That Damned Surplus

Here is an amusing slice of history, from this day (August 25) 11 years ago::

“President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government’s fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create ”a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” He said that was ”incredibly positive news” because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

In a 45-minute news conference in a community hall next to an RV park here, Mr. Bush avoided specific answers to several questions about how he would find the money for his next big initiatives, from missile defense, to overhauling the military, to reforming Medicaid, without dipping into Social Security surpluses that both parties have declared off limits. And he made it clear he would not re-think his tax cut, saying, ”I can’t tell you how proud I am to be traveling around the country and people say, ‘Thanks for the $600.’ ”

At the same time, Mr. Bush talked in some detail about the economic slowdown, which he called a ”correction,” and left open the possibility that he might dip into the Social Security money if a further economic stimulus was needed . . .

In an age of suddenly scarce resources, though, he insisted that Congress must adjust its spending attitudes. ”The surest way to make sure that the recovery doesn’t happen in a meaningful period of time or a reasonable period of time is to overspend,” Mr. Bush said. He said his job was to ”make sure we keep fiscal sanity in the budget.”¬† (emphasis added)

Now that we have gotten rid of that damned surplus, we just have to await all the fiscal constraints on Congress!


NYT,  August 25, 2001

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