Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union: Then and Now

What was the state of our union ten years ago? Here's something Bill Clinton said in 1998 that George Bush has never said, and won't be able to say tonight:
I will submit to Congress for 1999 the first balanced budget in 30 years.
George Bush won't be able to say this either:
And if we hold fast to fiscal discipline, we may balance the budget this year, 4 years ahead of schedule.
That would put Bush six years behind schedule, except that he started with a budget surplus.
But back to Clinton:
Here is the really good news. If we maintain our resolve, we will produce balanced budgets as far as the eye can see.
These were of course replaced with deficits as deep as we could dig. But what about tax cuts?
We must not go back to unwise spending or untargeted tax cuts that risk reopening the deficit. Last year, together, we enacted targeted tax cuts so that the typical middle class family will now have the lowest tax rates in 20 years.
And how did Bill Clinton propose we use this good fortune?
What should we do with this projected surplus? I have a simple, four-word answer: Save Social Security first. Tonight I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus, that is every penny of any surplus, until we have taken all the necessary measures to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century. Let us say, let us say to all Americans watching tonight, whether you are 70 or 50 or whether you just started paying into the system, Social Security will be there when you need it.
This is in sharp contrast with the record of our current president, who ran through the record surplus in record time, and then proposed carving out Social Security taxes to replaced guaranteed benefits with investments in the stock market.
We can't go back to the 1990s. I'm for looking forward, not back. But it is useful to remember a time when fiscal prudence meant something, before Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn that Bush and all republicans.

12:13 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And they have the nerve to wonder why Clinton was our most popular president.


12:25 PM, January 28, 2008  

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