March 24, 1997 in Nation/World

Tax Cuts Still A Priority, Gingrich Aides Say

Associated Press

House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s lieutenants Sunday defended his remarks that a balanced budget agreement might have to come before tax cuts, but promised Republicans are as determined as ever to eventually reduce taxes.

“We are not giving any ground at all. We are still committed to balancing the budget and giving significant tax cuts to the American family,” said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on “Fox News Sunday.”

DeLay and Gingrich touched off a rebellion in the GOP ranks last week when they said the party should concentrate on forging a balanced budget agreement with the Clinton administration before turning to tax cut proposals that have been the cornerstone of the Republican agenda.

The outcry from Republicans both in and outside Congress is seen as further eroding Gingrich’s hold on the speakership, already weakened by ethics problems and the perception of a do-little Congress under his command.

One of Gingrich’s chief critics on tax policy, former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, said the speaker must clarify that there can be no balanced budget without tax cuts.

“He’s got to step forward, in my opinion, and not get wobbly in the knee about this very important issue facing America,” Kemp said on ABC’s “This Week.”

DeLay countered that Kemp, an advocate of supply-side economics, “has always said that deficits don’t matter. We think deficits do matter.”

Rep. Bill Paxon, R-N.Y., another member of the House GOP leadership and a staunch ally of Gingrich, said the speaker’s comments shouldn’t be interpreted to mean Republicans will compromise on tax cuts.

“Our principles are solid. This week we had a discussion about strategy and there was a little emotion, surprising for Republicans on that issue, but our goals are bedrocksolid,” he said on ABC.

Paxon added the party might do better to keep its disputes to itself, however.

“We’ve had an open public discussion of strategy. I’m not sure that that’s necessary from here on,” he said.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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