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Telegram Editorial for June 11

Lowering national debt best way for surplus to be used

(June 11) For those citizens fortunate enough to have received a respectable tax refund, we feel the most resourceful response might be to defray some of their debts.

But certain Democratic members of Congress obviously don't share the same sentiment -- on a much larger scale, namely lowering the national debt.

Although we must hand it to Bill Clinton as the U.S. president who has probably done the most in recent years to lower the public debt, there are congressmen who want to use the surplus of between $43 to $63 billion projected for this year by the Congressional Budget Office almost entirely for Medicare and Social Security.

This kind of surplus is truly a windfall in virtually everyone's opinion. And it's projected that the surpluses could reach almost $500 billion by 2002. Yet the Democrats don't seem to be interested in the national debt, much less a tax break. No, they want to put all their eggs in one basket.

Granted, these two programs have been hurting for some time and certainly cannot be neglected. We don't advocate this for a Washington minute.

We suspect that by using the money strictly for Medicare and Social Security, they're wanting a "quick fix" solution. That is, they feel it will lower the pressure to impose more meaningful, needed reforms in these two programs.

Actually, West Virginia's own U.S. senator, Democrat Jay Rockefeller, recently told a group of senior citizens in southern West Virginia that the surplus should not be used toward the national debt or a tax cut, but for Medicare and Social Security.

Why can't the Democrats understand that the very best way to reduce the tremendous burden on future generations is to bring about economic growth through a reduction of the national debt when the funds are available?

To us, this seems like a more practical answer.

-- Robert F. Stealey