Did John Kasich Help Balance the Federal Budget as Budget Chairman?

During the debate, Gov. Kasich pointed to his record as a past House Budget Committee Chairman and his ability to balance the federal budget in that time, stating that “I balanced the federal budget. It hasn’t been done since.”

Kasich was Chairman of the House Budget Committee from 1995 to 2001, and credit aside, he is correct that the federal budget balanced for four years during that time. The federal government achieved surpluses from FY 1998-2001, spanning a period from October 1, 1997 to September 30, 2001. The budget went back into deficit in FY 2002 and has not been in balance since then.

He later went on to say that the federal government balanced the budget with strong economic growth and tax cuts. It is true that the country experienced strong growth during that period, with real growth exceeding 4 percent each year from 1997 to 2000. Lawmakers also did cut taxes in 1997, but only after enacting tax increases in 1990 and 1993 that were larger than the 1997 tax cuts. The combination of growth and revenue increases led to revenue peaking at 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000, the highest it has been since 1965.

Ruling: Largely True