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Kasich: 'Revolutionary' changes coming

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 -- The new Republican chief of the House Budget Committee said Sunday he is ready to take the panel's legislators on the road to sell the American people on 'revolutionary' changes in government spending habits. For Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, 'revolutionary' means Congress would do more than just trim programs. 'We would intend to pull things out by the roots,' Kasich said. The Ohio Republican was carried into the leadership post by the new 230-vote GOP majority in the House. He and his colleagues will be sworn in Wednesday. 'In one of our previous budgets, we called for the elimination of the Commerce Department,' he said. 'I would anticipate you will see fewer government agencies and fewer government departments,' Kasich said on ABC's 'This Week with David Brinkley' program. 'We will kill the Interstate Commerce Commission; that's a certainty.' Kasich said 'revolutionary' changes are necessary to bring the government budget into balance in seven years. Toward that end, the committee is ready to hold hearings outside Washington to explain why a drastic slowdown in government spending is necessary. 'In the course of developing this budget, the Budget Committee is going to go on the road,' Kasich said. 'We're going to travel around the country to a selected number of cities,' he said. 'This is a budget that we want the people to support.' After members of the 104th Congress are sworn in Wednesday the new leadership plans for the House to approve a series of immediate changes in how that chamber conducts its business, a prelude to a 100-day effort to vote on all aspects of the 'Contract with America' blueprint.

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'We are going to cut spending first,' Kasich said. 'We're going to bank the money' and when tax relief or incentive programs are approved, 'we can then draw down the bank and pay for it.' That, he said, 'will convince people across the country that we're serious.' Congress has a daunting task ahead, to find not only around $170 billion in savings to pay for promised tax cuts over five years, but another $750 billion to balance the budget by the year 2002 -- somehow without touching Pentagon spending. 'In order to get to the balanced budget over seven years, there are some significant and revolutionary changes that must occur,' Kasich said. 'And the challenge for the Republicans is to ignore the special interest groups who are going to come in our office every day and work us over and to keep our eye on the big picture.' One of the early votes in the House is expected to be the first stage of approval of a 28th amendment to the Constitution. If the Senate goes along, state legislatures would then consider the measure, with 38 states necessary for enactment. The revised budget resolution will be produced 'within the period of the next 30 to 50 days,' Kasich said. After that, sometime around April, 'we would actually unveil then the full budget plan that will get us on a glide path toward zero (deficits) over seven years,' he said. Kasich said most of the specifics of the cuts -- and most of the controversy -- will take time to develop. On Medicare, the committee will consider taking away government subsidies for people who can afford the health-care premiums on their own. 'In Medicaid, we've suggested managed care,' Kasich said. 'It's a more rational delivery of services.' Kasich said his committee will not ignore politically sensitive agriculture subsidies. 'I would expect significant changes in agriculture,' he said. 'We have to have fewer subsidies.'

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