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CLINTON TAKES BOW FOR ECONOMIC REBOUND

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President Clinton used a rain-interrupted Rose Garden ceremony Friday to claim credit for the nation's good health on the first anniversary of the passage of his economic program. "The future looks good," he declared.

Private economists say much of the current rebound would have happened anyway. But that didn't stop the White House from cheering."There is no sweeter anniversary than the one we are celebrating today. We didn't win by much, it was by the narrowest of margins," said Vice President Al Gore, whose tie-breaking vote in the Senate last Aug. 6 sent the measure to Clinton's desk.

The bill raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans and set in motion a process to slash $500 billion from the deficit over five years.

Clinton said the measure "helped drive those interest rates down and got this economy moving again." He also noted that 4.1 million new jobs had been created so far during his presidency.

But some of the administration's claims are exaggerated, independent analysts suggest. "The economy's health and well-being is the best it's looked in decades," said Boston economist Allen Sinai on Thursday. "But it should not and cannot be solely attributed to the deficit reduction act."

And Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole told reporters, "The truth of the matter is, the president inherited a good economy when he came in. All he had to do was make sure he didn't mess it up."