On February 6, 1997, a confident President Clinton presented a $1.69 trillion budget proposal to Congress for the 1998 fiscal year, a 3 percent increase over the previous year. He said that his proposal-which included substantial spending increases for welfare, health care, and education, as well as tax cuts for middle-class families-would result in a balanced budget by the year 2002. Republican leaders appeared to be more receptive to this budget than they had been to the one proposed for the previous year, having realized that the public largely blamed the GOP for the fierce budget battle in 1995 and 1996 which forced two government shutdowns.
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The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times reported in August and September 1997 that major Democratic campaign donors were gaining the ear of President Clinton in return for their money. During this period, videotapes were released under subpoena by the White House which showed Clinton and Gore socializing there with major campaign donors. The tapes confirmed the allegations by the newspapers that some of these donors were Asian-born or leaders of major companies doing business in Asia. Clinton and Gore are shown dressed as Buddhist monks in reference to a fundraiser attended by Gore at a Buddhist temple in California, whose legality was questioned. The message on the wall refers to alleged intercedings with the White House by a CIA official identified only as Bob, on behalf of a donor with questionable motives.
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Vice President Al Gore's fundraising telephone calls were top news during the week of August 24, 1997. A Washington Post article on August 27 reported that the forty-six people contacted by Gore contributed, directly or through their companies, almost $3.7 million in unregulated ‘soft money' to the Democratic National Committee. At a news conference called to answer the allegations that he had broken federal law by making fundraising phone calls from federal property, Gore asserted that there was "no controlling legal authority" to decide the issue of campaign phone calls. In April, Gore had attended a fundraiser at a Buddhist temple in California, where it was alleged that at least one illegal donation had been made.
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On August 19, 1997, Russian space agency officials announced that Mir's damaged main computer, which had failed the previous Monday, was back in operation, allowing Mir's guidance system to keep the station in a stable position. An old computer part had needed to be replaced. One official said, "We used to change Mir's computer parts after its technical life expectancy would run out, say after five years. But now, due to financing problems, we have to use them till they die."
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