The Ghost Budget

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WASHINGTON, D. C.: By law, the President must submit a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February. But with the White House and Congressional Republicans locked in a bitter dispute over the 1996 budget, the 1997 plan that President Clinton released Monday was little more than an outline. "Normally this is a 2,000 page document, but what Clinton released was only 20 pages long," says White House correspondent James Carney. "Because last year's budget deal is still completely undone, this is a only a very basic idea of what would be spent." The $1.64 trillion budget proposal is almost identical to the last White House plan that Republicans rejected in January. "It's a spend-now, save-later scheme that is wholly inadequate," House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich charged. "It avoids real entitlement reform, backloads spending cuts and has virtually no details." With fundamental differences between the two sides on Medicare, Medicaid and tax cuts, Carney says the deadlock may continue for some time, although Republican moderates are showing signs that they might delay their tax cut in return for a balanced budget agreement.