Clinton Budget Silent On A Big Tax Cut

Consistent with his State of the Union speech last month, President Clinton failed to include a broad tax cut -- a priority for most of the business community -- in his proposed fiscal 2000 federal budget released Monday. Instead of a tax cut, which is also a goal of Republicans, the budget calls for a $39 billion -- or 2.3% -- increase in spending over the current fiscal year. Even with the spending boost, the budget projects a $117 billion surplus for the year, growing to $4.4 trillion over the next 15 years. Contributing to the surplus are a proposed 55-cent-a-pack hike in federal cigarette taxes, closure of a variety of tax breaks for corporations, and increased user fees. The lack of significant tax relief angers business groups. A budget that should have major tax cuts instead has tax increases, and thats the bottom line, says Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sadly for business, this is a painful irony because businesses and entrepreneurs created the surplus, and the Administration is determined to spend it. It looks like the era of big government has come roaring back. Business groups are cheered, though, by the budgets call for increased defense spending, including a costly missile-defense system, that would rejuvenate the ailing defense industry. Moreover, the budget proposes to eliminate the Social Security earnings limit, which would help reduce the labor shortage by encouraging older Americans to return to work.

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