The EFM Feature
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Professor Charles Musgrave, who teaches at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a faithful EFM reader.  He sent me this analysis:

Like former speaker Gingrich’s exaggerated claims of his relationship with Reagan, Gingrich has claimed on several occasions that while Speaker of the House he balanced the federal budget four consecutive years. Setting aside his ludicrous assertion that he deserves credit for the balanced budget, a quick examination of the federal budget during the years Gingrich was speaker (January 1995 through 1998) shows that the budget was only balanced once, in 1998. Furthermore, the deficit began steadily declining in 1992, three full years before Gingrich was speaker.  In fact, this trend continued to 2000, when the surplus peaked, two years after Gingrich was ousted as speaker. In fact, an examination of tax revenues and federal spending between 1992 and 2000 show that there was no Gingrich effect at all. Again, as with other claims made by the speaker, this one is at best an extreme exaggeration.

Editor’s Note:  

Charles e-mailed a clarification:

I noticed one complication with my previous blurb on Gingrich’s balanced budget claims. The federal fiscal year begins in October so Gingrich could claim budget surpluses in 1998 and 1999 (which would have started Oct. 1998; he was speaker until Jan 3, 1999). Also, fiscal year 1997 had a deficit, but it wasn’t that large so Gingrich might try to claim that the budget was balanced that year. It wasn’t, but he could try to claim it. So, he can legitimately claim balanced budgets for two years, but definitely not four and the graphs show no change in trend while he was speaker.

Comments and Discussion

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4 Responses to Did Newt Balance the Budget 4 Years in a Row?

  1. Bert says:

    The specific figures for the federal budget deficit are$164 billion for Fiscal Year 1995, $107.4 billion for FY 1996, $21.9 billion for FY 1997 and a $69.3 billion surplus for FY 1998. The role individual speakers play in the budget process varies, but the congressional Republicans who deserve the most credit for sculpting these budget improvements were Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico and Rep. John Kasich of Ohio who chaired the Senate and House Budget Committees during this time period. The budget surplus actually increased after Gingrich left and Dennis Hastert became House Speaker. In FY 1999, the surplus was $125.6 billion, $236.2 billion in FY 2000, and $128.2 billion in FY 2001 before increased defense and nondefense spending after the 9/11 terrorist attacks returned us to the deficit cycle we remain on today. These facts are extremely inconvenient for Gingrich’s narrative.

  2. Terry says:

    Bit of good news this morning. Appears that Mitt is leading slightly in the Florida polls, and Newt has more stuff coming down on him.

    Made my day. *grin*

  3. Chestin says:

    This graphic is pretty stunning on several levels. First, I know it’s no surprise to this crowd, but just the simple fact that we’ve run budget deficits for the majority of the last 30 years. I couldn’t imagine running my household like that. Second, the term ‘Creative Historian’ is definitely appropriate to describe Gingrich. And third, the gap during the last three years is absolutely ASTOUNDING. How can anyone in their right mind not look at that and realize what a disaster this president has been?

    This only solidifies in my mind the need to hire someone that’s actually run successfully PRIVATE organizations that have to look at their bottom line each and every day to remain viable. My sense is that only someone that understands how to actually read a balance sheet and then create and drive a strategy to turn things around is capable of leading us out of this mess.

    Florida, please do us all a favor and select Mitt as your man!

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