Clinton steps up pressure for cuts

BARGAINING ON Capitol Hill over the shape of President Bill Clinton's deficit-reduction package was finally wound up yesterday, leaving Mr Clinton with the task of selling it to wavering Democrats and a sceptical American public.

With the small print at last settled by a special conference of Democrats from the Senate and House of Representatives, the plan is now set for final votes, first in the House tomorrow and then in the Senate on Friday.

In both chambers the votes on the deficit package are expected to be nail- bitingly close, with the outcome in the Senate looking particularly uncertain.

By common consent, a rejection of the package by Congress would spell disaster for President Clinton, who has made deficit-reduction the centre- piece of his agenda.

While he and a 25-strong 'War Room' of officials in the White House continued to apply great pressure to Democrats on the Hill whose votes may save or sink the plan, Mr Clinton made a rare, nationally-televised address last night to try to strengthen public support.

The core aim of the package is to reduce the amount of growth in the federal deficit over five years by just under dollars 500bn ( pounds 333bn). In an effort to blunt Republican criticism that it amounts only to a tax-raising exercise, Democrat negotiators have ensured that the dollars 254bn in funds to be raised from spending cuts just outweighs the projected new tax revenues of dollars 242bn.

'It's a good package, it's solid, it's real numbers,' Mr Clinton said of the final compromise. 'I feel quite good about it.'

The bulk of the spending cuts will come from the defence budget and from a cap on Medicare, the government-funded health insurance plan for the elderly. Mr Clinton pledged yesterday that additional spending cuts would be brought forward after the budget is through.

The biggest share of the tax increases will be borne by the very wealthy and by corporations. Most other Americans will be affected only by a 4.3 cent increase in federal tax on a gallon of petrol, when petrol is at record low prices once inflation is taken into account.

When the preliminary version of the package was put to Congress in May, it was passed by only 219-213 votes in the House. In the Senate, it squeaked through by 50-49 only after Vice-President Al Gore cast a tie- breaking vote.

But prospects in the Senate might now be worse. Senator David Boren of Oklahoma, who supported the package last time, has publicly declared that he will oppose it this time around, forcing the White House to win back at least one of the Democrat senators who initially voted against the bill.

One constant in the equation is the position of the Republicans, all of whom are committed to voting against the package. Leading their camp is Kansas Senator, Bob Dole, who is focusing his attack on a provision that will make the increased tax rate of 36 per cent for high-earners retroactive to 1 January.

Predicting that it would land many Democrats in terminal trouble with voters, he said: 'I think there are going to be a lot of retroactive senators too, and House members.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power