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President Clinton Urges Congress to Pass Budget that Invest in Key Priorities

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 16, 2000


Today President Clinton will urge Congress to pass a fiscally disciplined budget that invests in key priorities, extends the life of Social Security and Medicare, and pays off the debt held by the public by 2013. In contrast, the Budget Resolution passed by the House Republicans on the Budget Committee requires deep reductions in key priorities, threatens to drain the Social Security surplus, fails to add a single day to the life of Medicare or Social Security, would make it impossible to pay off the debt by 2013, and risks our continued economic prosperity.

Before Even Considering Its Budget Resolution, the House Spent More Than Half of the On-budget Surplus on Tax Cuts. Before even considering investments in Medicare, Social Security, or Education, the House has already passed tax cuts that total $374 billion over 10 years. With interest, that would use $458 billion of the surplus Ė more than half of the $746 billion non-Social Security surplus projected by the Administration or the $893 billion projected by the Congressional Budget Office over the next 10 years.

The House Budget Would Fail to Provide for Key Priorities that are Essential to the Nationís Future. While the Presidentís budget provides significant investments in essential priorities, including education, law enforcement and science and technology, the Republican budget slashes these priorities.

  • Funding for education, training and social services would be cut by the resolution by $4.7 billion below the Presidentís budget, making it impossible to reach the Presidentís goals for critical programs to serve approximately 950,000 children in Head Start, to provide urgent repairs for 5,000 schools, and to hire 49,000 qualified teachers in public schools, essential to reducing class size.
  • The Republican Budget cuts funding for law enforcement by $2.3 billion below the Presidentís budget, with severe consequences including: cutting the FBI by 900 agents below the Presidentís levels, cutting the Drug Enforcement Agency by 850 agents, and eliminating funding for the Presidentís plan to add 430 INS border patrol agents.
The House Budget Resolution Would Cut Most of Domestic Discretionary Spending By an Average of Nearly 10 Percent in 2001 Alone. The House budget resolution has non-defense discretionary spending of $289 billion -- that is $20 billion below the funding level needed to maintain current program levels. The Republicans have said they will protect funding for certain areas including defense, veteransí health and the National Institutes of Health. To do so within the total level of funding allocated b the Budget Resolution, they would need to slash funding for most other domestic priorities by an average of nearly 10 per cent in 2001 alone. If Republicans continued spending cuts at the same rate as 2001-05, then the cut in domestic priorities would grow to, on average, around 25 percent by 2010.

If These Unrealistic Spending Cuts Do Not Materialize, the Republican Tax Cuts Would Spend the Entire Non-Social Security Surplus and Would Dip Into the Social Security Surplus. The basic tax cut proposed by the House Budget Resolution would cost $150 billion over 5 years. With interest, the cost would be $166 billion -- nearly all of the Congressional Budget Officeís projected $170 billion 5-year non-Social Security surplus.

  • The tax cut the President vetoed last year cost $156 billion over 5 years and would have exploded to $792 billion over 10 years. This tax cut, and the associated interest, would spend more than the entire non-Social Security surplus over 10 years.
  • The Republicans have allocated $50 billion over 5 years for more tax cuts. If the unrealistic spending cuts do not materialize, this money would come out of the Social Security surplus.
The Republican Budget Does Not Add a Single Day to the Solvency of Social Security or Medicare.

  • The Presidentís budget devotes $299 billion over 10 years as part of a plan to extend the solvency of Medicare by at least a decade to 2025. In contrast, the House does not devote any money to extend the life of Medicare by even one day. In fact, by spending more than the available surplus, the Republican budget resolution makes it impossible to invest substantial surpluses in extending the solvency of Medicare.
  • The Presidentís budget does not just protect the Social Security surpluses for debt reduction, but also transfers the interest savings resulting from that debt reduction to extend the life of Social Security to at least 2050. In contrast, the Republican so-called "Safe Deposit Box" for Social Security surpluses would not extend the life of Social Security by even one day.
The Fiscally Undisciplined Republican Tax Cut Would Make It Impossible To Pay Off the Debt By 2013 and Would Risk Our Economic Expansion. After taking account of the "reserve" for tax cuts and Medicare, the Republicans have not set aside any money over the next five years for additional debt reduction beyond using the Social Security surplus for that purpose. If the drastic Republican spending cuts were not implemented, then the Republicans would have to divert a sizeable portion of the Social Security surplus away from debt reduction. As a result, it would be impossible to pay off the debt held by the public by 2013.

  • Leading experts, from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to Wall Streetís Henry Kaufman, have recognized that paying down the debt, not large tax cuts or spending increases, would be best for our economy.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore Have Proposed a Balanced and Fiscally Responsible Plan to Strengthen Social Security and Medicare, Pay Off the National Debt by 2013 and Maintain Our Economic Prosperity, While Investing in Key Priorities like Health and Education.

  • The debt held by the public would be paid off by 2013, resulting in lower interest rates and a stronger economy.
  • Medicare solvency would be secured for at least an additional 10 years (to 2025), Medicare would be reformed to make it more efficient and competitive, and its benefits would be modernized with a new prescription drug benefit.
  • The Social Security surplus would be dedicated to paying down the debt, and Social Security solvency would be extended to at least 2050.
  • The budget framework is based on realistic discretionary spending levels that include investment in key priorities like education, health care, environment, public safety, and national security, while keeping overall spending growth slightly below inflation.
  • A set of fair and responsible targeted tax cuts would provide tax relief for middle-class Americans while helping them save for retirement.

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