NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Get The Surplus Out Of Washington Before It's Spent

July 11, 2000

Unless the budget surplus is speedily returned to the taxpayers who were overcharged, it will be used to launch huge new federal spending programs, say analysts.

According to Cato Institute economist Stephen Moore:

  • The 10-year surplus -- put at $4.2 trillion by the Office of Management and Budget -- could actually mount up to $5 trillion, given continued economic growth.
  • If the money were simply given back on a per-household basis, it would come to $40,000 for every family in America.
  • On an inflation-adjusted basis, taxes have risen from $10,910 per household in 1950 to $30,233 as of last year.

Moore suggests a game plan for the surplus. First, use perhaps three-quarters of the surplus for tax cuts. Promote private, personal Social Security accounts. And reject new Medicare entitlements -- such as the prescription drug benefit.

Recognize once and for all that economic supply-siders were right -- and that the U.S. grew itself out of deficits, with the surplus as the result.

At the very least, Americans should get over the notion that the surplus is the government's money. It was a tax overpayment, and taxpayers should reclaim it.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "How to Win at Surplus Politics," Washington Times, July 11, 2000.


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