Clinton Aides Encouraged By Senate Republican Budget

By John King/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 18) -- President Bill Clinton's top budget and political aides met Wednesday and agreed they were encouraged by a Senate Republican budget blueprint that roughly tracks the administration's priorities.

Many Republicans, however, are fiercely critical of the Senate GOP approach and Clinton's team expects there will be a bitter GOP election-year tug-of-war over taxes.

As a reflection of the White House strategy, Press Secretary Mike McCurry spoke favorably of the approach outlined in the budget drafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

The Domenici plan includes $30 billion in tax cuts over five years, nearly $7 billion more than the Clinton plan. "We disagree with some of the specifics, but that is something we certainly can negotiate out," said a top Clinton aide.

The Domenici plan also puts an emphasis on using projected surplus funds to fortify Social Security and Medicare, consistent with the president's "Social Security first" approach to the surpluses.

GOP presidential prospects Steve Forbes and Jack Kemp are sharply critical of the Domenici approach, arguing it is critical for the party to embrace bolder tax cuts.

The meeting of the Clinton team was a periodic session to assess budget and tax strategy, and the assessment from Wednesday's hour-long session was that the administration was in a strong negotiating position and should hold firm while watching the internal GOP debate play out.

In Other News

Wednesday February 18, 1998

Lindsey Testifies Before Grand Jury
Journalists Assess Early Lewinsky Coverage
Maria Hsia Indicted In Campaign Finance Probe
Jones' Lawyers Respond To Dismissal Motion
Clinton Aides Encouraged By Senate Republican Budget
New Clinton Legal Defense Fund Created
White House Scandal At A Glance
Bill Would Place Strictures on Paparazzi

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