Political MythBuster: Did Clinton actually pay down the debt?

We often hear the argument that former President Bill Clinton actually ran surpluses and paid down the debt.  Clinton repeated this message to David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” recently.

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.

The facts are in direct contradiction to Clinton’s claims.  In fact, the national debt never declined when he was President.  Not even one year.  The following chart from TreasuryDirect.gov clearly illustrates the national debt actually increasing each year Clinton was President.

The only year that the debt truly declined was in 1957.  It’s very clear that Democrats are being disingenuous by constantly recycling the argument that the debt declined under President Clinton.  This myth has clearly been busted by the above chart from TreasuryDirect.gov.



About Will Hucks

I am a systems analyst and do java development here in Jacksonville Florida.
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5 Responses to Political MythBuster: Did Clinton actually pay down the debt?

  1. Ben Hoffman says:

    [It’s very clear that Democrats are being disingenuous by constantly recycling the argument that the debt declined under President Clinton.]

    Clinton ran budget surpluses in ’98, ’99, and 2000. That doesn’t mean the debt was reduced and not too many people claim that it was. So, like all right-wingers, you’re a liar.

  2. javabeanwill says:

    It’s obvious you didn’t even read the transcript. He clearly stated that he lowered the debt. Which only takes two brain cells to determine isn’t true at all. Nice try.

  3. javabeanwill says:

    Also, it doesn’t really make much sense to make an argument that you paid down your credit card balance if at the end of the year your balance is much higher than at the beginning of the year. This is common sense math. Yeah, sure you can state that you made payments against your balance but if you are spending more than your payments then obviously the debt will increase each year. So, it is you and other liberals who are the ones promoting a lie.

  4. javabeanwill says:

    According TreasuryDirect.org the debt in 1998 was 5,526,193,008,897.62. In 2000 it was 5,674,178,209,886.86. Hmmm, let’s see. The debt increased during those years. Yet, you claim he paid “down” the debt. We obviously spent more than we took in during those years. Is it really lying when exposing such obvious facts. Only liberals would think such an absurdity to actually be true.

    If my wife has a credit card balance of $5,000 at the beginning of the year and then has balance of $8,000 at the end of the year she really doesn’t have much of an argument for paying down her debt. This is close to being a true story by the way. 🙂

  5. Ben Hoffman says:

    If you look at the public debt, Clinton did indeed reduce it.

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