WASHINGTON — President Clinton warned Republicans on Wednesday to work with him on a compromise budget-balancing plan or risk an autumn veto battle, raising the pressure on GOP lawmakers about to push their outline for tax and spending cuts through Congress.
In identical letters to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Clinton complained that the Republican blueprint for balancing the budget by the year 2002 cuts too deeply into Medicare, Medicaid, education and training while cutting taxes "for too many who don't need it."
"Though I am determined to work with you to balance the budget, I cannot accept legislation that will threaten the living standards of American families," Clinton wrote.
"I hope we can work together and avoid a situation in which I would have no choice but to use my veto authority broadly," the letters said.
Wednesday's letters put him closer than ever to threatening a veto confrontation over the bills cutting spending and taxes that Congress will send him later this year. The budget itself, which the House and Senate plan to approve today, does not require the President's signature.
Clinton argued that the better path was his own 10-year package for eliminating deficits, which contains smaller tax cuts aimed at middle-income Americans, gentler reductions in Medicare and Medicaid growth, and extra money for education and job training.
In another dispute over economic policy Wednesday, Clinton promoted White House economist Joseph E. Stiglitz to head his Council of Economic Advisers--on the same day that a key House panel voted to eliminate the council.
Republican lawmakers say the forecasting panel duplicates work of Clinton's National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget.
The White House argues that the CEA, founded under President Harry S. Truman, provides critical economic forecasting data to the President. The Appropriations subcommittee on the Treasury voted to eliminate the agency as part of broader cuts in White House funding that also would pare funds for the President's office and the National Security Council.