NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Veto Threats And Spending The Surplus

October 7, 1998

"I will veto any tax plan that drains the new surplus," said President Clinton on October 2, 1998. "We simply have to set aside every penny of it, not only to set a good financial example around the world, but to save Social Security first." Yet Heritage Foundation analysts point out that the President is also proposing that the equivalent of 24 percent of this year's Social Security trust fund surplus --or $14.4 billion -- be spent instead on emergency supplemental appropriations for Bosnia, government computer repairs, aid to farmers and a variety of other initiatives.

In addition to his threatened veto of a tax bill, the president has also warned he may veto a number of regular appropriations bills to fund federal government departments. The bills reflect some conflicts over policy, but the difference in spending levels between the administration's request and the bills reported by various House committees is relatively minor.

  • Prior to September 1, the president threatened to veto seven of the appropriations bills, and since then has threatened to veto one more.
  • Overall, the House proposes to spend $2.6 billion less than the president, a difference of about 1.0 percent relative to what the administration requested for Fiscal Year 1999. .

If the president vetoes an individual bill, or an omnibus bill incorporating funding for all the government departments included, some departments might shut down by the end of calendar year 1998. Since fiscal year 1998 ended September 1, the federal government has been funded by a continuing resolution expiring at midnight on October 9.

Source: Angela Antonelli, "The One Percent Budget Showdown: Clinton's Veto Threats in Perspective," Backgrounder No. 1224, and Ronald D. Utt, "President's 'Emergency' Spending Requests Target The Surplus," Executive Memorandum No. 554, both October 7, 1998, Heritage Foundation


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