Instead of trying to decide who has the right numbers, why not just keep in mind the number that nobody talks about, because they can't spin it the way they want to: total debt.

Now, I may be a bit simpleminded; I don't have an accounting education, and my name's not Arthur Andersen. But when I look at the amount of money I owe now, and compare it to what I owed a year ago, I won't say I've run a surplus if I owe more now, and I won't say I've run a deficit if I owe less.

According to the Treasury Department, the total debt of the government of the United States in 1985 was 1.817 trillion dollars; the number for 2001 was 5.770 trillion. Every single year during that range, the debt increased. What does that mean? NO SURPLUSES.

But don't bother asking your Congressman, Senator or President about that. They'll tell you about how the government has been in surplus since 1998. They'll wave their hands in the air and mumble on-budget. If you're looking particularly gullible, and you have something to bribe them with, like a million potential voters from your labor union or other organization, they might even wander off-budget and tell you that there's been a surplus every year since 1985, and in fact it grew from 9.4 billion dollars then to 346.8 billion in 1998! (Why that would be considered a good thing is beyond me.)

Don't let their chicanery distract you from the real issue: the government is in debt up to their (our) eyeballs, and a goodly amount more than that, and more so with every passing year.

When will people realize that government can't be trusted with their money in the first place? Demopublican, Republicrat, it makes no difference.

You can see the numbers at