Budget Deal Details Emerge
Thursday was the third day in a row there was supposed to be a budget deal and it was the third day in a row there wasn't. Details still continued to haunt the budget negotiators, Republican leaders and White House officials.
"We are not there now," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., told reporters late Thursday afternoon. Lott later told reporters, "We still have little loose ends."
Republican leaders still hoped to announce a deal sometime today.
Meanwhile, as the final details are ironed out, specifics of the proposed deal were being discussed publicly.
The plan calls for a net tax cut of about $85 billion, with a gross tax cut of about $140 billion.
Medicare savings will likely be set at $115 billion, with most savings coming from reimbursements to providers.
Medicaid savings would be set at about $22 billion, with a per capita cap imposed.
The proposal includes some $145 billion in discretionary savings, with $68 billion coming from domestic programs.
While the compromise would not legislate a reduction in the Consumer Price Index, it is likely to assume that the Bureau of Labor Statistics will call for a reduction of .35 percent and .45 percent.
Thursday was packed with a long series of meetings and caucuses, many of which featured administration officials attempting to sell the package to wary Democrats.
Rumors of an impending announcement swept Capitol Hill throughout the day, including one report that President Clinton would travel to the Capitol for a news conference in the Rotunda.
The rumors only stopped after a Senate Republican leadership aide assured reporters there would be no deal announced.
One problem that emerged over the tax cut plan apparently was resolved sometime Thursday.
House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, had said he did not want the budget agreement to specify the types of tax cuts the tax- writing panels must adopt.
"We have not reached complete closure on the taxes," Archer said earlier Thursday.
Archer added that he wanted a guarantee that "we have the freedom to write the tax bill in the Ways and Means Committee.
Archer had told Clinton Wednesday night that any effort to dictate to Ways and Means could "jeopardize passage of the entire package."
Lott agreed with Archer Thursday afternoon, saying to reporters, "We cannot tie their hands."
However, small problems, and possibly a few large ones, remained.
Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said there were some last minute disagreements over how tax cuts are calculated.
A source familiar with the talks said the Clinton administration wants to ensure that any changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit are scored as raising revenue.
Congressional Democrats have said they will resist any proposed reductions in funding for the tax break, which benefits the working poor.
In addition, negotiators were trying to work out a way for the Treasury Department and the Joint Tax Committee to work better together, the source said, adding that there has been a "history of mistrust."
Another source indicated that Medicare details have not been completed, adding that the negotiators have not completed work on the Part B premium or on home health care details.
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