NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton's Last Budget

February 8, 2000

Budget watchers are commenting on some of the political aspects of President Clinton's last, $1.84 trillion budget. For one, he shaves increases in spending on defense in order to lavish funds on domestic programs. For another, he is asking for relatively minuscule amounts for some new programs, just to get them on the books -- in the expectation that they will be fully funded in the Gore administration.

  • Despite claims that he is increasing military spending, Clinton keeps expenditures for defense about 1.6 percent below inflation for the next five years, while allowing education spending to jump 10.2 percent above inflation from 2001 to 2005.
  • Then there are items some analysts call Clinton's "charming miniatures" -- spending ideas designed to leave the impression that a limited amount of money would go a very long way.
  • One of these is an increase of $5 million for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Youth Opportunities Program -- an amount equal to about three ten-thousandths of 1 percent of the proposed budget -- but a sum which would be destined to rise during a Gore presidency.

Experts say his big proposals -- such as overhaul of the nation's health care system in 1994 -- have given him the most trouble, while smaller priorities have won Congressional acceptance.

Clinton campaigned in 1992 to reverse Republican frugality by making multi-billion dollar "investments" in social programs. But his aides advised him to restrain the deficit instead.

"There are a lot of people who say he got dragged kicking and screaming into that," says Stan Collender, a budget expert at Fleishman Hillard. "But regardless of what it was, he allowed himself to be dragged."

Source: George Hager, "Clinton Shaves From Some Programs to Finance Others," USA Today, February 8, 2000.


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