Trent Lott on Budget & Economy
Republican Jr Senator (MS)
A professor with a doctorate in economics, Phil Gramm had real authority on the subject; he staked his reputation on the vote, and he lobbied his fellow Democrats endlessly to join him, particularly those from the South. We saw to it that the bill also carried the name of Delbert Latta (R, OH). His sponsorship allowed the Conservative Democratic Forum to sell the issue as bipartisan.
The voting was tough and close. The speaker of the house, Tip O'Neill, left the speaker's chair to badger Sam Hall (D, TX) to vote against the bill. I felt the outcome to the nation was important enough for me to break a rule, so I went over to the Democratic side of the aisle and said, "Sam, this is a chance for you to make history. Do the right thing to control federal spending." Rep. Hall voted with us.
I met the Republicans halfway on the amount of Medicare savings. The Republicans accepted a smaller tax cut, the child health insurance program, and the big education increase. We had produced the first balanced budget since 1969, and a good one to boot. Senator Lott and Speaker Gingrich had worked with us in good faith, and Erskine Bowles, with his negotiating skills and common sense, had kept things going at critical moments.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
My amendment says we are going to take about $18 billion as a strong signal from the Congress that we want to support effective programs and we want the taxpayer dollars spent in a responsible way. My amendment doesn't take all of the $88 billion for the programs found by PART, realizing there may be points in time when another program is not meeting its goals and needs more money. So that flexibility is allowed in this particular amendment. It doesn't target any specific program. Almost worse than being rated ineffective, we have programs out there that have made absolutely no effort at all to measure their results. I believe these are the worst offenders. In the following years, I hope Congress will look at those programs to create accountability.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The effect of this amendment will simply be to cut domestic discretionary spending $18 billion. Understand the programs that have been identified in the PART program are results not proven. Here are programs affected: Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, child abuse prevention, and treatment. If there is a problem in those programs, they ought to be fixed. We ought not to be cutting Border Patrol, Coast Guard search and rescue, high-intensity drug trafficking areas, LIHEAP, rural education, and the rest. I urge a "no" vote.