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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                   (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release                                    August 20, 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 $69.1 billion -- the largest in history over a comparable period and more than $20 billion over last year's level.

When I came into office just over six years ago, our nation was burdened by a staggering $290 billion deficit that was projected to reach over $400 billion by 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. By the end of this fiscal year we expect to have achieved a $142 billion reduction in publicly held debt over the last 2 years. The debt is now $1.7 trillion less than was projected in 1993 when President Clinton took office.

Fiscal responsibility and resulting debt reduction lowers long-term interest rates for home mortgages, autos, and student loans. It also lowers borrowing costs for businesses, fueling private sector investments for continued economic growth. Despite the continuing good news, this is not a time for complacency. The tax bill passed by Congress would reverse the achievement of fiscal discipline that has been so critical in making the American economy the strongest it has been in generations. We need to continue our progress and remain committed to our successful economic strategy of making responsible investments in our people and maintaining fiscal discipline. We now have an historic opportunity to work together in a responsible way to pay off the national debt and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.