Exchange With Reporters on the Economic Program
Q. Mr. President, is there any way the Republicans can put a plan together that meets your criteria without taxes?
The President. Well, I don't see how. You know, we've already cut $250 billion in spending. We've cut Medicare, Medicaid, veterans, farmers, defense, foreign aid, every part of the Federal Government. The Republican leader said a couple of days ago he was willing to raise taxes on the wealthy, but apparently the people in his caucus who want to protect high income people and the tax cuts they got in the eighties, while the middle class got a tax increase, are going to win once again. So what he'll have to do is come up with some version of the same plan they have in the House. The Republican plan in the House, I will remind you, lost more Republican votes than the Democratic plan lost Democratic votes. And the reason is it was unfair to the middle class, the working people, the elderly, and to others because it protected upper income people. And I think you're going to see the same thing. We'll see what they have to say, but I can't imagine what else they can do.
We've got a 5-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending. We're cutting defense all we should, in my opinion, and then some. The only thing that's going up in this budget is health care next year. The only thing that's going up is health care. So it's going to be very interesting to see when they have to face the music what they'll say. But we're all eagerly waiting.
Q. When do you think you can get this reconciliation through a conference committee, assuming the Senate passes it?
The President. Well, one step at a time. We have to get it through the Senate first. We have to get the Senate Finance Committee bill on the floor, watch the amendments come forward, see what happens, and try to pass a bill in the Senate to go on to Congress. And then once we do that, we'll talk about the conference committee.
Q. Leon Panetta said yesterday that one of the goals was going to be to restore veterans. How are you going to do that, go more toward the House plan of raising taxes or the Senate plan, which is more cutting entitlements?
The President. We're going to do a good job of that. Just watch.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at The White House, prior to a meeting with congressional leaders. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters on the Economic Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220653