Bill Clinton

Meet the Press, Check the Facts

Written by Steve H. Hanke, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

This Sunday (2 December 2012), David Gregory hosted a lively session of NBC’s Meet the Press. The focus of Sunday’s program was the so-called Fiscal Cliff. Gregory rounded up many of the usual Washington suspects, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and drilled them on their talking points.

Several times, in the course of Gregory’s questioning, he referred to President Bill Clinton’s tough 1993 budget deal. Throughout the broadcast, Gregory kept stressing the fact that the 1993 deal included defense cuts. For Gregory, those cuts were the flavor of the day.

This isn’t surprising. Indeed, most members of Washington’s chattering classes parrot the line thatthe economy boomed during the Clinton years because Clinton was the beneficiary of the so-called peace dividend, which allowed him to cut defense expenditures.

In fact, if we look carefully at the federal budget numbers, while Clinton did cut defense expenditures, as a percent of GDP, the majority of the Clinton squeeze came from non-defense expenditures. Indeed, as can be seen in the accompanying table, the non-defense squeeze accounted for 2.2 percentage points of President Clinton’s 3.9 total percentage point reduction in the relative size of the federal government.

Tax cuts are responsible for Clinton-era economic boom

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With Congress out of session, the party conventions going on and other issues coming to the forefront of the presidential race, the looming tax hikes seem to have fallen to the side, at least for now.

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have insisted that House Republicans go along with raising tax rates on the income earners making over $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000. House Republicans have balked at this over fears that raising taxes, particular during a time of slow job growth, would further hurt the economy. In response to this particular concern, Democrats and apologists of their policies often point to the economic boom during the late 1990s, which occured after then-President Bill Clinton’s tax hikes were passed.

Writing at the Heritage Foundation, Curtis Dubay dispels this myth of Clinton’s presidency, noting that the economy did not live up to its full potential after taxes were raised in the 1990s:

Clinton signed his tax hike into law in September 1993, the same year he took office. It included an increase of the top marginal tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent; repeal of the cap on the 2.9 percent Medicare tax, applying it to every dollar of income instead of capping it to levels of income like the Social Security tax; a 4.3 cent increase in the gas tax; an increase in the taxable portion of Social Security benefits; and a hike of the corporate income tax rate from 34 percent to 35 percent, among other tax increases.

Enough With The Political Dynasties

Chelsea Clinton

Our country declared its independence from a monarch and an aristocracy. We were founded on the promise that any American, of any background could theoretically be elected President or any other political office. Instead we’re slowing starting the see the rise of the House of Clinton political dynasty with Chelsea Clinton now thinking about getting into politics.

Despite her famed political lineage, Chelsea Clinton has adamantly refused stepping into the political arena. Now, however, Clinton’s answer on her political ambitions is less definitive.

Asked if she would consider jumping into politics, Clinton – daughter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton – is now saying, “I don’t know.”

“Before my mom’s campaign I would have said no. Not because it was something I had thought a lot about but because people have been asking me that my whole life,” Clinton, speaking of her mother’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid, said in an interview for the September issue of Vogue.

“And now I don’t know… . I mean, I have voted in every election that I have been qualified to vote in since I turned eighteen,” Clinton continued.

It’s Already Ron Paul’s Fault if Mitt Romney Loses

The other day I had a brief Facebook exchange with a friend (who really is a great guy) about Ron Paul. He had posted an image that basically said Ron Paul was the next Ross Perot, and that anyone voting for Paul in November would be actually casting a vote for Obama.

There are all sorts of problems with that. First, Paul isn’t going to be on a ballot in November, so nobody will be voting for him. (Yes, I know he could be a write-in vote, if non-qualified write-in votes are allowed in a state.)

Second, the notion that Perot cost Bush the presidency is commonly argued, but the polling for that race indicated Perot took more votes from Clinton than he did from Bush. If anything, Perot kept it from being a landslide victory for Clinton. But that won’t keep your Republican friends from pointing fingers and calling names.

And finally, let’s not forget that we balanced the budget under Clinton. He wasn’t the perfect president at all, but if my vote in November – for anybody – could guarantee a balanced budget in the next few years, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Our fiscal issues have to be addressed right away if we have any hope of solving our economic woes.

But I digress. The point in all of that was that people are already blaming a man who’s not even on the ballot for a Republican loss in 2012. Then today I saw this piece that talks about how the national GOP is working to keep Paul supporters out of the convention. Keep in mind that these aren’t random supporters who decide to take a road trip to Tampa. These are delegates and alternates that have gone through the delegate process in their states.

Gutting of welfare reform proves unpopular, costly

The Obama Administration recently gutted one of few great bipartisan achievements of the 90’s by undoing welfare reform, a law that was forged by House Republicans and President Bill Clinton. Polling indicates that Americans overwhelmingly disagree with President Obama.

And while DHHS Secretary Kathleen Seblius is defending the move and pushing back against a congressional inquiry, the Heritage Foundation notes that the rollback of the reforms could cost Americans nearly $13 trillion:

Welfare spending amounts to $9,040 per year for each lower-income American. If converted to cash and simply given to the recipients, this spending would be more than sufficient to bring the income of every lower-income American household to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $44,000 per year for a family of four).

Obama guts Clinton-era welfare reform

Clinton signs welfare reform

Americans are often told that Washington doesn’t work anymore because of hyper-partianship on both sides of the aisle. Many point to the the 1990’s as the “good ol’days,” when President Bill Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress were able compromise on important domestic polices.

While the friction in Washington is often blamed on Republicans, President Barack Obama has certainly contributed substantially to the inability to compromise. His latest stunning move is to roll back welfare reform, one of the best bipartisan policy achievements of the last 20 years:

The Department and Health and Human Services announced the agency will issue waivers for the federal work requirement of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — considered a central facet of welfare reform in 1996 — Thursday.

The “Information Memorandum” states that the agency will be issuing waivers for TANF’s work participation requirements for parents and caretakers as a way to find new approaches to better employment outcomes.

Respect for the Office, But Not the Man

For nearly four years now I’ve heard, ad nauseum, some variation of the phrase “You should respect the office, if not the man,” when referring to criticism of President Barack Obama. While I agree with that sentiment in principle, I am weary of being told that any and all criticisms of the High Exalted Obamessiah can have no other motivation than the fact that he is a Melanin-Enriched American. Oppose the stimulus bill? Racist. Oppose government forcing you to buy health insurance? Racist. Oppose $5 trillion in new debt? Racist. Critical of an inept foreign policy? Racist. Oppose billions in tax dollars going to “green” energy companies who just happen to be big donors to Democrats? Racist. The list is endless. For those willing to look past the rhetoric to the truth, we now have ample proof that our president is nothing more than a typical Chicago political thug whose own agenda supersedes any allegiance to the rule of law. The man we are told we must respect because of the office he holds has shown nothing but contempt for the responsibilities of that office, the law he is charged with enforcing and the people he was elected to serve.

This charlatan’s enormous ego and his get-my-way-at-all-costs philosophy should be no surprise for those paying attention. We saw glimpses of it when Obama was campaigning, telling us he’d bankrupt coal companies through harsh regulations that would make it too expensive to operate. At his Democrat-nomination acceptance speech to a packed stadium in Denver, this Prince of Pompousness vainly declared that his nomination would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the Earth began to heal.” Good heavens, that fool actually believed his own hype! So did his minions, as we discovered when Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s current chief adviser, said in an interview prior to the inauguration that Obama would be “ready to take power and RULE day one.” Rule, not govern! Such arrogance!

Clinton urges extension of tax cuts

On January 1st, taxpayers will see a heavy tax increase, which some are calling “Taxmageddon.” This significant contraction could have negative effects on our economy. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said last week that raising taxes would send the economy back into a recession. And now even former President Bill Clinton says that the tax cuts should be extended, at least temporarily:

Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday jumped into the debate over how to handle the looming expiration of historically low tax rates paid by nearly every American, putting him somewhat at odds with fellow Democratic President Barack Obama.

Clinton, speaking on the cable television program CNBC, said Congress may have to temporarily extend all of the low tax rates that expire at the end of the year to give lawmakers more time to come up with a plan to cut deficits.
[…]
The remarks came as the Obama campaign was trying to raise doubts about Romney’s record in the private sector.

The tax cuts were first put in place under former President George W. Bush. Obama extended the rates for two years at the end of 2010, after Democrats suffered huge losses in congressional elections.

Now, Obama and Democrats want to let some of the lower tax rates expire for the wealthiest Americans. Clinton’s comments could undercut that position.

“They will probably have to put everything off until early next year,” Clinton said on Tuesday.

Senate unanimously rejects Obama’s budget

It wasn’t exactly a surprise, given that the House did exactly the same thing last month, but the Senate yesterday unanimously rejected President Barack Obama’s budget for FY 2013. Unfortunately, the Senate also rejected other budget proposals that would, unlike Obama’s budget, put the country back on a stable fiscal path:

The US Senate unanimously rejected President Barack Obama’s proposed 2013 budget Wednesday and shot down a series of Republican alternatives, assuring a prolonged election-year fiscal battle.

The Democratic-controlled chamber has not adopted in three years a budget resolution, which lays out spending and revenue targets for the year ahead, and Republicans repeatedly highlight the fact as they hammer Obama’s administration for failing to take a proactive approach to fiscal responsibility.

The Senate voted 99-0 against Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget request, with Democrats stressing that the vote was unnecessary because lawmakers wrote spending caps into a deal agreed last summer to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

In March, the House of Representatives rejected Obama’s budget proposal in a 414-0 vote.

I’ll admit that it’s a gimmicky for Republicans to bring Obama’s budget to the floor for a voter, but it’s telling that Democrats aren’t willing to get behind Obama’s proposal because it’s politically toxic. But not only does this provide Republicans with a talking point for the Senate’s failing to pass a budget in three years, it also allows them to note that Obama’s budget did not receive a single vote in both chambers of Congress.

Taxpayers to foot hefty bills for former presidents

We all know that President George W. Bush was a fiscal nightmare, largely laying the groundwork for his successor. Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, that domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare and expanded the bloated federal bureaucracy.

And even though he’s not in office anymore, The Daily Caller notes that Bush is still a burden to taxpayers thanks to a free ride for expenses given to former presidents:

Former President George W. Bush is budgeted to receive the most money from taxpayers of all the living ex-presidents.

Bush, the most recent former president, is requesting more than $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars for fiscal year 2013, according to a budget proposal document prepared by the General Services Administration.

Among expenses, the GSA budget document says the younger Bush is requesting $85,000 for phone costs. Hannah Abney, a spokeswoman for Bush, declined to comment on that when reached by The Daily Caller on Tuesday.

This is something from which all living presidents benefit. For example, Clinton has been budget just over $1 million; so just picking on Bush isn’t fair, but at the same time it’s hard not to equate this sort of spending with pork projects for companies already turning a profit.


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