Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is charging that President Clinton is stalling the release of an economic report because it might hurt his efforts to increase gasoline taxes.
Hatch said the president is required by law to release a mid-session report on the federal budget by July 15 but has yet to do so.He charged in a speech on the Senate floor that the report may show the deficit could be $40 billion less than projected last April over the next five years.
"I find it ironic that now that new estimates show the deficit to be lower than projected, the administration is trying to cover up those figures by not releasing the midsession report," Hatch said.
"Could it be that the administration is worried that the nation's focus on the lower estimate - at the very time when our conferees are meeting to work out a compromise on the energy tax - might remove some of its so-called justification for this unwise tax, which would lead to thousands of lost jobs?" he said.
Hatch said Clinton is breaking his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.
"No one wants to see a real deficit reduction plan passed this year more than I do," Hatch said. "But the bill now before Congress will not be effective. In fact, many provisions will have the opposite effect from that which is intended. The energy tax is one."