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Clinton, GOP Focus on Stimulus Plan : Politics: President accuses Republicans of playing games with people's lives. Rep. Michel calls program just pork-barrel spending.

April 25, 1993|JAMES GERSTENZANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — The vote was three days past and the Democrats' battle lost, but President Clinton and a senior Republican kept up the argument Saturday over Clinton's defeated economic stimulus program--with the President accusing the Senate's GOP minority of playing "parliamentary games with our people's lives."

House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said, in response, that Clinton had focused his energies on legislation that "turned out to be not a jobs bill, but a big, old-fashioned pork-barrel spending bill."

Clinton and the Republican leader engaged in their dispute in separate radio addresses broadcast Saturday before the President left town for a meeting near Jamestown, Va., with Senate Democrats and a speech today to newspaper editors meeting in Boston.

The President headed out of the nation's capital as participants in a gay and lesbian rights weekend stepped up their schedule of events leading to today's march, which Clinton will not address in person.

The stimulus bill went down to defeat Wednesday when the Senate yielded to a Republican filibuster and approved only $4 billion to pay for extended unemployment benefits, jettisoning more than $11 billion worth of programs--including $1 billion for summer jobs, $3 billion for highways and public works, $300 million for immunization of children and $141 million for loans to small businesses.

With 57 members in the Senate and no Republicans joining them, the Democrats were unable to secure the 60 votes needed to shut off debate and bring the measure to a vote.

"Instead of giving the majority the chance they wanted to pass the jobs bill, which would have put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work, they decided we should spend your tax dollars only to extend unemployment benefits," Clinton said of the 43 Republican senators, who voted in a block against his measure.

In his response, Michel delivered a critique of Clinton's first 100 days in office--his 100th day in the White House is Friday--and compared the period to the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. With Roosevelt, the words "action, planning, performance, success" spring to mind, Michel said. But "when we think of the start of the Clinton presidency, only one word leaps to mind immediately, and that's taxes."

"There's a troubling pattern of error emerging from these 100 days of the Clinton presidency," he said. "It's a pattern of over-promising and under-performance of policies. . . . There's also an unwillingness or an inability to set priorities and to focus on them."

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