Originally Posted by Photon1001
I said he could have eliminated the deficit, had the trend in the numbers under Clinton continued, which would have started us off in the right direction toward paying down the debt.
Seriously, do you really think those enormously high red bars in the Bush years were better?
False question, isn't germane to the point.
Do you know what the deficit is? The deficit is merely the amount per year the government spends more than its revenue. When Clinton took office, the first year he spent 200 billion more than the government took in. Likewise, when he left in 2000, he spent 18 billion more than what he took in. If the deficit is down, it means we add less to the national debt. If there is not deficit, that means we are simply not adding to the national debt, not necessarily paying it off.
The government's revenue is about 3 trillion dollars in taxes (2.5 from 2006 numbers). For there to be no deficit, there would have to be spending of just about 3 trillion dollars. However, that isn't the case, where the government tends to spend (in Clinton's years) 100-200 billion over that amount. To start paying off the national debt, the government would need to spend less than 3 trillion dollars each year for an extended amount of time. If we want to put that into perspective, to BALANCE THE BOOK (as you deemed it) the government would have to not spend a dime each year for 3.5 years. Not a single dime. The revenue money would go to paying off the national debt (and that would be a socialistic type idea anyway), and would take nearly the next president's first term.
To extend that, let's say the next several presidents chose not to spend more than 3 trillion, choosing rather to spend say, 2.5 trillion. That's .5 trillion less each year, which would take 21 years of consecutive spending to do.
Clinton didn't come close to balancing the budget, Gore wouldn't have either. Even with a meager 500 billion less in spending, it would take 21 years of carrying out that plan in order to pay off what our debt is now. Our projected debt after Bush is about 11 trillion dollars, not adjusted for inflation. So, with the federal government's revenues the way they are now (about 3 trillion), and keeping with our same model of spending 500 billion less, it would take another 23 years to accomplish that goal.
To illustrate how Clinton DIDN'T Balance the books, and how Gore wouldn't have been able to either, here's a basic graph:
As you can see, government spending increased drastically from '83-2000, leveling off in that year (just about). Had the bars started to retreat, they would still need to cover 5.5 trillion dollars worth of territory, which would take 11 years. That would take a two-term president and 3/4 of another president's term (with hopefully the same policy) in order just to pay off the debt. To get a surplus, the debt needs to be 0, while still decreasing spending and maintaining +s on the balance books. U.S. Treasury - Office of Performance Budgeting - FY 2006 U.S. National Debt Clock What is the yearly total revenue of the U.S. government? - Yahoo! Answers FSU Editorial: "Who Do We Owe and How Much?" by Dollardaze 07/18/2007 Online NewsHour: Summary of Steve Forbes' Flat Tax Plan