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Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 1993

SENATOR

April 13, 1993

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U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., said Monday that only one-fourth of the controversial $16 billion jobs bill proposed by President Clinton was justified.

She said during a visit to Kansas University that the economic package has fostered a bitter partisan dispute between Republicans and Democrats.

"It's beginning to look like the Hatfields and McCoys. Who's going to blink first?" Kassebaum said.

Many Republicans complain the bill particularly money for community development block grants is more about pork-barrel spending than job creation.

"This short-term, shot-in-the-arm approach is deceptive," Kassebaum said. "The more we add to the debt . . . the more burden on future generations and us as well."

Kassebaum said the only justifiable element in Clinton's stimulus package is a $4 million appropriation to extend unemployment benefits to workers.

"WE ALL AGREE this needs an extension," she said.

She didn't think the rest of the bill achieves the "emergency" status needed to qualify it for a supplemental addition to the current fiscal 1993 budget.

Clinton's bill includes $2 billion for grants to college students, $1 billion for a summer jobs program and $300 million for a child immunizations. Kassebaum said these items could be part of a regular appropriation bill, not a supplemental.

"We need an immunization program. But is it of an emergency nature?" she asked.

Kassebaum conceded the American public has little sense that Congress is exercising fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C.

"For all the turmoil, I'm not sure we've accomplished much in making government more efficient and more accountable," she said.

KASSEBAUM said she might support a 1-cent national sales tax if the $33 billion it would raise annually was dedicated to reducing the federal deficit.

Americans would back the tax if it was limited to five years and tied to reductions in federal spending, she said.

The senator said the top priorities of her current term were reform of the nation's health-care system and reform of the way Congress does business.

Kassebaum said she supports imposing restraints on insurance companies and limiting malpractice awards to help bring escalating health costs under control.

However, she opposes price controls. A group advising Clinton health-care task force may recommend a short-term freeze on fees charged by doctors and other health care providers.

In terms of Congress, Kassebaum said the budget process must be streamlined. The House and Senate appropriations committees should be abolished, she said. Other committees would assume authority for budget decisions.

KASSEBAUM said government programs must be consolidated. Presently, for example, $18 billion a year is spent on 145 federal job training programs.

"It's really hard for the right hand to know what the left hand is doing," she said.

On the issue of gun control, Kassebaum said she supports a five- to seven-day waiting period for the purchase of weapons. She also wants to ban some assault rifles.

"I certainly don't understand why a hunter would need an AK-47," she said.

Kassebaum, 60, said she had no desire to run for president. She said a race for president would require too much campaigning and too much money.

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