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Budget Analysis Sees $63M Surplus

May 6, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Congressional Budget Office foresees a 1998 federal surplus of $43 billion to $63 billion, the biggest ever, thanks to a torrent of revenues produced by the humming economy, the office said Wednesday.

Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts also expect the surplus to be $30 billion to $40 billion in fiscal 1999, which begins Oct. 1, they said in a letter sent Tuesday to House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio.

CBO expects the strong economy to make the combined 1998 and 1999 surpluses $55 billion to $85 billion bigger than the agency estimated just two months ago. Lawmakers and President Clinton are already squabbling over whether the money should be used to pay for more tax cuts, higher spending, or a reduction in the $5.5 trillion national debt.

Clinton said earlier this week that he believed a $50 billion surplus for 1998 was possible.

Should a surplus of the expected magnitude emerge, it would be the first since 1969.

Until now, the record surplus was the $12 billion in black ink the government registered in 1948. But because of inflation, dollars are worth far less today than they were in 1948, when the entire federal budget was $30 billion _ compared to $1.7 trillion today.

In March, CBO said it envisioned surpluses of $18 billion this year and $9 billion for 1999. CBO expects next year’s surplus to be smaller than this year’s because it expects the growth of the economy and the federal revenues it creates to slow.

About two-thirds of the increase in the 1998 estimated surplus was attributed to higher than expected revenue collections. The rest came from lower than anticipated spending for the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.

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