The Clinton Surplus Myth

Town Hall Finance: Time and time again, anyone reading the mainstream news or reading articles on the Internet will read the claim that President Clinton not only balanced the budget, but had a surplus. This is then used as an argument to further highlight the fiscal irresponsibility of the federal government under the Bush administration.

The claim is generally made that Clinton had a surplus of $69 billion in FY1998, $123 billion in FY1999 and $230 billion in FY2000 . In that same link, Clinton claimed that the national debt had been reduced by $360 billion in the last three years, presumably FY1998, FY1999, and FY2000–though, interestingly, $360 billion is not the sum of the alleged surpluses of the three years in question ($69B + $123B + $230B = $422B, not $360B).

While not defending the increase of the federal debt under President Bush, it’s curious to see Clinton’s record promoted as having generated a surplus. It never happened. There was never a surplus and the facts support that position. In fact, far from a $360 billion reduction in the national debt in FY1998-FY2000, there was an increase of $281 billion.

Verifying this is as simple as accessing the U.S. Treasury

(see note about this link below) website where the national debt is updated daily and a history of the debt since January 1993 can be obtained. Considering the government’s fiscal year ends on the last day of September each year, and considering Clinton’s budget proposal in 1993 took effect in October 1993 and concluded September 1994 (FY1994), here’s the national debt at the end of each year of Clinton Budgets: MORE


h/t Dan

11 Comments on The Clinton Surplus Myth

  1. The annual deficit certainly dropped during the Clinton era – but Congress really has more impact than the president, and it was a combination of the Gingrich-led House and deep military cuts that did most of it. Clinton was pretty fiscally moderate though, could have been worse. Could have been an 0bama.
    Similarly, the massive Bush deficits didn’t happen until his last 2 years when both chambers of Congress turned Dem, although GOP is to blame for their mediocrity which led to the 2006 and 2008 election failures.

  2. I’m pretty sure the Republican Congress had a lot to do with this, as I lived through that era. . .

  3. Clinton was a scammer and a traitor. He gave critical military tech to the chi comms. He did shit for us.

  4. If Clinton benefited from anything, it was the tax revenue collected during the Internet boom where a $3 stock could become a $200 stock overnight by simply saying they were going to start selling goods/services on the net. Of course when that bubble burst, so did all that extra income.

  5. RW is right. The idea of a forecasted surplus was built on the tech boom. This was the Mann’s hockey stick graph of economics instead of climate change.

    It never accounted for a tech bust. You mean I’m not going to be able to create a website about my Cat and be a tech gazillionaire? Grumpy Cat not included.

  6. @Larry the lib
    Numbers are hard aren’t they Larry? Never let those facts stir you from your slumber!

  7. I like to ask any left-winger to show me how Clinton’s “surplus” LOWERED the debt (which is what an actual surplus would have done), then watch them try to explain why 2 + 2 doesn’t really equal 4.


Comments are closed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!