SENATE majority leader George Mitchell is confident that President Clinton's economic package will win congressional approval by the summer.
He also expects the White House plan for tax hikes, targeting spending and deficit reduction, to pass "substantially intact."
Operating in the Clinton administration's favor, he says, is that "increasingly, passage of this program is being seen by the American people as a metaphor for whether or not the government works."
Those who oppose the plan with no constructive suggestions "run the risk of being seen as the guardians of gridlock," Senator Mitchell said.
At a Monitor breakfast yesterday, he challenged those who call for additional spending cuts to sign on to reductions that Clinton has already proposed.
Of all the critics who say the White House fails to go far enough in slashing federal spending, the Maine Democrat says, "I don't know of a single person who said that who is committed to voting for the spending cuts that have been proposed."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will have to come up with specific suggestions, Mitchell says, both in the near term, as the plan unfolds over the next several months, and over the course of many years, when revenues fall short of what is needed to finance government expenditures.
It is particularly important, the senator said, that "independent of the president and the Office of Management and Budget, we in Congress come up with spending cuts over and above those which have been proposed ... so that the aggregate level of spending will be less than that suggested by the president."