Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Hastert appears at Chabot fund-raiser




BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        House Speaker Dennis Hastert said here Monday he will “stake my speakership” on a budget-cutting plan that some Republican lawmakers may balk over and that would almost surely draw a presidential veto.

        “I think the American people are going to find good sense in what we're doing,” Mr. Hastert told reporters, after appearing at a breakfast fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati.

        The House Republican leaders' plan would impose a 1.4 percent across-the-board spending cut on every government program controlled by the Congress.

        The plan, House GOP leaders argue, would allow this year's federal budget to be funded without touching Social Security revenues.

        But the Clinton administration and congressional Democrats argue that the 1.4 percent across-the-board cuts would be unfair because they would harm both cost-effective and wasteful government programs.

        With only an 11-vote GOP margin over the Democrats in the House, the defection of only a handful of Republican House members could doom the GOP leadership's plan.

        But Mr. Hastert, the Illinois Republican who was voted in as speaker after last year's congressional elec tion, said his supporters are willing to push for the cuts and campaign for re-election next year on the budget issue.

        “I'm willing to risk my speakership and the Republican majority in the House on this plan,” Mr. Hastert said.

        Critics have said that the across-the-board cuts would harm defense readiness and result in substantial layoffs of federal workers. But Mr. Hastert said he is convinced the cuts would be made “without trouble.”

        “What we are saying is that for every $10 government programs spend, 14 cents can be found that doesn't need to be spent,” Mr. Hastert said. “The people who administer these government offices, they know where it can be found. It is not too much to ask.”

        Earlier, at the fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency hotel, the speaker told a crowd of about 300 Chabot supporters that House Republicans will “stand firm on protecting Social Security.

        “The reason we have had a huge national debt is that the Social Security trust fund has been raided by presidents and Congress for 33 years now,” Mr. Hastert said. “That has to stop.”

        The event raised about $60,000 for Mr. Chabot's 2000 re-election campaign.

       



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