Democrats offer balanced budget act


WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats introduced their own balanced budget proposal yesterday, which they said would achieve the goals of the defeated GOP plan more quickly and without counting Social Security trust money against the deficit.

The Democrats presented their plan only a week after the balanced budget amendment went down to defeat in the Senate for the lack of one vote. Since then, Republicans have tried to turn Democratic opposition to it into a campaign issue.

Republicans said they had not had time to study the Democrats' four-page proposal, but that did not prevent them from launching attacks and forecasting its failure.

"It's another political ploy," said Republican Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

The Democrats' proposal, known as the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, would require the Senate to adopt a budget resolution this year that would reach balance by the year 2002 unless the Budget Committee designated another date. It would exclude the Social Security trust from budget calculations.

Under the plan, co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Jim Exon of Nebraska, the Budget Committee and its staff would be required to provide details on what cuts would have to be made to achieve a balanced budget by the target date.

To enforce the legislation, which Republicans argued could be accomplished only through a constitutional amendment, the measure includes language that would block any budget not meeting the goals unless 60 senators voted to waive that requirement.

Mr. Daschle and the plan's co-sponsors offered no details on how they would make the cuts necessary to balance the budget.

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