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Republicans Sharpen Knives for Clinton's Budget


By Claire Shipman/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 9) -- Now that the president's budget plan is on the table, the real budget may begin to take shape.

And with the benefit of hindsight, keeping in mind unpopular political gridlock and government shutdowns, key Republicans are not immediately dismissing Clinton's budget numbers.

"This budget is not dead on arrival because we have pledged -- and the president has pledged -- to work together and be cooperative. Now that does not mean Republicans think this is a wonderful budget; nor do we think it's a bold step," said U.S. Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), speaking on CNN's "Late Edition."

Republicans say the president still proposes too much spending and not enough tax cuts. But the differences seem surmountable. The GOP especially wants a wider capital gains tax break, which the White House seems willing to abide.


"I don't think there's a magic number as to the total that we need to have in the final budget, but it does need to accommodate permanent family child credits, and it needs to accommodate broad-based capital gains relief," said Rep. Bill Archer (R-Tex.).

Archer also is proposing tax simplification as part of the mix. He revealed that he has sent a letter to the president asking for a White House proposal to streamline the tax process.

"We think that the first priority is to provide that relief for middle income families, and do that now. After that's done, we'll be happy to look as well at areas of tax simplification," Archer said.


And both sides may embrace a suggestion now endorsed by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to recalculate automatic cost-of-living increases for entitlement programs like Social Security, which many experts think are too high.

The White House budget still uses the old calculations, but is hinting it's prepared to face the wrath of retirees on that issue.

"We should be looking for where is the best broad-based technical agreement on what is the most accurate cost-of- living adjustment," said Gene Sperling of the National Economic Council, speaking on Fox.

President Clinton Tuesday heads to Capitol Hill for the first budget negotiating session. After then, it may become clearer just where good intentions and political reality part ways.

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