NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gore Would Spend More Than Surplus

August 28, 2000

A plurality of Americans favor debt reduction over either a tax cut or increased government spending. Al Gore is appealing to this constituency, while at the same time keeping his liberal base happy with promises of dozens of new federal spending programs.

Gore says his economic plan would cut the surplus much less than George W. Bush's, thereby leaving more for debt reduction.

The only problem is that Gore's numbers don't add up.

  • According to a careful study by the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU), Gore's spending promises to date come to $2.3 trillion, more than enough to completely wipe-out the non-Social Security surplus.
  • His $500 billion tax cut would further reduce future surpluses.

Bush's tax plan is estimated to reduce federal revenues by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. (A liberal union-backed group, Citizens for Tax Justice, puts the cost at $1.8 trillion.)

According to NTU, Bush has proposed $425 billion in new spending, putting the total impact on the surplus at $1.7 trillion to $2.2 trillion.

  • The total projected surplus over the next decade is estimated at $4.7 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • This assumes a fairly substantial rise in spending over the spending caps in current law, adherence to which would yield a surplus of $5.7 trillion.
  • Of the $4.7 trillion, $2.4 trillion is attributable to the excess of Social Security taxes over benefits -- which both Gore and Bush say they will not touch -- leaving $2.2 trillion of projected surpluses.

Thus, Gore's tax and spending plans would reduce the surplus $2.8 trillion over 10 years, while Bush's plans would lower it by as much as $2.2 trillion. This means that there is no truth to Gore's claim that his plan would leave more money for debt reduction than Bush's plans.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, August 28, 2000.


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