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Despite Bradley plea for cities, Senate rejects tough choices.

Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) told his colleagues that "Americans fear what's happening in our cities more than Russians." He urged the Senate to recognize these new realities, set new priorities, and make tough choices.

The Senate refused, leaving cities and towns facing up to $6.7 billion in cuts in domestic programs for next year.

Bradley urged the Senate to use $50 billion in defense savings--half to cut the federal deficit and half to reinvest in infrastructure, education, and health care in America's communities. He made clear that the vastly changed global situation since the 1990 budget agreement requires significant changes to protect American economic and physical safety and security in communities. He indicated that the changes in Russia had made this nation's federal spending priorities obsolete.

The Senate, however, refused to change federal budget priorities to either reduce the federal deficit or reinvest in American communities last week when it neared passing and sending to conference with the House a record $1.5 trillion federal 1993 budget as The Weekly went to press. The Senate rejected Bradley's amendment 36-62.

The Senate version of the budget would call for a $6.7 billion disinvestment in domestic discretionary programs next year, but would leave the federal deficit, interest on the national debt, and long term debt on an accelerating course for the future. The enormous structural federal deficits proposed by President Bush and largely accepted in the House and Senate budget resolutions are projected to increase the national debt to 59 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product from the current record 52 percent over the next ten years.

According to Robert Reischauer, director of the Congressional Budget Office, these large and growing federal deficits threaten to slow economic growth and keep high real borrowing rates for cities, citizens, and businesses:

"The budget outlook is grim, particularly given other developments in tha last decade that indicate slower growth in living standards in the future."

The Senate narrowly rejected, 45-50, efforts by Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.) to use cuts in defense spending to reduce record federal deficits. The Exon amendment would have cut defense spending next year by $16.8 billion in authority and nearly $10 billion in actual cash outlays. All of the savings under the Exon amendment would have gone toward deficit reduction. Fear about the loss of jobs from defense cuts proved more powerful than interest in federal deficit reduction.

Because the budget resolution makes no significant policy changes, it is expected to carry little relevance in the Congress. It provides suggested guidelines only as the House and Senate Appropriations Committees prepare to meet behind closed doors next month to make the key decisions about cutting federal reinvestment in the nation's cities and towns.

Because the budget resolution does not, it means that the respective House and Senate Appropriations Committees already know how much funding is available under each of the three areas.

For communities that will trigger a shark tank process. Because the amount of funding for domestic programs next year will be $6.7 billion less after inflation, the appropriations committees will actually be divvying up cuts. For any priority municipal program to stay the same--or to increase--it can only be at the expense of some other domestic program.
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Title Annotation:Senator Bill Bradley
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 13, 1992
Previous Article:Local leaders question U.S. investment in Russian cities; Moscow (Idaho) mayor says U.S. cities need help too.
Next Article:West Haven confronts debt reorganization.

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