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Ear to the Ground

From Surplus to a Record Deficit

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Posted on Jul 28, 2008
George W. Bush
AP photo / Ron Edmonds

George W. Bush rode into office with a budget surplus, courtesy of his predecessor. When he leaves in January, he will not return the favor. The White House estimated the budget deficit for next year at a record $482 billion—and that doesn’t include the full cost of two wars, the potential bailout of Fannie and Freddie, the full stimulus package or the loss of tax revenue from an economy in the toilet.


New York Times:

The outlook for the budget will crimp the ability of the next president to carry out ambitious spending plans of any kind.

Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan fiscal policy group, said that a one-year record deficit would not necessarily be worrisome if not for the overall pessimistic economic atmosphere.

“I think that the fiscal year 2009 deficit could get a lot worse, if you add in war costs, there could well be a real drop-off in revenues from this year’s slowing economy and of course if there are further problems in the housing market, if the federal government does have to inject some money into Freddie and Fannie, that could get worse too,” Mr. Bixby said.

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By Charles, October 14, 2008 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clinton did not leave office with a surplus.  His “surplus” was money borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund.  He left Bush with the IOU to Social Security.
Furthermore, For the record, total US public debt when Bill Clinton entered office in January 1993 (pdf file) was $4.167 trillion; in January 2001, when Clinton left office, total US public debt was $5.636 trillion.
Case closed.

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By Reubenesque, July 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ya’ll can parse relativism and presidencies til the cows come home but isn’t the interest on the total national debt as it relates to collected revenues the more significant statistic concerning fiscal responsibility.  From Wiki:

“Net interest on the U.S. national debt was approximately $240 billion in fiscal years 2007 and 2008. This represented approximately 9.5% of government receipts. Interest was the fourth largest single disbursement category, after defense, Social Security, and Medicare.[46]Paying off the debt would theoretically free up these funds for other purposes.”

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By Michael, July 29, 2008 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Former President Bill Clinton left a surplus largly due to the “peace dividend” and resultant lower military spending and the Republican Congress. However, the total debt increased each and every year Bill was in office.
Granted, the Republicans blew it when they controlled both Congress and the Presidency, but if you think the Democrats controlling both Congress and the Presidency will lead to sort sort of fiscal responsibility, you are all sadly deluded.

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By Marshall, July 29, 2008 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Tom Mathers rightly points out that as a percentage of GDP, deficit is now lower than under Clinton.  And Clinton’s Republican Congress reduced the bloated spending budgets he submitted.  The Bush tax cuts that this article’s author derides were largely responsible for ending the recession that began as Bush was taking office and the Internet bubble was bursting.

You may agree or disagree with the choice to go into Iraq - a choice ratified by Congressional Dems and Repubs alike, but the fact remains:  The Bush economy has weathered the dot.com implosion, 9/11, two wars, the credit crunch, and spiraling fuel prices… (and no, these were not Bush’s fault) and is holding up far better than it would have under a more heavily taxed, socialized Democratic fiscal policy.

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By Tom Mathers, July 29, 2008 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The deficit is a record only in nominal dollars.  As a share of GDP, the deficit was higher during much of the Clinton years.  Unfortunately that doesn’t fit the Bushitler narrative, so places like this won’t print the relative info.

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By Reubenesque, July 29, 2008 at 7:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:  Inheret The Wind on 7/29 @ 02:24AM

I put the chances of Botch II serving any time for his egregious law breaking at about 1 in 100 regardless of who our next president is.  I put the chances of any conviction thereof at about 2 in 100.  This country absolutely refuses to alter its course toward self-assured distruction.  Legally, morally or economically.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 29, 2008 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

Bush is a liar, a thief, a criminal, and a murder-by-remote-control, because he’s a coward.

Impeachment is a pipe dream, but prosecution as of Jan 21, 2009, when President Obama has no reason to pardon him, is VERY realistic and should be a quiet priority.

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By GW=MCHammered, July 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t this the Humpty Dumpty tale?

Oh, wait! Humpty Dumpty had to pay for his f#!ckups. W never did. I get it now. We pay again. So, does anybody near in charge ever ask, WTF? Step up, soldiers!

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By David, July 28, 2008 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is absolutely no doubt,here is an incompetent person who,together with an equally incompetent,
arrogant and ignorant Administration,has not only literally devastated this country domestically,as well as internationally,but seems to be unable to comprehend the impact and its consequences to this country likewise.So it is to no surprise to listen for the last seven years to someone,as unqualified to be president,that we have to ask ourselves this very simple question: which one is George W. Bush?(based on the latest talks with Yousuf Raza Gilani,the Pakistani prime minister)as both “sounded very much” alike !(could`nt understand much what was said !)

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By desertdude, July 28, 2008 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

That will be the cry from Republicans and Americans
will buy into that claptrap.

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By Reubenesque, July 28, 2008 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Bush legacy or “How I f**ked up the world in eight years and got away with it.”

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By WARIS SHERE, July 28, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President George Bush when he took office in 2001 inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion from the previous administration of Bill Clinton. Eversince the present administration has posted a budget deficit every year. The Bush administration has spent hugely on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government faces a large budget shortfall in tax revenue partly because of George Bush’s tax cuts and a souring economy. Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat of North Dakota, blasted the administration for its “reckless fiscal policies,” blaming the president’s tax cuts for driving the government into deficit and saying Bush “will be remembered as the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation’s history.”

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