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Budget Penal Head: Bush Likely To Reassess Assumptions

November 21, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President-elect George Bush insisted today that ″I’m not going to change my view″ on how to keep the deficit down, despite a congressional report saying his proposed ″flexible freeze″ on spending won’t solve the problem of the federal government’s burgeoning red ink.

″I’m under no illusions about the simplicity of all of this. I’m determined to get that budget deficit down ... (but) I can’t get discouraged every time somebody comes out with yet another report,″ Bush said at a news conference announcing three personnel appointments, including that of Richard Darman, a former White House aide and deputy Treasury secretary, as budget director.

A report over the weekend by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that a spending freeze alone would not fix the deficit, which stood at $150 billion in the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

The report said that tax increases and cuts in defense and Social Security must be considered to slash the budget deficit and for the new administration to have ″any flexibility to pursue its own policy agenda″ and for the economy to regain its vigor.

Specifically, the report, said the United States ″cannot ‘freeze’ our way out of the problem.″ During his presidential campaign, Bush repeateldy rejected higher taxes and advocted a ″flexible freeze″ on spending.

Rep. Bill Gray, D-Pa., chairman of the House Budget Committee said earlier today on ″CBS This Morning″ that Bush will probably have to reassess his economic assumptions once he gets into office and will ″submit his own budget, which will reflect the new realities.″

Bush said today he would indeed ″sit down with my budget director and go into exactly where we stand on all these numbers.″ But, he added, ″I don’t think there’s been any dramatic change in the figures we’ve been dealing with. The GAO seems to come out with reports periodically, but I will be persuaded much more by what my budget director tells me is the reality than by their reports.″

″I’m open minded in terms of hearing from all these people ... but I’m not going to change my view as to how we get this deficit down,″ Bush said. ″I spelled out a program ... (that was) endorsed by the American people. I don’t remember any Republicans or Democrats running on a please-raise-my-taxes program,″ he said.

Gray, who is leaving the Budget Committee chairmanship in the new Congress, said the Democratic leadership will support Bush if he comes up with a plan to meet his stated priorities of reducing the deficit without new taxes while preserving national defense and important programs like Social Security, education, clean air, and the anti-drug effrt.

″The question is making sure we have the right numbers and the right kind of assumptions,″ Gray said.

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