President Clinton wants to go on a "spending spree," using billions from the budget surplus, and call it emergency spending, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), charged Saturday.
The White House questioned the dollar figures cited by Gramm, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, and said the president did not plan to fund new government programs with the surplus.
In the GOP weekly radio address, Gramm contended Clinton was pushing Congress to spend $20 billion of the surplus on new programs. He also criticized the president for opposing a tax cut that would benefit farmers, the elderly and the self-employed because it would lower the surplus by $6.6 billion.
Gramm mentioned funding requested to fix the Year 2000 problem in government computers and help pay for the 2000 census and U.S. troops in Bosnia. Money that should have been earmarked for all three areas instead went toward restoring welfare and food stamps to illegal immigrants, Gramm said.
"The president is trying to hide what is really the largest spending spree by government in 15 years by calling it an 'emergency,"' Gramm said.
But Linda Ricci, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the Clinton administration actually is requesting about $14 billion in emergency funding, none from the budget surplus.
About $1.9 billion would go to U.S. troops in Bosnia, $3.25 billion for fixing the computer problem and $1.8 billion for rebuilding and securing U.S. embassies overseas. Another $7.3 billion would go toward emergency farm aid, Ricci said.
She said raising the budget caps on individual departments would cover the costs of the special requests. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations have taken advantage of emergency spending rules, she said.
"It's a part of the normal operation of business," she said.
By EUN-KYUNG KIM