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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Both Parties Declare Budget Deal Likely

WASHINGTON -- Despite continued sniping from the ideological sidelines at the new federal budget deal, White House officials and Republican congressional leaders Sunday proclaimed confidence that the compromise will be approved.


Their comments came as they begin this week the long and tortuous process of turning the bare-bones agreement into detailed legislation and shepherding it through Congress.


Some liberal Democrats continue to complain that the deal -- intended to balance the budget by 2002 -- gives too much in tax cuts to the wealthy. But much of the fiercest criticism is now coming from conservative Republicans, who argue the agreement does too little to restrain the growth of government spending.


Still, the biggest hurdles facing the agreement may be posed not by ideology but by the elaborate power structure in Congress -- one that will bring many more voices, political interests and institutional pressures to bear than was the case when the deal's outlines were crafted in secret meetings by a handful of top White House aides and congressional chieftains.


For instance, filling in the details is sure to put the Clinton administration and the GOP at loggerheads on such questions as how much to cut the capital gains tax, which now has a top rate of 28 percent. Franklin Raines, U.S. President Bill Clinton's top budget official, said Sunday on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation'' that the administration could accept a rate of 20 percent, but some Republicans may want to go further.


Clinton and GOP congressional leaders announced Friday their landmark pact on the broad parameters of a five-year plan designed to eliminate the budget deficit for the first time since 1969. Negotiators agreed on these key elements of the plan: slow the growth of Medicare by $115 billion, save $16 billion in Medicaid, provide a net tax cut of $85 billion and allow increased spending for Clinton initiatives in health, welfare and education.


An initial version of the agreement drew heavy fire from liberal Democrats, who said it shortchanged their party's values. But those complaints were eased at the last minute when new, vastly improved deficit projections made it possible for negotiators to drop two of the plan's elements -- new limits on Social Security benefits and Medicaid -- most heavily criticized by Democrats.


Some liberals still argue that the agreement's proposed cuts in taxes on capital gains and on the largest family estates are too skewed to the wealthy. "I think way too much of it goes to people at the very top,'' Senator Paul Wellstone said on "Fox News Sunday.''


White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, however, predicted on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press'' that the agreement would receive the support of a majority of Democrats.