[A Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget]
[5. The President's 1997 Budget]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

As we have said, the President released his 1997 budget in two steps
this year. On February 5, he released a brief document that outlined
his priorities. Then in March, he released the budget books with the
details that traditionally comprise the annual budget proposal.

The President's 1997 budget would reach balance over the next seven
years by cutting unnecessary and lower priority spending.
The budget would strengthen Medicare and Medicaid; invest in education
and training, the environment, science and technology, and other
priorities; reform welfare; maintain a strong defense; and provide tax
relief to help families raise their children, send them to college,
and save for the future.

Like his earlier budgets, this budget contributes to two of the
President's key goals-strengthening the economy and making Government work.

Reaching Balance

The President's budget saves $593 billion 1 over seven years (after
subtracting the costs of his proposed tax cut). Among its major
elements, the budget:

  saves $297 billion in discretionary spending, cutting unnecessary and
  lower priority spending but investing in education and training, the
  environment, science and technology, law enforcement, and other
  priorities that will raise living standards and improve the quality of
  American life;
  saves $124 billion in Medicare, strengthening and improving the
  program and guaranteeing the solvency of its trust fund for over a decade;

  saves $59 billion in Medicaid, reforming the program but continuing
  the guarantee of meaningful health and long-term care coverage for the
  most vulnerable Americans;

1 Using the last available assumptions of the Congressional Budget

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  saves $40 billion through real welfare reform, moving recipients to
  work while protecting children;

  saves $49 billion by reforming a host of other mandatory programs;

  saves $62 billion by ending corporate subsidies and other tax loopholes;

  cuts taxes by $100 billion, providing tax relief to tens of millions
  of middle-income Americans and to small businesses.

Maintaining Our Values

From the start, the President's economic program has emphasized one
primary concern�to raise the standard of living for average Americans
now and in the future. His budget policy has played a central role.

The President's budget plan of 1993, which he enacted with the last
Congress, has cut the budget deficit nearly in half in three
years--from $290 billion in 1992 to $164 billion in 1995. That, in
turn, has cut Federal borrowing, making more funds available in the
private markets so businesses can invest, grow more productive,
expand, and create jobs.

Working with Congress, the President also has shifted Federal
resources to education and training, science and technology, and other
priorities, not only to make businesses more competitive but to give
Americans the skills they need to compete in the new economy.

This budget maintains or expands his investments in these key areas.

In education and training, these investments include the Head Start
program for disadvantaged children; the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and
Communities program to create safe learning environments; Goals 2000,
which helps States and school systems extend high academic standards,
better teaching, and better learning to all students; AmeriCorps,
through which 25,000 Americans this year are serving their communities
and earning money for college; Pell grant scholarships for needy
students; and Skill Grants (or job training vouchers) for dislocated
workers and low-income adults.

The budget also protects environmental enforcement through the
Environmental Protection Agency�s operating program; funds programs to
protect national parks and other sensitive resources; and invests in
basic and applied research and technology.

The budget funds the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
initiative to put 100,000 more police on the street by the year 2000;

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border patrols to prevent illegal immigration and more inspections to
prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants; and the Community
Development Financial Institutions fund to spur growth and create jobs
in communities that have been left behind.

In addition, the budget includes funds to launch the important
initiatives that the President outlined in his State of the Union address:

  for education, it funds a Technology Literacy Challenge to connect
  every classroom to the information superhighway by the year 2000;
  expanded work-study to help one million students work their way
  through college by 2000; a $1,000 merit scholarship for the top five
  percent of graduates in every high school; and Charter Schools to let
  parents, teachers, and communities create public schools to meet their
  own children's needs;

  for workers, it funds initiatives to make it easier for small 
  businesses and farmers to establish their own pension plans; to
  encourage these and other employees to establish flexible pension
  plans that workers can take with them when they change jobs; and to 
  help workers who lose their health insurance when they lose their jobs
  pay for private insurance coverage for up to six months;

  for the environment, it funds tax incentives to encourage companies to
  clean up ``brownfields''--abandoned, contaminated industrial properties
  in distressed areas; and

  for law enforcement, it provides funds with which the FBI and other
  law enforcement agencies will launch a war on juvenile crime and gangs
  that involve juveniles.

Making Government Work

``The era of big Government is over,'' President Clinton declared in his
State of the Union address in late January 1996. ``But we cannot go
back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.''

The President has worked hard to create a leaner, but not meaner,
Federal Government, one that works hand-in-hand with States, localities, businesses, and community and civic associations to
manage resources wisely while helping those Americans who cannot help

In 1993, the President pledged to cut the Federal workforce by 252,000
full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. A year later, the President and
Congress enacted the Federal Workforce Restructuring Act, requiring cuts of 272,900

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FTEs by the end of this decade. (An FTE is not necessarily synonymous
with an employee. One full-time employee counts as one FTE, and two
half-time employees also count as one FTE.)

To date, the Administration has cut the workforce by over 200,000
employees out of 2.2 million in January 1993, giving us the smallest
Federal workforce in 30 years. This corresponds to a reduction of
185,000 FTEs (see Chart 5-1).

While Americans want a smaller Government, they also deserve one that
works better--that treats them as valued customers at Social Security,
veterans', and other offices; that uses their tax dollars wisely; and
that makes a real impact on their lives when it addresses the problems
of crime and poverty and the challenges of work and education.

Chart 5-1. Cuts in Civilian Employment

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From the start, the President has stressed the importance of providing
better service to Government's customers--the tens of millions of
Americans who come in contact with it. His efforts are bearing fruit:

  Social Security Administration's (SSA) Customer Service Hotline:
  Business Week reported in mid-1995 that an independent survey of some
  of the Nation's best 1-800 customer services hotlines ranked SSA's
  hotline on top, ahead of companies like L.L. Bean, Federal Express,
  and Disney. SSA's reputation for solving problems quickly and
  courteously earned it the highest overall score.

  Customs Service--Streamlining Inspections: In Miami, the airlines and
  Federal agencies formed partnerships to overhaul Customs procedures
  for international travelers, eliminating three-hour delays and missed
  connecting flights. Officials from the Customs Service, the
  Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Agriculture Department
  worked with airline officials to reduce waiting times to 45 minutes, on

  Veterans Affairs (VA) Department Responding to Customers:
  Responding to complaints about long waits to see benefits counselors,
  the VA promised veterans that it would cut waiting times to 30 minutes
  or less. Having met that promise, the VA has aimed higher; it now
  promises veterans no more than a 20-minute wait and is meeting that
  goal 90 percent of the time.

Americans want a Government that uses common sense when it makes
decisions that affect their lives. The Administration is answering
their call.