by j wright
A neighboring liberal minded individual recently submitted a "Letter to the Editor" with our local newspaper lauding the Clinton Budget Surplus and Balanced Budgets. I found his thinking clouded with errors so I responded as follows:
President Clinton’s “budget surplus” and his fiscal policies would not have mostly retired the National Debt as previously suggested here had President Bush followed Clinton’s economic lead.
The Clinton budget surplus Democrats often refer to was created primarily by overtaxation, a massive defense budget cut, plus other revenues collected in a given year, all weighed against federal expenses. Ergo, in the last year of Clinton’s tenure, the government spent fewer dollars than it collected. The National Debt never got close to being paid off, it actually increased about $1.3 trillion.
To the Clinton Administration's credit, and with the able assistance of Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and House Appropriations Chairman John Kasich, the National Debt did show a marginal increase of a mere $18 billion in Clinton's last year in office as opposed the the "normal" mega billion dollar increases. Based on past results, when sane Republican adults control the nation's purse strings, fiscal responsibility can happen, not always, but it's possible.
Clinton’s surplus was partly a result of the Republican’s austere Contract With America, the so-called Peace Dividend (huge defense department budgetary cuts) and the treasury being substantially fattened by incoming receipts from the previously bailed out Savings and Loan associations; funds Republican President Reagan had previously ordered returned to the taxpayers.
Figures obtained from the United States Treasury Department web site and Polifact.com show that Bush and Congress increased the National Debt about $4.97 trillion, contrary to $6 trillion increase previously suggested here, an average increase of about $621.3 billion annually from $5.73 trillion to $10.7 trillion. Part of that was a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing wars against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't have the figures available but it was once reported that the Obama "Stimulus" bill cost us more to date that the war in Iraq. Go figure.
Since President Obama took office two years ago, the National Debt has increased by $3.431 trillion, growing at a rate of about $1.715 trillion annually, more than twice the Bush average. Those numbers almost make Bush look good. For certain, those huge increases erode the argument that “budget deficits are a Republican strategy to bring America to its fiscal knees.”
Where does the responsibility lie for the growing deficits and massive indebtedness? Certainly there is enough irresponsibility to go around. Besides Obama's two years in the Oval Office, the Democrats had total control of both legislatures and of the government’s purse strings from January 2007 through early January 2011 but both parties have spent like fat drunken sailors in the past. Recently the National Debt reached $14.131 trillion. George Bush added his share but his successor is fast outpacing him.