Using surplus to fix Social Security, Medicare

New budget projections show a tidal wave of unexpected taxes flowing into Washington - and President Clinton wants to use much of that money to bolster Social Security and Medicare.

"Now we have a chance to do even more to use the fruits of our prosperity today to strengthen our prospects for tomorrow - indeed for tomorrows well into the 21st century," the president said yesterday.

The White House now estimates that the budget surplus for 1999 will be $99 billion, some $20 billion more than bean counters thought it would be just a few months ago. Over the next 15 years Uncle Sam will receive $1 trillion more than previously estimated, a veritable tsunami of cash.

On Monday, Mr. Clinton proposed setting aside $794 billion over the next 15 years to strengthen and expand Medicare. That's an increase of $108 billion over previous White House plans. Clinton would earmark an additional $543 billion for Social Security, assuring the program's solvency until 2053.

The White House also wants to expand some education programs.

All this, and debt relief too. Clinton claimed that his plan would entirely pay off the government's external debt by 2015.

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