House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Thursday called on President Clinton to submit a new budget that fulfills his promise to spend any surplus to save Social Security, while pledging not to spend it on other programs, including tax cuts.
"We believe that Social Security should come first," Gingrich told reporters in unveiling the letter he, Budget Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, and Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., sent to President Clinton. Asked if that included tax cuts, Gingrich repeated, "I think we should focus the surplus on Social Security." He added that cuts in other programs, as well as funds from a tobacco settlement or tobacco tax boost, could be used to cut taxes. "We believe that any additional revenue belongs to the American people," he said.
Kasich repeated his call to use the surplus to help establish Individual Retirement Accounts to help provide a transition to a new retirement system.
Attacking the president's budget, Kasich noted that the CBO confirmed this week that the Clinton plan breaks the discipline of the budget deal by spending parts of the surplus on new programs. Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan has indicated that breaking the deal would "send all the wrong messages to the financial markets," Kasich said, adding that Clinton is "playing with fire by demonstrating to the financial markets that you can't have much faith in Washington, at least not with this president."
In their letter, the three GOP leaders said that rather than setting aside a surplus for Social Security, Clinton reserves "whatever is left" after additional spending for the program. "To truly fulfill your promise to the American people ... we urge you to resubmit a budget to Congress that puts at least $143 billion toward debt retirement or Social Security," they wrote.