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First two-year surplus since Eisenhower

Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government ended the fiscal year
with a budget surplus of $123 billion, recording the first
back-to-back surpluses since Dwight Eisenhower was president, the
White House announced today.

The surplus for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 followed a
$69.2 billion surplus in 1998, the first time the government had
finished in the black since 1969.

The two consecutive budget surpluses marked the first time the
government has managed that feat since 1956 and 1957 during the
Eisenhower administration.

Despite the surpluses, the government still has a $5 trillion
debt.

Presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart disclosed the figures in
advance of a formal White House event where President Clinton was
to talk about the administration's economic accomplishments later
in the day.

Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means
Committee, called the surplus a victory for GOP fiscal strategies.

"This is what happens when Republicans take care of the
government checkbook and hold the line against tax hikes and more
spending," Archer said. "This is a huge victory for American
taxpayers and is the latest in a string of victories that Congress
has won for our country and our economy."

Lockhart called the 1999 surplus the largest in U.S. history in
total dollar terms. As a percentage of the total economy, it is the
largest surplus since 1951, Lockhart said.

Clinton last month had said the administration was looking for a
surplus of at least $115 billion. That figure was up from a $98.8
billion projection the administration had made in its mid-session
budget review in June.

The Social Security Trust Fund had a $124 billion surplus last
year, Lockhart said. But $1 billion of that surplus was spent on
federal programs; both Democrats and Republicans have promised not
to spend any of the trust fund surplus this year.

Lockhart said the president also would note that the national
debt has been reduced by $138 billion, the largest debt reduction
on record. He said Clinton would use the occasion to appeal for
further fiscal discipline in order to eliminate the debt.

"We have done an enormous amount of work to turn this economy
around, turn our fiscal picture around," Lockhart said. "But
there is still a lot of work to do."


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