Will he use the line-item veto? (256K wav sound)
Clinton addresses trouble in the Middle East (448K wav sound)
The latest subpoena in the Jones case (224K wav sound)
Clinton will not stop raising soft money (416K wav sound)
Will he ask Charlie Trie to come back to the U.S.? (320K wav sound)
The Weld nomination (320K wav sound)
Clinton on help for Washington, D.C. (352K wav sound)
Clinton Signs Budget, Tax Bills (8/5/97)
Clinton Says He's Proud Of Raising Soft Money
President says he expects to use line-item veto, but won't specify any targets yet
By Craig Staats/AllPolitics
WASHINGTON (Aug. 6) -- In his first full-fledged news conference in five months, President Bill Clinton offered no apologies today for continuing to raise so-called "soft money," even as he calls for an end to large, unrestricted donations to political parties.
Clinton cut a reporter off in mid-question to launch an emphatic defense of his aggressive fund-raising this spring and summer.
"I certainly do [raise money] and I'm proud of it," Clinton said. "I plead guilty to that. I don't believe in unilateral disarmament. We live in a competitive world." He again called on Congress to approve tighter rules and said he would live under any new campaign finance system that lawmakers approve. (416K wav sound)
The wide-ranging news conference touched on Israel's security, race relations, the UPS strike, William Weld's nomination, home rule in the District of Columbia and more. But Clinton shifted from his calm, professorial tone when the question of Democratic fund-raising came up. (352K wav sound)
Clinton also questioned what Republican Sen. Fred Thompson's hearings into campaign finance abuses have produced so far. The hearings, in recess, are set to resume Sept. 2. (320K wav sound)
"What have we learned in these hearings?" Clinton asked. "We've learned that there were problems. Now we've learned that both parties had problems. We've learned that a lot of money was raised and a lot of money was spent."
He plans to use the line-item veto
Clinton also said he intends to use his new line-item veto power to shape the budget and tax legislation that he signed into law earlier this week. But Clinton said he still needs to review what he can remove without endangering the bipartisan agreement with the Republican-led Congress. (256K wav sound)
The president repeatedly declined to specify what tax or spending provisions he might pencil out.
"I honestly don't know enough to tell you today, 'Here's something I'm going to veto,'" Clinton said. "And until I know for sure that I'm going to veto something, I don't want to say it."
In his opening statement, Clinton said the federal budget deficit has fallen faster than projected, to an estimated $37 billion this year.
And with the new balanced budget agreement, Clinton said, not only will the federal deficit be erased by 2002, but the nation could run annual budget surpluses of about $20 billion by then.
An even lower deficit
"Our efforts have led to an even lower deficit than we had previously projected," Clinton said. "In this, the fourth year of the five-year economic plan adopted in 1993, we now expect the deficit to drop to $37 billion. Yet without the bipartisan balanced budget we just passed, my budget officials estimate the deficit would rise next year to $50 to $100 billion and stay at that level for years to come."
On other subjects, Clinton:
Ruled out injecting himself in the United Parcel Service strike. Clinton noted the UPS strike is covered by the Taft-Hartley Act, which requires there be severe damage to the country before a president can order workers back on the job. "The test is very different and very high before the president can intervene," Clinton said.
Said he believes there will be the political will to solve Medicare and Social Security's spiraling costs, as the baby boom generation retires. "I don't believe that our generation wants to ask our children to make drastic sacrifices to support us because we wouldn't take modest steps now that don't have to affect the people that are now retired at all," Clinton said.
Reiterated his support for William Weld, Clinton's nominee as ambassador to Mexico. Asked how far he was willing to go to see Weld confirmed by the Senate, Clinton first joked, "I thought maybe I'd go down to Mexico and jump off those cliffs at Acapulco."
Clinton said he has a "surprisingly constructive relationship" with Sen. Jesse Helms, who opposes Weld's nomination. "I think at least the man [Weld] ought to get a hearing and ought to get his day in court, if you will -- his day before the committee," Clinton said. "We've got a team organized in the White House to try to help promote his nomination. And we'll do the very best we can. And we'll see what happens."
Clinton, who took reporters' questions on the White House's South Lawn on a beautiful, cooler-than-normal, summer day, was upbeat about some recent developments, including approval of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the balanced budget agreement and the opening of NATO to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The recent months "have been a remarkably fruitful time for bipartisan action in the national interest," Clinton said.
First in five months
The session was Clinton's first solo news conference since March 7. That one was dominated by questions about White House fund-raising practices. But Clinton has hosted several joint news conferences with world leaders since that time.
Clinton is scheduled to leave Washington for vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard in mid-August and return after Labor Day.
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