Clinton touts $70 billion surplus
President Clinton today hailed the estimated $70 billion surplus the federal government will have by the end of the fiscal year tonight, but warned Republicans against spending it for a tax cut.
"Now that we've balanced the budget, we should commit ourselves to saving Social Security," Clinton said at a White House event honoring present and former congressional Democrats who voted for the 1993 budget deal. Several of the former members likely lost their House seats in 1994 due, in part, to their vote for the budget deal that included some tax increases in addition to spending cuts.
If the longtime viability of Social Security is not addressed soon, Clinton said, retiring Baby Boomers will have a lower standard of living from lower benefits, and their children will have a lower standard of living by paying higher taxes to support them.
"All of us know this [Social Security] problem is looming out there, and will need money to fix," Clinton said. "There is hardly anything that goes to the core of what we are as a people than the sense that we owe an obligation to both our parents and our children. And if we squander this surplus and start spending [it] on tax cuts just because it's a few weeks before the election-before we take care of [Social Security]-what are we going to do when times get tough and we still have to take care of it?"
The end of the fiscal year sparked a predictable debate from both parties about who deserves credit for creating the surplus. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said, "While the president wants to take credit for this achievement today, let me be clear: The credit belongs to the American taxpayer, the Federal Reserve, and the combined efforts of Congresses, this President, and past Presidents to reduce the budget deficit and balance the budget. ... President Clinton, if your 1993 budget plan was so great, why is it that your 1996 budget projected deficits as far as the eye could see?"
But Clinton maintained the credit goes to House and Senate Democrats who voted for the 1993 budget deal. Pointing to seven former Democratic House members, Clinton said, "Don't you ever forget that these seven people stood up, and a lot like them, and laid their jobs on the line for America's future."