GOP Feints on IMF

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WASHINGTON: Newt Gingrich is at the mound, and whipping curveballs at President Clinton. On Tuesday House Republicans suddenly revived Clinton's bid for fast-track powers to negotiate trade agreements; Wednesday saw them defer a vote on IMF funding until September. "Republicans are delaying the IMF vote to build up their leverage in September's budget fight," says TIME correspondent Jay Carney. "By introducing fast-track at the same time, they're trying to soften corporate criticism of their IMF stand by supporting pro-business legislation -- and making the Democrats squirm by reviving their most divisive issue."

The IMF gambit carries greater risk: "Delaying IMF funding may be dangerous, because the effects of the Asian crisis are now being felt in the U.S. economy," says Carney. "The Asian crisis and pressure from business will push Republicans to support IMF funding, but they figure that holding off for a couple of months boosts their leverage won't hurt the IMF." And Clinton hasn't even seen the knuckleball yet.