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Clinton: Tax cut threatens environment; GOP: Plan offers security

The GOP's 10-year, $792-billion tax cut would reverse a quarter century of environmental progress, cutting pollution controls, stalling toxic waste cleanups, "even shutting down national parks," President Clinton said Saturday.

The Republican budget plan "would actually threaten our environment," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.

But in the Republicans' weekly address, an Ohio congressman said Americans can find retirement security for themselves and their children in the GOP tax bill that emphasizes personal savings.

The package passed this month "will result in more pension coverage, better-funded pensions and more retirement security for millions of workers," Rep. Rob Portman said.

Clinton said the spending proposal "isn't simply turning back the clock on environmental protection":

"It's also turning its back on six years of fiscal responsibility and prudent investment _ a policy that's produced the strongest economy in a generation the largest surplus in our history."

Clinton has promised to veto the package once Congress sends it to him after its August recess. He favors a budget plan that would strengthen the Social Security and Medicare systems and start paying off the national debt while permitting new investments in education, the environment and defense.

The Clinton plan also would provide a $300-billion tax cut over a period of years.

In his radio address, Clinton focused on what environmental impact the tax cut favored by Republicans would have.

He said their plan would "require big cuts in environmental enforcement, letting toxic waste dumps fester, even shutting down national parks."

But Portman, a member of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and co-chairman of the House Republicans' Retirement Security Task Force, insisted the legislation would "give millions of American workers the real peace of mind that comes with having your own personal retirement savings."

He said the package would:

Allow more tax-sheltered deposits into IRA, 401(k) and other pension plans.

Make pensions portable, and let workers become vested in retirement plans in three years instead of five.

Let people 50 or older make extra, "catch-up" contributions to pension plans.

"We want you, and every working American, to be able to keep more of the money you earn so you can prepare a more secure future for yourself and your children," Portman said.

The GOP bill includes a 1-percentage-point reduction in all income-tax rates, an easing of the tax paid by many married couples, a cut in the capital gains tax on profits from investments, elimination of the inheritance tax on large estates and various tax breaks for businesses.