Washington, D.C. - Wyomingites and the rest of the American people want it. Republicans want it. The president and Democratic leaders say they want it. We all will get it under a new plan proposed this week by Congressional Republicans including U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
"It" is reducing the national debt and Republicans have put forward a plan to use 90 percent of the predicted 2001 combined budget surplus, which includes non-Social Security surplus, to pay down the national debt. That figure is conservatively estimated to be close to $270 billion. That would leave 10 percent or $27 billion of the projected surplus to use for increased spending and tax cuts.
Enzi said this plan represents the best chance for a workable bi-partisan solution to the possible end of Congressional session roadblock threatened by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. A USA Today article recently quoted Daschle as saying the longer the Democrats hold up federal spending bills the more likely they will get what they want because Republicans are more vulnerable in the fall political campaigns.
"Reserving 90 percent of the projected budget surplus to pay down the national debt makes good sense. I think both political parties and more importantly our country as a whole would be much better off if we would just do it," said Enzi. "This is a reasonable, one-year plan. Talk of debt reduction has been coming out of everybody's mouth, now we need to put the money there."
The proposed compromise would evenly divide the 10 percent left of the surplus to be split between tax cuts and spending increases. While Enzi would rather hold the line on new spending, he believes that 5 percent of the surplus is the best, realistic chance Congress can hope for with the current administration.
Enzi has also pursued two other debt reducing strategies. He, along with Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., have introduced a long range debt reducing bill that would require Congress to make annual payments on the debt until the publicly held debt is completely eliminated, much like a homeowner pays a mortgage on a house. Another strategy Enzi has been following with the help of colleagues Allard and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, is attempting to amend each appropriation bill so that some of the projected surplus must go to debt reduction.
"The president and Congressional Democrats have blocked our attempts to pass tax bills giving married couples relief and to end the death tax. I would hope that we could at least agree to saving 90 percent of this projected surplus to pay off the debt," Enzi said. "I think this plan could be a winner for Republicans, Democrats and the American people."
The plan was presented to President Clinton earlier this week at a White House meeting. The president's reaction to the plan was initially positive, but Democrat congressional leaders were skeptical.