- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wasted no time yesterday renewing her attacks on the Bush administration, criticizing the president on stem-cell research and tax cuts with rhetoric that Republicans said showed her true colors as a big spender.
As Congress returned from its August recess, the New York Democrat spent the morning grilling Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson about stem-cell policy and then hustled from that hearing to participate in a Democratic news conference to blame Mr. Bush for draining the federal budget surplus.
"If it were a movie, it could be called 'Honey I Shrunk the Surplus,'" Mrs. Clinton said. The president's "staff has said that he will focus like a laser beam on the economy. But so far the laser beam from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue has only succeeded in vaporizing the surplus."
The former first lady credited her husband's administration for amassing the surplus partly because of a massive tax increase in 1993 and said Mr. Bush has squandered it with a tax cut.
"It's a disappointment to many of us who watched how hard over the last eight years the American people worked to overcome deficits and to make the kind of investments that will in the future lead us to be a richer, smarter, stronger and safer nation," she said.
Asked if she believed Mr. Bush has wasted the Clinton administration's efforts by returning some of the surplus to taxpayers, she replied, "The facts speak for themselves. The fiscal situation of our budget has dramatically changed. I hope we can get back on track."
Senate Republicans said Mrs. Clinton and her Democratic colleagues are selling fiction.
"It is not reality," said Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican. "In the last 14 months of slide in this economy, that slide has gobbled up about $46 billion in potential surplus revenues."
Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, said Mrs. Clinton and her fellow Democrats really were complaining that senators who approved the tax cut including 18 Democrats "took away their ability to spend."
"They would like to raise taxes so they can spend more," Mr. Gramm said. "This is the same old tax-and-spend program that they claim they've sworn off of. They remind me of this guy who got religion and then started backsliding. They said we're not the party of 'tax-and-spend.' But now when you listen to them, they're beginning to sound like the same old people."
A senior Republican leadership aide said Mrs. Clinton went into "her 'Evita' syndrome" yesterday.
"Her husband and she, in cooperation with Democrats here, plotted ceaselessly to spend billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on rinky-dink programs," the aide said. "She and her husband wasted billions of dollars that could have been used to pay down the debt."
After President Clinton won a budget showdown with Congress in 1995, federal spending increased an average of 8 percent per year during his administration. Mr. Bush wants Congress to limit spending increases to about 4 percent annually.
Mrs. Clinton began to emerge as a leading critic of the Bush administration before the August recess, when she orchestrated the first outright rejection of a presidential nominee Mary Sheila Gall to become chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
She told The Washington Times yesterday that her renewed criticism of the Bush White House was not politically motivated.
"I don't think these are partisan issues," she said. "We want answers to questions."
Mrs. Clinton said she questioned Mr. Thompson closely about stem-cell research because of a "stark contradiction" to the administration's claim that 64 lines of embryonic stem cells were available for research. Many Democrats say limiting research to those 64 lines will hinder progress against diseases such as Alzheimer's."I'd like to know what the truth is about those lines," she said. "This is a very important issue to every American."

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