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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 21, 1999


Today, I am pleased to announce that we are on track to reach the largest annual budget surplus ever. Thanks to solid fiscal discipline, the surplus at this point in the fiscal year is $64.7 billion -- the largest in history over a comparable period.

When I came into office just over six years ago, we faced a deficit that had already risen to a staggering $290 billion and was projected to be over $400 billion in this fiscal year. The Vice President and I, working with Congress, set this country on a new course of fiscal discipline, enacting two strong budget packages in 1993 and 1997. As a result, we have begun to pay down the nation's debt. In this quarter alone, we expect to pay down $116 billion of privately held marketable federal debt -- the largest sum ever in a single quarter.

Reducing the debt lowers long-term interest rates for home mortgages and autos, and lowers borrowing costs for businesses, fueling private sector investments for continued economic growth. Despite the good news, this is not a time for complacency. We must renew our commitment to this sound economic strategy by making responsible investments in our people, working for open markets, and maintaining the fiscal discipline that is beginning to lift the crushing burden of debt from our children and grandchildren. It is especially critical that we create a bipartisan consensus for saving the surplus and paying down our national debt in a way that strengthens the solvency of both Social Security and Medicare.