In the fall of 1994, with 41 percent of the eligible voters turning out at the polls, a Republican Congress was elected. That Congress, while professing middle-class and family values, set out as part of its Contract with America a program to balance the federal budget in seven years. This balancing act, however, was to be constrained by several factors. First, a continued strong national defense was promised, which implied, and in fact delivered, increased defense spending in fiscal year 1996. Second, shortly after the congressional session began in 1995, Congress voted
that personal and corporate income tax increases were "off the table" for balancing the budget. This left the obvious path for balancing the budget to be in only one direction: spending cuts.