THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Camp David, Maryland) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 19, 2000
July 19, 2000
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert Speaker of the House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
The President is increasingly concerned about the spending binge under way in Congress as we approach the summer recess. With the political conventions drawing near, both the House and the Senate are voting every day on bills that deplete the projected budget surplus at a rapid rate.
In the last few weeks, the House and Senate have already considered tax bills that spend roughly $700 billion of our surpluses over the next ten years, a price tag that will increase to $850 billion when we account for financing costs on the debt. Moreover, Republican leaders promise that these tax cuts are a mere a "down-payment" on massive, trillion-dollar tax breaks to come. At the same time, Congress has passed several spending bills that have exceeded the President's request.
It is time to answer some simple questions about this tax and spending frenzy: what does it all cost, and can we afford it? The President's budget team cannot, in good conscience, advise the President to sign various spending or tax bills until we have a fuller accounting of Congress's overall spending plans for the year. Let me be clear: Congress has embarked on a course to obliterate a surplus that is the hard-won product of nearly eight years of fiscal discipline. We cannot and will not let that happen.
Fiscal discipline has been critical to the prosperity we enjoy today, and prosperity in turn has created a brighter outlook for tomorrow's budget surpluses. But projections are simply that -- projections. Now is not the time to abandon responsible budgeting by spending money before it even comes in the door. Congress should provide the American people with a more complete accounting of just how much it intends to spend this year.
We can cut taxes for the middle class, while maintaining fiscal discipline and making critical investments in our future. The President's budget does just that - strengthening Social Security and modernizing Medicare with a prescription drug benefit, while cutting taxes for education, retirement, and health care and paying off the debt by 2012. The right way to get things done is to work together within a balanced framework so that we honor our commitment to fiscal discipline.
John Podesta Chief of Staff to the President