PHILADELPHIA - Ohio Congressman John Kasich told the Michigan delegation to the Republican National Convention he is proud of the work of the GOP majority in the House of Representatives, and that America is a better nation because of legislation it has passed in the last five years.
Mr. Kasich, the chairman of the House budget committee, prepares to retire from politics at the end of the year, made the statement amid reports that convention organizers have ignored House GOP leaders because they have become a symbol of right-wing extremism.
"A lot of people say [the convention] is running away from the House Republicans. Well, I can tell you that I run right toward them," Mr. Kasich told 150 people at a breakfast meeting. "When you stop and think about what we have done since [taking control of the House in] 1995, it's unbelievable."
Mr. Kasich, the GOP point man on budgetary initiatives, disputed the White House claim that President Clinton is responsible for balancing the federal budget.
He said the thought had never entered Mr. Clinton's mind until the House Republicans drummed it home.
He said the same about federal welfare reform, which was passed three times by Congress. President Clinton vetoed the first two bills, but signed the third into law just weeks before the Democratic National Convention four years ago.
Mr. Clinton saw the bill as important to his re-election hopes because the reform measure was popular with swing voters.
He promised Democrats gathered in Chicago to renominate him that he would go back and revise the bill to soften its impact but no amendments have been forthcoming.
Mr. Kasich pledged to work his last few months in Washington to see that taxes get cut. The House has passed a series of tax-cut bills, but President Clinton either has blocked them or is pledging vetoes.
"If there is someone in this room who doesn't want a tax cut - tough. I'm going to give one to you anyway," the budget chairman told the Michiganians.
Mr. Kasich's speech to the delegation was a warm-up for his prime-time address to the convention last night, where he sounded similar themes and touted the successes of the House Republicans.
New York Gov. George Pataki said he is confident that, with George W. Bush as president and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, the economy will continue to grow.
"You know what tax cuts in Michigan have done for Michigan. I know what tax cuts in New York have done for New York," he said. "George Bush knows what tax cuts can do for the American economy."
Mr. Bush has proposed a range of tax cuts. His opponent, Democratic Vice President Gore, has denounced the plan as a "risky scheme."
Mr. Pataki said that, especially now, when "we are in the process of ending a broken welfare system, it makes sense to cut the marginal tax rate. Right now, a working single mother pays a higher rate of tax than an executive earning $200,000 per year."
"It's not a risky scheme. It is freedom," the New York governor told Michigan delegates.
Congressman David Dreier of California played the role of cheerleader at the morning briefing, predicting Republicans would hold control of both houses of Congress in the November elections.
"We have the winning message," he proclaimed, adding that President Clinton and Mr. Gore's efforts to co-opt GOP themes to win undecided voters ultimately will be seen as phony.
"We are the real thing, and voters are going to go for the real thing on Nov. 7," the Californian said.
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