GOP: It's 'Alive'

By David Baumann

Although they were lukewarm, at best, toward President Clinton's FY98 budget proposal Thursday, Republican leaders still said they want to begin early budget negotiations with the president.

"We don't intend to take a Republican budget and drive it through," Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, R-Okla., told CongressDaily late Thursday. Nickles said GOP leaders want to use next week's meeting with Clinton to lay the groundwork for opening more detailed negotiations.

Republicans have said they want early talks with the administration, and, with the hope of a quick budget deal, aides have suggested those talks could begin even before an FY98 budget resolution goes to the floor in either chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said while Clinton's budget is "alive ... it's definitely not kicking." Nevertheless, Lott added: "Republicans have said that our goal is to work to achieve an agreement with the administration to balance the budget in 2002 and beyond. We will continue to work to make this happen."

For their part, White House officials Thursday downplayed the negative responses from Republicans, and emphasized the fact that Clinton's budget is being taken seriously on Capitol Hill. "We fully expected that there would be criticism, but the important thing for the president is that there has been no dismissal of his budget proposal as a document `dead on arrival'," White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry said.

As for reaction from within Clinton's own party, Senate Budget ranking member Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he is happy enough with the president's budget that he does not foresee Senate Democrats coming up with a spending blueprint of their own.

"The president has presented a budget I am comfortable with," Lautenberg said. "I think it's the kind of budget that most Democrats will enthusiastically support. The last thing we want to do is have some internal warfare." Lautenberg said he is convinced GOP leaders would like a fast budget deal.

"The problem is going to be with the more extreme Republican members," Lautenberg said. "Will the Republican leadership, with all its good intentions, be able to round up the wild horses and get them in the corral?"

Despite the pledges of cooperation to reach a future budget deal, Republicans Thursday were far less positive about Clinton's specific proposals.

"Billions in additional new spending contradict the president's publicly stated commitment to balancing the budget," House Appropriations Chairman Robert Livingston, R-La., said.

Livingston said he is worried the administration wants to pay for new spending through $2.3 billion in new user fees, a plan he said Congress would not accept.

Livingston said the $2 billion cut in defense spending is not as severe as in past years, but said he is worried the administration is proposing $2.8 billion more in defense rescissions than are needed to pay for a supplemental appropriation for the cost of the Bosnia mission.

He also said he was disappointed that the administration did not specify offsetting cuts for the $2 billion supplemental needed for the Bosnia mission.

House National Security Chairman Floyd Spence, R-S.C., also was upset with the defense numbers, saying, "As opposed to building a bridge to the 21st Century for our military forces, this budget request looks more like a tightrope without a safety net."

The release of the budget also triggered a renewal of the battle over whether the administration should use OMB or CBO economic assumptions.

"While uncertainty exists in any economic forecast, considering the demographic and fiscal challenges facing the country in the next century from an aging population, the more conservative CBO economic forecast would normally be preferred," the Senate Budget Committee Republican staff said in an analysis of the president's budget.

Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and House Budget Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, charged that by using OMB assumptions, the administration was able to avoid having to make an additional $58 billion in cuts.

Democrats, however, defended the OMB assumptions as more accurate than the CBO's.

"In the past four years ... OMB's forecasting record for both the economy and the deficit have been superior to CBO's, even while actual growth and deficits have been better than either agency's projections," the Senate Budget Committee Democratic staff said in its own analysis.

Lautenberg echoed those sentiments, saying the "OMB has been far more accurate than CBO."

Meanwhile, in defense of the harsh criticism from Domenici and Kasich, White House aides explained that although the president's budget includes serious increases in nondefense discretionary spending, it includes an 8.8 percent cut that is adjusted for inflation.

"It is tough that it has an 8.8 percent real cut, and that includes within it significant increases," National Economic Council Chairman Gene Sperling said.

Sperling also defended the White House from criticism that it used a six-year number instead of a five-year number to describe its savings in Medicare.

He said the White House lists Medicare savings of $138 billion over six years, instead of $100 billion over five years, which would be consistent with the rest of the budget, to stress the comparison with the Coalition's proposal last year. The Coalition budget called for roughly $138 billion in Medicare savings over six years and slightly less than $100 billion over five years.

Mary Ann Akers also contributed to this report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.