In 1993 President Bill Clinton worked with Speaker Tom Foley (D) and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D) to enact a law that reduced the deficit by cutting entitlement spending and raising taxes. At the time Democrats labeled this a “deficit reduction law,” while Republicans labeled it a “tax increase law.” The law passed Congress with only Democratic votes – all Republicans voted no.
A little more than a year later, Republicans won the 1994 elections and took the majorities in the House and Senate. In 1995 Republicans passed a spending cut bill that would have balanced the budget, and another bill that cut taxes. President Clinton vetoed both.
On May 15, 1997, after months of intense negotiations, President Clinton reached a bipartisan budget agreement with Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R), and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D). House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D) did not sign on.
I was Senator Lott’s budget staffer at the time. In addition to aiding him in those negotiations, I assembled the 1997 agreement document. While it was widely circulated then, that was 14 years ago, and I haven’t seen the 24-page document or that agreement discussed anywhere recently.
Here it is: Bipartisan Budget Agreement (May 15, 1997).
Of particular relevance to the current negotiation is the table on page 4, titled “SUMMARY OF DEFICIT REDUCTION IN BUDGET RESOLUTION MARK.” From this table you can see that President Clinton (and Senator Daschle) agreed with Leader Lott and Speaker Gingrich to a deal that cut spending, reduced the deficit enough to balance the budget, and cut taxes.
That’s right. The 1997 Clinton-Gingrich-Lott bipartisan budget agreement cut spending enough to balance the budget and cut taxes.
You can see from this table that over a five year period (1998-2002) the agreement:
- cut defense discretionary spending by $77 billion and cut nondefense discretionary spending by $61 billion;
- “cut” (reduced the growth rate of) Medicare spending by $115 billion;
- “cut” Medicaid spending by $14 billion;
- cut other mandatory spending by $40 billion;
- contained new “Presidential