To Fund Welfare, Clinton May Tax Gambling Places

THE Clinton administration is considering a new tax on gambling establishments - from Las Vegas, Nev., casinos to riverboats and racetracks - to pay for its $15 billion overhaul of the nation's welfare system.

A senior administration official said the new tax would exempt state lotteries but would include gaming enterprises run by American Indian tribes. The official said the welfare-reform task force has yet to settle on the size of such a tax, and that no decisions are final.

The Wall Street Journal, however, reported March 21 that the task force was considering a 4 percent tax on net gambling revenues - the money left over after payments are made to winners and state coffers. The Journal said such a levy is expected to raise $4 billion over five years.

Casino industry sources and supporters were quick to denounce any talk of a new tax on gambling revenues. ``The gambling industry should not be singled out because it's a healthy industry, because it is doing well. It should not be pillaged for a particular reform,'' added Susan McCue, a spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid (D) of Nevada.

Clinton raised expectations for sweeping reform by promising during his campaign to ``end welfare as we know it'' and to require all able-bodied recipients to take a job after two years on welfare. His aides say a plan will be unveiled in April. Health debate goes partisan

PRESIDENT Clinton, campaigning around the country for his health-reform package, said Republicans fighting his agenda are ``in a snit'' because they no longer control the White House.

Since formally unveiling his proposals in September, Mr. Clinton has gone out of his way to avoid the kind of political rhetoric that has dominated debate among Democrats and Republicans in Washington on other issues. (Congress bogs on health care reform, Page 8.)

But, showing increasing frustration as Republicans draw attention to his troubles stemming from the Whitewater affair and demand congressional hearings on it, Clinton sounded far more partisan than he has on the health-care issue.

He challenged GOP leaders to let ``good Republicans who want health-care reform [be] free to vote with us in the Congress.

``The Republican Party has not always been against change. It has not always been obsessed with personal power and just in a snit because they didn't have the White House,'' Clinton said at a Democratic Party dinner in Bal Harbour, Fla.

``The opponents of our plan are trying to confuse the issue by making it seem complicated. They ignore the fact that the system we have today is the most complicated on the face of the Earth,'' Clinton said at a rally of elderly residents in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Aware the 36 million elderly Americans represent a major force in shaping any health package enacted by Congress, the White House chose a particularly friendly site for the event - Century Village, a 15,000-person retirement community that cast 90 percent of its vote for Clinton in the 1992 election.

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