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GOP senators complain about economic plan

The Senate Finance Committee debated a compromise version of President Clinton's economic plan Thursday, with Republicans complaining it was long on tax increases and short on spending cuts.

After an all-day meeting, Republicans and Democrats agreed to meet again this morning to discuss a series of Republican amendments and then vote on the package _ which majority Democrats are certain to pass.

Republican lawmakers were angry Wednesday about being shut out of Democratic negotiations on the compromise, which cuts the deficit by $508-billion over five years, partly through a 4.3-cent-per-gallon gasoline and transportation fuels tax.

"This is a nightmare to me," said Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, one of nine Republicans on the 20-member panel. "We are looking for political advantage, one party over the other. The result is we are coming up with ideas that will not work. This is one of those ideas."

However, Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., said Republicans had told the White House they would not take part in any talks without a commitment to look for $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.

While Danforth and other GOP lawmakers said the compromise contained far more tax increases than spending cuts, Democrats said the overall plan had $260-billion in spending trims and $248-billion in new revenues.

Committee Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., called the plan the most progressive change in taxes since the 1940s, while senators said 80 percent of the new taxes will be levied against those earning more than $100,000 annually _ something Republicans dislike.

After action by the committee, the Senate may vote on the bill next week. It must then be melded with a very different House bill. What both measures have in common is about $500-billion of deficit reduction.