26th February 2009
In 1990, President Bush 41 had negotiated hard caps on appropriations spending that lasted through 1995. The “baseline” Congress used in 1992 assumed these caps held because a breach would trigger across-the-board cuts. In the first year of his presidency, Clinton wanted to look like he was cutting one dollar in spending for every dollar of taxes he was increasing, even though he wasn’t willing to take the heat for real cuts. The solution? He redefined the baseline to assume the caps were no longer operative, announced his support for keeping what was already the law of the land, and claimed a sizeable spending “cut” as his own.