Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Lukewarm criticism from GOP

The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — Republicans accused President Clinton of proposing too much spending and too few tax cuts but generally held their fire on a State of the Union address framed against the partisan divisions of the impeachment trial.

        Democrats stood by their president, but some liberals expressed concerns about new defense spending and a prosperous nation's inattention to the plight of the poor.

        Republicans, studiously polite during past Clinton State of the Union speeches, were noticeably more distant this year, mostly keeping their applause short and unenthusiastic. Two House leaders who have been strong critics of Mr. Clinton, Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, sat stiffly in their seats and did not clap.

        “We have an opportunity, the Congress and the White House, working together, ... to have an agenda that we can advance that the American people will really approve of,” said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

        “The political paradox,” said House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, “is that the president's personal problems with Congress are likely to cause a redoubled effort at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to develop a constructive legislative relationship.”

        Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., attending his first State of the Union as House speaker, said Mr. Clinton “gave another good speech under difficult circumstances.” But he said the president fell short in not proposing a comprehensive tax cut, not devoting enough attention to national security and not shifting more education programs to local control.

        House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, stressed that Republicans, who are seeking a 10 percent across-the-board tax rate cut, were dissatisfied with Mr. Clinton's plans to spend more and offer only limited tax cuts.

        House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri said Mr. Clinton's speech, in which he introduced a far-reaching plan to protect Social Security and urged spending in numerous other programs in child care, education and crime-fighting, was his most vigorous since his first address to Congress six years ago.

        “He has put forward an historic and aggressive set of initiatives, taking a giant leap towards addressing Americans' concerns as we approach a new century,” Mr. Gephardt said.

        Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the president “did the country and the Congress a service tonight by moving our focus away from partisan politics and personal attacks and toward common-sense proposals.”

        But the liberal wing of the party also expressed concerns about some aspects of the agenda. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., questioned CMr. linton's plan to spend more on defense, saying: “We are locked into a perpetual arms race with ourselves” that deprives social programs of needed funding.


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Tristate congressmen criticize spending proposals
President's issues have local impact
Social Security plan is big, bold and controversial
Clinton cites first lady's 'historic role'
Government to sue to cigarette makers to recover smoking costs
- Lukewarm criticism from GOP
President out to reclaim his legacy
Text of State of the Union address
State of the Union address (Take 2)
State of the Union address (Take 3)
State of the Union address (Take 4)
State of the Union address (Take 5)
State of the Union address (Take 6)
State of the Union address (Take 7)
Clinton's lawyer presents scathing rebuke
Both parties praise president's counsel
Chabot: Ruff got it wrong
Defense low-key till end
GOP collecting, editing queries