Utah's senators led attacks Monday on President Clinton and Democrats who are trying to block passage of a balanced budget amendment as a fare-well gift to GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole.
The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment - which failed by one vote last year to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority - before Dole retires from the Senate to campaign full-time.Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both R-Utah, were among Republicans attacking Clinton and the Democrats in floor speeches. Bennett even suggested that Democrats should adopt the song "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie" as their theme song.
He said they say, "Tomorrow, we'll balance the budget tomorrow - it's always a day away."
Bennett added, "And when we say, `Let's start today,' it's always, `Well, if you start today it will start to hurt a little bit, so we'll promise to hurt you tomorrow but we will con-tinue to spend today.' "
Bennett added that he had opposed the idea of a balanced budget amendment because he did not want to tamper with the Constitution but changed "because I've come to the conclusion that there is in fact no other way" to control spending.
Hatch said, "The total national debt now stands at more than $5.1 trillion. That means that every man, woman and child in Utah and all of our states has an individual debt burden of $19,600."
He said Clinton and Democrats opposing the amendment "are simply not ready to impose the kind of fiscal discipline on themselves that a constitutional amendment would require. It's tough to stop spending other people's money."
Hatch said arguments that the amendment is not needed because the national deficit - or the rate at which the country is going further into debt - is slowing is misleading.
Bennett said that is like saying to a son or daughter in college who goes $200 deeper in debt each week "that it's OK, because they had been going $400 in debt each week before that."
Hatch said, "They point to the marginal slowdown in the growth of the debt in the last year or so as if it suggested that all our problems are solved. Only inside the (Washington) beltway can people claim that we are on the right track while we add to a debt of more than $5.1 trillion."
Bennett also said the only reason the deficit has been growing more slowly is that the end of the Cold War reduced defense spending, and because the federal government finished its savings and loan bailout. He said major structural reform is needed to find more reductions.