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?
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