Bentsen: Congress Will Pass Health Bill, GATT

THE Clinton administration will succeed in pushing two central pieces of legislation through Congress this year, according to the most senior White House Cabinet official.

With reporters at a Monitor breakfast on June 21, United States Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen confidently spoke about passage of a health-care bill. ``Congress will massage it... [but] there will be a major reform of the system,'' including the universal coverage that President Clinton is fighting for. Capitol Hill will also approve the revamped General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), despite protectionist protests to the contrary, Mr. Bentsen said.

Scoffing at suggestions about Mr. Clinton's sinking popularity, the treasury secretary ticked off the administration's economic record:

* Low inflation (2.3 percent for the first five months of 1994) and steady economic growth (projected at 3 percent for this year.)

* The creation of 3.5 million jobs, 60 percent of which are ``good-paying, semiprofessional or professional jobs.''

* For the past eight quarters, a double-digit investment in plant equipment due to an increased tax credit being used by small businesses.

* A modest boost in real wages.

These accomplishments put the United States economy in the best shape relative to its major trade and finance partners, said Bentsen, who plans to attend the Group of Seven summit in Naples, Italy, July 8-10.

At the summit Bentsen expects the US to review Russia's strides in economic reforms, urge Japan to boost imports, examine Europe's unemployment, and press for more third-world debt relief.

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