Mikulski sounds off on issues

August 09, 1997


Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Friday the recent budget deal approved by Congress and President Bill Clinton will help people by encouraging savings and reducing tax burdens.

She specifically cited enhancements to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and an increase in the amount of money that is exempt from federal estate tax as two of the most important features of the deal.

"I think the tax cut will be very good," the Democrat said.

In a meeting with Herald-Mail editors and reporters, Mikulski discussed taxes and several topics of national and local interest, including:

* The economy: Some have criticized the budget deal because it is based on positive economic projections, but Mikulski said the tax cuts are not unrealistic.


"Are they based on optimistic assumptions? Yes. Are they based on rose-colored (assumptions)? I think no," she said.

* Campaign finance reform: Mikulski said the issue needs to be addressed fully but that there are disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on how to tackle the issue.

"The other party likes to hold hearings on the president. We'd like to hold hearings on campaign finance reform and move on to legislation," she said.

* Medicare: Mikulski said a commission needs to look into long-term solutions to the program's solvency, beyond the current "stop-gap" remedies.

"There are no easy answers. If there were, we would have taken credit for them, even if we didn't do them," she said.

* The president: Mikulski said Clinton has shown courage in taking on issues such as welfare reform and the tax cut that have not been universally hailed within his own party.

"I think he's been willing to do things Democrats have been very cautious about doing," she said.

* Welfare reform. Mikulski said changes in welfare now place a priority on getting people back to work while also providing public assistance. The previous policies took away subsidies from those who found jobs, she said.

"In other words, the less you did the more (welfare money) you got. There's something wrong with that system," she said.

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