Washington, D.C. -- President Clinton announced new budget estimates today which predict budget surpluses of $99 billion for the current fiscal year. U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said we must take the news with caution and remember that budget surpluses are normally the product of fiscal responsibility.
The following are comments from Senator Enzi:
"I can't help but be skeptical when the President makes promises in relation to saving Social Security. He promised not to spend the Social Security surplus during his state of the union speech then later his actual budget proposed spending more than $150 billion of the surplus for new government programs. But if he means what he said today, 'Social Security taxes should be saved for Social Security. Period.', I think it's a great thing. Now Senate Democrats will have no excuses left to block the Social Security Lockbox legislation they have been stalling for months. The Lockbox bill does exactly what the President says he wants.
"Now is the time to set sound fiscal policies instead of making plans to spend projected windfalls before they materialize on new programs or expansions of existing programs. Social Security money should be spent for Social Security, existing programs should be funded instead of adding new ones for every special interest group that asks. Even with all the talk of surpluses, we still have a $5.7 trillion debt. It is encouraging though to hear talk of debt reduction from the Administration. I wonder if he would be inclined to support a bill I sponsored with Senator Allard that would actually require debt repayment by law.
"We also have to protect Medicare's solvency. Prescription drugs should only be included when part of an overall fix. We can't keep adding new programs until we adequately pay for the ones we have. We must reform the system so that it will keep Medicare solvent now and in the future instead of relying on one-time budget accounting tricks. Key knowledgeable Democrats and Republicans who have worked on Medicare problems for a long time have come up with a number of proposals like the Breaux-Thomas Commission report, which the president rejected. Because of the time, the effort they have put in on this and their expertise, we should pay attention to what they suggest. I would like to compare the possible solutions when we receive the details of what the president is proposing.
"We must save Social Security, fix Medicare, pay down the national debt and when we have a true surplus provide tax relief for the already heavily burdened tax payers."