Clinton Falsely Claims He Reduced National Debt, Gregory Doesn't Challenge Him

It must be nice to know you can go on a nationally televised political talk show and not be challenged when you make an historically inaccurate claim, especially when it's about yourself.

Such happened Sunday when former President Bill Clinton was interviewed by David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The host began the discussion by asking his guest about "pretty significant developments...inside the Republican Party after this turbulent primary season."

Clinton responded by saying members of the Tea Party have "good impulses" concerning the size of government adding, "They believe those in the Republican Party believe that they've talked a good game about balancing the budget, but the debt was quadrupled in the 12 years before I became president and then we paid down the debt for four years, paid down $600 billion on the national debt."

Actually, the national debt never declined when Clinton was President. Not one year. But before we get there, here's his entire comment on this subject (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: I'm looking forward to discussing the Clinton Global Initiative and your work in Haiti, but I just wanted to begin our political discussion with some reaction by you to hearing General Powell on what have been pretty significant developments this week politically inside the Republican Party after this turbulent primary season. What do you make of it?

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think that a lot of the voters who are voting for the Tea Party candidates have really good impulses. That is, they believe that for years and years and years, the people with wealth and power or government power have done well and ordinary people have not. That's true. They believe those in the Republican Party believe that they've talked a good game about balancing the budget, but the debt was quadrupled in the 12 years before I became president and then we paid down the debt for four years, paid down $600 billion on the national debt, and then my budget was abandoned and they doubled the debt again. So there's a good impulse there.

From there, Clinton continued to speak about what he believes Tea Partiers are worried about, and as such was not challenged by Gregory concerning his claim of reducing the national debt.

Here are the facts. As you can see by the following charts taken from TreasuryDirect.gov, the gross federal debt never declined during the Clinton years:

 

As you can see, much like the federal budget, debt is calculated in fiscal years beginning October 1 and ending September 30. With this in mind, as the first budget under Clinton ended 9/30/94, he is in theory responsible for debt created from 9/30/93 through 9/30/01.

Try to find any years where the debt declined.

You can't, can you? Want to know why?

Well, because it never happened. The last year the total federal debt declined was in 1957.  

As such, when we were told the so-called surpluses from 1998 through 2001 went to pay down the debt, nothing could be further from the truth.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, we showed a combined unified surplus of $559 billion in that four year period. Yet the gross federal debt rose by $394 billion.

Wouldn't you have loved to see Gregory ask Clinton to explain how that happened?

As it's been almost ten years since Clinton left the White House, and Democrats along with their media minions love to talk about the so-called surpluses during that administration, why is it the former President has never been asked about this budgetary oddity?

Yes, that's a rhetorical question. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.