Rep. Lankford: Obama Wants Clinton's Tax Rates, but ‘Completely Ignores’ His Reduced Spending

By Elizabeth Harrington | December 12, 2012 | 1:45 PM EST

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) (Photo: GOP)

– Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said that while President Barack Obama is advocating for Clinton-era tax rates on the nation’s top income earners, he “completely ignores Clinton-level spending,” which declined in the 1990s.

“The president’s very focused on trying to get the Clinton tax rates,” Lankford said on Capitol Hill, Wednesday.  “But he completely ignores the Clinton-level of spending.”

“What we’ve got to be able to address is a $1 trillion deficit here,” he said.  “If we were just back at the Clinton-level of spending this would solve the issue that we’re dealing with today.”

“We’ve got to find a way to be able to address the real driver and the real issue that we’re facing and that is the spending,” Lankford added.  “Until we can address that, it’s not going to solve anything.”

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President Obama is advocating for the return to the Clinton-era marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent on those earning more than $250,000 a year. Clinton, however, also cut spending during his two terms in office, as per capita outlays declined from $8,200 per person to $8,000 over eight years, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia.

The government has seen four straight years of $1 trillion deficits under Obama, while Clinton’s highest deficit was $255 billion in 1993. The budget deficit in 2008 was $458 billion, prior to Obama taking office.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, from 1993 to 1999, Clinton averaged deficits of $134.7 billion, and saw budget surpluses of $69.3 billion and $125.6 billion in 1998 and 1999, respectively. (The national debt, however, continued to increase in those years.)

President Clinton presents budget, 2001. (White House photo)

Spending as a share of GDP declined from 22.1 percent when Clinton was elected in 1992, to 18.5 percent of GDP in 1999.

Spending under President Obama, however, has never declined below 24 percent of GDP, starting at 25.2 percent in 2009.  It is estimated that spending for 2012 will be 24.3 percent of GDP.

Lankford reiterated his position that the government’s problem is spending, and not revenue, pointing to record revenue expected to come into the U.S. treasury this year.

“The president’s very fond of talking about the math,” Lankford said.  “Let me give you a few things dealing with the math.  2012 will be the third highest revenue receipts into the United States government ever in the history of our nation.”

“The third highest revenue ever received in the history of the United States is coming in in 2012,” he said.  “So in this down economy as paychecks are smaller, federal revenue continues to increase.”

The U.S. is expected to take in $2.47 trillion in revenue in 2012. The highest receipts ever recorded occurred in 2007 and 2008, under President George W. Bush, with the government collecting $2.57 trillion and $2.52 trillion, respectively.