March 27, 1995 in Nation/World

White House Vows To Veto Gop Bills Panetta Demands Changes In Proposals For Tax Cuts, Welfare Reform, Crime Bills

Edwin Chen Los Angeles Times

President Clinton is prepared to veto a variety of House Republican initiatives, including welfare reform, a capital gains tax cut and a repeal of the crime bill, unless the Senate eliminates certain provisions in each measure, White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta said Sunday.

“We are not going to let them cut school lunches in order to provide tax cuts to the wealthiest in this country. We’re not going to let them cut 100,000 cops off the president’s crime bill. We are not going to let them move backward with regards to education cuts,” Panetta said.

“Those are areas where we clearly have drawn some lines,” he said.

Panetta’s comments went further than the president’s own remarks Saturday in his weekly radio address, in which he repeated his objections to certain provisions of the welfare reform bill passed Friday by the House but did not threaten to veto it. To date, Clinton has not vetoed one piece of legislation.

Also Sunday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, predicted that the Housepassed welfare reform bill will emerge from the Senate “by and large … intact,” and he expressed confidence that Clinton would sign it.

“Oh, there’s no doubt about it,” Armey said. “The president’s been talking about an opportunity to ‘end welfare as we know it’ since his first campaign.”

Still, Armey conceded that the Senate is unlikely to rubber-stamp the House welfare bill. Indeed, many senators, Republicans as well as Democrats, have flatly declared their intention to come up with a less Draconian package. They include some key committee chairmen, such Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., head of the Finance Committee.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., ranking member on the finance committee and a noted welfare expert, strongly disagreed with Armey’s optimistic forecast that the final bill will much resemble the House measure.

“That bill?” Moynihan said dismissively to an interviewer Sunday on “CNN’s Late Edition Live.” “We’re not even going to take that bill up,” he said, meaning that the committee intends to write its own legislation.

Moynihan said the House bill amounted to “cruelty to children” and expressed relief that Panetta “finally said the president will in fact veto” objectionable provisions in any welfare bill.

“To deny benefits to your children is to invite social calamity,” he said. “You are talking about your future.”

On the GOP proposal to cut the capital-gains tax rate by one-third, Panetta said the Clinton administration finds the House proposal “unacceptable” but said the president is willing to consider one that is paid for and “targeted at the middle class.” Both Panetta and Armey spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

On Saturday, Clinton commended the House for including in its welfare reform bill certain child support enforcement measures, including the threat of revoking licenses to help ensure that payments are made.

But the president also complained that the bill does little to promote work - a theme that Panetta expanded upon Sunday.

That bill, Panetta said, “is weak on work requirements and very tough on children.”

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