TOPICS > Politics

Balancing Act: The President’s 1997 Budget

March 19, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


KWAME HOLMAN: What the White House released today are its program-by-program spending and saving priorities for 1997 and several years beyond that.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I need a lot of help today.

KWAME HOLMAN: This afternoon, President Clinton, the Vice President, and the entire White House economic team came out to explain the philosophy behind the numbers.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I’m proud to say that my 1997 budget is the first budget presented by a President of either party in nearly two decades to come to balance using the numbers of both Congress and the executive branch. It cuts unnecessary spending in hundreds of government programs. It reforms welfare, putting in place a system that ends welfare as we know it and moves more people from welfare to work. It honors our values by protecting Medicare and Medicaid, and investing in our future through education and the environment. It closes corporate loopholes and cuts taxes for working families and small businesses.

KWAME HOLMAN: Among the President’s budget priorities, $100 billion in tax cuts through the year 2002, including a $500 per child tax credit, a $10,000 per family deduction for college expenses, and expanded availability of individual retirement accounts. In all, the President would spend $1.64 trillion next year, 4 percent more than is expected to be spent this year. That would mean next year’s spending deficit would total $164 billion, a $6 billion increase over this year. But the President’s budget does project a balanced budget, in fact a slight budget surplus by the year 2002. The savings over seven years would come from reduced spending on defense and other government programs, along with $124 billion cut from Medicare and $59 billion from Medicaid. The President’s numbers are nothing more than the latest starting point to be used in resumed budget negotiations with the Congress. The President tried to sound optimistic.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The congressional leaders and I have identified $700 billion in savings common to both our plans. That is more than enough to balance the budget in seven years and to provide a tax cut. I am ready to work with the leaders of Congress to finish the job.

KWAME HOLMAN: But the President and the Congress still haven’t finished work on the 1996 budget, and this fiscal year is already half over. Late this afternoon, House Budget Chairman John Kasich didn’t hold out much hope for progress.

REP. JOHN KASICH, Chairman, Budget Committee: The simple fact of the matter is unfortunately the President puts off for the next generation and the next century the heavy lifting of being able to reduce the size and scope of, of government. Look, this administration is addicted to Washington spending, Washington taxes. This administration does not trust the American people. They simply do not have confidence that people across this country in the towns and villages, cities of our great country are capable of running their own lives.

KWAME HOLMAN: Nevertheless, budget talks between congressional leaders and the administration will resume tomorrow at the White House.