- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

As Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2001, approaches, it has become clear that the Clinton-Gore administration's appetite for spending has become insatiable. At the same time, it has become equally clear that the idea of enacting any sort of tax cut, no matter how infinitesimal, is utterly antithetical to the tax-and-spenders at the White House. By giving the back of its hand to a magnanimous Republican budget proposal last week, the Clinton-Gore administration proved how fiscally extreme it truly is.
With the budget endgame rapidly approaching, it is important to understand the context of the Republican proposal. In recent weeks the House failed to override Mr. Clinton's vetoes of two bipartisan bills reducing taxes. One would have eliminated over 10 years the death tax, euphemistically known as the "estate and gift tax." The other would have ended the marriage-penalty tax, which compelled 25 million married couples to pay an average of nearly $1,200 more in federal income taxes in 1999 than they would have paid if they were living together unmarried. The Clinton-Gore administration called the bills "fiscally reckless."
Congressional Republicans reacted last week to Mr. Clinton's sustained vetoes by offering the White House a genuinely fair compromise to conclude the 2001 budget process. Republican congressional leaders proposed last week that 90 percent of the $268 billion surplus for 2001, as projected by the Congressional Budget Office, be set aside to retire federal debt held by the public. That would leave about $28 billion, which the GOP wished to split evenly between increased spending and tax cuts.
Thus, the Republican leadership sought a puny 5 percent of next year's surplus to fund tax relief ($14 billion of the $268 billion surplus). Moreover, the effect of the Republican offer would have been to acquiesce to far more spending than Congress' budget resolution had previously stipulated. Compared to the $625 billion in discretionary outlays in the budget resolution, which far exceeded the spending caps for 2001 endorsed in 1997 by both Congress and the administration, the Republicans' new proposal would provide for $652 billion in discretionary outlays.
Altogether, Republicans were proposing to increase discretionary spending by 7 percent, or three-and-a-half times faster than the projected rate of inflation. So generous was the proposal that budget hawks were aghast. Meanwhile, GOP leaders were beseeching Mr. Clinton to approve a tax cut of a mere 0.7 percent.
But this was even too much for the Clinton-Gore administration to consider. Messrs. Gore and Clinton want to spend more much more. And as the fine print in their fiscal 2001 budget revealed, they are not the least bit interested in reducing taxes next year or the year after.

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