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CNN Today

Republican, Democratic Parties Divided on Use of Budget Surplus

Aired June 26, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It's the kind of economic news the White House loves to report: New projections show that the federal budget surplus is going to be much bigger than expected. The administration now thinks the surplus will total $1.9 trillion over the next 10 years, almost double the previous estimate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people should be very proud of this news. It's the result of their hard work and their support for fiscal discipline. It's proof that we can create a better future for ourselves when we put our minds to it, and it provides a tremendous new opportunity to build an even brighter future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Experts attribute the bigger surplus to the booming economy, of course.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The new surplus estimate is sure to have an impact on the budget battle in Washington.

Beth Fouhy, the executive producer of CNN's political unit, joins us from Washington.

Beth, this puts massive new money into the budget debate in this election year: certainly to change the dynamic of the budget battles. What will the Republicans be wanting to happen with this extra money?

BETH FOUHY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN POLITICAL UNIT: Well, what the Republicans have been saying all along, as soon as the budget surplus became known -- and of course, now that it's growing -- is that this is a justification for a huge tax cut, this is something generally the Democrats have resisted, although today we're told President Clinton is going to meet the Republicans at least part way on increasing the level of the tax cut that he's been talking about. That's going to be good news for them.

But the Republicans typically have just said this is where the money ought to go: The budget surplus belongs to the taxpayers. It's their money; they deserve to have some of it back. And now, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are going to have explain why they agree with that or not. And up until this point, they basically wanted to use that money to save other programs in the budget rather than just give it straight back to taxpayers.

ALLEN: All right. We'll wait and see how this plays out as this story spreads.

Another story we're watching today is the courting of the Hispanic vote by George W. Bush and Al Gore. In fact, George W. Bush has just been introduced in Washington and is speaking to the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington. Al Gore will also be speaking to them as well.

How key is this Hispanic vote and where do Bush and Gore have to go to try to find the Hispanic voters? What important states?

FOUHY: Well, it's very key, and it's especially key in a couple of really big states. California, No. 1 -- that's the really big prize. There's something like -- about 10 percent of the vote there is said to be Hispanic. It's been a growing vote in that state. Right now, it's a very heavily Democratic vote, because years ago Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican governor, basically waged what the Hispanics saw as a war on illegal immigration, and that really mobilized Hispanics into the Democratic Party in California. So, that's a real base for them.

However, George W. Bush, as we know, is somebody who has actively courted Hispanic votes. He got 48 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas in 1998 in his re-election for governor. Excuse me. And that's been something that he's taken to the bank with him. He's really somebody who cares about the Hispanic vote. He speaks Spanish. He's got an ad on TV right now that features his nephew, who's half Hispanic.

It's a community that he cares about. He's also wooed very smartly, because it's a huge political constituency in California, Florida, Texas, the Southwest, New York: all big states very important to this election.

ALLEN: And what does that mean to Al Gore? You've got George W. Bush, the governor of Texas.

FOUHY: Right.

ALLEN: You've got Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, where you have the Hispanic community. Does that put more pressure on Gore in California?

FOUHY: Well, Gore right now is looking fairly safe in California, although it's not for sure by any means. So I think Governor Bush is really going to push Gore to really defend his -- his turf in California, which includes the Hispanic vote.

Florida, the Cuban-American vote -- they're upset with Gore for his perceived flip-flopping on Elian Gonzalez. The Cuban-American vote also very key in that big state and one that now looks to be going pretty heavily to Governor Bush. But keep in mind the Hispanic vote really is Democratic in most places: certainly in New York, certainly in California at this point. Bush would really have to do basically a major remake of the entire demographic in order to try to get that vote, and that doesn't seem to be possible right now. But it is going to be one way that he makes Gore defend his position in that state, because he does have a very, very strong outreach to that community.

ALLEN: Beth Fouhy, and they both -- is this right? -- speak a little Spanish, Beth.

FOUHY: They both speak a little Spanish, neither one very well, but they both try and they both have ads on the air right now in Spanish.

ALLEN: Probably brushing up on their second language.

FOUHY: Exactly.

ALLEN: Both Fouhy in Washington, thank you.

FOUHY: Thank you.

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