Republicans on Senate Budget Committee take on Clinton’s $4 trillion debt reduction claim

Caroline May | Reporter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The afternoon after former President Bill Clinton’s primetime Democratic National Convention speech advocating for Barack Obama’s re-election, Republican Budget Committee staff issued a harsh refutation of one of the former president’s claims.

“[Obama] has offered a reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade. For every $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues, 2.5 to 1. And he has tight controls on future spending. That’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission, a bipartisan commission,” Clinton said, Wednesday night.

A Republican congressional aide, however, told the Daily Caller that the claim was the “the biggest whopper” of the inaccuracy-riddled speech the former President delivered.

Budget Committee staffers on the Republican side offered a one-page analysis of why the $4 trillion in debt reduction claim does not pass the smell test.

“The President and his surrogates have continued to insist that his budget, voted down unanimously in the Senate and House this year after failing to garner a single Senate vote last year, contains $4 trillion in deficit reduction,” the committee, wrote in a one-pager. “They have asserted that this purported deficit reduction comes from a 2.5-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. These claims are provably and outrageously false. It is not a matter of nuance, perspective, or
context, but sober, objective, and indisputable fact.”

According to the committee Republican staffers the $4 trillion deficit reduction claim relies on three accounting gimmicks, namely applying $2.1 trillion saving in the Budget Control Act, claiming $843 billion in saving from war spending that was not going to be spent in the first place, and $394 billion based on the assumption that there will be a Medicare reimbursement “doc fix.”

“When properly counted, $4 trillion in new alleged deficit reduction becomes less than $400 billion. There is no policy change to alter our disastrously unsustainable path,” the one-pager asserts.

“But it gets worse still,” they write. “The President doesn’t simply claim the BCA spending cuts from more than a year ago as new cuts, but he restores that spending and replaces it with tax increases. Overall, the President proposes to spend $1.4 trillion more than we would spend if no policy changes were made, meaning the President’s $1.6 trillion tax hike is used to fund new spending, not to lower deficits.”

Over ten years the president’s budget would actually spend $5.3 trillion more than the House Republican budget and increase taxes $1.8 trillion to pay for $1.4 trillion in new spending beyond the projected cost, a Republican congressional aide noted.

“The most sensational falsehood from President Obama and his allies, made repeatedly to the American people, is the claim that his budget plan would ‘pay down our debt’—meaning at some point over the next decade it would turn annual deficits to surpluses,” the paper added. “The numbers from his own Office of Management and Budget show this to be spectacularly false. The lowest single deficit under his budget is $543 billion, with the deficit actually rising to $652 in the tenth year. Overall, the President’s budget would raise our nations’ gross federal debt to $25.4 trillion.”

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