Saturday, August 19, 2006

The balanced budget myth

As a few of you may know, in addition to blogging here at The World, which is my first and original weblog, I also blog for an operation out of New York City called Where I Stand. Founded by liberal (but he is quick to point out, no friend of Castro) Cuban-American Nick Oliva, WIS functions as a sort of opinion/news service for folks who-like me-not only like to blog, but enjoy reading the blogs of others. I write for WIS, but I am not often graced with the time to wade through everyone else's work on a day-to day basis. When I am able to do so it is a real pleasure because for the most part this is a very talented group. On the Left the assortment of writers includes an attorney who currently works in Saudi Arabia, a novelist and publishing consultant, and the founder. On the Right, the list includes an editor and college instructor, a former political candidate and current Republican Precinct Committeeman from Idaho, and humble ol' me.

I happened on to a discussion yesterday in which one blogger asserted that "Clinton was the only President to pay down the debt." That is patently false, of course, Clinton did not pay the debt down. The statistics could be seen on the National Debt Clock during every year Clinton was in office. Not a single day during Clinton's term did the debt go down. The last President to truly pay the debt down was none other than Andrew Jackson, who was able to do so in part because he had the guts to tell the advocates of the National Bank to go to Hell.

Yet many a modern Democrat believes the lie that Clinton actually paid down the debt. There was a balanced budget during Clinton's administration, but why did that happen? It would not have occurred had Republicans not been insistent to the point of shutting the government down to ensure that it actually happened. In the meantime, Clinton blamed Republicans for the shutdown that ultimately resulted in the balanced budget that he later tried to take all the credit for.

So what's the point? Not only is the debt going up, but it has continued to go up for a very long time. Is it even right for Presidents and leaders of either party to speak of "balanced budgets" when you can't have a truly balanced budget with a debt that high? It is a great deception.


At Friday, August 18, 2006 3:18:00 PM, Blogger Adam Graham said...

With Clinton, the balanced budgets included the social security surplus, which is money that was being added onto the debt. Thus, despite years of balanced budgets, the debt continued to climb.

At Friday, August 18, 2006 6:19:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Quite correct Adam. For years, we've been figuring Social Security separately from the rest of the debt-but the fact is that if this was not done, we would have been in a perpetual deficit since the 1950's, and in practical terms we have been.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006 3:44:00 PM, Blogger Chucko said...

Fortunately, due to great, well informed blogs and new media in general, I think a lot of people are waking up and taking a new view on government accountability regarding reckless spending. Great post Dave!


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