Congress, not the president, writes the laws and controls the purse strings in the federal government. No matter how much the president wants to spend, he or she cannot spend a penny that the Congress has not first appropriated.And Julie reminds us that it was the GOP Congress, not Bill Clinton, who reigned in the federal deficit in the late '90's:
The Clinton Administration serves as a reminder that Congress controls the fiscal agenda on Capitol Hill. At the recent 2012 Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton had the nerve to take credit for policy that he had virtually no part of whatsoever.
“Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row,” Clinton said. “What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”
Clinton wants voters to believe that he balanced the federal budget in his second term, but the GOP-controlled Congress deserves the highest recognition. When Republicans controlled the House and Senate from 1995 to 2001, they stopped Clinton from spending the outrageous amount that he wanted to spend.
In 1995, when the GOP took control of Congress, Clinton’s budget projected continued federal deficits of $200 billion or more indefinitely into the future.
The Republican Congress acted immediately to cut taxes and reduce spending—the recipe for balancing the budget. The capital gains tax was cut from 28 percent to 20 percent and federal discretionary spending was slashed by 17.5 percent, as a percent of GDP, over the next 4 years.Indeed. And you'd think that, with recent polls showing the GOP maintaining the House and picking up some seats in the Senate, the probability of some fiscal sanity would high. However, the Karl Rove-inspired GOP of the 2000's, unfortunately, shunned the party's fiscal conservatism of the 1990's in favor of social conservatism, joining its Democrat brethren in a spending orgy only surpassed by Obama's "2nd New Deal". The public outcry over limitless bailouts and massive new bureaucracies (hello, Obamacare) may convince this batch of congressional Republicans to return to fiscal conservatism. But I wouldn't count on it: The movement that helped the GOP regain the House in '10 (the Tea Party) was instantly corrupted by the Rovian "God, guns, and gays" wing of the Republican party. The word "evangelical" was frequently thrown around during the GOP primaries, and idiot social conservative Republicans such as Todd Akin and Scott DesJarlais continue to thump their Bibles on Capitol Hill.