Press Release
Tuesday, October 26, 1999
WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition welcomed today's news that the federal government's budget deficit shrank to just $1 billion in fiscal year 1999 without counting the Social Security surplus.  However, the Coalition reminded Congress and the Administration that the surplus over and above Social Security projected for fiscal year 2000 and beyond will vanish if fiscal discipline continues to collapse.


         “The numbers provided today by the U.S. Treasury Department show that the federal government's on-budget accounts were $1 billion in the red for fiscal year 1999, while the off-budget Social Security program had a $124 billion surplus over that same period.  Only by combining the on-budget and off-budget numbers into a ‘unified' budget figure can it be claimed that the federal government ran a surplus for fiscal year 1999,” said Executive Director Robert Bixby.


         “The anticipation of huge budget surpluses has caused a breakdown in fiscal discipline.  But right now, with all the accounting gimmicks lawmakers are using to mask spending, next year's on-budget surplus is in peril.  The real test is to enact sustainable fiscal policies that will lead to honestly balanced budgets for as far as the eye can see.


         “Although the Social Security program is legally and officially off-budget, politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to use its surplus to make the budget appear balanced.  Even in this time of prosperity, the government's on-budget accounts are still in deficit and the long-term fiscal problems facing Social Security and Medicare have yet to be solved,” Bixby said.


         The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by former Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), the late Paul Tsongas, former Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson.  Former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) joined Rudman as co-chair of the organization in 1997.  The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grass roots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy.