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JLeslie's avatar

Do you give any credit to Bush senior for the budget surplus?

Asked by JLeslie (63217points) December 8th, 2018 from iPhone

Bush senior passed away recently, and I hear and see a lot of conversation about his time in office. One of the things I’ve heard are about how he gave momentum to a balanced budget that came to fruition under Clinton.

If people believe this to be true, then can we ignore that Bush raised taxes?

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12 Answers

seawulf575's avatar

During the campaign when Clinton was first running for office, during one of the debates Bush I was asked what he was going to do about the economy. He stated that he wasn’t going to do anything about it because there was nothing wrong with it. His meaning was that the economy was cyclic and that it was turning up and that he knew doing nothing was the right thing…but that’s not what he said. Clinton on the other hand, during the debate, talked repeatedly about “his plan” for the economy. “My Plan” will do this and “My Plan” will do that…throughout. But never once did he actually state what “his plan” was. He gave zero details. And in the end, he did absolutely nothing and rode the wave. I have asked people before to name one thing he actually did to help the economy there is really nothing. His economic contributions were minimal. The only thing he really did was to sign NAFTA into being. And that is another debate as to whether that was a good thing or not. But it certainly did nothing of significance to the economy at the time. But in full answer to the question, I feel neither Bush I nor Clinton did anything for the economy.

elbanditoroso's avatar

In a backwards way, you have to give GHWBush a tiny bit of credit.

Remember that he got elected by saying “Read My Lips, No New Taxes”. That put him into office. Once there, he figured out that more revenue was needed and he went back and his word – Lo and behold, new taxes.

It was the new taxes (that he had promised wouldn’t come) that actually set the stage for a balanced budget (short term) and a surplus (longer term).

Clinton was the beneficiary of the botched “no new taxes” promise when he became president.

kritiper's avatar

No. I have seen nothing about a surplus from Bush Sr. Clinton did it all by himself.

gorillapaws's avatar

Bush 1.0 was the last genuine fiscally conservative Republican. When you start a war, you need to raise taxes to pay for it. He called out Reagan on his Voodoo economic policy of trickle down economics for what it was.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The remarkable thing about Bush for me is that his is the most striking example I can come up with of a politician placing the welfare of the country ahead of his own. Neither political party likes to discuss it much (for obvious reasons), but a major reason for the boom years and Clinton’s balancing the budget was the elder Bush’s decision to raise taxes, knowingly sabotaging his own political future.

JLeslie's avatar

The way I remember it, Clinton raised taxes on the top 1 or 2%, plus got rid of some loopholes for the rich also. He eliminated or raised the Medicare cap (I don’t remember clearly) and he reduced capital gains tax. Feel free to correct me, I don’t feel strongly I have this right.

He also made it part of his policy that if someone was asking for money for a program that it get defined how it would be paid for, and not just added into the budget.

Clinton definitely benefitted from the economy growing, which a big part was the dot coms and others in the technology sector.

If you go to the Clinton library the window displaying the budget books over the years during his precedence shows each book smaller and smaller over the years that he was in office. It’s significant when you see it visually.

I agree that Bush 1 had the smarts to raise taxes when we went to war, and for the life of me I don’t understand his son not doing it. Or, not going to war even better. His son counted on economic growth I guess, telling everyone to go out and buy things.

I’m not so sure Bush 1’s tax increases are to credit for what happened while Clinton was president. I think Clinton was going to make changes no matter what, but it seems what Bush did helped. Maybe only a Republican president could have passed tax increases at that time and Clinton would not have been able to raise taxes enough without what Bush did.

It was all over my TV how great Bush 1 was for raising taxes and putting the country first, and some of the banter just didn’t sit well with me, so I wanted to ask about it here. I have friends on Facebook saying negative things about Bush, not fond of the media rewriting his legacy, and the media seems to want to use Bush as a message to Trump supporters.

Caravanfan's avatar

Just to be clear. It’s Congress who raises taxes. It’s up to the President to either sign or veto the bill.

JLeslie's avatar

@Caravan Doesn’t the President show some sort of leadership on it though? In the end Congress and the President need to agree, and the President has to sign off in the end. Or, I guess maybe the senate can overturn a veto?

Dutchess_III's avatar

The president signs or vetos the bill.

JLeslie's avatar

^^That’s what @Caravanfan said. Why are you repeating it? Are you saying the President has no influence over how the bill is written? That he just waits around for congress to deliver something? My memory from Jr. High is the senate can overturn a veto, but government wasn’t my best class by a long shot.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Better than raising taxes, Bush persuaded other countries to fund the Gulf War.

Wikipedia – Gulf War – Cost – The cost of the war to the United States was calculated by the US Congress in April 1992 to be $61.1 billion[242] (equivalent to $96.5 billion in 2016).[243] About $52 billion of that amount was paid by other countries: $36 billion by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf; $16 billion by Germany and Japan (which sent no combat forces due to their constitutions). About 25% of Saudi Arabia’s contribution was paid in the form of in-kind services to the troops, such as food and transportation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was answering your question @JLeslie.

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