Forget Powerball, This Is the Big One

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ronald Reagan may have been the Teflon president, but Bill Clinton could outshine him yet as the lucky president. Never mind Clinton’s successful navigation of impeachment and the Kosovo air war -- this president came out of the White House on Monday to announce good news about what counts most for most Americans: money. Because the economy is going so well, he said, the federal government expects to rake in even more cash than the government’s prior best estimates -- a budget surplus $1 trillion bigger over the next 15 years than previously thought.

And that translates into a politics of bounty, the priorities of which the President wants to be the first to define. The new money, he said, would first be used to save Social Security by permitting Social Security taxes to be allocated "for Social Security, period," rather than being needed to help balance the budget. The surplus, said the President, would next be used to strengthen Medicare and to fund his prescription drug benefit plan, details of which leaked out over the weekend before the official announcement on Tuesday. And lastly -- in a signal to both Republicans and Democrats to come to the Social Security and Medicare negotiating table -- the President said extra money could be used to fund some tax relief and boost some domestic and military spending. "The surplus is turning out to be a gift from the gods," says TIME business senior editor Bill Saporito. But the politicians still need to be cautious, he adds. "Sooner or later, we will run into a recession."