Stage set for big battle over tax cuts, spending

Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2004

There's good news and bad news from Capitol Hill.

The good news is that the House and Senate now favor some sort of spending caps to reduce the growing federal budget deficit, this year estimated to be $477 billion. Generally, the spending caps and so-called pay-as-you-go limits would require that spending increases approved by Congress be offset by spending reductions elsewhere in the budget.

That's a sea change for this Congress, which in recent years has been spending money with abandon even as the red ink piled up. ...

This new-found religion for fiscal restraint reflects a dawning realization among Republicans that deficits are creating a fiscal problem for the country, and the failure to confront them is creating a political problem for the GOP. ...

Now for the bad news: The House and Senate are split on whether spending restrictions should be accompanied by similar restraints on tax cuts. That sets the stage for a battle this year between the two chambers over tax cuts, spending and the shape of the 2005 federal budget. ...

If the government is going to further reduce revenue, it must further reduce spending. The Senate must prevail in this fight.

Chicago Tribune

March 19

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