Clinton Calls on Pentagon To Cut Military Budget
THE Pentagon brass, after being forced to swallow a partial lifting of the ban on homosexual soldiers, are now being hit where they feel it the most: the bottom line.
The Clinton administration is telling the military services to trim $8.5 billion from their budgets for the next fiscal year. A memo from Defense Secretary Les Aspin instructs the Army to cut $2.5 billion from its budget, the Navy $3 billion, the Air Force $2.8 billion, and the Pentagon's missile defense programs $2.5 billion.
Overall, the Pentagon's budget is expected to fall from $267.8 billion - President Bush's projection for the next fiscal year - to $259.3 billion in the first year of the Clinton administration.
Under the Clinton proposal, the services would have roughly 1.4 million uniformed personnel by 1996; the Bush administration had planned on 1.6 million soldiers. President Clinton plans to station no more than 100,000 United States troops in Europe, while Mr. Bush had planned on 150,000.
Secretary Aspin has asked the services to report back to his office on the cuts by Feb. 8, which would give the defense secretary about three weeks before presenting a budget to Leon Panetta, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The services face another early deadline certain to be a factor in any defense cuts. They must submit their recommended list of base closures for 1993 by Feb. 12. Campaign financing on the agenda
Defense cuts may cause concern in the Pentagon, but around Capitol Hill few matters are as pressing as the financing of political campaigns. Clinton met with top congressional Democrats on Wednesday to hash out campaign-finance proposals - one of the president's basic promises to an electorate seemingly fed up with the influence of money in Washington.
Although House Speaker Thomas Foley of Washington said, "We're going to move as quickly as we can," participants at the meeting indicated that a reform package probably would not take effect until after the 1994 elections. Democrats are going slower now than they did last year, when they passed a reform bill that they knew would be vetoed by Bush.
A likely starting point for the new campaign reform package are the promises that Clinton made during the campaign. On the stump, candidate Clinton pledged to lower the limit on political action committee contributions from $5,000 to $1,000, to provide free television time to candidates who limit their spending, and to restrict "soft money" contributions not covered by current federal spending limits.
Far more controversial are proposals for public financing of campaigns. Republicans are adamantly opposed to using taxpayer money and Speaker Foley said, "I think it's doubtful that there are majorities in the House and Senate on total public financing." Out with the old, in with the computers
Some say the Vietnam generation has assumed national power. But it might be more accurate to describe the Clinton crowd as the "computer literate."
The new age Democrats were shocked by what they found after they took over a White House that had been run, in large part, by the World War II generation.
The computer networking was primitive. The phone system was a bizarre collection of disjointed parts. Jeff Eller, Clinton's director of media affairs, complained to Reuters, "Tyson's Chicken had a better phone system than we had in the White House before we got here."
Mr. Eller is in charge of the new administration's efforts to modernize the White House's electronic operations. The phone system is being overhauled, making it virtually impossible to get a call through to many White House offices.
Clinton's assistants are also seeing how they can expand the capacity of an obsolete mainframe computer and adapt it for easier access to "E-mail," an electronic mail system in which people can quickly send messages to each other via computer terminals. The Clintonites, Eller explains, "are, for the most part, younger, computer literate, comfortable with computers, and understand their value in moving information."