President Clinton will propose a budget next month that calls for paying off the government's $3.6 trillion publicly held debt by 2013, two years sooner than expected, the White House said today.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the strong economy had provided the resources to pay off the debt more quickly. He said Clinton's plan would devote the interest savings to Social Security, allowing the program to remain solvent beyond 2050.
Republicans in Congress also are talking more about using the massive revenues coming into the Treasury to eliminate the $3.6 trillion public debt rather than try again for a massive tax cut similar to the one vetoed by Clinton last year.
With the $2 billion held by large government trust funds, the federal debt totals $5.76 trillion.
Clinton's proposal comes amid an election-year battle between Democrats and Republicans over the size of the budget surplus over the next 10 years. That battle was touched off by an unusual decision by Congress' top budget analyst to produce three separate surplus estimates, to be released Wednesday and ranging from $1 billion to $2 billion.