PRESIDENT Clinton's early troubles on Capitol Hill have...

salmagundi

February 03, 1993

PRESIDENT Clinton's early troubles on Capitol Hill have evoked memories of the furor Jimmy Carter caused when he tried to eliminate some pork barrel water projects treasured by Western congressmen.

"I had several serious disagreements with Congress, but the issue of water projects was the one that caused the deepest breach between me and the Democratic leadership," Mr. Carter wrote in his presidential memoir. During the ensuing battle, his veto was overridden and he had to work out a deal.

"I made some mistakes in dealing with Congress, and the one that I still regret is weakening and compromising that first year on some of those worthless dam projects," Mr. Carter commented.

"This compromise bill should have been vetoed because, despite some attractive features, it still included wasteful items which my congressional supporters and I had opposed. Signing this act was certainly not the worst mistake I ever made, but it was accurately interpreted as a sign of weakness on my part, and I regretted it as much as any budget decision I made.

"Later, on the issue, I was not so timid. In October 1978, I vetoed the annual public-works bill because it included some of the same water projects. It was rewarding to prevail even though almost every Democratic leader lined up against me, but the battle left deep scars. . . I learned the hard way that there was no party loyalty or discipline."

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