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Song Parodies -> "Budget Surplus"

Original Song Title:

"American Pie"

Original Performer:

Don McLean

Parody Song Title:

"Budget Surplus"

Parody Written by:

John Jenkins

The Lyrics

After suffering through 38 consecutive years of budget deficits, the United States government achieved surpluses in 1999 - $1.8 billion - and 2000 - $87 billion. Government forecasters optimistically claimed that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan was capable of controlling the business cycle and preventing recessions and that this trend would continue unabated; however, budget deficits have since risen to $400 billion for the 2003 fiscal year.
About four years ago
I can still remember how
We thought red ink had gone away.
With Alan Greenspan on our side
We hoped the business cycle died
And prosperity would forever stay.
But nine-eleven brought us trouble
And burst our economic bubble.
Bush's war on terror
Might not have been in error,
But spending was not cut one bit
And when tax revenue took a hit,
We have what gives taxpayers fits:
A rising deficit.

Bye, bye to the budget surplus
Hoped that Congress would show progress, but there's no impetus
Washington, D.C. has a spending virus
And it never seems to benefit us,
Never seems to benefit us.

Should we fight the War on Drugs
And treat pot smokers like violent thugs
When the Drug Czar gives them jail?
Well I know that pot is bad for you,
Like Clinton said in ninety-two,
It's a substance that you should not inhale.
But do you believe the DEA
Will make drug traffic go away?
Their actions can't be wise
Since they just make drug profits rise.
They know that spending twenty billion bucks
Doesn't stop drug growers and their dealer schmucks.
It only brings us more bad luck:
A rising deficit.
It makes me sing


Now, all those fools on Capitol Hill
Support each excessive spending bill.
And it's worse than it used to be
Because Congress approves more kinds of pork
Thinking that taxes come from the stork,
Not hard-working folks like you and me.
They study the Hawaiian turtle,
Find out if Wisconsin's fertile,
Learn where sea otters mate,
And how plants propagate,
And then fund the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Yes, both parties deserve the blame
For all their spending, which became
A rising deficit!
We were singin'


Hocus-pocus, watch the Congress soak us.
A big pay raise is their major focus.
Eight months work, four months recess,
So we're not being crass
To ask our legislators to pass
A spending bill that doesn't have excess.
Now Congress approves its own pay raise
For working, each week, at least two days.
So what can voters choose
Since incumbents so rarely lose?
We tried to get the increase repealed,
But Congress people would not yield
Even after watchdogs revealed
A rising deficit.
We kept singing'


Oh, and in each Congressional race,
Big farmers tried to make their case
That they need larger subsidies.
So come on, Old MacDonald, with your farm,
Go twist your Senator's right arm,
Your lobby can bring him to his knees.
And as farm grants reached a new frontier
Of eighteen billion bucks per year,
No cost cutter stepped out
To break that lobby's clout.
And as Big Tobacco got subsidized,
Not even Al Gore was surprised.
But taxpayers sadly recognized
A rising deficit!
They were singin'


Forecasters shared their gloomy views;
When the CBO gave the bad news,
Which wasn't what I hoped to hear.
I looked up to the Capitol
Which had become a big black hole
Into which tax dollars simply disappear.
And in D.C., no one was shocked
That children's futures were getting hocked.
'Cause as the votes were roll called,
The national debt snowballed.
And three men I hoped would come through:
Hastert, Frist, and George W
Led us to fiscal Waterloo:
A rising deficit!
And they were singing:

(Modified chorus, 2x)
Bye, bye to the budget surplus
All our spending's never ending, but please don't make a fuss.
We're good ole boys who caught the spending virus,
And we hope you're gonna reelect us,
Hope you're gonna to reelect us.

Verse 2The National Office of Drug Control Policy spends around $19 billion per year trying to stop the drug trade. Drug use in the U.S. costs billions more, indirectly, through crime.Verses 3 and 4 are based on findings of the Citizens Against Government Waste web site ( In the 2003 budget, this organization identified 439 examples of pork projects totaling $3.2 billion. Verse 3 includes five that were rhymable:Hawaiian sea turtle study - $7.8 millionWisconsin cereal crop research facility - $8.4 millionAlaska sea otter study - $750,000Plant Propagation facility in Oxford, Mississippi - $2 millionNational Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas - $90,000Verse 4To reward members for submitting the 2003 budget six months late, the House of Representatives recently approved increasing members' salaries to $158,103 per year - which is just the tip of the compensation iceberg. Congressional perks include free meals and vacations from lobbyists, frequent-flyer miles from government travel, and a special pension program.Verse 5The Farm Bill passed in 2002 will cost taxpayers $180 billion over the next decade, and two-thirds will be distributed to the wealthiest 10 percent of farmers and agribusinesses. The primary beneficiaries of farm welfare were corn and cotton growers, who got subsidies totaling $3.7 billion in 2002. In his speech at the 1996 Democratic national convention, Al Gore claimed that he took a strong stance against the tobacco lobby after his sister's death from cancer (but he continued to accept tobacco donations for several years thereafter). I included tobacco because it is an easy target, even though tobacco subsidies declined from $345 million in 2000 to $5 million in 2002. But why are we subsidizing a crop and then suing the industry for having an unhealthy product?Verse 6CBO - Congressional Budget OfficeThe national debt is approaching $7 trillion, and has been increasing at a rate of $1.5 billion per day for the past year. The annual interest expense on this debt is $400 billion.The three politicians (all Republicans) who might be in the best position to control federal spending are Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader, and George W. Bush, who has not yet vetoed a spending bill or proposed the abolition of a single major federal program.

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Voting Results

Pacing: 4.2
How Funny: 4.0
Overall Rating: 4.2

Total Votes: 6

Voting Breakdown

The following represent how many people voted for each category.

    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
 1   1
 2   0
 3   0
 4   1
 5   4

User Comments

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Tim Hall - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Great job and research for this parody. Don't Think Twice, Vote Bush Out
Claude Prez - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Bravo, John. I actually had started on a "Libertarian Pie" once (it even had the "war on drugs/ thugs" rhyme to start the second verse) so thanks for taking that off my to-do list. I have a feeling "Hocus-pocus watch the Congress soak us" is going to be one of my all-time favorite lines. I could go on and on. I love this parody. He's not making this up, folks. There's no constitutional right to a Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Great job.
Michael Pacholek - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Let's see, last three Presidents to balance the budget: JFK, LBJ and Clinton, all liberal Democrats. Last Republican President to balance the budget, Eisenhower, a.k.a. "the dime-store New Deal," and not a favorite of most "conservatives." Coincidence? I report, you decide. In other words, John's right. And Claude, while you're right, you better hope my mother doesn't read that comment. She still hates "Meet the Press" because when she was a kid, it came before the Roy Rogers & Dale Evans show.
Claude Prez - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Michael, I'm not sure what you mean by "balance the budget", but I think a point this parody is making is that both parties love to spend; it's how they get reelected, expand bureaucracies and their power. In principle, there's not a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats; they just squabble over details and stick us with the bill.
Jeff Reuben - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
John Jenkins - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Balanced budgets did NOT occur during the terms of LBJ and JFK. The last fiscal year without a budget deficit was 1960 (the last year of the Eisenhower administration). Some people claim that there was a surplus in 1969 (Nixon’s first year – but you could attribute it to LBJ, his predecessor), but that “surplus” resulted from the accounting gimmick of including off-budget items – primarily Social Security cash receipts. The Clinton surpluses were primarily due to the strong economy, which was more a result of the business cycle than government policies. The three government policies that might have contributed to the strong economy were #1 NAFTA (and Clinton deserves credit for supporting this sound economic policy), #2 NOT implementing a socialized health care plan (which he favored but couldn’t get passed), and #3 welfare reform (which Republicans in Congress forced upon him). Claude’s take on this parody is accurate – as P.J. O’Rourke once said, “giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” So it is disappointing, but not surprising, to have a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and have very little effort to control spending during a period of rising deficits. And Claude, sorry about beating you to this parody, but I would like to read another libertarian parody from you.
Melhi - October 06, 2003 - Report this comment
Very well done, John.
Meriadoc - October 07, 2003 - Report this comment
John, this was fantastic!
Phil Alexander - October 07, 2003 - Report this comment
Very impressive - well researched and rhymed :-)
Michael Pacholek - October 07, 2003 - Report this comment
Oh, John, you had to go and ruin it. It took Clinton two years to cut half the deficit with a Democratic Congress, and FOUR years to cut the other half with a Republican Congress. And the only real "welfare reform" is raising the minimum wage: You make a job pay more than welfare, and insure someone won't be cheated out of such job due to discrimination (neither of which is popular among Republicans), and welfare will be meaningless. Finally, a Republican quoting P.J. O'Rourke is like a Democrat quoting Alec Baldwin. And Baldwin's funnier.
Claude Prez - October 07, 2003 - Report this comment
I know it's pointless to mention this, Michael, but it's simple economics: the lower the cost of something, the higher the demand. Welfare is "free money". It doesn't matter what other opportunities exist; if you're givin' away money, someone will take it. A free market automatically directs resources where they're needed as the individuals involved make informed choices; it's not magical, it's just information. Crap like welfare and minimum wage is just arrogant meddling by people who just can't mind their own business. And P.J. O'Rourke is hilarious.
John Jenkins - October 07, 2003 - Report this comment
Michael, I think that Claude gave a very good response to your remarks. But let me just add that while it is true that the budget was balanced during the Clinton presidency, giving him all of the credit is like giving a rooster all of the credit for the sun rising in the morning. Also, I am an independent, not a Republican, who finds P.J. O'Rourke profoundly humorous. Although I do apologize to all of the teenage males at amiright for comparing their irresponsibility to the irresponsibility of government.
Michael Pacholek - October 08, 2003 - Report this comment
If the "free" market directed resources where they're "needed," there would be no poverty. P.J. O'Rourke is about as funny as a novocaine needle. And I find teenage males more responsible than George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Claude Prez - October 08, 2003 - Report this comment
The market rewards productivity. Productivity brings prosperity. Redistributing prosperity undermines productivity and reduces prosperity. That's about as simply as I can put it. And I'm sure Mr. O'Rourke would be glad to hear that someone who "hates the Simpsons" doesn't think he's funny either. Claude out.
a - October 27, 2003 - Report this comment
anything that knocks the conservatives is cool. i hate bush
MarthaDTox - February 02, 2004 - Report this comment
Love this parody..! Can't commnet on content directly as a Brit I do not feel qualified! By the way what does the stuff about penguins refer to on the message board?
John Jenkins - February 02, 2004 - Report this comment
MarthaDTox - It is certainly uplifting when a talented new parody writer who happens to be a business professor makes positive comments about one of my parodies. Thank you.

I cannot answer your penguin question too fully except to say that is one ChuckyG's ways of making this site unique and as one posts more comments on the message board, he or she becomes a higher ranking penguin with more stars.
ChuckyG - February 03, 2004 - Report this comment
I picked penguins because it wasn't tied to any particular decade or fad (since the board covers a few decades of pop culture and also is used by the amiright site). They had been stocking the vending machine at work with the tasty British imported candies at the time, and I figured different species of penguins worked as well as anything. Plus the site is run on a linux box, and a penguin is the mascot for that operating system. Lots of nice subtle meanings in it that make people scratch their heads.

It's been awhile since I had a penguin chocolate, wish I could locate them in a store (too expensive to buy them online). The corny sayings on the wrappers are cute too. If they could afford to stock them in a vending machine, someone must import the buggers.
John Jenkins - February 03, 2004 - Report this comment
It is certainly an honor to have a ChuckyG comment on one of my parodies. Thank you for answering Martha's question, which, I suspect, a lot of us wondered about.
ChuckyG - February 03, 2004 - Report this comment
I voted too... I've probably answered the question before, but I've never put anywhere easy to link to.
MarthaDTox - February 04, 2004 - Report this comment
That is a very comprehensive answer Thanks ChuckyG
S.T.G. - March 03, 2004 - Report this comment
I enjoyed this parody, sometimes the wording would get me confused, but overall it was great. Good job.
Paul Robiinson - March 03, 2004 - Report this comment
ChuckyG -Aha! I, too, had been wondering for a while about the penguins. As someone who generally goesn't care one way or the other for icons I must say I kind of like the Penguins....Thanks!
Mike (Mike Armstrong) - March 07, 2004 - Report this comment
Good stuff John - I always enjoy your songs.
Johnny D - March 07, 2004 - Report this comment
Wow. 555 for not just a parody, but for a serious work of civic research.
Adagio - March 07, 2004 - Report this comment
Good job!
Chris Bodily TM - March 08, 2004 - Report this comment
Too bad "How funny" can't be substituted for "How Profound." I gave you 5-5-5 for this politically correct parody!
Mari D - March 09, 2004 - Report this comment
Excellent! It's an easy read, even though it's a depressing subject. I admire you for tackling this song! Did you intend a Beatles reference with "fools on Capitol Hill"?
Agrimorfee - March 09, 2004 - Report this comment
555. Tournament.
John Jenkins - March 09, 2004 - Report this comment
I know most of you commented on the parody because it was a requirement of being in Bracket 2, but thanks to all who read and commented. And, yes, Mari, I did want to label the legislators as Beatles-type fools on the Hill.
Paul Robinson - March 10, 2004 - Report this comment
John -Fantastic job through & through here. I didn't see a single one of your rhymes here that were "tortured" or "stretched" to make the pace reads so very cleanly all the way through. And the melancholy tone here matches McLean's version to a tee.
Diva - March 10, 2004 - Report this comment
Great parody, John! Much more complex than mine and well crafted! - March 10, 2004 - Report this comment
Damn, Johnkins, this is awesome. I was going to rave about "Hocus-pocus, watch the Congress soak us" until I read the comments and found that, as usual, Claude beat me to it. By five months. (In fact, lemme just ditto all of C4P's comments.)
Jack Wilson - March 12, 2004 - Report this comment
Pretty good!
2nz - March 14, 2004 - Report this comment
Very very very nice job on this. It's not really a field I know too, too much about, but this becomes an educational parody for people like me ;c). And I bow to your skillz in diligently finishing the whole song and doing the rhyme scheme justice. I did a parody of this for a class in school so I know how tedious long songs like this can be. Mine had a lot of jokes that only people who read "The Godfather" and "Honor Thy Father" would get, so I haven't submitted it here.
John Jenkins - March 15, 2004 - Report this comment
Thank you Paul, Diva, Spaff, Jack and 2nz. And 2nz, I encourage your to submit your Mafia parody because I think many of us are familar with the works of Mario Puzo and Gay Talese. And, even if some of the jokes are somewhat obscure, at least that's better than no jokes.
Rod Worden - April 04, 2004 - Report this comment
John, I'm impressed with your knowledge of (some of the many) things that are egregiously wrong in this country, even if your are not impressed with my use of certain fucking f-word adjectives. F-ives across from here, a great piece!
Rod - April 05, 2004 - Report this comment
Btw, I just re-read your piece, as well as the comment I placed above. (Please disregard my reference to your unease with use of the f-word. Actually, I agree with you, it is way over used.) More importantly, addressing the issue you raise of runaway deficit spending, you are so on the mark. Except that the problem really resides with us, the electorate. All democracies and other representative forms of govt begin to die when the people finally figure out that they can vote themselves unlimited benefits. This, of course, requires CAPITAL in the long run, not fiat IOUs printed by the Fed. We have become soft, spoiled, and demanding of a continuation of a standard of living that has been, and is being, financed by the rest of the world in their purchase of our phoney govt debt. It is a ponzzi scam of the highest order and the dues will be steep. People need to understand that there just isn't any free lunch, anywhere.

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