President Clinton wants congressional Republicans to adopt his $7.5 billion aid package for farmers, dismissing as inadequate a $4.2 billion emergency package they pushed through the House.
American farmers are facing their worst financial crisis in more than a decade and Clinton pressed lawmakers in the GOP-controlled House to stay in session until they approve a bigger bailout than the one they approved Friday."I call on Congress not to leave town before they've sent me a comprehensive plan that protects farm-ers by strengthening the safety net at this very difficult time," Clinton said in his weekly Saturday radio address.
He acknowledged that the $4.2 billion farm aid legislation adopts many of the provisions he proposes in his own aid bill but said the measure fails to go far enough.
The Republican plan includes $1.7 billion in direct payments to all farmers to compensate for this year's sharp drop in commodity prices. Added funding would help producers who have lost crops to drought and disease, primarily in the South and upper Midwest.
During a fund-raising stop in Philadelphia Friday evening, Clinton said many people in urban America do not realize that farming is in trouble.
"In the high plains of America, people that work hard to feed you on the farm don't know there's been a recovery" in the overall U.S. economy, he said. "They've been flooded out or burned out or had diseases."
They also are suffering from weak Asian export markets, he added.
In the GOP weekly radio address Saturday, Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, charged that Clinton wants to go on a "spending spree," using billions from the budget surplus, and call it emergency spending.
The White House questioned the dollar figures cited by Gramm, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, and said the president did not plan to fund new government programs with the surplus.
Gramm contended Clinton was pushing Congress to spend $20 billion of the surplus on new programs. He also criticized the president for opposing a tax cut that would benefit farmers, the elderly and the self-employed because it would lower the surplus by $6.6 billion.