Am I the Only Clinton Supporter Left?

I liked Bill Clinton. He was a moderate who pushed free trade, NATO expansion, welfare reform & limited government. I don’t know or care if he really believed it. I called him a Great Statesman. The liberal attitude toward Clinton is like their attitude toward America. They love the idea but dislike real world manifestations. Democrats advocating successful Clinton style policies would never get past their party’s Soros wing. These days the Dems are flying on one wing.

The best example is free trade, which is why I mentioned it first. Hilary/Obama have firmly rejected the Bill Clinton trade & economy policy. The Clinton Administration was one of the most free trade friendly administrations in U.S. history, on balance more than either George W or the elder Bush. Free trade was responsible for much of the prosperity of the 1990s. This was great. We saw damage trade restrictions can do during the great depression when high tariff barriers deepened the downturn. The current Democratic candidates advocate those sorts of controls and restrictions. It is ironic that they are called liberals, since what they are advocating is the opposite of the definition of that word when it comes to trade. This kind of fearful, stingy outlook has no place in America. The Dems are telling us to fear the competition from Columbia, for example. Juan Valdez is on his way to take your job. Come on.

NATO expansion is another policy Bush continued from the Clinton policy. It is not a big issue in this election, but I wonder what my Dem colleagues think of it. I was for when Clinton was president & I am for it now.

Welfare reform was the most successful social policy of the last generation. It helped us overcome our defeat in the War on Poverty. The current crop of democrats is advocating an expansion welfare style bailouts. Those sorts of programs didn't work in 1971 and they won't work now.

But the most important thing about Clinton, the high point of his presidency, was when he proclaimed that the era of big government was over. Neither of the current Democratic candidates advocates LESS government. In fact, they PROMISE larger and more intrusive government. You have to go back beyond Jimmy Carter to George McGovern to find that sort of Democrat - until now.

The only saving grace of Obama/Hilary is that they are lying about free trade. They both talk against free trade, but then they dispatch their secret agents to tell the Canadians (Obama) & Columbians (Clinton) to tell them that they will not really do what they promise their credulous fans. It is sort of like Mission Impossible. The candidate disavows any knowledge of their agent's actions when they are caught at it.

I hope and believe they are also lying about Iraq and they will probably go back on the bigger government when they find out how hard it is to raise taxes on real people, not just the mythical "rich".

The irony is that I am counting on Democratic dishonesty to save us from real Democratic inexperience. Bill Clinton was a moderate who sometimes talked like a liberal. I am afraid his successors are liberals who talk like moderates. Talking liberal is okay, as long as they are lying.

So, my friends, tell me what you all liked about the Bill Clinton years and try to explain how the current Democratic candidates are going to bring that back.

Posted by Jack at April 8, 2008 2:14 AM
Comment #250034

That’s a hoot. We hope Democrats are lying but fear they are telling the truth even as we hope Republicans are telling the truth even as we are reasonably sure they are lying.

Kinda makes you yearn for a time of honest crooks like Huey Long.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 8, 2008 9:38 AM
Comment #250039

What I liked about the Clinton years? Triangulation of course.

Of the three candidates Obama is campaigning on triangulation which means he is most likely not to do it when he is in office. Hillary and your man McCain are most definitely triangulators; you know this because they are trying to convince you that they are not.

If you have a triangulator in office then you want him/her to be in the opposing ideological camp. That’s why Hillary is the best choice for President…

Logical? Who says politics is logical!

Posted by: George in SC at April 8, 2008 10:55 AM
Comment #250050

NATO is a useless Cold War relic. Speaking of useless Cold War relics, McCain wants Russia out of the G8.

The issue of “free trade” has nothing to do with trade. It is not a matter of governments unfairly subsizing inefficient industries, or assigning unfair tariffs to imports.

The issue has become nothing more than outsourcing of US jobs. This is done to undermine labor unions, avoid environmental legislation, and avoid providing basic benefits. It has nothing to due with subsidies or ineffeciencies within the US. It has everything to do with what amounts to international class warfare. Multinational corporations- at the vast majority of those are American- increase profits by paying employees less and avoiding regulations intended to protect workers and the public.

Here is a real life example related to the topic: in the US, a computer programmer might be provided a salary of $80,000 plus benefits. But what a corporation does now is bring in a foreign worker on a temporary visa. The worker is paid only $60,000 and provided with NO benefits. At the end of the visa, they leave, and a new foreign worker replaces them. The only downside is possible language barriers.

As a result of “free trade,” the US economy no longer creates jobs. Real wages are stagnant and likely to drop in the next year. Trade deficits have been horrendous (although to be fair, much of the current trade deficit is exacerbated by rising oil prices).

It has been a recipe for economic disaster.

I don’t blame Bill Clinton. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But it was NOT a good idea. That has become abundantly obvious, and to continue pursuing a bad idea makes no sense at all.

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2008 3:03 PM
Comment #250054


so you don’t blame Clinton, but you do think that his policies helped lead to the current trouble?

And you like Clinton, but nothing he did specifically?

Is there anything you think that Clinton did that was a good idea back then and is still a good idea now?

Posted by: Jack at April 8, 2008 4:39 PM
Comment #250056

Overall, the Clinton policy during the breakup of Yugoslavia was good.

The Omnibus Act of 1993-94 was great. It eventually brought about a balanced federal budget, and given time, might have reduced the national debt.

Overall, the projection of confidence and optimism and empathy played a huge role. But it wasn’t just acting or parroting the words of some speechwriter. The fish rots from the head down, but the opposite is also true in that good things can come down from the top too.

The economic performance of the US under Clinton, through Treasury Secretary Rudin, was exceptionally good.

International relations were generally good. The multilateral approach worked well.

On almost any topic, it’s possible to find something to criticize, especially with the benefit of hindsight. The repercussions of “free trade” are a good example. At the time, it seemed to make sense. But who at the time would have imagined that computers and networks would make almost any American job a candidate for outsourcing?

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2008 4:57 PM
Comment #250058


The free trade was a basis of the good relations. Of course, I recall relations with Russia, China & some others was not so good, esp during the Kosovo crisis.

I think you are remembering the good times w/o taking into account what made them good. The policies of Clinton were free trade. He cut the growth of government. Welfare reform and NAFTA were among his big achievements. Of course, we were just very lucky too (end of cold war etc) There is almost nothing that these policies have in common with what either Obama or H. Clinton are proposing. Don’t you find that odd?

Posted by: Jack at April 8, 2008 5:06 PM
Comment #250059

No, Jack, this article has this backwards. The liberal attitude toward conservatives is like their attitude toward America. They love the idea of conservative values but dislike real world manifestations wrought by Republicans.

I love your switch from Bush apologist to Clinton lover. Is there a public image shift taking place here to appear more moderate in order to subtly push that Republican McCain candidate, I wonder? Sure looks like the motive to me.

McCain is no moderate. A political moderate adheres to ideal principles up to the point that their application harms people, or the circumstances require something other than ideal principles inappropriate to the situation to prevent harming people. McCain is NOT a moderate. He will flip flop for his own political gain, but he won’t flip flop to protect people, people are secondary to principle as his position on Iraq attests.

McCain suffers from the Viet Nam syndrome. He can’t find the answer to why he suffered so in the prison camp, since we ended that war without traditionally defined victory. But, as history demonstrates, Viet Nam and the U.S. are friendly nations for having ended that struggle that cost so many so much. But, McCain acts as if he suffered for nothing, and he stumps today saying the losses in Iraq must be vindicated with more losses in Iraq - leaving is not an option. Regional coalition replacement of the US presence is not an option, over the horizon Iraq support with helicopters and gunships without an occupational force on the ground, is not an option.

McCain is no moderate. He is an extremist, no doubt shaped by his extreme experiences in the POW camp.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 8, 2008 5:14 PM
Comment #250060

Listen to Jack spin: “The current crop of democrats is advocating an expansion welfare style bailouts.”

Bernanke is a Republican, Jack, as are most of the Fed Board who bailed out Bear Stearns. The Economic Stimulus Bill was bipartisanly passed, Jack, and signed by a Republican president.

Your GOP deceptions are becoming just too easy to read.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 8, 2008 5:18 PM
Comment #250069

I’m not arguing against free trade. I’m not arguing against another country manufacturing a product and shipping it to the US, or vice versa.

I am arguing against shipping an American job overseas, in order to avoid paying a decent wage here with benefits, and in order to avoid environmental regulations; then paying the overseas worker a fraction, without benefits or beneficial regulations; and finally shipping the product back to the US.

Clinton did a lot of good things, and then again, some not so good things. On balance, he is being remembered favorably, and he deserves a good review.

Obama and Hillary face a considerably different situation. The situation abroad under Bush #41 was reasonably good. However, the domestic economy was bad and getting worse. Under the current Bush, the situation is bad and getting worse in almost every respect. It really is a pretty pathetic performance. So, it demands different approaches and solutions.

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2008 5:47 PM
Comment #250073

An American business pays an embedded income tax of about 22% on all products shipped overseas. Many American jobs have been lost as corporations attempt to level the playing field with other countries who have no such tax embedded in their products sent to us.

And, many American corporations shield income to avoid our taxes by setting up offshore business headquarters.

The FairTax will bring back those jobs and many more to the US as well as bringing back many corporate headquarters and dollars.

Posted by: Jim M at April 8, 2008 6:23 PM
Comment #250075

I’m not opposed to considering the Fair Tax. It might be difficult convincing people to go for it, once they understand how much sales tax would be assessed. But I spend practically nothing anyway.

As for American corporations relocating overseas? Fine. Ship the corporate officers overseas too, as well as everyone on the board. Strip them of their citizenships, deport them when their temporary visas expire, and treat their corporations as foreign entitities. No problem. And good riddance.

Posted by: phx8 at April 8, 2008 6:40 PM
Comment #250080

The truth is, the Democratic Party still has its share of conservative members. However, their conservatism will be less the kind that rushes to imitate the hard right radicalism of the Republicans, and more towards the true conservatism of government constraint, fiscal responsibility, and moderation of radical social forces.

The Clintons are a casualty of the Bush Administration’s burning out of Americans on the Republican party. What point is there to co-opt Republican policies when their policies are disliked by the majority?

Clinton’s problem is that she spent too much time swerving to the right, to make much progress moving to the left. Obama’s inertia to move in that direction was much less, and his willingness to circumvent the Clinton-favoring Democratic Party establishment meant he wasn’t fighting the Clintons on their own terms.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 8, 2008 8:38 PM
Comment #250083


“Here is a real life example related to the topic: in the US, a computer programmer might be provided a salary of $80,000 plus benefits. But what a corporation does now is bring in a foreign worker on a temporary visa. The worker is paid only $60,000 and provided with NO benefits. At the end of the visa, they leave, and a new foreign worker replaces them. The only downside is possible language barriers.”

In my experience in software companies, those with Visa’s are employee’s and get the same benefits as everyone else in the company plus one much bigger, more expensive one which is support in the Green Card application process. This more than offsets there reduced wages until completed. Once completed, they are able to negotiate on even footing with U.S. workers.

My experience may be unique (only three or four companies); however, there hasn’t been any major downwards wage pressure for technical expert positions due to Visa workers. Rather it seems that it is more directly attributable to the .com bubble burst and the Y2K hangover that has helped move wage inflation back in line with more traditional U.S. worker experiences.

Posted by: Rob at April 8, 2008 10:23 PM
Comment #250090


You know that I have always defended Clinton and called him a good steward of the economy. I have been doing this on Watchblog for four years and before that with friends and colleagues.

The reason I wrote this post was because the current Democratic candidates have rejected almost everything about Bill Clinton (as he behaved in the 1990s) except the name.

Back in the 1990s, I supported NAFTA, Free trade, welfare reform, NATO expansion, multilateral diplomacy & smaller government. So did Bill Clinton – at least that is what he said and how he behaved. NONE of the current Democrats believe in any of those things. In fact, if Hilary was to read one of Bill’s speeches on any of these subjects to an audience of true Democratic believers, she would be booed out of the room.

Re – Bear Sterns – nobody liked that. As Bernake explained, it was necessary to prevent a general crisis in financial markets. It may also be necessary to bail out some homeowners. We should try not to make a habit about that, however. BTW – the Fed Chairman is an non-partisan position. A bet Bernake is a Republican. I know Greenspan backs John McCain, but theirs is not a partisan political appointment.


The U.S. outsources some jobs. Others insource into the U.S. A couple of years ago I went to Greenville (I think that was the name) SC. There are an amazing number of foreign firms there that have shipped jobs to the U.S. We are the recipients of a great deal of foreign investment that create American jobs. Our firms invest in foreign countries doing the same. It is the world economy. You can be afraid of it and dislike it, but you cannot really avoid it.

Re your history is wrong – the economy in 1992 was improving rapidly. It was not apparent to average people because there is a lag time. The economy began to improve in 1991 and began to decline in 2000. Clinton was a good steward of the economy, but he was also very lucky in his timing.


I think there are a fair number of conservative Democrats. I hope they will listen to what Obama/Hilary are saying. You guys hearken back to the good times of the 1990s, but reject everything that made them good.

Obama/Hilary will take us back to the old fashioned liberalism. Bill CLinton was a “new democrat” who tried to take us away from that. If Dems want to reject moderation, we will all suffer.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2008 12:13 AM
Comment #250098

Part of the nineties reflected real prosperity, and in their early administration, Clinton and Gore caught onto what was really going to advance the US economy in substance, which was the internet. The Information Superhighway, remember?

But there was a dark side to what they did and what they allowed to happen. To put it plainly, they drunk the Kool-aid on deregulation, for whatever reason, and allowed Congress to pass measures which would allow disruptive forces to return to the economy.

The assumption became among neoliberals and conservatives that laws that lowered the bottom line interfered with the free market and laws that raised it aided it.

This was the excuse for lowering accounting standards, which, though it helped people hype up dot-coms and overhype company stocks, in the end allowed the reality of these corporations economic health to strongly deviate from the numbers being given to the market, an ironic distance that essentially created a disaster waiting to happen.

That was the excuse for lowering the Chinese Wall between investment banking and equity trading, allowing a the same company that had to be objective with customers about what business were doing well when they sold them stock, also have to make sure that they would see a return on their loans to that company. The loan people would want the stock to sell, even if there was no good reason in the fundamentals. The stock people would want the loans to stay out of default so they wouldn’t lose the banks money. In that conflict of interest, the only people who did well were the people making money while everything stayed good.

But as soon as the cat was out of the bag, investors often took a bath both at the brokerages and in the banks. The rules used to keep them separate so they could serve their own interests. The stockbrokers could play against the banker’s interest by selling short a bad stock, the bankers agaisnt the stockbrokers interest by putting a bad loan in default, or not giving a new loan to a company whose fundamentals didn’t merit the investment.

The health of the economy was the excuse to pursue power deregulation, which not only made our grid more inefficient, but also made power in the states that tried it more expensive.

It goes on and on. I have observed that many of the so-called deregulatory reforms that were intended to help the economy in fact hurt it, by enabling conflicts of interest, by pouring more uncertainty about what investments are worth into the market, and by allowing the systematic economic sidelining and victimization of the very people whose spending drives our economy at its most robust.

Follow me here: The lending and credit companies nowadays often have the goal of putting the customer into permanent debt, the reason for this being the gift that keeps on giving: interest and fees. This is what Bankruptcy “reform” was about: making it more difficult to square yourself with the house. Loansharking with better taste in tailors, essentially.

But at some point, it’s squeezing blood from a stone, and the companies that engaged in predatory lending, who made a business model out of it find themselves with a ton of debt on hand. Lax accounting regulations let them put off telling their investors that a big bubble is about to burst, but that only gives it more time to get bigger, for the bust to get worse. One of the methods for getting this debt off the books was to sink it into mortgage securities, which somebody else then bought. But somebody had to buy it and continue buying it for this to work.

You could write off the bad debts just so long as you could sell them off. But for people to buy them, they had to consider what these things were worth; nobody’s going to buy up packaged debts and sell them in turn unless they can get a value on them, and thereby a line on what their profits might be on the deal.

Another problematic element was the speculative market on housing. It made a lot of money for a number of people, and kept housing prices soaring upwards, which in turn fed a secondary market in home refinancing (lost another loan to Di-Tech?)

But that, too, busted. And when the home values went down, when housing starts started going down, the speculative market hit a brick wall. After all, you have to raise the value of what you buy to make a profit.

At the same time, interest rates start going up, and people with adjustable rate mortgages start getting soaked, and they too start facing foreclosures. The snowball starts rolling.

With so many mortgages going into foreclosure, the obvious question comes to those buying and selling these packaged debts: how good are these mortgages? What are they worth? This is what slammed the brakes on: Nobody knows!

People stop buyin and selling these debts. Suddenly, once ripe bottom lines are now rotten, wrinkled and shrunken. Federal law requires, for good reason, that banks need a certain amount of funds on hand to give out loans, to give people a line of credit. Now, all of a sudden, they don’t have the wherewithal to lend to anybody and everybody. This means the end of easy credit.

Only problem is, this represents a sudden change in the ability of many to get new businesses started, buy that new home, buy that new house, get their new car. The golden geese, it seems, had a suicide pact.

But if that wasn’t enough, some people were making bets on these investments, allowed to do so by regulations that were highly fuzzy about what could or couldn’t be done by them as investment banks. So these big banks (or bank-like institutions) start cratering, too!


Isn’t this fun?

No. Seriously speaking, there is no such thing as a free market in those terms. The law is not merely some intruder, but a central part of defining the way business is done.

What do you have to do to be a bank, and to lend money as one? What do you you have to do to incorporate as a corporation, to go on the stock exchange as a publically traded company? What are the rights and obligations of these actors in the economy?

What’s enforceable in a contract, what’s not? What standards do those keeping the books have to keep themselves, and what tricks and deceptive behaviors are they forbidden? What interest rates are legitimate, what efforts to get somebody to take on debt illegitimate? And how exactly does one discharge those debts when they become functionally overwhelming?

The rules of the game and how they are enforced are critical to the functioning of our economy. The disaster we’re currently in is the product of many different rules changes made by Republicans and Democrats alike in the spirit of improving the economy. However, these changes in regulations only served the short term interests of a few, many who got off scott-free with millions. Meanwhile, the system as a whole suffers, and the economy is needlessly weakened.

We have to recognize that it is the shape of the emergent effects that matter in whether we regulate or not. When an a bad emergent effect tends to dominate when we let things go, we should regulate, cut off those short-term profitable but long term disastrous behaviors before they get started. When the market does a good job of keeping things in line, we should let it go.

A great many conservative Democrats let these unwise things go, back when they were more allied with the Republicans. We need a return to liberalism, old-time or not, where we let businesses have a seat at the table, but not fill all the chairs at it, all the same. Sometimes business know what’s good for them, and sometimes the businessmen are only looking out for what’s good for them, this quarter. We need to recognize that there can be a difference.

We also need to recognize that unwise and destructive behaviors don’t always kill a business overnight. All too often, these behaviors can go industry wide, and create cascading disasters like those that struck post 9/11.

The key to good liberal economics is to reward productive behavior more than unproductive, to cut through as much bull as possible to enable market mechanics to do their thing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 9, 2008 8:07 AM
Comment #250103

The high point of the Clinton presidency was when he finally admitted he lied under oath.

Obama is an unabashed “progressive liberal” and he has never actually reached across the isle and compromised on one single major issue. He’s incapable of it. Just as he’s incapable of admitting it when he gets caught lying to us. What I see of Obama is not good, he believes this “I am MLK, I am JFK, I am Lincoln” HYPE. I can see it in his arrogance when it comes up.

We are in for a lot of trouble because short of a miracle, the democrats will win no matter who they run and it appears they will run Obama. Obama who will not allow Florida and Michigan to vote because it’s too important that MLK, JFK, LINCOLN make it to office….get it? He already puts himself above the will of the people and he hasn’t even been elected yet.

Posted by: Stephen at April 9, 2008 8:48 AM
Comment #250104

Jack said: “You know that I have always defended Clinton and called him a good steward of the economy.”

You and I both know, Jack, that his good stewardship was a forced hand by the Republican House. It is doubtful a surplus would have been forthcoming had Clinton had a full majority of Democrats in both houses. They would have rationalized, as many did, that deficit spending was justified by the ever growing economic conditions and capital gains being made.

But, your commendation of Clinton’s economic stewardship does not mean your comments I responded to did not contain ulterior motives. You have also been a staunch Republican supporter of this administration’s policies all that time. And continue to support McCain regardless of and with rejection of, the man’s weaknesses and flaws and inconsistent record.

McCain’s entire advanced formal education consists of the U.S. Naval Academy many decades ago. And it shows, as in yesterday’s questions to Petraeus in which McCain again associated AQI with Shiites. Not only is he the least educated candidate for the job, he is a very, very, very slow learner. He has been making this error and corrected for it, for nearly 2 weeks now in public.

Let’s please, please, get an educated and above average intelligent person in the White House this time. We can’t afford another 4 years of a GW Bush wannabe, running on principles and acting without the slightest comprehension of what they are, reversing positions on them as expedience dictates.

You can call it changing his mind if you want. But, when such changes occur eerily around campaign announcement time, I become highly skeptical, as should anyone seeking an objective evaluation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 9, 2008 8:49 AM
Comment #250106

Stephan, your comments seem to reveal a predisposition to viewing Obama as a Rorschach Ink Blot test, projecting all manner of prejudice and unresolved emotional issues upon him, in politically correct parlance of course, though highly unobjective and without a shred of evidence to justify the prejudgments.

If you wish to convince anyone other than folks like yourself with similar predispositions and prejudgments, you will have to provide evidence and logical objective understanding of that evidence supporting your judgments as to what it means.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 9, 2008 8:58 AM
Comment #250107

JimM said: “The FairTax will bring back those jobs and many more to the US as well as bringing back many corporate headquarters and dollars.”

The UNFair National Sales Tax will shift the tax burden from the extremely wealthy to the middle and lower class consumers, constricting their consumption, causing economic contractions due to consumers picking up the tax burden now shared by the very wealthy. It is the most regressive tax proposal out there.

Take a look at the Flat Tax, it is far less regressive, and has the tremendous advantage of being perceived by most Americans as the fairest of all proposals. It too relieves corporations of taxation and individuals of capital gains taxes, and far more fairly as the wealthy and lower middle class will pay the same rate on income.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 9, 2008 9:08 AM
Comment #250116

David said:

You and I both know, Jack, that his good stewardship was a forced hand by the Republican House. It is doubtful a surplus would have been forthcoming had Clinton had a full majority of Democrats in both houses. They would have rationalized, as many did, that deficit spending was justified by the ever growing economic conditions and capital gains being made.

Wow David we actually agree on an economic issue. And to think you are in line with Friedman too:

History suggests that Washington spends whatever it receives in taxes plus as much more as it can get away with. Deficits have been the norm. The few exceptions—such as the Clinton surpluses—are an accident of divided government; in President Clinton’s case, a Democrat in the White House, a Republican House and Senate.
-WSJ Article 2003

Posted by: George in SC at April 9, 2008 11:13 AM
Comment #250119


Nobody advocates a completely unregulated market. The free market, as I have written hundred of times, requires rule of law and reasonable regulation.

You are demonstrating my point, that Dems are running away from the Clinton legacy. That is fine. But you can no longer BOTH reject the Clinton legacy and blame it for many of the problems we face today and hearken back to the Clinton legacy as a time of rare good economic management by Democrats.

Clinton stood for free trade, smaller government, welfare reform & NAFTA. These were the keys to his success. It also helped to have a Republican Congress. We should actually call it the Clinton/Gingrich legacy. The Internet was a great thing, but Gore did not invent it. It was not the government that made it grow so fast in the 1990s – except that the government didn’t tax online commerce. No taxes. Another innovation. AND the crash of the dot.coms in 2000 was the proximate cause of the downturn of the early part of Bush’s term.


I am talking about Clinton here. If you want to talk about McCain, I have several posts that actually mention his name.

Thanks, BTW, for crediting Republicans with the deficit reductions. You are right that the Republicans kept him on the straight and narrow, but Bill was okay too and I liked Robert Rubin.

I would extrapolate that a Democratic president and Democratic Congress will be a disaster. We have not suffered such a fate since Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2008 12:00 PM
Comment #250124

“I am talking about Clinton here. If you want to talk about McCain, I have several posts that actually mention his name.”

“The only saving grace of Obama/Hilary is that they are lying about free trade. They both talk against free trade, but then they dispatch their secret agents to tell the Canadians (Obama) & Columbians (Clinton) to tell them that they will not really do what they promise their credulous fans.”

Your first comment is BS. Your post is intended to take a backhanded slap at the democratic candidates. Which is perfectly fine, but don’t chastize someone for dragging in the name of the presumptive Republican Candidate in this conversation.

Posted by: Cube at April 9, 2008 1:03 PM
Comment #250140


I have several McCain posts running concurrently. If people want to talk McCain, they have that opportunity.

I am making a slap at the Dems. I didn’t think it was backhanded at all. Let me say it plain - My belief is that Obama/Hilary have almost completly abandoned the policies that made the Bill Clinton presidency successful. In fact, if Hilary or Obama was merely to read a Bill Clinton speech on the economy or welfare reform, they would be booed out of the room.

If you want to bring McCain into the debate, you might point out that McCain’s ideas on trade, welfare reform and even some aspects of foreign policy are probably closer to Bill’s than either Obama or Hilary. I don’t know if people would find that good or bad. Since I generally supported the Clinton policies in these particular areas, I support McCain w/o contradictions.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2008 4:02 PM
Comment #250145

The Democrats of the 90’s thought the move to the right was a necessity. The Democrats of today see such triangulation as weakness in the face of hardline conservatism that will take a mile if you give it an inch.

Why is Clinton being shown the door? Blame Bush. He made cooperating with Republicans a difficult sell as a virtue for moderates and liberals in America. Additionally in light of 2006, people are wondering why the party that won on a progressive break from the GOP’s policies are adopting the defensive politics of a minority party. Folks want the Democrats to act like the majority party.

The fact is, we’re not running away from the Clinton legacy. We’re upgrading to a new version of Democratic Politics better suited to the job at hand. Clinton politics were the party on the defensive, and they’re useful for little else. Obama’s politics representing Democrats more aggressively pursuing the advantage, not falling back steadily to our establishment centers. It’s Democrats standing up for what we believe, rather than imitating Republicans out of fear of losing voters.

And you know what? It’s working pretty damn well. The Dynamics have changed, why appeal to the politics of the past?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 9, 2008 4:51 PM
Comment #250147

Hard to believe anyone credits Democrats, with anything. Other than losing over 50,000 in Viet Nam. Wouldn’t vote Democratic, if I were a Democrat!

Posted by: Mark at April 9, 2008 5:01 PM
Comment #250149


I understand the electoral logic. I also understand that if you reject the Clinton policies of the 1990s, you are left w/o an economic argument for Democrats in general. There has been no successful Democratic president in most people’s living memory if you take out Clinton.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2008 5:31 PM
Comment #250153

The Democrats of the 90’s moved barely to the right, were swept out of power and you believe the Democrats of today should move even further left if they wish to stay in power?

I don’t get it.

If the extreme liberal positions of the 90s got you guys fired, why would you want to try again?

Posted by: kctim at April 9, 2008 6:00 PM
Comment #250196

“There has been no successful Democratic president in most people’s living memory if you take out Clinton.”

Interesting point, but if you also remove Reagan out of the picture, how many “successful” Republican presidents does that leave in most people’s living memory?

Posted by: Cube at April 10, 2008 3:09 AM
Comment #250204


The difference is that Republicans do not reject Reagan. We embrace him. When Democrats reject the only successful policies any of them has advocated for more than a generation (actually closer to two), what have they got left?

For years now - on this blog and other places- Dems have compared Clinton to Bush and used the 1990s (a little dishonestly, BTW) to show that Dems can be good stewards of the economy. Now they are throwing that down the toilet. It is one of the dumbest things they could do. I understand they believe they can somehow claim the results and reject all the causes, but that won’t work either in the economy or in any other part of the real world.

Both Dem candidates are advocating policies that are directly counter to the policies that made the Clinton years prosperous. Why?

Posted by: Jack at April 10, 2008 6:36 AM
Comment #250216

What is the old Zen Buddhist saying? If you should meet Buddha coming down the road, kill him.

Or in other words, give up your preconceptions about the past. Reagan and Clinton, in the long run, though popular in their times, created real problems for their parties. With Reagan it was an aggressive coalition of groups that really only had hating liberals in common. With Clinton, it was the defensive political strategies of triangulation, which undermined party morale, and his defensive political strategies, which let the Republican roll up Democratic seats in Congress.

Both contributed to a kind of national groupthink that didn’t so much resolve the hangups regarding Vietnam as recapitulate their mistakes in the midst of denial.

Truth is, Clinton’s the best of the worst stewards of the economy. While he was more fiscally sound, he also contributed to deregulation which is part of what has us in this terrible mess now.

Ultimately, we have little to gain from backsliding back towards the Clinton years. We’ve done the economic elites favor after favor for the last generation, and in all honesty, the favors have not been returned. We are deeper in debt, our job security is lessened, our economy is being destabilized by the consequences of the regulatory laxness. Americans have asked themselves “what have we gained by letting these folks do as they please?”, and they haven’t really been satisfied by their answer.

That’s your answer. Nobody believe that they themselves will see prosperity if these policies continue, much less deepen in their effect. People have decided that Right Wing economics are no longer in their interest. That’s the marketplace of ideas for you.

It wasn’t liberalism that sunk that Congress, it was rampant corruption. People never went as far right as you guys thought they did. The Bush shock to the system has jarred them back to the left.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 10, 2008 10:56 AM
Comment #250220

You won’t get any argument about the rampant corruption, but forcing the far-left agenda onto everybody played a huge part in it too.

I don’t believe the people went “far-right” as an answer to that either. If you look at it honestly, you see that the people thought they were being taken too far left, and then simply voted the left out of power to halt that movement. Now, it seems like the people may believe they are being taken too far right and will vote to correct that movement.

The clinton “shock to the system” jarred people back to the right and the “Bush shock to the system, is jarring people back to the left. Doesn’t that tell you something? Like maybe the people are more comfortable in the middle and desire such representation?

When I’m driving a car and my passengers say they are uncomfortable because I’m drifting too far left, I don’t crank even further left because I think I know what they really want. I steady the car back into the middle of the lane and they have no problem with riding with me the next time.

Posted by: kctim at April 10, 2008 11:27 AM
Comment #250223

So what gives you the idea that Democrats reject Bill Clinton. There was one recent poll that showed we would overwhelmingly support him for president if we had that option. When I say we, the poll indicated the general population not just Democrats.

Second, the idea that the Republicans embrace Reagan is part mirage brought upon us by nostalgia. We can talk about his failed illegal immigration plan, the increase of the national debt under his steerage of over 200%, or the misplaced credit he is given for the fall of communism and last we can talk about Iran-Contra. But I did vote for him and compared to the other Republican Presidents we have had, he was only half bad.

But my point wasn’t to argue for against Reagan, or to make the point that his legacy is more nostalgia than not. My point was to ask what other Republican is considered to have had a “successful” presidency in the past 50 years?

And since you avoided this question the first time, I’ll suggest the answer is none.

Posted by: Cube at April 10, 2008 12:07 PM
Comment #250227


My point is that they love Clinton in theory but hate all the policies he championed.

Do Dems support free trade? Clinton did.
Do Dems support NAFTA? It was Clinton’s program.
Do Dems like welfare reform?
Do Dems think the era of big government is over?

Re successful presidencies - it depends. I think Bush I was successful, so was Gerald Ford. The American people rejected them, however. Nixon and Bush 2 were successful in their first terms and Americans agreed by reelecting them.

It is hard to be a successful two term president. Eisenhower & Reagan managed it. Clinton did too. Others, not so much.

Posted by: Jack at April 10, 2008 12:22 PM
Comment #250287

“It is hard to be a successful two term president. Eisenhower & Reagan managed it. Clinton did too. Others, not so much.”

In the past 50 years there has been only one other two term president (excluding Johnson who only won one election). And you are right, he has failed miserably.

Posted by: Cube at April 11, 2008 2:25 AM
Comment #250398

George in SC said: “Wow David we actually agree on an economic issue. And to think you are in line with Friedman too:”

It comes with weighing fact and reality from an Independent and non-partisan perspective. There are a number of aspects of conservative economics that are laudable. Note I said, conservative, not Republican. They are two different things. Friedman would also argue, all things being equal, in good economic times witnessing deficits, raising taxes is warranted, just as cutting taxes during recessionary economic times.

Where I disagree with Friedman is his tendency to classify all taxes as equal. They are not, of course. Raising or lowering capital gains taxes has very different consequences and effects than raising or lowering income taxes for specific income groups, during the same expansionary or recessionary period.

Republican Friedman followers who argue lowering taxes during good times as insurance of good times, and lowering taxes in bad times to stimulate the economy, fail horribly to realize this leads to perpetual lowering of taxes and rising deficits and debt. Their logic is flawed in the extreme.

Friedman was actually very good with numbers and would agree perpetual lowering of taxes will lead to a collapsed government which in turn will have enormous catastrophic consequences for the society and culture as well. Thus it becomes OBVIOUS that Bush has never read Friedman comprehensively and certainly not Keynes. Thus for 6 years of Republican rule we have witnessed a perpetual cutting of taxes along side a perpetual rise in national debt, 3+ trillion dollars. The largest increase in national debt in any 6 year period in our nation’s history, I do believe.

Respect conservative economic principles, but, always treat Republican economic rhetoric with tremendous skepticism. Conservatives seek economic balance and prosperity for all Americans who are productive, or not through no fault of their own.

Republicans seek political power and investment wealth using taxes and spending as bribes to achieve their end. And do so very badly over time. Very different animals.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 12, 2008 4:26 AM
Comment #250419

Mr. Remer, I agree with much Dr. Friedman has written and spoken including this from his comments to the President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform on March 31, 2005, “All taxes ultimately, the consumer pays the taxes. Nobody else pays the taxes. Corporations don’t pay taxes. They collect them, but they don’t pay them.”

Both republicans and democrats struggle between spending and taxes. Lowering taxes without lowering spending is just as much a recipe for disaster as increasing spending and increasing taxes. All of this maneuvering, by both parties, is done within our God-awful tax code with both sides giving and taking-away tax breaks to appeal to a certain block of voters by virtue of their various lobbying groups.

Let Americans do the smart thing and take away the primary device used by both parties to separate us…our tax code. Without the ability to manipulate taxes, providing gifts to some and punishment for others, the politician is left with nothing but logic and moral persuasion.

The FairTax allows each individual to vote with their spending or savings. Votes could no longer be bought or sold by promises of favorable or unfavorable tax regulations. Lobbyists will virtually disappear along with their undue influence.

Posted by: Jim M at April 12, 2008 1:32 PM
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