CBO says budget breaks spending caps; dips into Social Security Trust Fund
December 2, 1999
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EST (2330 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office Thursday
said the federal budget for the current fiscal year not only breaks spending
caps but also spends $17 billion from the Social Security trust fund.
Just two weeks ago, congressional Republicans claimed they had struck an
agreement with President Bill Clinton that met their goal of not using any Social
But the CBO now estimates the budget deal spent all of the $14 billion estimated
on-budget surplus as well as $17 billion from the Social Security surplus. Most
of the federal surplus comes from the Social Security Trust Fund which has been
running a surplus for years.
The federal government has used that money for 30 years for regular
government spending, but this year both Democrats and Republicans pledged to
leave it alone.
The CBO memo to members of Congress did include a caveat, saying the strong
economy could generate enough unanticipated revenue this year to offset the
money from the Social Security fund.
The CBO analysis said the $390 billion budget bill signed by the president Monday used a number of temporary fixes that attempted to keep spending in balance with revenues, including designating a number of government programs, such as the decennial census, as "emergencies;" a two-day delay in a pay day for military personnel and some civilian government employees; and a loan of $3.8 billion from the Federal Reserve.
Barry Toiv, a deputy press secretary to the president, said the
administration is confident that they offered offsets to pay for Clinton's
spending priorities in the final budget bill.
As to whether the entire budget is out of balance, he said only time would
tell and the CBO's estimates could be overwhelmed by continued economic growth.
Clinton had proposed dedicating the entire Social Security surplus
to debt reduction, a proposal Congress declined to consider. Republicans,
concerned about protecting themselves politically on the issue, then pledged to
not use any of the Social Security money for regular government spending. But the
CBO began warning they were dipping into the Social Security after the first
appropriations bills were approved in the fall.