President-elect Clinton's anointed budget chief warned yesterday that Americans would feel a squeeze from the incoming administration's efforts to trim record budget deficits and give the economy a long-term boost.

"We need to ... make the tough choices and be prepared for some sacrifice, in order to make our economy more productive and provide greater opportunity for our children tomorrow," Rep. Leon Panetta (D) of California said in testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

With lawmakers racing toward early confirmation of Mr. Clinton's Cabinet choices, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was questioning Carol Browner, Clinton's choice as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Panetta, tapped to head Clinton's Office of Management and Budget, did not reveal any specific decisions about changes in tax and spending policies that the president-elect and his economic team may have made. But Panetta said the new administration's goals remain firm.

"We need to make government more efficient and more creative, make it an instrument of long-term economic growth, not an impediment, and make it a source of investment in our future ... ," Panetta said.

Rapid Senate approval of Panetta, the respected chairman of the House Budget Committee, was in little doubt.

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