REPUBLICAN National Chairman Haley Barbour says President Clinton has developed a credibility problem that could threaten health-care reform and other major White House initiatives.
The latest allegations about the president's investments in Whitewater Development Corporation, an Arkansas real-estate project, are adding to the public's doubts, Mr. Barbour told a Monitor breakfast with reporters.
``I have no idea what the facts are'' about the Clinton land deal, Barbour says. But the chairman asserts that lots of information was ``intentionally withheld'' and ``secretly hidden'' by the White House from the public.
Barbour added that if Mr. Clinton were a Republican president, Congress would have launched a half-dozen investigations of his investments in Whitewater by now.
The chairman says at the beginning of his term, Clinton gave a Reagan-like State of the Union speech vowing to attack federal spending. It won 70 percent approval from the public. But Clinton followed his speech by pushing ``the largest tax increase in history'' through Congress.
Then, after vowing to follow the tax rise with spending cuts, Clinton and the Democrats defeated the Penny-Kasich budget-trimming bill. Those actions have significantly depleted Clinton's public credibility, Barbour says, and may ensure that his health-care-reform package does not pass.
The GOP solidly opposes Clinton's health proposals. To suggest that the health-care system can be made more efficient by turning it over to the government, as Clinton would, is enough to make ``most people ... fall under the table laughing,'' Barbour says.