Frist stands with president on economy, homeland security

By Megan R. Harrell
STAR Staff

   Sen. Bill Frist is headed to Camp David today with other Republican senatorial leadership. The senators will discuss the nation's immediate legislative priorities with President Bush.
   The Senate is in full swing and working on priorities such as bio-terrorism, education, international HIV, and the economy. The president's economic stimulus package is at the top of the Senate's agenda. It was put on the back burner prior to the break. "We hope to be bringing the economic stimulus package up as a first priority now that we are back," Sen. Frist said.
   A comprehensive economic stimulus package appeals to Sen. Frist. He wants to see some tax relief as part of the package. The expansion of aid to small businesses, and a balance between spending and tax breaks are the key to economic success according to Sen. Frist.
   With the bleak national economy, the president's recent increase in homeland security and education has met with contention. However, Sen. Frist supports the president's efforts in both areas.
   "I do believe that the economy can withstand the strains of the Homeland Security Grant. As a member of the Budgetary Committee I like to see that President Bush is prioritizing where the funds will be spent," Sen. Frist said. "I believe that the president's Homeland Security Grant was a bold and courageous move that will have an impact over generations." Most of the homeland security funds will go toward defense and rebuilding the military.
   As a member of the Budgetary Committee, Frist does not like the $100,000 deficit in spending the nation faces, but noted that it could be a long time before it returns to a surplus. Allen Greenspan, Chief of the Federal Reserve Board, announced recently that it could take another four to five years to recover the surplus.
   Sen. Frist applauded President Bush's recent education funding and noted that Bush's administration has increased education funding by more than 20 percent. Frist expects the president to announce more education reform during his State of the Union Address.
   In order to support the homeland security and education efforts, the nation may have to endure cuts elsewhere. Duplicated agencies will be the first to be eliminated. The cuts are being discussed along with the budget.
   Sen. Frist, a huge advocate of health care, may have to wait to see his agendas take the floor. "First and foremost is the safety and security of the American people," Frist said. He states that if the country were not at war and the economy were not in such dire straights, then health care, along with education, would be the Senate's number one priority.