On a weekend devoted to political fund-raising and meetings with major Democratic donors, President Clinton assailed House Republicans for approving a "reckless" $792 billion tax cut that he said would make it impossible to use the ballooning federal surplus to save Social Security and Medicare and pay off the national debt.
"Beyond that," said Clinton in his weekly radio address, "the GOP tax cut is so large it would require dramatic cuts in vital areas, such as education, the environment, biomedical research, defense and crime fighting."
Clinton arrived at this Colorado mountain resort early this morning for what was supposed to be a relaxed weekend of fund-raising ($1 million for the Democratic National Committee) and meetings with donors who have contributed $50,000 or more to the party. But with the death of King Hassan II of Morocco, White House officials compressed the schedule so the president could attend Hassan's funeral in Rabat.
Since the House narrowly approved the tax cut package on Thursday, Clinton has stepped up his attacks on the legislation that would cut income tax rates by 10 percent, reduce the marriage tax penalty and cut capital gains tax rates from 20 percent to 15 percent.
Appearing Friday night at a party fund-raiser in Cincinnati, Clinton said the GOP plan is "a mistake . . . because if you look at the real long-term challenges of America, you can't honestly say we can afford a tax cut that big."
But a key Republican leader defended the tax cut legislation today, saying it would not stymie efforts to pay off the nation's debt.
"We can cut taxes and pay down the debt -- and the American people expect us to do both," said House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) in the GOP's radio address. "The American people are overtaxed and deserve a refund. I look forward to working with members of both parties in the coming weeks to ensure that you get some of your hard-earned money back."
At a noontime meeting with Democratic donors at the Aspen vacation home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Clinton continued his assault on the GOP tax cut, charging that compared with his support for a more modest reduction in taxes of $250 billion to $300 billion, the Republican cut would seriously limit fiscal options.
"Republicans are trying to cast the debate in Washington today as `Our tax cut is bigger than your tax cut,' " the president said. "It's almost like the arguments we used to have when I was in school. . . . If you take our tax cut, which is smaller than theirs, you get to save Social Security and Medicare, you get to take the country out of debt, you get to continue to invest in education and the environment and medical research.
"If they get their budget through," the president said, "we will do nothing to extend the life of Medicare, nothing to extend the life of Social Security. . . . We will pay down the debt, but we won't pay it off, and we will actually have to have drastic cuts in investment."
The president was scheduled to return to Washington late tonight, and after a brief stopover at Andrews Air Force Base, fly on to Morocco.