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Biggest Cuts in Clinton Budget Seen After 2000

December 17, 1995|DAN MORGAN | THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON — The Clinton administration has proposed postponing the biggest cuts in domestic spending programs until after the year 2000, in marked contrast to the plan of the Republican Congress that calls for deep and immediate reductions, informed sources say.

Almost half of the $241 billion in savings that the White House has proposed in the part of the budget that funds most government operations would come in 2001 and 2002, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis circulating on Capitol Hill. President Clinton would leave office in 2001 if he wins a second term.

At the same time, the Clinton budget proposal would increase domestic discretionary spending in 1997 by billions of dollars more than the Republican target of $258.4 billion, although the increase would be offset partly by cutting defense spending by several billion dollars more than Republicans want. The administration has not made public the year-to-year details of its budget proposal, but officials last week confirmed that there was a sharp difference between its spending scenario and that of the Republicans.

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"There's nothing insidious about this," an administration official said. "The pattern of savings that we have is not unusual, in the sense that when you do a long-term deficit-reduction plan, savings in all categories tend to accumulate."

But Elizabeth Morra, spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee, said: "Republicans want to realize savings right now, instead of hoping we can make savings in the out [future] years. Anybody can do a budget and say: 'We'll do it later.' If you make cuts now, you can make more savings. That's why we believe in terminating programs now. That's why we've eliminated 260 programs and made major reductions in others."

The Republican long-term budget plan itself has been criticized for postponing the biggest savings in defense and Medicare until after 2000, to avoid alienating middle-class defense workers and the elderly as long as possible.

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