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Kasich Spells Out 'Vision Document' For GOP Budget

By John King/CNN

WASHINGTON (April 24) -- House Republicans are preparing a budget that puts them on an election-year collision course with the Clinton White House, proposing new spending cuts that include the elimination of the Commerce and Energy departments.

Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio) outlined his plans Thursday afternoon in a meeting with the GOP House leadership. Kasich was vague on the issue of tax cuts, saying the Republicans must offer substantial tax cuts but declining to give concrete figures before he speaks to the House GOP caucus.

Kasich said the budget document should serve as an election-year "vision document" for the Republican Party and reaffirm the GOP's commitment to shrink government and cut taxes. Kasich wants to reduce domestic spending by $100 billion more than the levels agreed on in last year's balanced budget agreement.

Some Republicans are nervous about getting into a budget battle with President Bill Clinton that in many ways mirrors the 1995 budget debate that led to two government shutdowns. But Kasich and others at the meeting argued that Republicans needed to demonstrate their commitment to longtime GOP goals.

In addition to proposing to cut the Commerce and Energy departments, Kasich said he would push for savings in federal entitlement programs and for tougher enforcement of the Earned Income Tax Credit to end what he described as systematic fraud.

kasich

One member of the GOP leadership, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the House GOP was prepared to draw sharp contrasts with a White House budget they say proposes $150 billion in new spending and $130 billion in new taxes over the next five years. "It is the perfect contrast between the two parties," the source said.

During the discussion, Kasich said public and private estimates of the budget surplus for the current year ranged from $8 billion to as high as $70 billion, sources say. Kasich said his budget would call for any surplus funds to be set aside for efforts to shore up the financial solvency of Social Security and to begin to lower the national debt.

House Republicans expected the next Congressional Budget Office [CBO] surplus estimate to be in the $45 billion to $55 billion range, two House GOP sources said. But Kasich aides and CBO officials disputed that, saying Kasich had not received any new official CBO estimate as he put together his new budget.

Sources familiar with the CBO deliberations say it is sticking by its $8 billion to $18 billion projection at least through early May, when it will issues its latest report on government revenues and expenditures. An analysis of April tax revenues will be the biggest factor in determining whether to significantly increase its projections for this year's federal surplus.

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Friday April 24, 1998

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