May 9, 1997 |
Official Washington is drunk on the euphoria produced by last week's budget deal between congressional Republicans and President Clinton. The pundits can't say enough nice things about the bipartisan compromise that produced the plan, which promises to eliminate the deficit in five years. And most of the politicians have settled into a comfy mutual admiration society, complimenting each other on finally doing the "people's business. " But like most intoxications, this one is soon to pass.
April 16, 1997 |
While traveling last week in the Midwest, it was clear that people continue to view Washington with unamused disdain. The scandals of the capital seem endless; the policy battles, inconsequential. The first may be right, but the second is not. Still, it's understandable that voters think this is all about posturing and of little importance to them. One day President Clinton nixes the suggestion for a commission to recompute the cost-of-living index. The next, anonymous White House aides whisper that he'd still like to see that money-saving adjustment made.
March 19, 1997
Newt Gingrich has just floated an idea so sensible, so practical, so reasonable, that for a moment, he sounded like Vintage Bob Dole. Let's set aside the tax cuts for the moment, suggested the speaker, and agree first on the spending cuts that would balance the federal budget. He's exactly right. With annual deficits still above $100 billion, the priority is to balance the budget. Mr. Gingrich called this a "moral imperative" because deficits saddle future generations with the burden of a society living beyond its means.
March 5, 1997 |
Daily, the word out of Washington is that budget relief is on the way. White House officials and congressional leaders swear that they will get together and frame a spending plan to eliminate deficits by 2002. Trust us, they say. The public, understandably, isn't buying it. A survey released last week by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 28 percent of those polled think that President Clinton and the Republicans who run Congress will agree this year on how to balance the budget by 2002.
March 4, 1997 |
President Clinton's five-year plan to balance the budget is a spare-the-pain document that would postpone virtually all cutbacks and savings in popular programs until after the President leaves office, the Congressional Budget Office reported yesterday. In a new assessment of the impact on taxes and program cuts in Clinton's budget blueprint, the CBO said it not only would fail to balance the budget in 2002, but also would leave a $69 billion deficit that year and would cram 98 percent of the savings into the last two years of the five-year cycle.
February 14, 1997 |
President Clinton's proposed plan to balance the budget would leave a deficit of at least $49 billion in 2002, rather than a $17 billion surplus as promised, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said yesterday. Republicans seized on the preliminary estimate as proof that reaching an agreement to balance the budget won't be easy, despite an atmosphere of bipartisan cooperation. Clinton has avoided talk of sacrifice or pain, preferring to focus on his proposals to cut taxes for the middle class.
January 25, 1997 |
A central premise of the new welfare law - that states can move half their welfare recipients into the workforce - now appears unrealistic, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said Congress did not budget enough money for states to prepare welfare recipients for jobs or community service programs. It estimated the shortfall at $13 billion over the next six years. Rather than spend the needed money, most states are likely to pay relatively light fines for not meeting their welfare-to-work goals, the report from the widely respected CBO said.
December 21, 1995
As Republicans and Democrats haggle this week over how to balance the budget, they are hearing more and more voices for fiscal sanity. On Monday in Minneapolis, seven retired politicians - including Democrat Paul Tsongas and Republican Lowell Weicker - issued a call for "realism, restraint and sacrifice" to better serve future generations. On Tuesday, dozens of CEOs published an open letter under the headline: "Without a balanced budget, the party's over. No matter which party you're in. " Unfortunately, President Clinton hasn't quite tuned in. Granted, he met directly with Republican leaders this week.
December 13, 1995 |
Republicans said yesterday that they were updating their budget in light of new economic projections to soften cuts in health care, welfare and education programs - but both sides in stalled budget talks said they remained far apart. New economic estimates by the Congressional Budget Office have narrowed the money gap between Republican lawmakers and President Clinton, but brought them no closer on major philosophical disputes. They still have serious disagreements over scaling back social programs for the poor and the elderly, and a fundamental difference over whether the states or Washington should lead on antipoverty policy.
December 12, 1995 |
So here we are, finally gettin' down to the lick log on this budget deal. Or as close as we can on such an evanescent prospect. You do realize that all this partisan bile and vociferous rhetoric is being expended on behalf of an entirely illusory goal? No one has the foggiest idea of whether our budget will be balanced in seven years. Or whether the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget or even the more optimistic private forecasters is correct in its projections of the economic statistics.