Clinton woos middle classes

With his $60bn (£39bn) tax package of tax cuts for middle income earners, President Bill Clinton has fired his first salvo of the 1996 election campaign - a naked pitch to regain the support of a category of voters essential for any hope of a second termin the White House.

From friend and foe alike, yesterday's reviews for the prime-time address from the Oval Office were on balance favourable. Democrats of every hue are relieved that Mr Clinton has finally reasserted himself after last month's electoral debacle, when middle-class voters by the million defected to the Republican banner.

Gloating Republicans, meanwhile, could find little reason to to quarrel with ideas that are another milestone on the President's forced march towards the political right. "He's now joining in with Republicans," Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the party's second ranking Senator, said yesterday, calling the measures "a small step in the right direction."

Even the President's dwindling band of supporters acknowledged that, at best, the speech was only a first toehold on the climb out of the political abyss. One reason is that Mr Clinton's proposals are one of four tax-cutting schemes on the table, two from the Democrats and two from the Republicans. Whatever legislation emerges from the incoming Republican Congress is unlikely to bear great resemblance to his ideas. What credit is to be claimed may well go to the Republicans.

Second, and more important, so battered is Mr Clinton's reputation that a single 10-minute speech - even one as compact and direct as Thursday evening's - cannot put things right. Indeed if, as has happened frequently with this President, trenchant wordsare followed by feeble deeds, it could even rebound against him, fuelling new charges of waffle and inconstancy.

The tax cuts, presented as a "Middle Class Bill of Rights," comprise a $500 tax credit a child for families earning up to $75,000 a year, deductions for university fees of up to $10,000 a family, and tax exemptions for individual retirement, or savings, accounts.

Promising a "leaner, not a meaner Government," Mr Clinton spoke of "deep budget cuts that hurt programmes not people". As outlined by officials yesterday, sections of three major departments - Energy, Transportation and Housing - will be scrapped or privatised, saving $24bn. A further $52 bn will be saved by extending a "non-essential spending" freeze.

White House claims yesterday that the tax package did not contradict the administration's long-term deficit reduction plans. Many independent economists, however, argued that the tax breaks are too small to make much difference to individuals, but add upto a stimulus that the booming US economy does not need.

But on Thursday what mattered was less the measures than a broader message: that Mr Clinton was returning to the centrist "New Democrat" themes which won him the election in 1992. His must now relaunch his Presidency in a political debate dominated by Republicans.

The first woman to be White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, 33, resigned yesterday. She was hampered by a lack of authority and access. Favourite to replace her is Mike McCurry, chief spokesman for Warren Christopher, the Secretary of State.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup