Does anyone Remember Political Science 101?

Ok, both of the main candidates really p*ss me off. My vote is going to Howard Phillips “ultra Conservative”, however, I must get this off my chest. Gore is claiming that it was the Clinton/Gore administration that “balanced” the budget. Excuuuuuuuuuse me, is it more than a coincidence that the budget became balanced after the republicans took control of the Senate and the House following the 1994 election?

Democrats had their opportunity, 1993-1994, 1977-1980, 1961-1968 with control of the Presidency, the Senate, and the House. Did they get the budget balanced? Hell NO!

In this regard, I think most of the credit should go to the election of the Republican Congress in 1994, 2 years after Clinton was elected. Amongst the items’s in Newt’s “Contract with America” had a reduction of the Capital Gain’s tax from 28% to 20%. That single act was a “cash cow” to the gov’t.

One might argue that Clinton/Gore laid the foundation in 1993-1994. If there was a foundation, it came years prior to Clinton/Gore with Alan Greenspan (a Republican appointee) and the rest of the Reagon/Bush administrations.

It has been 20 years since I took Political Science 101, but I do remember that it is Congress, not the President that has the most effect on the budget. Please enlighten me if I am wrong.

I took it nine years ago, and it’s the President who introduces his budget bill into Congress. They, then, battle over it.

:Avoiding the rest of the debate since this is IMHO, not GQ or GD:

I remember pulling back the veil of ignorance to discover that life is nasty, brutish, and short.

I think that this thread should be over in Great Debates, so off it goes.

IIRC, the President can submit his ideas for the budget thru the Govt Acc’t Office, but the Congress doesn’t have to work off of it. They may consider his numbers, but don’t they primarily work off of the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office? Although it has become the custom, the President has no Constitutional right to submit legislation of any kind.

Well, my opinion is that Clinton has taken responsibility for something that is largely the result of private enterprise. The economic boom was caused by emerging computer technology, not public policy, and it produced a shitload of rich people, who payed a lot of taxes. The surplus wasn’t so much a reduction in spending as it was an increase in revenue. (Well, actually, a little of both, I suppose.)

Not really; anybody can submit legislation, you just need to get a Senator or rep to bring it to the floor.

The budget was balanced for one reason: The economy has been on a very long period of growth. That’s it. Other countries around the world are seeing exactly the same thing - Canada now has budget surpluses, for example, when it had one of the biggest deficit/GDP ratios of the G-7 countries.

If Clinton/Gore deserve any credit, it would be for what they DIDN’T do - and that was largely because Clinton’s presidency was damaged very early on because of scandal and because of the failed socialized medicine program which used up a lot of political capital. Clinton’s essentially been a lame duck, and that has allowed the economy to chug along without his meddling.

Gore should have run on a platform of doing nothing. He should have repeated over and over again, “Look at the last 8 years. What you’ll get in a Gore administration is more of the same, without the scandal”. Instead, he’s been trying to ‘distance’ himself from Clinton by coming up with all kinds of new policy proposals, most of which will die in gridlock anyway. It’s making him look like an old democrat, which is the last thing a nation wants when the economy is firing on all cylinders.

What the U.S. needs now is a hands-off attitude towards the economy. What it should also do now is use the prosperity to pass a bunch of legislation (like a balanced budget amendment with real teeth, and a commitment to paying down the debt) that wouldn’t have a chance in tougher times.

This long period of economic good times is causing parties to move closer together. Who wants to screw with a good thing? That’s why Gore and Bush agree on so much.

Here in Canada, we’re having an election in another few weeks. And it’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen - every single party seems to be running on the same platform. They all want to cut taxes, pay down the debt, and increase government funding only in a few key areas (medicine, mainly). Even the socialists are running a campaign of cutting taxes, and the Liberals want to cut taxes even more than the Conservatives (!). I predict massive voter apathy here, and probably in the U.S. as well.

Sam Stone wrote:

Yep, just like under the Hoover administration.

Er, make that, just like at the BEGINNING of the Hoover administration.

I’d say that, following the massive deficits associated with the Reagan administration (you cut taxes, increase military spending -what do you think will happen to the deficit?), the deficit received 3 “whacks”. The first was when Bush Sr. broke his “no new taxes” pledge. The second involved Clinton’s first budget. The third involved the contract with America.

Yes, the growing economy helped.

But, there is also the matter of the peace dividend: military spending, as a share of GDP declined pretty continuously during the 1990s.

ALSO: for some strange reason (I’m sure the OP will have his set of explanations) all Republican administrations since 1968 have ended their era with higher deficits, while Democratic administrations have ended their terms with lower deficits. (Kennedy/Johnson is an exception, BTW.) Admittedly, the sample size is pretty small, so perhaps this should be taken with a grain of salt.

Those believing that the 1990s were an era of government expansion should take a look at Federal outlays as a share of GDP over the years:

                     1986 22.6%
                     1992 (last Rep. budget) 22.5
                     1994 (last Clinton/Demo Budget) 21.4
                     1999 est 19.7

                     Source: Statistical Abstract.

Those wanting to see charts and tables of military spending and budget deficits over the years can visit my web page (plug, plug) :slight_smile:

FWIW, I understand that the deficit hawks on Wall Street are hoping for divided government and more gridlock: no new programs, no new tax cuts, just continued surpluses.

Does anyone remember Economics 101? :slight_smile:

*Originally posted by Sam Stone *
** Instead, he’s been trying to ‘distance’ himself from Clinton by coming up with all kinds of new policy proposals, most of which will die in gridlock anyway. It’s making him look like an old democrat, which is the last thing a nation wants when the economy is firing on all cylinders.
Ok, and I would add that tax cuts are also inappropriate when the economy is “fully employed”.

Wait a minute. In the first part, you sounded like a Keynesian, advocating lower deficits during good times. But during recessions, when aggregate spending and tax revenues are depressed, I would think that tax increases and/or spending cuts would make the situation worse. Yet that is what a balanced budget amendment would require us to do.

Perhaps a fiscal conservative might want to take advantage of the current prosperity by reforming social security and health care, in anticipation of 2010, when the baby boomers start to retire and the deficit and demographic numbers turn ugly. Easier said than done of course.

Clinton also deserves credit for his 1997 State of the Union address. The budget numbers had just started to look good and there was much talk in Republican circles about new tax cuts. Clinton framed the issue this way:
"My plan to balance the budget next year includes both new investments and new tax cuts targeted to the needs of working families: for education, for child care, for the environment.

But whether the issue is tax cuts or spending, I ask all of you to meet this test: approve only those priorities that can actually be accomplished without adding a dime to the deficit.

Now, if we balance the budget for next year, it is projected that we’ll then have a sizeable surplus in the years that immediately follow. What should we do with this projected surplus?

I have a simple four-word answer: Save Social Security first."
Big democratic standing ovation. Gingrich looks around, thinks for a moment, starts applauding. Other Republican look at Gingrich, think for a moment, start applauding as well.

Thus was born the “lockbox”. Social security surpluses (if I understand all this correctly) are moved “off budget”. That means that they can’t be counted as part of the headline surplus/deficit, and the condition of the federal budget is measured against a higher standard. As a result, massive tax cuts (or spending increases) would look less attractive.

IIRC, all budget bills have to originate in the House…?