Clinton Signs Budget, Tax Bills (8/5/97)
Capitol Hill Looks Ahead To Budget Surpluses
Lawmakers are already talking about what to do with dollars that haven't materialized yet
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 24) -- With the economy cooking along and government analysts forecasting budget surpluses, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun debating what to do with the windfall: cut taxes, pay down the nation's $5.4 trillion national debt, or boost spending.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a proposal that may please everyone: Do some of each.
Gingrich, who appeared before the House Budget Committee on Thursday, said he favors a budget policy that produces surpluses and tax cuts every year, even during the next recession.
"We should sustain ... the commitment to get to a balanced budget and to stay balanced every year," Gingrich said. He added later, "It ought to be a surplus large enough that a reasonable recession won't stop it."
Gingrich also favors targeted spending increases, for transportation, science and defense.
Of course, no surpluses have actually materialized yet, so it may be a case of premature giddiness. This year, officials expect a fiscal 1997 year-end deficit of $20 billion, the smallest since 1974.
White House budget chief Franklin Raines has urged a cautious approach, with no new spending until projected surpluses actually become real. Gingrich, in contrast, said he is willing to put new dollars into defense and science earlier than that, if the economy produces enough tax revenue to accelerate the schedule in the balanced-budget agreement for reducing the deficit.
Rep. John Kasich, the Ohio Republican who heads the House Budget Committee, also has said lawmakers should hold off on any new tax cuts or new spending until the budget is actually balanced.
In a related development, President Bill Clinton has signed legislation to keep the federal government running until Nov. 7, while Congress finishes work on remaining spending bills for the 1998 fiscal year.
In Other News:
Friday Oct. 24, 1997
Clinton Defends 'Constructive Engagement' Of China
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