In the first hint of movement at the budget talks, White House officials and Democratic congressional leaders said Tuesday they are preparing a seven-year budget-balancing plan that could be presented to Republicans later this week.
Democrats were still making final decisions about the proposal, which would alter a 10-year budget-balancing outline President Clinton unveiled in June.
An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that compared to the plan the president proposed six months ago, the package would likely call for a smaller tax cut and a possible delay in its $500 per child tax credit, bigger tax loophole closers on businesses, smaller spending boosts for many domestic programs, and more savings from welfare.
Whatever its final details, the package would represent a step toward bipartisan budget negotiations in the Capitol.
Those closed-door sessions began their second week Tuesday as bargainers met for more than an hour. But once again no agreements were reached. The White House prepared to present its plan later this week, possibly on Thursday, for saving $124 billion from Medicare.
“We probably won’t like what they come up with,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., who said he spoke to Clinton by telephone Tuesday morning about the Democratic plan. “At least that’s what he told me. But that’s at least a start.”
Republicans have insisted that bargaining cannot go very far until Democrats produce a detailed seven-year plan to eliminate the deficit. The GOP pushed its own seven-year package through Congress last month, containing deeper cuts and bigger tax reductions than Clinton prefers. The president is likely to veto it this week.
Democrats said they hoped their plan’s presentation would force Republicans to reveal how they would protect Clinton’s top priorities - Medicare, Medicaid, education and environment programs - from slashes he considers Draconian.