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Budget battle belies room for compromise

Gingrich, Clinton, and Dole

October 27, 1995
Web posted at: 11 p.m. EDT


From Senior White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Recent sparring between Republicans and the White House over budget bills before Congress seem to leave little room for compromise.

But as the Senate neared a vote on the Republican budget plan Friday, the outlook was improving. Despite all the nasty rhetoric, White House officials have said they can envisage a budget deal with the Republicans.

President Clinton said he'll veto the Republican package now before Congress, but promises to begin real negotiations when Congress takes up the budget again.

"I think you could get a huge, huge bipartisan vote for a balanced budget, but we are a long way from there right now," Clinton said. (78K AIFF sound or 78K WAV sound)

Privately, the president's aides have said the two sides are not that far apart. The president can live with the Republicans' non-negotiable seven-year plan to eliminate the deficit, they said.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich seemed to be extending the olive branch as well.


"We don't expect him to sign every single piece of our plan exactly as he wrote it, so obviously if you're going to get a signature you're going to have some changes, but ... as long as he buys the core framework, we can talk out some details," Gingrich said. (145K AIFF sound or 145K WAV sound)

Clinton says he agrees with that framework -- balancing the budget cutting taxes, reducing Medicare spending and giving the states more spending authority, especially over welfare. But, he said, there are limits.

"We are going to keep working on this, but I am not going to bend my principles. I cannot and it's not good for America," Clinton said. (70K AIFF sound or 70K WAV sound)


Clinton's own principles include spending on education, the environment and technology research. He said he won't let families earning under $30,000 a year pay higher taxes.

Clinton political advisor Dick Morris wants the president to continue positioning himself midway between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

But liberals may not be happy with any compromise and suggest that far more is at stake.

"This is now the president's soul. This isn't about strategy. This is about who he is and whether or not he can project to the American people in the country that he is willing to fight for them," said Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota. (165K AIFF sound or 165K WAV sound)

White House officials said they anticipate ups and downs in the negotiations. One immediate hurdle: raising the nation's debt ceiling early next month. But they said they'll be happy if they can get a final budget deal by Christmas.


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