Leaked `Tax Hike' Memo Puts Clinton on Defensive

PRESIDENT Clinton, drawn by Republicans into a renewed debate over tax and spending policies, predicts that the budget deficit will drop for the third straight year. But the president has been thrown on the defensive by a leaked White House budget memo that included suggested tax hikes and cuts in major entitlement programs as possible policies.

``I do not support cuts in Social Security, and I believe any savings we achieve in the Medicare program should be used in health care,'' Mr. Clinton said following a fundraiser in Washington state. He challenged House minority whip Newt Gingrich (R) of Georgia to make the same promise.

But Mr. Gingrich said the memo reinforces the feelings of Americans that the Clinton administration ``is an enormous threat to their values, to their pocketbook, to their future.'' US social health improves

FOR the first time in three years, the pulse of America's social health has been getting stronger.

The Index of Social Health, which tracks where the country stands on 16 key social problems, showed improvement in seven areas, including combatting high-school dropout rates, teen suicide, and drug abuse.

This year's report, compiled by the Fordham Institute for Innovation in Social Policy in New York, includes an examination of two indicators that have changed dramatically: poverty among children and the elderly.

In 1970, 15 percent of all children lived below the poverty line; by 1992, the figure rose to 21 percent. In contrast, people over 65 who live in poverty dropped from 25 percent to 13 percent.

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