BUDGET SURPLUS: CBO Estimates a $2.2T Excess
New estimates by the Congressional Budget Office project a $2.17 trillion surplus in the federal budget over the next 10 years, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The announcement is likely to heighten campaign rhetoric on how to parcel out the excess funds. Some lawmakers are calling for taxes cuts, while others advocate using the surplus to provide a prescription drug benefit (7/18). Despite the projection of a huge budget surplus, the CBO warned that President Clinton's prescription drug plan could cost more than expected. Yet to be released, the CBO's cost estimates for the president's drug benefit are rumored to be as high as $429 billion, 21% more than the White House estimate. Despite the huge surplus, Senate Budget Committee Chair Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) warned lawmakers against approving any large entitlement program in the closing months. However, he added that it would be "reasonable" to look into revising the spending caps on his budget. The Wall Street Journal reports that the new surplus estimates give the GOP the ability to increase spending without facing last summer's accusations of raiding Social Security (Rogers, 7/18). The latest estimates exclude even larger surpluses amassed from excess Social Security taxes. Both political parties have agreed not to spend the Social Security surplus on other programs (Welch, USA Today, 7/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.