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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

U.S. budget surplus to be larger than expected


January 6, 1999
Web posted at: 6:10 p.m. EST (2310 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, January 6) -- The projected budget surplus for fiscal year 1999 is now $76 billion -- larger than expected because of higher tax revenues produced by a strong economy.

Last November, the Congressional Budget Office projected a surplus of $63 billion for the fiscal year that started October 1. The White House last May projected a $54 billion surplus.

President Clinton announced the new number to his budget team Wednesday morning and urged the team to maintain the fiscal discipline set by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act by continuing to make tough choices in funding federal programs.

Republicans repeated their position that any surplus should be used for tax cuts.

But Clinton said it is important to use the surplus to make sure Social Security retirement system is in strong shape.

"We worked hard to bring fiscal discipline to produce this surplus," he said. "Like any family with long-term financial needs, and a little more earnings than we expected, we can't go out and spend this surplus today. We have to plan for the future.

"That is why I have said, repeatedly, before we even consider new spending or tax cuts, first we must set this surplus aside until we save Social Security for the 21st century."

Clinton said there is no excuse for not dealing with "our most pressing priorities."

"I think that we will surprise the skeptics by dealing with the Social Security challenge over the next several months," he said.

The United States posted its first budget surplus in nearly 30 years -- $70 billion -- in the previous fiscal year.

CNN Correspondent Chris Black contributed to this report.


Wednesday January 6, 1999

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