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House Republicans Blame ‘Floundering’ on Clinton’s Vagueness

February 27, 1993

PLAINSBORO, N.J. (AP) _ House Republican leaders wrapped up their three-day retreat Saturday admitting they’re groping for a proper response to President Clinton’s economic plan, but blamed it on vagueness from the White House.

″Frankly, we’re still floundering,″ conceded House Whip Newt Gingrich of Georgia, as about 130 House GOP lawmakers closed out their weekend of policy sessions on the deficit, health care and foreign policy.

″But when you have an administration that has no real confirmed appointees at Defense except the guy at the hospital, when you have an administration ... which can’t explain its tax plan, it’s a little much to come to us and say, ’What do you think about it?″ Gingrich said.

GOP leaders said they’re not going to rush to come up with an alternate budget until they see the specifics of Clinton’s budget.

″I don’t think we have to get dramatically below the level of saying, send us details. Don’t just send us another Carville campaign slogan, send us details,″ Gingrich said, referring to Clinton’s campaign strategist, James Carville.

Republicans said Clinton’s lack of details on his proposed spending cuts and tax hikes had rallied their party and unified them.

″We’ve got a theme - resist dishonesty,″ said Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, noting that during Clinton’s campaign, Clinton ran ads against primary opponent Paul Tsongas’ proposed gas tax increase, only to turn around this year and propose an energy tax.

Hyde also said Clinton has tried to ″weasel out″ of his campaign pledge to cut middle class taxes by saying - falsely - that he didn’t know how big the deficit would be.

GOP lawmakers also ended the conference a bit on the defense, since they came under fire - and received a storm of phone calls from their home states - because their weekend was paid for by lobbyists who also got to attend.

The lobbyists paid at least $6,000 a piece to sponsor the trip.

″I am saddened that the implication has been given, because there was sponsorship by business entities, that somehow that’s a corruption,″ Hyde said, bringing up the issue himself at a leadership news conference.

″It isn’t. The number of lobbyists I’ve met you could count on one hand. There was no lobbying done, no arm-twisting, within my range,″ Hyde said.

Democrats do the same thing, Hyde said, only they don’t let lobbyists attend and close off some sessions to the press.

″They do it in the dark. We wanted the world to see what we’re doing,″ he said.

Republicans were scheduled to hear a foreign policy address from former President Nixon, but he was sick and could not attend.

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