The President is
playing very fast and loose with the idea of a budget surplus.
In 1998 there
would have been NO budget "surplus" had the Social Security fund not taken in
about $100 billion more than it paid out in benefits. And most estimates of the projected
budget surpluses of the next 15 years conclude that about 70.3 percent of the
total will be from surplus Social Security funds. All of the surpluses
generated by Social Security should be used to strengthen and improve the program. What
Clinton really is saying is that he wants to divert part of Social Securitys surplus
to projects having nothing to do with the program itself.
It was not until
the late 1960s that money collected for Social Security was counted as part of the
Federal Budget. It was and still is a separate Trust Fund, which can only be used
for one purpose. Lyndon Johnson started counting the Trust Fund as part of the budget in
order to make Viet Nam war expenses look like a smaller portion of the budget than they