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Clinton slams tax cuts, budget deficit

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Former President Bill Clinton visited Capitol Hill Thursday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday called President Bush's tax cuts a "recipe for disaster" that reversed his economic program, and defended Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's record.

Clinton met with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill for about three hours to discuss the election campaign.

A source inside the meeting said he urged them to do a better job defining the issues, and suggested that they try to frame the debate around tax cuts or security. His comments to the press came as he was leaving the meeting.

Clinton has not endorsed any of the seven Democrats vying for the chance to unseat Bush in November.

But when asked if Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, is too liberal to be the party's standard-bearer, Clinton said Kerry had stood with him to cut back budget deficits at the start of his first year in office.

"I was trying to reverse 12 years of what we've had for the last four -- where we were taxing less and spending more," he said. "It's fun in the short run, but it's a recipe for disaster."

A recent International Monetary Fund report warned that the U.S. budget deficit -- now nearing $500 billion -- will pose "significant risks" for the U.S. and world economy if not curbed.

Clinton's 1993 economic package raised taxes on upper-income Americans and cut spending as a step toward reducing budget deficits, which his economic advisers said were keeping interest rates high.

It passed Congress without a single Republican vote, and Vice President Al Gore had to break a tie in the Senate.

Kerry voted for the package. "We were running this huge deficit, and he was there to help," Clinton said. "So I think he was good on security, good on fiscal responsibility, good on welfare reform."

Kerry has won the first two Democratic contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. But Clinton said the race is far from over, and the Democrats have "got a good field."

"You may know what's going to happen, but I don't," he told reporters. "I like all these people. I admire them. They made a contribution to whatever good I was able to do for the American people, and I'm not going to get involved in it."

CNN's Steve Turnham contributed to this report.


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