Not a Penny More

Not a Penny More was a national campaign in 1993 to collect pledges to reduce the federal deficit, payable only if the federal government managed to pass a budget that spent even one cent less than the previous year's. Needless to say, the money was never collected.

Not a Penny More is particularly notable because it was one of the first nationwide political issue campaigns to be organized over the Internet. Years later, Internet activists would become major factors in elections.

On February 28, 1993, Libertarian Party member Eric Klien of Las Vegas, Nevada promised to give $10,000 to the U.S. Treasury if President Clinton reduced federal spending by at least one penny. Mr. Klien even offered to allow for inflation and population growth.

Klien's challenge led Houston, Texas area resident Thomas Rush to start Not a Penny More in order to collect $100 million in such pledges to reduce the national debt.

Not a Penny More coordinators collected signatures on pledge letters addressed to President Clinton that said:

I believe that the Federal debt is the most serious problem facing this country today, and that the only way to control the growth of the debt is to stop the growth of government spending in actual dollars. We have all seen that cuts in projected spending increases do not reduce the deficit.

How serious are you about deficit reduction and cutting spending, Mr. President? I'm so serious that I hereby pledge $________ to be applied to the Federal debt, payable in the event that you sign a budget that spends Not A Penny More than the initial 1993 authorized Federal expenditures.

Part of Rush's purpose was to expose Congressional doublespeak on the subject of budget cuts. In a July 1993 news release, Rush said:

Despite its talk of spending cuts, the Federal government is planning on spending at least $350 more for each taxpayer in 1994 than the 1993 budget authorized. That adds up to a whopping $67 billion in new spending, according to President Clinton's budget proposal.

"When Americans look at their new, higher tax bills next year, they will have a right to ask where the money is going. Contrary to what Washington wants us to believe, any new tax revenue is being swallowed up by this torrent of new spending. Worse yet, only a fraction of the 'cuts' President Clinton proposes are new proposals to cut the size of programs," commented Thomas Rush, Not A Penny More's National Coordinator. "$60 billion in savings are hoped for from lower interest rates, not making government smaller. $44 billion is being 'double counted': it was already in the 1990 budget agreement. Then there is $15 billion in higher user fees that the President calls spending cuts.

... In just four weeks, volunteers have signed up as state coordinators in nearly 20 states, and collected Not A Penny More pledges worth about $200,000 of debt-reduction from a hundred-plus pledgers.

Not a Penny More received favorable press coverage in several states. From the July 21, 1993 Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times:

Thomas Rush wants to save America.

In almost a David vs. Goliath effort, the 35-year-old computer company systems analyst has started a group to raise $100 million in pledges to reduce the federal debt.


Wisconsin coordinator Robert Hess, an unmarried University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student in biophysics, said he got involved because "I just wanted to do my part."

"I do plan to have children and don't want the nation to be in debt. My children are $16,000 in debt without even being born," the 24-year-old said.

Sources: Not a Penny More news releases.