G.O.P. Takes Aim At Surgeon General

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Republicans in Congress have stepped up their criticisms of Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders since their victories in last month's elections. Indeed, two lawmakers say they will introduce resolutions that would put the House on record as urging President Clinton to dump the controversial physician.

Both Rep. Philip M. Crane, R-Ill., and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., had introduced similar resolutions in September, calling on Mr. Clinton to fire Dr. Elders. Mr. Crane's drew 44 co-sponsors.

Last June, Mr. Stearns wrote a letter to the President making a similar request, and it was signed by 87 other members of Congress.

Perhaps no other Clinton Administration appointee has drawn as much fire as Dr. Elders, who has been criticized for supporting condom distribution in schools, suggesting a study of drug legalization, and speaking to gay and lesbian organizations.

House G.O.P. leaders have tapped Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La., to head the Appropriations Committee--at least temporarily.

His appointment, announced last month, was seen as an example of how Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is consolidating power. Mr. Livingston, an ally of the likely new speaker of the House, is only the fifth-ranking Republican on the committee.

He will serve as the acting chairman until charges against Rep. Joseph M. McDade, R-Pa., who was indicted in 1992, are resolved.

The Republican Conference is expected to formally elect committee chairmen this week.

A few new members of Congress have education backgrounds, according to the annual survey of House and Senate freshmen by Congressional Quarterly.

The weekly journal found one former school board member, one teacher, and one former school district superintendent.

Democrat Lynn Rivers will represent Michigan's 13th House district in the 104th Congress. The former Ann Arbor, Mich., school board member replaces Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., who is retiring.

Karen McCarthy, a teacher, will succeed fellow Democrat Alan Wheat, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, in Missouri's fifth district. She has been in the Missouri House since 1977, and has chaired that body's Ways and Means Committee since 1983.

Frank A. Cremeans, who served as a school superintendent in the early 1970's, defeated Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, to represent Ohio's sixth district as a Republican.

All three told Congressional Quarterly that they are seeking seats on the House Education and Labor Committee. A handful of other new members also expressed interest in the panel.

On Capitol Hill, the way analysts estimate the fiscal impact of a proposal can make or break its chances of passage, and some Republicans are talking about changing the budgetary ground rules to improve the outlook for their tax-cut proposals.

Critics say that G.O.P. proposals for tax cuts, along with a pledge to balance the federal budget by 2002, would require huge reductions in social programs. (See Education Week, 11/23/94.)

But "supply side" conservatives have long argued that tax cuts actually spur economic growth and generate revenue, and that budgetary "scoring" procedures should take this into account.

And with the term of the Congressional Budget Office's director, Robert D. Reischauer, expiring in January, the new Republican leadership will have a chance to install someone who agrees with them.

The Republicans argue for "dynamic" methods of analysis rather than more traditional "static" methods of scoring the fiscal impact of bills. Under the "static" method of analysis, for example, a 5 percent tax cut would be presumed to cause a 5 percent drop in revenue, which lawmakers would have to balance with other taxes or spending cuts to meet deficit-reduction targets. A more "dynamic" analysis would factor in the estimated benefits of resulting economic growth.

Rep. John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, who is expected to be named the next chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the "static model is broke and has to be fixed."

But Alice M. Rivlin, the director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, has called this idea fiscally "dishonest" and predicts it would cause the federal deficit to explode.

--Mark Pitsch & Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 14, Issue 14

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