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(From the Washington Post, Feb, 12, 1973]
ALBERT RAPS NIXON CUTBACKS
(By Albert B. Crenshaw) House Speaker Carl Albert, representing the Democratic leadership of Congress, yesterday called President Nixon's proposed cuts in federal spending for the poor and elderly "irresponsible," and said his overall Fiscal 1974 budget has “its hands in its pockets and its eyes on the ground.”
“Congress will not tolerate the callous attitude of an administration that seems to have no compassion for the down-and-out citizens of this country," the Oklahoma Democrat said in a radio speech that was his party's formal reply to the President's budget speech of Jan. 28.
The 10-minute address was carried by all four major radio networks, which gave the Democrats equal time to answer Mr. Nixon's speech.
"It is apparent,” Albert charged, "that big business will not suffer from the Nixon budget cuts. The rich won't suffer either."
Instead, he said, "you, the average American taxpayer . . . will continue to pay a disproportionately large share of your income in federal taxes while getting fewer federal services in return."
Albert said that "the American people deserve far more; this nation, if it is to survive, requires far more," and he pledged that "the 93d Congress will accept its responsibility to fill the void and supply the leadership the President has failed to produce.”
Albert's speech was the latest salvo in the continuing conflict between Congress and the White House over how federal money should be spent and whether Mr. Nixon has the authority to impound funds appropriated for purposes of which he does not approve.
In his budget speech, the President said that the cuts were necessary to head off inflation. He has since threatened to veto any bill that exceeds his $268.7 billion budget, and to impound the money in any bill passed over such a veto.
Albert denied that "Congress is not responsible enough to control spending,' citing a 40 per cent increase in presidential budget request during the Nixon administration and deficits "larger than those of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson combined."
He noted that “Congress does not believe every single one of the President's budget-cutting moves is wrong," but added : "We cannot support a wholesale effort systematically to scrap worthwhile programs that have given hope and promise to so many Americans."
Noting that the proposed Fiscal 1974 budget is 10 per cent larger than 1973's, Albert said the President "in his budget speech made no mention of the critical problem of tax reform,” an omission that gives “no hope to the middle- and low-income taxpayers who are forced to pay the lion's share of income taxes ..."
A budget that would “slam the door on hospital and health clinic construction, federal aid to education and libraries as well as (reduce) veteran's benefits and Medicare and scores of other programs," Albert said, “... does not point us toward a brighter tomorrow.
"It is a budget without a sense of affirmative ... It is a budget of limited horizon and it is devoid of any great vision of America.”
[From the New York Times, Feb. 7, 1973]
WIDE SPENDING REFORMS URGED IN CONGRESS STUDY
ANNUAL CEILING IS PROPOSED
(By Edwin L. Dale, Jr.) WASHINGTON, Feb. 6.—A special committee of senior members of Congress agreed in principle today to a major reform in the way Congress deals with Government spending, including a ceiling every year on total spending that would apply to Congress itself.
An interim report of the special committee, which was established late last year to recommend how Congress could cope with the spending problem, was
completed today and unanimously approved. It will be published in a few days, but its main contents were disclosed by committee sources.
Several key questions were left for a later report, including how the total would he allocated among the Congressional committees whose actions affect spending, and how to assure Congressional compliance with the ceiling.
However, today's interim report already reflects a major tendency toward innovation. In the end, both houses of Congress would have to approve the procedural changes that will be recommended.
One recommendation would establish two new "budget committees," one for each house, to establish the spending ceiling and a goal for revenues early in each session. It would include, but not be limited to, members of the appropriations and tax-writing committees. Its recommendations would presumably be subject to a vote in each house, with the final result subject to conference between the two houses.
The report today recommended a procedure for reconsideration of the spending ceiling and revenue goal “in the latter part of the session"—presumably to reflect changed economic conditions or changing congressional priorities.
The proposed ceiling would apply to total outlays and to "budget authority," which is mainly appropriations. Outlays reflect both past and current appropriations and other legislation.
Furthermore, the over-all limitation would apply not only to appropriations bills but also to all other legislation that affects spending. A good example is Social Security legislation, which requires no appropriation at all but now accounts for about one-fifth of total spending, though this spending is financed by its own system of taxation.
The new over-all limitation would presumably apply to "formula bills” covering such items as veterans pensions and civil service and military retirement. While these programs technically require an appropriation, in fact, the legislative bill sets the total spending, with no possibility of alteration in the appropriations process.
The 32-member committee whose interim report was completed today was established by Congress in an amendment to the legislation last year that almost established a $250-billion spending ceiling for the current fiscal year, but in the end did not.
The committee is supposed to complete its work by Feb. 15. But today's interim report was apparently signal that it could not meet that deadline, which was generally regarded as over-ambitious for an exercise of this scope.
The committee decided to take testimony from experts and have open hearings before preparing its final report. This was another signal that it cannot complete its work by Feb. 15. The final report will be delivered to the Speaker of the House, Representative Carl Albert, and to the President pro tem of the Senate, Senator James (). Eastland. They will decide how it is to be considered and debated by each body.
(From the New York Times, Feb. 5, 1973)
VIXON AND SPENDING: PRESIDENT SEES VICTORY
(By Clifton Daniel) WASHINGTON, Feb. 4At his news conference last Wednesday, President Nixon was asked, “How do you respond to criticism that your impoundment of funds abrogates power or authority that the Constitution gave to Congress ?”
“The same way that Jefferson did and Jackson did and Truman did,” the President replied.
That curt and categorical response reflected the advice Mr. Nixon is getting and the attitude he is taking toward Congressional demands that he spend the money Congress appropriates.
The Constitutional right of the President not to spend money if it would increase prices or raise taxes is "absolutely clear," the President asserted.
And Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst is expected to appear soon befose the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to offer legal justification for that assertion.
At the White House they take the view that Congress has already tacitly recognized the President's right to impound appropriated funds.
PROVISION IN DEBT BILL
Congress did so, according to that view, when it passed a bill last October to raise the national debt limit to $465-billion. The bill contained a provision requiring the President to promptly provide Congress with full information on impounded funds. Congress thus seemed to concede that funds could be impounded, although the legislative branch had to be notified.
That bill contained no procedure for Congress to override the President in impoundments. However, 51 Senators have now signed a bill to require Congressional consent.
Incidentally, some people at the White House use the term "saving out" rather than “impoundment.” They say impoundment is incorrect because it implies that the withheld money will be released and spent later. That, they assert, is not the President's intention.
The confidence of the Administration that it can defeat Congress on the spending issue is reinforced by a feeling of disdain for Congress as an institution and for its present leadership.
President Nixon said on Wednesday that “this Congress has not been responsible on money.” He added that "there is only one place in this Government where somebody has got to speak, not for the special interests which the Congress represents, but for the general interest.'
Of course that one place is, in the President's view, the White House.
In the White House they have no confidence that Congress can do what the President feels is necessary--that is, set an over-all spending limit and stay within it. All it takes is will power, a member of the Cabinet remarked the other day, but Congress does not have it.
Congress is like a family in which every member “plans his own spending individually” President Nixon remarked in his Budget Message last Monday. Contrasted with the inertness of Congress is what one White House official calls the “dynamism" of the Presidency. Presidential actions are very hard to stop, whatever the issue or whoever the President.
"WILL OF THE PEOPLE"
There is no lack of illustrations of this dynamism. One needs to recall only the launching of the New Deal by Franklin D. Roosevelt or the escalation of the Vietnam war by Lyndon B. Johnson.
President Nixon is relying, however, not only on his own dynamism in the dispute with Congress but also on what he calls “the expressed will of the people.” The President promised in the 1972 election campaign that he would not propose any tax increases if reelected, and he regards that promise as a part of the mandate he received. When his Budget Message was ready he presented it first to the people in a radio talk and not to the Congress as is ('ustomary.
"It is time to get big Government off your back and out of your pocket" the President told the taxpayers, and he called on them to support those Representatives and Senators "who have the courage to vote against higher spending."
Representatives and Senators were reminded in turn that they also had a mandate not to increase taxes. President Nixon told his news conference on Wednesday that he had checked on all those who had run for office in November and had not found one member of Congress “who had campaigned on the platform of raising taxes in order that we could spend more."
[From the Denver Post, Jan. 31, 1973]
NADER : PUT TOUGH REIN ON Nixon
WASHINGTON.-Ralph Nader, the consumer aetivist, urged Congress Tuesday to reassert its constitutional powers and thus prevent President Nixon from developing “a do-it-yourself Congress right inside the White House complex."
But Vader took sharp issue, in testimony before the Senate subcommittee on sepa ration of powers, with a bill designed to force the President to spend money as Congress directs.
"In my opinion, the bill falls far short of what is necessary," Nader said of the measure sponsored by Sen. Sam J. Ervin Jr., D-N.C., and supported by a majority of the Senate.
The measure would require the President to notify Congress when he impounds, or refuses to release, appropriated funds and to spend the money unless Congress consents within 60 days to the withholding of it.
According to Nader, the proposal implies that the President has a right to impound funds—a right which neither Nader nor the sponsors are prepared to concede and leaves open the possibility that the administration could hold up funds indefinitely by merely repeating the 60-day cycle.
Nixon has refused to release several billions of dollars for highway construction, sewage treatment, soil conservation, rural electrification and other programs enacted by Congress, prompting professions of outrage on Capitol Hill.
The spending dispute was intensified by the President's proposal, in the budget for the 1974 fiscal year which he sent to Congress Monday, to eliminate or sharply reduce many of the same programs.
The budget conflict took a new turn Tuesday, when it was learned that Caspar W. Weinberger, Nixon's nominee to be secretary of health, education and welfare, had told department officials that he couldn't approve their testimony before congressional committees until his nomination is confirmed by the Senate. As a result, the officials have canceled scheduled appearances before committees.
Weinberger had been director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House and, as such, the official who supervised the impoundment of the disputed appropriations and drafted the controversial new budget proposal.
His confirmation to the Cabinet post is being blocked by members of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee until they receive a full accounting of the amounts being withheld and the reasons for the actions.
Weinberger said the department officials couldn't testify because of "the problem of how do you form policy and how do you clear things when there's no one with official standing as secretary to approve the policy.
Consequently, Weinberger and two education officials have declined invitations to testify next week before a House education and labor subcommittee. Dr. John Sapp, a health policy planner in the department, canceled a scheduled appearance Wednesday before a Senate labor and public welfare subcommittee.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee adopted a resolution Tuesday to express its determination to “recapture" the “rightful constitutional place" of Congress in the fiscal process. The resolution complained that Nixon had "seized" congressional authority "by means of impoundment, unilateral budget cuts and fiscal manipulations outside the knowledge or control of Congress.”
[From the Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colo., Feb. 1, 1973]
SPENDING BATTLE BETWEEN NIXON, CONGRESS HEATS UP
(By Robert Dietsch) WASHINGTON.—The "battle of the purse" between President Nixon and the Democratic Congress gained intensity Wednesday with the President saying, “I will not spend money if the Congress overspends” and Congress contending Nixon's actions have caused a new constitutional crisis.
The key issues in the battle are:
Who has the right to determine how much federal money should be spent on various programs?
Who has the right to terminate a program after it is voted by Congress?
The legislators claimed that by refusing to spend the money 'Congress voteri, and by imposing his own priorities on the legislative branch, Nixon has brought on a constitutional crisis.
Nixon, charging that Congress, "has not been responsible on money," said "the constitutional right for the President ... not to spend money . . . is absolutely clear."
The President told his press conference Wednesday: "I will not spend money if the Congress overspends, and I will not be for programs that will raise the taxes and put a bigger burden on the already overburdened American taxpayer."
LIST BEING PREPARED
Even while this battle went on, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was preparing a list of funds voted by Congress and impounded (not spent) by the executive branch. That list, by a law passed last year, must go to Congress by Feb. 10.
OMB officials Wednesday insisted they still did not know how much money is involved. But a House appropriations subcommittee headed by Rep. Joe L. Evins, D-Tenn., has pegged the total of these impounded funds at $12 billion for fiscal 1973, which ends June 30.
According to Evins, $6 billion of the impounded funds come from the 1972 Water Pollution Control Act, passed over a Nixon veto. Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency $11 billion to spend, but the President ordered the agency to spend only $5 billion.
Evins also listed these impounded funds:
$1.26 billion in farm programs, including the Rural Electrification Adminis. tration and Rural Housing Insurance Fund.
$523 million in housing and urban development.
$243 million for Commerce Department programs, including water, sewer and industrial expansion grants.
$112 million in Veterans Administration funds, including $60 million for hospital construction.
The battle of the purse has been waged before, but never with today's intensity. One reason is political.
Nixon is a Republican and wants to withhold funds from programs approved by Congresses dominated by Democrats. But the intensity of the battle also is linked to the number of domestic programs Nixon is curtailing. Those programs encompass the fields of agriculture, education, welfare, aid to depressed areas, school milk programs and transportation.
Nixon officials say that only $40 billion of the President's proposed $250) billion fiscal 1973 budget represents "controllable” funds—those over which the executive branch has control. Thus, if the fiscal 1973 impoundment does total $12 billion, Nixon is balking at spending 30 per cent of the controllable budget.
It is true, as the White House frequently reminds, that previous presidents refused to spend money Congress voted. But in general, those refusals were limited and centered on defense and transportation programs. Those refusals centered not so much on presidential decisions to eliminate programs as on delaying expenditures.
In addition to slowing down spending for certain domestic programs, Nixon has made clear he intends to eliminate programs voted by Congress simply by not spending any money of them—ever.
Sen. Sam J. Ervin, Jr., D-N.C., Congress leader in the battle of the purse. generally defines impounded funds as any withholding by the executive branch of funds appropriated by Congress, except for the most routine actions.
[From the National Observer (New York), Feb. 17, 1973]
A Twist Ox THE PURSE STRING BATTLE
THIS TIME CONGRESS IS VOTING THE CASH, BUT THE PRESIDENT REFUSES
TO SPEND IT
(By Richard Egan) President Nixon is seeking to "run the Government by fiat." complained one congressman. Congress is attempting to “transform the Chief Executive into a chief clerk," asserted an Administration official.
Congress and the White House were feuding again last week. The immediate issue was impoundment: whether the President has authority to refuse to spend