NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bartlett: Congress Spent More Than Clinton Asked For

January 11, 1998

In February 1997 Bill Clinton asked Congress for $1.688 trillion to operate the government in fiscal year 1998 -- yet the final budget approved by Congress somehow managed to exceed the Clinton request by $4 billion, says Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute.

In the 13 appropriation bills passed last year, Moore found that while in most cases the total dollar amount was lower than the president's request, there were dozens of programs for which Congress increased spending above the amount Clinton requested. For example:

  • The $7.6 billion bilateral foreign aid bill contains $200 million more for ineffectual Agency for International Development (AID) and $100 million more for the State Department than the White House sought.
  • Congress appropriated $680 million for the Export-Import Bank, one of the largest dispensers of corporate welfare, which was $50 million more than the Clinton budget requested.
  • GOP appropriators approved $206 million for Interior Department land acquisitions--almost twice what Clinton and Gore wanted.

The GOP was also more generous than Clinton to the Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and selected farm programs.

  • Furthermore, home heating assistance, a program Ronald Reagan and David Stockman tried to exterminate 16 years ago when the energy crisis ended, gets $100 million more than the Clinton budget request.
  • Something called the School Improvement Program, slated for termination in 1995, now gets $200 million more than the "education president" wanted.
  • School districts with military bases will receive $150 million more in Impact Aid than Clinton requested. There is also more money than Clinton sought for libraries, AIDS research, refugee assistance, subsidized housing, Head Start, education research and even the Food and Drug Administration.

Overall Congress spent almost $5 billion more on 35 domestic programs than the White House requested, says Moore.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "GOP's Preferred Budget Busters?" Washington Times, January 11, 1998.


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