Bill Clinton is Right: It’s the Arithmetic

Bill Clinton said at the Democratic Convention that, when it comes to budget deficits, "it's the arithmetic." I agree.


I was fascinated by former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention.  But the thing that resonated with me most was the part about arithmetic.  Clinton was able to achieve four years of budget surpluses when he was president while deficits have exploded under Republican administrations.

Bill Clinton began his remarks about dealing with the deficit this way: “Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”

His point was that Republicans only have three choices about how they will lower the deficit if they also cut taxes (primarily for the wealthy) by $5 trillion, as they have said they will do.  The first possible outcome, Clinton said, was to “cover it by cutting deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving.”  In that case, “middle-class families will see their tax bills go up an average of $2,000 while anybody who makes $3 million or more will see their tax bill go down $250,000.” 

The second scenario, said Clinton, is to “cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for the national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel. They’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education, child nutrition programs, all the programs that help to empower middle-class families and help poor kids. Or, they’ll cut back on investments in roads and bridges and science and technology and biomedical research.”

Or, alternatively, the Republican will just cut taxes without cutting spending, as Clinton correctly says they’ve been doing for more than 30 years, which will “explode the debt and weaken the economy.”  

As a CPA and candidate for Congress in this area, I believe strongly in looking at the numbers behind campaign promises to analyze what they actually mean.  In my opinion, a budget like that sponsored by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan and enthusiastically supported by Representative Peter Roskam will only add to our deficit problem.  We need to grow the economy in order to start solving our budget crisis, not slash programs that help people when they need it.  As President Clinton said, “It’s the arithmetic.”

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James Hurley September 13, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Sorry friend the wealthy do not drive our consumer economy, that's driven by the middle class and Obama has said what he'll do with the money, he'll use some to reduce the deficit but in the main he'll use the new funds to begin the long process of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, building things like highways and bridges
McCloud September 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM
"Sorry friend the wealthy do not drive our consumer economy" Was that what you decided on your own? According to new research from Moody’s Analytics, the top 5% of Americans by income account for 37% of all consumer outlays. A large chunk for just the top 5%, and consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product. "he'll use some to reduce the deficit" Again is this something you just decided? Never in our history has the national debt been reduced, yet somehow you think some of the "expected" revenue gain will be used for that? Roads and infrastructure? Did I not hear that was what the trillion dollar stimulus was supposed to be for? How did that one go? Raising taxes on anyone will reduce consumption, investment, GDP and employment. The economy will shrink more than it is doing so now. Please get some help understanding economics before you vote.
Paul September 14, 2012 at 10:15 AM
The deficit never paid down? Mccloud, Read history of our country. Read some stuff on FDR. And Henry Ford. You have to grow the economy from the middle not the top and there once was a surplus, granted not very much before the GWB administration. I did not want to reply again on this subject but someone has to reign in your falsehoods.
McCloud September 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Please stop replying, I am embarassed for you.
Paul September 15, 2012 at 09:32 AM
No, I can'y help myself. When someoneas far off as you keeps replying, I need t oput them in there place. If I were you, re-read some of your posts and who would be embarrased. Again, the truth kills you teabaggers.


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