Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Tristate congressmen criticize spending proposals

Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — The Tristate's mostly Republican members of Congress were largely critical of the spending proposals in President Clinton's State of the Union address Tuesday.

        “It was a smorgasbord,” said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. “The only problem is it is not a smorgasbord, and all of it is going to be have to be paid for by the taxpayers a la carte.”

        “The president has always been very good at this sort of thing, and there's no question he delivered another impressive speech,” said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

        “Unfortunately,” Mr. Bunning said, “his speech was full of more of the same old depressing thing, more tax and spend, more new taxes on Kentucky tobacco, more new spending pro grams.”

        Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, said he found many unsettling aspects in Mr. Clinton's proposals.

        “When you look at what he proposed, many of us are concerned about where he is going to get the money for the new spending proposals.”

        Mr. Portman, a leader on tax reform issues, said he also feared Mr. Clinton's tax proposals would further complicate the tax code and make the Internal Revenue Service more intrusive.

        But Mr. Portman praised Mr. Clinton for getting the debate rolling on Social Security reform.

        “I am glad that the president has finally come forward with some specific ideas on how to preserve Socials Security,” he said.

        “I don't support all of his specific ideas, but I think he has provided tonight a useful starting point,” he said.

        Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was less impressed: “Frankly, he is going in exactly in the wrong direction. We ought to save Social Security and return every bit of the surplus not needed to save Social Security with an across-the-board 10 percent tax.”

        Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Richwood, said he applauded the speech but didn't like the harsh words about tobacco.

        “I thought he was in his usual good form and rose to the occasion,” Mr. Lucas said.

        “The things very encouraging to me were his education initiatives. I was obviously very disturbed about the tobacco tax — being a good Kentuckian, I would be.”

        Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, thought the speech was an “ambitious” domestic policy plan that “correctly identified the concerns facing the country.”

        Mr. Strickland applauded the emphasis on fixing Social Security.

        “That's the big issue facing the country in terms of domestic problems.”

        More restrained was Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, one of the 13 House managers seeking Mr. Clinton's removal from office.

        “The president focused on some very important issues. But I'm severely disappointed the president said very little about reducing taxes.”


Clinton ignores impeachment, lays out ambitious agenda
- 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