Bogus Claim – Bush wiped out the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus in just two years


The graphic below is making many rounds on the internet, and its publication is specifically widespread on Facebook.

Problem: The primary claim is grossly incorrect — so incorrect that the claim qualifies as a BIG Lie.

Bush wiped out Clinton surplus - BOGUS

Grossly inaccurate/BIG Lie category: Clinton left a $5.6 trillion surplus? Really? Per the Clinton administration’s own numbers, the surplus never exceeded $400 billion, and was just $237 billion in its best year (2000).

Good things were done to manage debt during President Clinton’s last few years: there was significant progress in paying down national debt in 1999 and 2000. The National Debt Clock had stopped and was even reversing.

Also good was that new debt under President Clinton’s eight years was minorly incremental as compared to almost all other presidents since World War II. Yet national debt within President Clinton’s last year in office began to rise again — all the gains of debt paydown in 2000 were wiped out by 2001’s gains.

As for debt hitting $10 trillion on Bush’s watch: $10,628,881,485,510.23 was the debt on President Bush’s last day in office. It was $5.727 trillion on the day he took office.

Note: It is easy to check such numbers. The Department of the Treasury has a website that let’s you check the national debt (technically ‘Public Debt’) at any time. You can check the numbers yourself at Debt to the Penny.

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6 Comments

Filed under Lies and Tall Tales, National Debt

6 responses to “Bogus Claim – Bush wiped out the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus in just two years

  1. Anna

    No matter the numbers, the Democrats have proved they are more responsible with our money.

    • Frank

      LOL. Of course….let’s don’t talk about the FACTS! Just keep repeating the lie….typical Democratic response when obviously wrong. Straight from DWS’s playbook.

      • surfkiva

        LOL.of course..let’s not properly read an article that clearly states that Clinton was more fiscally responsible than any administration since WWII….who wants to ignore the facts?..straight from the ignore the truth and say whatever you want truth or lie GOP handbook.

  2. Rikker59

    The truth is that the CBO estimated Clinton’s policies would have produced a $5.6T surplus after 10 years, or averaging for 8 years: $4.5T. Bush inherited approximately $5T in debt. So, if Bush would have left Clinton’s policies in effect we would have had a $1T debt rather than the $10T Bush left to Obama plus the continuing costs of 2 wars and recession-caused revenue reductions. For instance, due to the recession, in 2009 $1.4T more was added to the debt versus the $460B added in 2008 — three times the amount.

    • “Would have produced” as an estimate in 1999 is not the same as “did” ten years later.

      There was also a major recession in late 2000 and late 2001.

      You cannot wipe out an estimate that never happened — although there is a strong chance that there would have been some kind of surplus.

  3. I usually don’t leave comments. Most of those on this page are over a year old and few people, I suppose, will see them.

    The fact is that there was no budget surplus under Clinton at any time. Those who think so are using CBO numbers, but the Treasury Department folks — who, after all, really should know — tell us a different story.

    A budget, by definition, occurs only when revenues exceed outlays. There can be no surplus when you spend more than you take in. The last real budget surplus occurred in 1969.

    Besides, please recall that, although the President has his people draw up a budget, that is really a budget request. It is the Congress — specifically the House of Representatives — that actually creates and passes a budget. If there had been surpluses in the late 90s, the credit for them would have gone to the Republican-controlled Congress and not to Clinton.

    Here is a brief, but detailed account of what happened under Clinton:

    http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/craigsteiner/2011/08/22/the_clinton_surplus_myth

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