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KWAME HOLMAN: Republican congressional leaders called off Wednesday’s planned budget meeting with President Clinton. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole said there was no reason to meet and told CNN he still was angry about a photograph from the last budget meeting that appears in this week’s “Time” Magazine.
SEN. ROBERT DOLE, Majority Leader: The last time I know they met they said there’d be no photographs and then they end up putting a White House photograph up in “Time” Magazine showing President Clinton up there teaching–lecturing the rest of us. We’re not going to do that anymore. We told him we’re not going to go to the White House unless there’s a solid proposal, unless we can be assured that we’re all going to play by the same rules. But we sat there as props in a “Time” Magazine piece. That wasn’t the understanding, so the President said, well, it shouldn’t have happened, it was supposed to be institutional pictures. But it happened, and it upset three of us, and there are only three of us involved.
KWAME HOLMAN: Yesterday, during a flurry of hastily-called news conferences, each side blamed the other for the latest budget impasse.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I have gone the extra mile. The Republicans asked for a plan from us that balanced the budget in seven years. They then they disagreed with our economic assumptions, and they asked for a plan based on their economic assumptions. They then made some move, themselves, toward us, and so I made further moves, as you see in that document. To say that there has not been a good faith effort here, is not credible.
SEN. ROBERT DOLE: 95 percent of discretionary cuts in the President’s budget don’t happen until the next century. He could be reelected and out of town before anything happens. And we all know, being in the Congress, that those large discretionary spending cuts are never going to happen in a Congress, whether it’s controlled by Republicans or Democrats, are just too large. So it is a spend now, save later budget, spend now, get reelected, serve another term, get out of town, and then the axe will fall on anybody who’s left.
LEON PANETTA, White House Chief of Staff: We’re looking at over a $200 billion tax cut that they continue to insist on. If you’re going to have that size tax cut in order to pay for it, you’ve got to get additional cuts, and these cuts have to come out of Medicare, out of Medicaid, out of education, the environment, and out of other areas that we say are–we insist need to be protected, we insist have to be decided on a policy basis, not to become a cash cow for an even larger tax cut.
REP. JOHN KASICH, Chairman, Budget Committee: Hey, look, gang, this is–I hate to tell you this–and this is not about some partisan battle. This is about whether we’re going to face up, whether the politicians of this century are going to face up to fundamental change to end Washington spending, to end Washington taxing, and let people at home have a chance. And I’m just going to suggest to you there will be no solace if, if we can’t get this done in a real way, because let me just suggest in the next century the children, the children are going to carry a burden that is going to be too high. It’s going to be too high. You can’t put any numbers together you want to, but at the end of the day, if we do not have fundamental changes in the entitlement programs in this country, the children of the next generation will be sunk.
KWAME HOLMAN: With all of that said, would the budget negotiators be willing to meet again?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say again, my door is open. It is open. It will stay open. I have spent 50 hours on this working with them, and I am committed to continuing to work with them until we get the job done.
SEN. ROBERT DOLE: We’re certainly prepared to meet with the President of the United States; when the President of the United States calls us, I think we have some responsibility. But having been at this for 50 hours, I think he has a responsibility too as the President of the United States to give us some legitimate reason to meet again.
KWAME HOLMAN: As it stands now, President Clinton next will speak to Republican leaders and the nation as well on Tuesday from the House of Representatives, where he’ll deliver his State of the Union Address.