NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Racing To Spend The Surplus

March 3, 1999

Both Republicans and Democrats are being criticized for their efforts to spend as much of the budget surplus as possible. What happened to those promises to pay down the national debt, critics ask?

  • The present $3.63 trillion debt could be wiped out in 15 years if current taxing and spending policies were left untouched and the economy were left on its present track, analysts estimate.
  • The Senate has passed a plan to raise military pay and benefits by $55 billion over the next 10 years -- even though the Pentagon requested only $37 billion.
  • And the Senate Budget Committee wants to increase federal education funding by 40 percent over the next five years -- while President Clinton wants to spend $11 billion this year alone to hire 100,000 more teachers.
  • President Clinton is pushing $32 billion in targeted tax breaks for health and child care, energy conservation, and so forth.

Worthy as some of these programs may be, critics say the initiatives should take a backseat to setting spending priorities and determining what funds are actually available.

Source: Editorial, "What Surplus? GOP, Clinton Are Spending it Before it Arrives," USA Today, March 3, 1999.


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