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Gop’s Budget Called Harmful To Children But Senate Panel Oks Spending Plan Despite White House Attacks

Focusing on children in an attack on the Republican budget, the Clinton administration said Monday that young Americans would suffer everything from hunger and poor health to polluted air and dirty drinking water if the GOP’s spending plan becomes law.

The Republican budget plan “basically takes the attitude that you have to harm children in order to save them,” Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff, told reporters. “The bottom line: Kids are getting screwed in these budgets.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., retorted that the newest charges are “just the latest in the Clinton administration’s transparent campaign to scare Americans - one day, it’s seniors; the next day, it’s farmers; today, it’s children.”

For weeks, the administration has lambasted the GOP’s budget blue-print in the name of the elderly, less frequently in the name of the poor and rural residents.

The White House opened the new front Monday by deploying Cabinet members and the first lady to argue that the GOP’s budget plans would punish children.

Congressional Republicans have proposed $245 billion in tax cuts and nearly $1 trillion in spending reductions from programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, public housing and nutrition in their effort to balance the federal budget by 2002.

The Senate Budget Committee voted 12-10 along party lines Monday to ratify the budget-balancing package, setting up a likely vote by the full Senate later this week. The House plans to vote Thursday.

In another show of GOP strength, the Senate voted 51-40 to reject a non-binding measure urging elimination of tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year and using the savings to reduce planned cuts in the growth of Medicare.

White House budget director Alice Rivlin sent Senate leaders a letter Monday criticizing their budget measure’s reduced spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, said the GOP plan to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid spending “would undermine the safety net, not just for the poor, but would touch the lives of every American.”


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