Source: Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton
Abstracted from pages 34-35
From 1981 to 2009, the greatest accomplishment of the antigovernment Republicans was not to reduce the size of the Federal government but to stop paying for it. As a result, the national debt more than quadrupled from 1981 through 1992, then doubled again between 2001 and 2009, even before the financial meltdown, which then required more government spending—the financial-system bailout, increased unemployment, food stamp, and Medicaid expenditures, and the stimulus– to put a floor under the downturn.
At the same time, tax revenues declined as unemployment rose, businesses closed, and American spent less.
The PAYGO rule, which had done so much to ensure fiscal discipline, was scrapped, allowing the administration and Congress to enact both big tax cuts and big increases in spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… We did all this on borrowed money, increasingly from overseas…
What did we do with the money? We didn’t invest it in new scientific and technological research, in rebuilding our manufacturing base, in reversing our fall from first to twelfth in the percentage of young adults with college degrees, in creating the millions of jobs that would flow from a serious response to climate change. Instead, we consumed it, in ways that distort our economy today and cloud our children’s tomorrows.