Raines Rejects GOP Budget Criticism

Raines Rejects GOP Budget Criticism

As Republicans continued to trash the administration's FY98 budget plan today, OMB Director Raines firmly challenged GOP leaders to produce their own budget plan now. "We'd like to hear what the alternatives are," Raines said in a speech to America's Community Bankers. "The president has the only plan that is on the table that is a complete budget plan." Raines made clear the administration is willing to begin budget negotiations immediately. "I'm prepared to go back into a room with [Republicans] to negotiate," he told reporters. "We're ready."

Raines sought to minimize CBO contentions that the administration's budget plan would result in a $69 billion deficit in 2002. "This is pretty much what we expected," he said, adding that, even if the CBO is correct, the administration included a trigger that would phase out tax cuts and boost spending cuts. "[The] CBO has scored our budget in balance if you take into account our mechanisms," Raines said. He also made clear the administration believes the current dispute is over economic assumptions and not budget savings. "This is not a big debate about spending," he said. "This is not a big debate about taxes."

Senate Budget Chairman Domenici, also speaking to ACB, dismissed Raines' claim and said President Clinton's budget does not make significant policy changes in areas such as Medicare.

While Domenici did not echo House Budget Chairman Kasich's demand that Clinton produce a completely new budget, he said the administration must revise its plan. "They've got to do better," he said, calling for a "very significant change." He added, "We're not going to get any place unless they do." Domenici said the administration had asked the GOP not to produce a budget until Clinton's plan was on the table. But he was vague about when the GOP may produce a budget. Domenici conceded the OMB may be more accurate than the CBO in estimating certain tax receipts, but said even if OMB assumptions in that area are accepted, the Clinton budget would result in a $50 billion deficit.

Domenici said today's expected defeat in the Senate of the balanced budget constitutional amendment actually may help budget-balancing efforts because many opponents still say they want to balance the budget. "We'll be calling on some of those [members]," he said, but added he is "a lot more discouraged than I was two weeks ago."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Daschle, responding to suggestions that Clinton submit a new budget proposal, launched a blistering counterattack. "My question to Pete Domenici and John Kasich is, 'Where's yours?'" Daschle told reporters today. "I am increasingly frustrated with our Republican colleagues who would rather play political games than roll up their sleeves and get to work," he added.

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