WASHINGTON -- Reaching into a grab bag of leftover campaign promises, President Clinton yesterday introduced legislation and signed executive orders that he said would cut the deficit, curb crime and streamline government.
Mr. Clinton said the proposals could save $10 billion next year by eliminating or reducing wasteful programs while fulfilling his pledge to search for additional budget cuts.
Administration officials also said yesterday that they would cut as much as $22 billion in government spending over five years by eliminating wasteful programs and revamping the procurement process to incorporate new technologies, like allowing bids to be made by computer and cutting some paperwork.
But he insisted that the savings would allow the president to steer $4 billion to $5 billion to pay for anti-crime legislation pending in the House and Senate.
"We ought to take some of that money that your government has been wasting all these years and use it to uphold government's first responsibility, which is to keep our citizens safe here at home," Mr. Clinton said. "With that money, we can make our crime bill even stronger."
With the promise of imminent action on issues that the president's pollsters have identified as important, Mr. Clinton hoped to build the case for quick congressional support.
"I want them to know that, if these cuts aren't passed, I'm going to come back with more cuts," Mr. Clinton said. "And if those aren't passed, I'll come back with still more."
Mr. Clinton also promised that he would urge Congress to set aside $5 billion of the savings to pay for the enhancements called for in his anti-crime bill.
Drawing from the recommendations made by the National Performance Review effort that was headed by Vice President Al Gore, the legislation that was sent to Congress yesterday would achieve its major savings by:
* Reducing the number of Agriculture Department field offices.
* Ending wool, mohair and honey subsidies. (This measure is essentially being counted twice, since it has already passed both houses of Congress and awaits the president's signature.)
* Improving debt collection efforts administered by the Justice Department.
* Authorizing managers at the Pentagon to use the proceeds from the sale of recyclable materials.
* Eliminating legal and regulatory restraints to allow open bidding on Medicare claim processing contracts.
The measures proposed yesterday were aimed at settling Mr. Clinton squarely in the middle of a number of popular ideas about how government can be modified.
"In a larger sense, the steps we are taking here Tuesday are also about proving to the American people that we can honestly and seriously deal with the issues that matter most to them and that for too long too many have felt powerless to change," Mr. Clinton said.
But some members of Congress, including Democratic Rep. Timothy J. Penny of Minnesota, contend that the government could save even more money, and are preparing legislation to that effect.