of the twentieth century. “At the apex of the budget drama,” observed the journalist Major Garrett, “it was as if the entire Democratic Party, past, present, and future, lived within Bill Clinton, and the entire Republican Party—not the doddering, pliant, feeble legislative weakling of yore, but the rippling, youthful, proud, and intemperate majority of today—lived and breathed through Newt Gingrich.”2

During the winter, Gingrich and Dole held a series of meetings to discuss the Republican budget strategy. They agreed that the government needed to move toward a balanced budget while also pressing for a massive tax break. Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich and Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Livingston warned Gingrich against issuing a deadline for achieving a balanced budget, realizing that doing so would force them to produce specific numbers about the politically painful cuts that would be required in popular programs, including Medicare. They suggested he promise to put the budget on course to be balanced at some point in the future. The Republican troops were restless after an exhausting first 100 days and needed a break. Dick Armey said his troops were suffering from “greater good fatigue.” They were conscious of the polls, which showed the president’s popularity on the rise and Gingrich’s on the decline. Nearly half of the

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The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter One- Growing Up 3
  • Chapter Two- It’s the ‘60s, Stupid" 9
  • Chapter Three- Paths to Power 29
  • Chapter Four- Newt Gingrich- Wedges and Magnets 49
  • Chapter Five- Bill Clinton- The "New Democrat" 71
  • Chapter Six- The Critical Year- 1992 91
  • Chapter Seven- First-Term Blues 109
  • Chapter Eight- The Revolution 123
  • Chapter Nine- Fighting Back 135
  • Chapter Ten- Budget Battles 147
  • Chapter Eleven- Winning Re-Election 173
  • Chapter Twelve- "We Can Trust Him" 187
  • Chapter Thirteen- "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet" 205
  • Chapter Fourteen- "Monica Changed Everything" 223
  • Chapter Fifteen- "Because We Can" 239
  • Chapter Sixteen- The End of Reform 259
  • Chapter Seventeen- ’60s Legacies 273
  • Sources 285
  • Notes 287
  • Index 321
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