Describing the claim that “the Bush administration squandered this giant surplus left by the Clinton administration” as a “Democrat [sic] mantra talking point,” nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely asserted that “there never was a surplus” under President Clinton. In fact, from 1998 to 2001, the federal government ran total annual budget surpluses of between $69.2 billion and $236.2 billion, according to figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
From the September 12 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, in which Limbaugh responded to a clip of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) criticizing the Bush administration for not investing in flood-control projects in the Gulf Coast region despite taking over a large federal budget surplus from the Clinton administration:
LANDRIEU [clip]: Bill Clinton was running the largest deficit created by the Reagan administration before him and the Bush administration before him. President Bush was running a surplus. Yet, when he had a surplus, he didn't invest it in levees and flood protection for people from Miami to Orlando to New Orleans to Biloxi [Mississippi] or to Mobile [Alabama].
LIMBAUGH: This is sad. This is what [a previous caller] was talking about. But it's just patently sad that somebody with this limited amount of understanding and knowledge is actually in the U.S. Senate. The '90s were the greatest decade, uh, for economic activity in recent years, I thought. When was the peace dividend and all the surplus? The sur -- well, that came after, uh, the Soviet Union and the -- and the, uh, and the [Berlin] Wall fell. And the Clinton administration got rid of all those big deficits. This surplus that she's talking about, there never was a surplus. It was 10-year economic forecasts. But anybody with half a brain can tell you, folks, that two things are going to happen when a government report says there's a huge surplus in the, uh, in the out years: A) Government is going to suggest raising taxes, not cutting them; and B) They're gonna spend it. And this is precisely what happened. There never was a surplus. This is a Democrat [sic] mantra talking point about how the Bush administration squandered this giant surplus left by the Clinton administration.