WASHINGTON – Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett criticized President Clinton for emphasizing form over substance in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Bartlett, of Frederick, said Clinton’s announcement of his choice for a new drug czar during the speech was “a perfect example of the president’s use of political theater.”
Clinton nominated Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, commander-in- chief of the U.S. Southern Command in Latin America, to replace Lee Brown as drug czar. Brown left to return to teaching. McCaffrey’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.
Clinton also Tuesday night proclaimed that “the era of big government is over.”
Bartlett said he believes Marylanders “want smaller government, more efficient government, that they want government to do what industry has done and that’s cut middle management.”
But, he added, “Unfortunately, [officials] cut the foot soldiers, the people in the field.” His 6th District ranks 10th in the nation in the number of residents employed by the federal government, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Bartlett also criticized the president’s budget cuts for being “end-loaded.”
He said: “Essentially, all the deficit reductions are scheduled for 2001 and 2002 when he’s out of office. We can’t bind those Congresses, and he can’t bind those presidents to that.”
Bartlett said Republican leaders have spent 50 hours negotiating with Clinton in attempts to reach a budget compromise. “They are very discouraged,” he said. “We haven’t seen initiative on his part to move power from Washington.”
Lawrence Haas, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the deficit would drop from $149.2 billion in fiscal 1996 to $56.6 billion in 2001, under the president’s proposal. Haas said there would be a $3.8 billion surplus in the year 2002.
Unlike Bartlett, Maryland’s two senators, both Democrats, were supportive of the president’s speech.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski said Clinton had “outlined a framework that prepares America for the future.” She added, “Creating jobs for the future economy, building a trained and educated work force and continuing a public safety strategy focused on policing, prevention and punishment. These are the meat and potatoes of this framework.”
Sen. Paul Sarbanes said he thought the president’s emphasis on family, economic security, environment, education and crime reflected the chief concerns of Americans.
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