NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton's 2000 Budget is a Phony

February 8, 1999

We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect," said Harry Hopkins, President Franklin Roosevelt's closest adviser, in 1938. The same words could have been said by Bill Clinton today. His fiscal year 2000 budget is possibly the most political one ever put forward, transparently insincere, and filled with numbers that do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Clinton's budget is filled with so many initiatives that one cannot possibly take them seriously as genuine statements of administration priorities. Indeed, his main one -- reserving most of the budget surplus for Social Security -- is so poorly thought through that even budget experts cannot figure out how it is supposed to work.

In addition, one cannot take many of the budget projections at face value.

  • The idea that we can seriously count on a federal budget surplus of $393.1 billion in fiscal year 2009 simply cannot be believed -- we cannot even forecast current year surpluses accurately, let alone those a decade out.
  • Moreover, the revenue figures appear to be low-balled in order to forestall calls for tax cuts.
  • This budget assumes revenues will fall as a share of the gross domestic product in future years, but previous forecasts underestimated revenues.

There is no reason to believe the federal government will take a smaller share of GDP, absent the sort of major tax cut Clinton opposes.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, February 8, 1999.


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