President Clinton's budget proposal will contain neither broad-based tax cuts nor a plan to balance the budget early, ideas that are reckless and irresponsible, a White House adviser declared Sunday.
"Washington should not return to its bad habits of spending money it doesn't have. That's what got us into trouble in the first place in the 1980s," Rahm Emanuel, senior White House adviser for policy and strategy, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
With the strong economy driving the budget deficit down more quickly than predicted, some Republicans, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, have prodded Clinton to produce a balanced budget in 1998, three years ahead of schedule.
Others have suggested sweeping tax changes, including proposals to simplify the tax code radically and replace the personal income tax with a national sales tax.
Emanuel said Clinton will maintain "a very steady policy," however, as he did with his support of tax cuts in the past years targeted to the working poor and to pay college tuition.
In 1998, Clinton will propose tax incentives to help pay for child care, Emanuel said.
"That's been a very specific approach this president's adopted -- reduce the deficit and give middle-class families a targeted tax cut," he said.
Clinton sends his budget proposals to Congress after his State of the Union address next month.
"We should not be reckless and have tax cuts . . . that we can't pay for," Emanuel said.
As for balancing the budget early, he said: "We're not going to do anything reckless or anything irresponsible. If others have an approach, we'd love to see it. Where are they going to pay for it? Are they talking about cuts in education? Are they talking about cuts in health care? Are they talking about cuts in senior programs?"
Emanuel's comments indicate the administration is preparing for a robust debate with Republicans in 1998 over federal spending decisions.
That debate has been emerging swiftly this month after word that the federal budget had run a surplus for a 12-month period for the first time since 1970.