Now For The Hard Part

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WASHINGTON: After racing his way through 14 inaugural balls Monday night, President Clinton put the celebration behind him and got back down to the business of running the country today. His first move: a proposal to meet Republicans "half way" on budget issues and trim $100 billion in Medicare spending over a period of five years. Wary of the President's batting score beating the GOP to the punch on their issues, Republicans immediately began questioning the overture and in some cases labeling it nothing more than a political sham. Clinton, who seems more intent than ever in moving towards the center and banishing the reformist stance he held early in his first term, defended his proposal, saying it was not an attempt to steal GOP thunder but a sincere attempt to approach their budgetary demands. Reemphasizing his desire to work with the GOP, he added, "The only way we can actually balance the budget is if we seize this moment to work together and I'm going to do my best to reach out to Republicans." Some of the Republican skepticism may understandably come from the fact that Clinton did not specify where the $100 billion in cuts would be found.