October 11, 1995
Web posted at: 9:45 p.m. EDT
From Senior White House Correspondent Wolf Blitzer
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The balanced budget debate appears to be taking a nasty turn, with both sides digging in their heels. Instead of moving closer together, the White House and the Republican congressional leadership seem to be hardening their positions on a balanced budget.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry is accusing the Republican leaders of breaking off informal talks. "We've been talking about talking, and now we're not talking," McCurry said. (34K AIFF sound or 34K WAV sound)
And Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is again threatening a presidential veto. "They're saying it's either our way or no way," Panetta said. "The president is basically saying that's not the right way for the American people. So obviously we're always willing to listen. We're always willing to discuss, but in the end they have to move toward the priorities that the American people want." (204K AIFF sound or 204K WAV sound)
But an angry House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the White House has been talking compromise in private while publicly making personal attacks on the GOP leadership. "What they will not be allowed to do is frighten and lie to the American people while talking to us in private," Gingrich said. "And I think what they've done in the last couple weeks is totally disreputable and deliberately factually false in order to scare 75- and 85-year-old people." (196K AIFF sound or 196K WAV sound)
At issue: the Republicans' proposed $245 billion tax cut, which the president says is way too much. Gingrich insists that he is not going to budge.
The Democrats are staging a new public relations assault. Their latest accusation: The Republican cuts will make life in rural America more painful.
"When you consider the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid," said Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, "when you consider the other outcomes for America's hard-pressed middle income families, this rural policy is basically a scorched earth policy." (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound)
Some presidential advisers predict that the Republicans, in the end, will blink and engage in serious compromise negotiations. But the angry rhetoric on both sides is making that option more difficult.
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