Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Jim Campi
March 25, 1999(202) 467-5300


WASHINGTON – At a Capitol Hill news conference today, Thomas A. Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), joined Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) in unveiling S.674, the Truth in Budgeting Act of 1999.  CCAGW endorsed the bill because it will force Congress and the President to deal honestly with the fiscal crisis that continues to face the United States despite the so-called budget surplus.  Following are Schatz’s remarks from the news conference. 

“Good afternoon.  I’m Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.  We represent 600,000 hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  Our members were surprised last fall when President Clinton announced that the federal government is running a surplus.  Well, to paraphrase our spender-in-chief, that depends on what your definition of the word “surplus” is.  As is often the case, the President, and in fact most of Washington, keeps getting it wrong.

“Simply put, there is no budget surplus.  It’s all an accounting trick.  Elected officials in Washington are cooking the numbers so that they can keep on spending taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.

“The main ingredient in this witch’s brew of conflicting numbers is the Social Security Trust Fund.  There are over 150 government trust funds, large and small.  President Lyndon Johnson discovered that he could divert money from the trust funds for other purposes, like the war in Vietnam.  By including these trust funds in the official budget calculations and calling it a “unified budget,” he gave America the illusion that his budget was balanced.  It’s been standard operating procedure in Washington ever since.

“Since the entire purpose of these trust funds is to keep money locked out of general revenues, counting them toward a so-called unified budget robs the American people of a true understanding of what their representatives in Washington are doing with their money.  Here are the facts:  President Clinton’s surplus of $976.4 billion over the next five years is actually a deficit of $353.9 billion.  We don’t have one red cent to spare on wasteful government programs, because we’re awash in red ink.  And all of this is before we even talk about our nearly $6 trillion accumulated debt, which is still growing.

“So what’s the solution?  Truth in budgeting.  I know that it’s a bitter pill for bureaucrats and big spenders to swallow, but they’re going to have to tell the truth to the American people.  Senator Fitzgerald’s bill forces the government to do just that.  S.674, the Truth in Budgeting Act, will require the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office to report the general budget deficit or surplus separately from the trust funds.

“This is Sen. Fitzgerald’s first bill since coming to Washington, and it’s a good place to start.  Washington politicians won’t stop spending money until people demand accountability for their tax dollars.  I urge every American to ask their congressman, “What are you doing with MY money?”  It’s not Bill Clinton’s money to spend.  It’s not even Sen. Fitzgerald’s money to spend.  It belongs to the taxpayers of this country, and they deserve to know the truth about how their money is being misspent.”



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