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All talk, no negotiating on budget

Clinton veto December 19, 1995
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Bob Franken

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Face-to-face budget talks between President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders are to take place at the White House on Tuesday -- the fourth day of a partial government shutdown that has furloughed more than a quarter million federal employees and sent the stock market tumbling. There were no preconditions for Clinton's afternoon meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the White House said. The president was to meet later with Democratic congressional leaders. Just before the GOP meeting, the president planned to veto a Republican spending bill for the third time in two days.


"Lord, we need your healing (on the budget impasse)."

-- Prayer from Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie

Dole White House officials said they did not expect a substantive result from the talks, which both Republicans and White House aides said would not be true negotiations. But the step was encouraging enough for Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie to take note as he opened proceedings Tuesday morning. "Thank you Lord for answering our prayers for a meeting between the president and the majority leader and the speaker today to deal with the issues of balancing the budget," he said. Ogilvie also asked for divine guidance to find a solution to the impasse. (119K AIFF sound or 119K WAV sound)

Meanwhile, 90 major businesses placed two-page ads in several newspapers urging politicians to resolve their differences and balance the budget. The bipartisan message was signed by the leaders of companies such as Eastman Kodak, Exxon and Xerox. The ad says, "Without a balanced budget, the party's over. No matter which party you're in."

In the ad, the executives tell Clinton and congressional leaders that the health of the nation's economy rests with Washington's "ability to avoid political gridlock." The business world has been operating on the premise that a successful compromise on a balanced budget would be reached and that the "time is now" to do it.

Tuesday's meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. EST at the White House, follows separate telephone calls placed by Clinton on Monday to Gingrich and Dole. The president said he is willing to accept stricter Congressional Budget Office economic assumptions as long as Republicans agree to Clinton's spending proposals for Medicare and Medicaid, federal programs for the poor, disabled and elderly. But Republicans rejected the offer, setting up the face-to-face talks with no preconditions.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said Tuesday he was pessimistic budget talks could produce an agreement unless Clinton shows willingness to compromise. "It's going to be a very difficult discussion between the speaker, the majority leader and the president as long as the president remains so inflexible and rigid and so unwilling to get down to the hard work that's required to get to a balanced budget."

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