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Lott: Clinton Ethics Woes Hindering Budget Talks

Tax Changes Delayed, Too, He Says

lott

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 6) -- President Clinton's campaign finance woes are starting to interfere with his ability to run the country. At least that's the position of Senate Republican leader Trent Lott. Lott expressed concern today that the president has become so distracted by allegations of improper fund-raising that he has neglected crucial talks on the budget.

"They cannot be able to focus sufficiently on the budget because they're having to figure out who did what," Lott told reporters. (288K/23sec. WAV sound)

Earlier, the Mississippi Republican told NBC's "Meet the Press:" "If we don't see some quick action here, in the next week or ten days, the president, I think, is beginning to get in the position of marginalizing himself. We've got work to do. He's got to get in the game, come forward with some specific things."

Congress has set a deadline of April 15 to pass a resolution setting budget priorities, but Lott said that may not happen on time due to Clinton's inaction.

"He's the president. He's got to lead," Lott said. "He's got a four-year job. He'll never have to run again."

Tax Changes Delayed, Too, Says Lott

Lott also complained to reporters that the president is holding up much-needed tax changes. "We've got a tax system that is really not fair," he said. (352K/27 sec. WAV sound)

Citing progress on low-level talks between White House officials and congressional budget experts, Clinton said last week that he still believed a budget deal is feasible.

"I think that we always made clear that we want to work real hard to balance the budget, and it would most likely be necessary for the president to talk to the bipartisan leadership at length, if we're going to do so," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.

But Lott was skeptical. "Mr. President, show us that you're sincere."

He also offered some advice. "The best way to get some of these allegations off the front page is for us to do the people's business," he said. "If we balanced the budget, it would be the headline of every paper, not who contributed to what."


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