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STATE OF THE UNION

O.C. Lawmakers Say Clinton Plans Would Cost Billions

January 28, 1998|ELLIOT ZARET | STATES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON — Several Orange County Republican congressmen criticized the spending plans outlined in the president's State of the Union speech Tuesday, while the lone Democratic representative praised the domestic programs he proposed.

"He always delivers a good speech-he's a very smooth communicator," said Rep. Ron Packard (R-Oceanside). "But I don't think he said anything new. I don't think he surprised any of us."

But Packard was critical of increases in spending, especially after Clinton praised the reduction in the deficit.

"Then he proceeds to give a new litany of new spending initiatives that add up to $42 billion in spending," Packard said. "We think this is ironic."

Packard said that instead of increasing spending on education and child care, Congress should give parents tax breaks to decide where to spend the money themselves.

"If we simply took the money and left it in the hands of parents, left it in the hands of business, it would be better," Packard said. "They will be able to take care of child care. They will be able to take care of their children's education."

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) blasted Clinton for introducing new spending that would "knock the budget out of balance."

"In the campaign when he was running for office, he said, 'The era of big government is over,' but I think he told us a whopper," Royce said. "The era of big government is back with a vengeance."

Rep. Jay Kim, (R-Diamond Bar), said his primary concern was the president's failure to mention the nation's aging infrastructure.

"You can have 5,000 new schools, but how are you going to get there without safe bridges?" Kim said. "He talks about the Social Security trust fund--how about the transportation trust fund that has been gutted?

"'I wish he mentioned half a penny--a 10th of a penny--on mass transit, buses, whatever," Kim said. "It's the crux of the problem we have in California, and it's totally neglected."

But Rep. Loretta Sanchez, (D-Garden Grove), called the speech "wonderful' and "artful."

"It had great domestic programs," said Sanchez, who had special praise for the plan to reduce classroom sizes. Sanchez introduced legislation last year that was included in Clinton's initiative to reduce classroom size.

"We've done that in California and it points to the need for more classrooms, so that ties in," Sanchez said.

Overall, Sanchez said the speech "sent a very good message, not just to Congress, but to the entire nation that he will continue to concentrate on his job. . . . If we stop worrying about innuendo." Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) were unavailable for comment.

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