Skip to comments.Two Huge Flaws in the Legend of the Clinton Economy
Posted on 09/08/2012 11:39:41 AM PDT by Son House
Two inescapable flaws mar the Clinton economic legend. One is conveniently papered over; the other conveniently forgotten. Even so, a flawed legend is better than the economic reality President Obamas policies have produced, so it is no surprise the sitting President has outsourced his economic messaging to the former President.
The first flaw, described here and here, is that President Clinton raised taxes and the economy boomed. The flaw in the narrative is it ignores the passage of timefour years, to be exact. The timeline matters. Clinton raised taxes in 1993 just as the economy was set to take off from a recession, and instead job and wage growth sputtered for four years. The famous Clinton era boom started four years after the tax hike, in 1997, and was triggered at least in part by the Republican tax cut of that year. Four years may seem like a detail, but details like this matter.
The second flaw marring the Clinton economic story is recession. President Clinton did not leave his successor a booming economy. He left President George W. Bush a recession. The recession began in March of 2001, two months after Clinton left office. Even the most rabid leftist cannot blame George Bush for the 2001 recession. It was the Clinton recession.
So Bill Clinton came into office and raised taxes on an accelerating economy, and produced a lethargic economy. Republicans pushed through a tax cut in 1997 and thereby launched the famous Clinton boom. Then Clinton left his successor with a nasty recession. And from this is fashioned a legend of economic performance. Damage done on both ends and a prosperity at least shared by Republicansand yet the legend lives on.
As long as the legend endures, President Obama sensibly would want to set aside past differences and wrap himself in the Clinton flag. Obamas alternative is to defend his own record, which he simply cannot do, even giving himself a grade of incomplete while his wife pleads for more time.
Incomplete after four years? More time to press the case for higher spending, higher taxes, and more regulation, all of which have served only to restrain the most prosperity-oriented economy in the world?
President Obama can be given credit for trying to apply his economic philosophy with fervor and conviction. His has been an all-in presidency from the start. He tried his best, but his approach failed anyway, as was inevitable; a fact reinforced yet again with todays jobs report showing an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent and 12.5 million Americans out of work.
These statistics dont tell the whole story, however. The workforce itself shrunk dramatically since Obama took office, as many Americans have given up looking for jobs that are nowhere to be found. The failure was not for lack of thought, or of effort. The failure was assured at the start as a failure of conception. Continuing to follow a bad design can only produce more bad outcomes. In the meantime, with neither a record from the past or a program for the future to tout, outsourcing his economic message to Clinton is about all Obama has left.
They want to wait till after the election, and when the economy fails, as should be expected, then tell the voters how stupid they were for supporting this.
Clinton raised taxes in 1993 just as the economy was set to take off from a recession, and instead job and wage growth sputtered for four years. The famous Clinton era boom started four years after the tax hike, in 1997, and was triggered at least in part by the Republican tax cut of that year.
The Great National Amnesia: Clinton had a Republican Congress and he is taking credit for its successes, GW Bush had a Democrat Congress in his last 2 years and is still being blamed for its failures.
The tech bubble (which later went bust) generated a lot of money in the 90’s. Bubba had nothing to do with this, but the spinmasters and the MSM give him the credit.
Didn’t Slick Willie “inherit” his economy from Reagan and Bush 1?
Since the author mentioned the tech boom, I'll just add that Clinton didn't have to budget for the Cold War, and punted the WOT (and its cost) to the next President.
What caused the recession of 2001 when Clinton left office?
Yes, and also the end of the Cold War.
Great point! I forgot about the Cold War. Thank you President Reagan.
While I don’t dispute the article, I question why the “internet revolution” is never mentioned as part of the reason Clinton’s economy boomed. Companies were able to achieve economies of scale because the internet allowed the reduction of labor with the substitution of capital. New businesses flourished to support the internet, or take advantage of it, and the impact was huge.
Everyone can give this boost in an economy a different spin. I attribute the upswing to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They had everyone in the USA trying to get a fax modem that did 14,400 kps, and went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Digital cameras were coming out, and everyone wanted one, as well as the software programs being released. It did for the economy what the Henry Ford people did for the 1920’s. Everyone wanted a Model T, some went to school to become mechancis, and flat tire repairs opened up as well as banks to make a loan. I would factor in the computer age boom to the increase the Bill Clinton got, it was more from the private sector, and not him tweaking buttons in Washington D.C. he really isn’t that smart.
You are so right ON, I posted right after you did. Credit needs to be given where credit is due.
It was left over from the dot.com boom/bust...
I understand and agree with that completely. I still believe that the best thing government can do is get out of the way and let Americans be Americans. The government only messes up everything when they try to get involved in America’s business.
That’s the thing that Guides at the Alamo need to emphasize, that it wasn’t Anglo Protestant against Mestizo Catholic. It was freedom lovers against tyranny. Right..
I would like to see a comparison of where the economy stood at the end of Bush’s first term as opposed Obama’s first (and hopefully last) term
Part of the problem is that our side wants to counter "Clinton's economy" with "Lewinski" and "is".
I saw a video a few years ago, where Clinton was giving a speech when a heckler started yelling "Lewinski", as if no one who supports Clinton knew about that. Clinton responded with his claim to being the last President to balance the budget in the last 40 years, and everyone cheered him. So much for screaming "Lewinski"
Nobody thinks Clinton was a great husband. Many credit him for the great economy during his years. We need to stop screaming "Lewinski" and "is" and start refuting "Clinton's economy".
I’d like to see a comparison on how the economy fared under predominantly liberal vs. predominantly conservative fiscal policies, which often don’t correlate with the party of whoever is occupying the White House during those years.
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