House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused President Clinton on Tuesday of "doing everything he can" to defeat a proposed balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

"This is astonishing when you recognize that over 80 percent of the country wants a balanced-budget amendment," Gingrich said in a satellite broadcast to some 200 tobacco industry executives.In some of his harshest criticism of Clinton in recent weeks, the Georgia Republican said the president now represents the major stumbling block to various initiatives in the "Contract With America."

"His administration now is actively opposing us from crime bills to regulatory reform to capital gains tax cuts to a whole range of other issues," Gingrich said. "The president is locked into sort of a left-wing, big-government approach that we are convinced will not work."

Gingrich predicted that about two-thirds of the "Contract" would pass both the House and Senate. Wednesday marks the halfway point of the first 100 days during which House Republicans pledged to vote on all the items in their campaign document.

Gingrich particularly questioned Clinton's opposition to the balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, which passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. He said the president "is doing everything he can to beat it."

In fact, while Clinton opposes the amendment, he has been low-key in his opposition.

Gingrich also said that Clinton has chosen to cooperate with Republicans only on a few, fairly narrow and noncontroversial bills such as elimination of unfunded federal mandates on local governments and the line-item veto.

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