Beaten to the punch by Democratic and Republican lawmakers, President Clinton Thursday put the final touches on a prime-time address offering his version of a middle-class tax cut.

Clinton's package will give individual Americans a few hundred extra dollars a year, but the impact on the federal government will be anything but modest: Several Cabinet agencies face drastic cuts and dozens of programs will be eliminated to pay for it.Even as he reworked Thursday night's address to the nation, Clinton also was wrestling with how to cut taxes and where to cut government. But his intentions were clear.

He hopes to a keep a forsaken 1992 campaign promise and show voters that his administration is responding to their demands for a cheaper, leaner government. The address also offers him an opportunity to stake his claim at the political center, although Re-pub-li-cans and Democrats in Congress already have offered their plans to cut taxes.

The brief speech will be carried at 7 p.m. MST on the four TV networks.

White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers said Clinton's speech would be a road map of where he wants to take the country in the next two years in the aftermath of the Republican takeover of Congress.

"You've had a change of leadership in both houses, you have new voices speaking out, new voices being paid attention to," she said. "There's a whole lot of new ideas out there, and I think that people do want to hear from the president. He is, after all, the president."

Administration officials and advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Clinton was leaning toward a tax-cut package costing $50 billion over five years.

He is expected to revive a 1992 campaign promise for tax cuts for middle-class couples with children and propose credits or deductions for college and other post-high school education.

Aides also said an expansion of tax breaks for individual retirement accounts might be included in the package.

The Washington Post, in Thursday's editions, said a vocational tax cut of $20 billion and tax relief of $35 billion for families with children age 6 and under was being considered, in addition to tax breaks on IRAs.

Generally, Clinton is expected to limit the tax breaks to those families earning under $100,000 a year. That would put him between a Republican plan for tax breaks for families earning up to $200,000 a year and a proposal by House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt for a tax break for all workers earning up to $75,000 a year.

The White House has criticized Republicans for not saying how they would pay for their plan.