Democrats take credit for the reduced deficits and surpluses we had in the late nineties by pointing out that it took place during the Clinton Administration. Republicans say it was the first time in forty years they had control of both Houses, thus budgets were balanced.
In the ongoing debate how to reduce the deficits or perhaps balance the budgets, we can settle the differences between both sides by revising the budget increases of the past decade to mirror the hike rates of the Clinton years, and start the next budget at the level where the revised numbers take us. This would be the best option how to tackle the budget problem considering that everyone liked how things ran in the late 1990′s.
No, we do not need to adjust tax rates to the Clinton years, nor do we need to cut military spending to fit the growth (growth? cut) rates of the Clinton era. We can also leave Medicare and Social Security as is. We only need to adjust the Bush/Obama budgets in a few spending areas to reflect Clinton increases. By doing so, the FY 2012 deficit can be below $500 billion, and it will continue to decrease in the following years.
For example (See Table 3.1at the GPO Access website), in the Republican Clinton years, 1995 through 2000, the Federal Government spent on average $51 billion a year on Education. In the following six Republican Bush years, 2001 through 2006, the annual average was $85 billion. This is a difference of $210 billion in a short six year stretch. Furthermore, this spending category grew a total of only 6% in the Republican Clinton years, yet more than doubled in the six Republican Bush years.
Had the Republican Bush Congress; later Reid/Pelosi, and more recently President Obama, increased this class of spending at the Republican Clinton rates, we would be looking at an Education Bill in Fiscal Year 2012 less than half the current expected size, and save tens of billions of dollars right there on Education.
(The FY 1995 budget was crafted with a Democrat Congress in the previous year, and the 2001 budget was crafted under Clinton. But in calendar year 1995, Republicans had the Congress and automatically affected the budget. Therefore, I credit the FY 1995 budget to the Republicans, and the 2001 budget to Bush, etc.)
Here is another example. In the six Republican Clinton years, federal expenditures on Health – excluding Medicare – was on average $131 billion annually. During the following six years it was… $222 on average. The dollar difference is North of $500 billion in only six years. Furthermore, the increase in Health outlays grew during the final six Clinton years, by less than six percent annually, versus more than 10% in the six Republican Bush years.
Had we kept since 2001 to the Health growth rate increases of the above Clinton years, we would be looking now on health outlays of approximately $210 billion, instead of an outlay closer to $400 billion area. In fact, despite a recession in his early months, tax cuts, terror attacks and two wars, Bush too could have balanced a few of his Republican budgets if only he followed Clinton on some discretionary spending.
I don’t know what the smart-heads on the Debt Commission were busy fighting recently as to how to reduce the deficits. We can leave our tax, military, and seniors alone, and focus on The GREAT Clinton years that both parties seem to love in terms of balancing the budgets. I gave two examples which on its own can cut the next deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. More programs can be found to use in following in the Clinton steps.
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