President Clinton Addresses Debt Bill

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What do furniture trade shows and the debt bill have in common? Not much, really. But if a certain former United States President is the keynote speaker at the event, the hot button topic will undoubtedly receive some attention.

"The Democrats are proud and the Republicans are relieved for the next election that they did this," said former President Bill Clinton during a question and answer session following his keynote address at the annual Las Vegas World Market furniture trade show on August 2. "They didn't do anything to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Well that's a good thing if you want to stabilize the incomes of retired people. But what does that mean?"

And from there, the former U.S. President went on to say what he felt potential spending cuts could do to the country.

"They're gonna halfway gut all the domestic spending, which is the quality of life and the future of the country. How much do you really want them to cut air traffic control? Or safe food or clean air? Or research and development that will generate the jobs of the 21st century?"

President Clinton expressed his concern about the growing debt and claimed that before 1981, the country "never, ever, ever ran a substantial, deliberate annual deficit."

"We were all like kids that want to go to the dentist and be given candy instead of having our teeth drilled for cavities," said the former President. "So we had a $1 trillion debt in 1981. Eight years later, it was $3 trillion. Four years later, it was $4.5 trillion. Then it took me six years to balance the budget, but I added 1.4 trillion in my eight years. But I took the debt as a percentage of income from 62 to 33 percent--now it's 69 percent again. It will be 100 percent by 2025 if we don't do something."

As for his solution, the 42nd president laid out the way he would reduce the deficit if he were sitting in the Oval Office. He would adopt a long-term approach to balancing the budget, with spending cuts, tax increases, or anything else for that matter, not kicking in until the country has "a little more economic growth," citing specifically the impact on the economy of government job layoffs after states ran out of stimulus money and how the situation could get worse if the private sector doesn't make up for those losses.

"If we cut too much right now, there's a real chance, this may be counterintuitive, we could make the deficit even bigger because the revenues would drop even more than the spending would be cut," the former President said.