GOP Claims Credit for Budget Surplus

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Update: includes additional comments from Dunn and Watts

Washington ( - Republicans who were swept into power five years ago after the GOP won control of Congress for the first time in 40 years celebrated on Capitol Hill Wednesday, with the chairman of the House Republican Conference giving credit to his colleagues for eliminating the federal budget deficit.

Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) said the government is now projecting budget surpluses "as far as the eye can see," since the GOP came to power in the House of Representatives following the 1994 elections.

Watts, who was joined by Reps. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) and J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), also outlined an agenda for the remainder of the 106th Congress. "We will build on last year's accomplishments and our five years of remarkable success," Watts told

When Congress returns later this month, Watts said the top priorities will be cutting taxes, strengthening Social Security, bolstering national defense and passing major health care and education legislation.

Absent from the event was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the main architect of the GOP's 1994 victory and the Contract With America, which helped fuel Republican successes that year. Gingrich resigned his seat after the GOP suffered congressional losses in the 1998 elections.

Dunn, who is vice-chair of the House Republican Conference, told that as a woman she has a keen interest in preserving Social Security for future generations since, according to statistics U.S. women outlive men by about seven years and generally have longer retirements. She added that Congress is "going to be on the move this year."

Watts said that a tax cut would be good for the economy because it would put more goods and services into circulation.

"It's not bad for the American economy to give people their money back," said Watts. "Seventy percent of the economy is consumer driven."