Congress, President Agree to Historic Balanced Budget , Smith, Longtime Backer, Realizes a Dream

Jul 29, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Dean of Oregon's Congressional Delegation, today praised a potentially historic budget agreemen between White House and congressional leaders, but reserved final judgement on the pact pending a closer examination of it's details.

"I'm delighted that we have an agreement, which shows real courage and flexibility on both the Congress' part and the Administration's. I'm sure this deal isn't perfect; no negotiation ever is. But we are closer now than we have ever been to balancing the federal budget, and that alone is historic," said Smith, a leader in congressional efforts to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Reducing capital gains taxes and estate taxes represents real progress. It's unconscionable that you should have to sell your parents' house or farm in order to pay the estate taxes when they pass it down. At the same time, high capital gains taxes penalize savings and investment, and impede economic growth. The provisions in this agreement by no means solve these problems, but they are unquestionably a step in the right direction," Smith said.

"The budget would achieve savings in Medicare and Medicaid, and provide a measure of security for each. We don't have a choice - we have to save Medicare, and it's long past time the Congress and the President showed the courage and responsibility to do it," Smith said.

"As always, however, the devil is in the details. This budget is only a plan. For it to work, Congress has to abide by the plan, and the President has to approve it when they do. Congress and the President must both continue to uphold their end of the bargain in the future. This is just one leg of a three-legged stool," Smith said.

"What's more, I never underestimate Congress' ability to cook the books, and I won't stand for any more budget trickery. This budget will earn my vote if it is honest, real, and lives up to its billing as a balanced budget. I am very encouraged by what I have heard and seen so far, but I am reserving my final judgment until I have the opportunity to carefully examine the details," Smith said.

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives.