Lott: Time for Budget Plan B

As budget talks with the White House languish, Republicans now want to strike a budget deal with moderate congressional Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said on Monday.

Although Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., this weekend said there is some hope for a deal with the Clinton administration, Lott was more pessimistic, saying, "No progress has been made." Lott said if a budget deal with President Clinton is not possible, "you just have to go to the next plan."

That plan calls for Republicans to try to cut a deal with The Coalition, a group of moderate and conservative House Democrats better known as the "Blue Dogs," or with the bipartisan Senate group led by Sens. John Breaux, D-La., and John Chafee, R-R.I., Lott said. He said Republicans are being criticized by Democrats for not having brought a budget to the floor yet, adding, "We're going to need to bring something to the floor on the budget."

But Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, R-S.D., Monday said he would oppose the Blue Dog budget in its current form, in part because he objects to changing the consumer price index calculation outside the Bureau of Labor Statistics or a special commission. But he complimented the Blue Dogs for having the "courage" to propose a balanced budget plan.

Daschle also said Democrats have wanted to start substantive budget meetings for weeks. "It's not any real new brilliant proposal for strategy," Daschle said of Lott's plan. "How is it that [Lott] expects to resolve these issues if we don't start the process?"

Daschle said the "best approach" is to hold a Budget Committee markup in which both sides vote on amendments to the president's budget, some of which Daschle said he might support. "I don't see why we couldn't start this week," he said.

Lott said he does not want to drop the GOP plan for a tax cut as part of the budget, saying, "It is not my intent to have a plan that does not have some tax relief for American working families." But he added that "nothing is off the table."

He said that for major reforms of federal programs to be part of a budget deal, Clinton must be willing to "take the risks." Lott said spending cuts must not be as backloaded, as in Clinton's budget, and triggers to phase out tax cuts or increase spending cuts remain a "concern." Lott also said Clinton cannot insist on $60 billion in new entitlement programs or on using OMB economic figures.

In exchange, Republicans might be willing to compromise a bit on Congressional Budget Office figures, although Lott conceded House Budget Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, strongly opposes that.

Lott said the administration cannot stipulate shifting home health care costs in the Medicare program, must change its tax plan and must make concessions on entitlement reform. Lott added, however, that if the administration does not take the lead on larger Medicare and Medicaid reforms, Republicans may be willing to accept the administration's level of savings.

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 GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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