Clinton claims win in budget blame game

RUPERT CORNWELL

Washington

Hundreds of thousands of US government employees were back at work yesterday, after a stop-gap budget compromise between the Democratic White House and the Republican Congress on Sunday, which left the basic conflict unresolved.

Hardly had the House and Senate agreed on a "continuing resolution" to fund government until 15 December than the search was on for winners and losers in the face-off that shut down the federal government for six days, the longest such closure in history.

For Republicans, there was the satisfaction of nailing President Bill Clinton down to a seven-year target date to balance the budget on the basis of figures provided by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than by the White House's office, with its long record of cooking the books.

Mr Clinton, however, claims the Republicans blinked first, by agreeing that any final agreement will contain "adequate funding" to protect the federal health schemes Medicare and Medicaid, the environment and education. The White House says if the agreement does not measure up to these goals, Mr Clinton will simply wield his veto again. If the public continues to blame Congress for the shambles, the prospect will make Republicans shudder.

By extending funding until 15 December, the two sides have given themselves four weeks to thrash out what might be the most momentous advance towards a balanced budget in decades. Half hidden by thename-calling of the last few days is a genuine prospect of a bipartisan understanding that would eliminate a deficit that reached $160bn (pounds 105bn) by the year ending 30 September.

To make that leap, the White House and Congress will have to make concessions in the hard bargaining that will begin after this week's Thanksgiving holiday, once Mr Clinton has received, and vetoed the current Republican bill mapping the route to a balanced budget with $1,000bn of spending cuts over seven years.

To produce a version that finds the President's favour, the Republicans will be forced to scale down a planned $245bn of tax reductions, a risky step for both Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole.

For the Speaker, backing down on tax cuts could cost him dear with the ideologically- driven Republicans who are his most devoted followers. Senator Dole, uneasy front-runner in the chase for next year's nomination, must avoid anything that suggests he is not a true believer in the "Republican revolution" set in motion by the party's victory in 1994.

Mr Clinton seems well ahead in the blame game. His spirited defence of Medicare appeals strongly to older Americans, who vote in larger numbers than other age groups. Polls show that by 49 to 27 per cent the public holds Republicans responsible for the impasse, and in a White House match- up, the President leads Mr Dole by 55 per cent to 39 per cent.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleNational cycling charity CTC said he 'should have known better'
News
i100
Life and Style
The fashion retailers have said they will now not place any further orders for the slim mannequin
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £43,000

£20000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful and rapidly gro...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food