Saturday, November 15, 2008

Past Performance is the Available Evidence

The Myth of the Clinton Surplus: While not defending the increase of the federal debt under President Bush, it is aggravating seeing Clinton's record promoted as having generated a surplus. It never happened. There was never a surplus and the cold hard 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 website where the national debt is updated daily and a history of the debt since January 1993 can be obtained. … Understanding what happened requires understanding two concepts of what makes up the national debt. The national debt is made up of public debt and intergovernmental holdings. The public debt is debt held by the public, normally including things such as treasury bills, savings bonds, and other instruments the public can purchase from the government. Intergovernmental holdings, on the other hand, is when the government borrows money from itself--mostly borrowing money from social security.

Notice that while the public debt went down in each of those four years, the intergovernmental holdings went up each year by a far greater amount--and, in turn, the total national debt (which is public debt + intergovernmental holdings) went up. Therein lies the lie.