Friday, March 22, 2013

The Clintonian Paradox

Dan Mitchell (he of the Cato Institute) and Art Laffer (he of the legendary Laffer Curve) are both on the record as saying that Bill Clinton was a "great President". These fellows cite specifically his signings of NAFTA, welfare reform, a capital gains tax cut, and especially of his rock-solid ability to keep federal spending under control (Mitchell actually goes as far as to say that Clinton wasn't even a big spender prior to the Republican takeover of the House in 1994)............................................................................................Yes, they acknowledge that he did raise taxes in 1993 and that that may indeed have been a slight drag on a recovery that was already poised to take off, but they also clearly give the dude credit for his righting (no pun intended) of the ship and governing responsibly for the next seven years....Wow, huh, I guess that that old adage about Bill Clinton being one of the better Republican Presidents may in fact have some merit after all.................................................................................................P.S. I also think that we need to give Mr. Clinton kudos for his tireless work pertaining to the Middle-East peace process. I mean, the dude got way closer than virtually any other President in terms of reaching a final agreement and I see no reason in penalizing him for having to deal with an absolutely virulent piece of crap in Arafat. None, period.

11 comments:

Rational Nation USA said...

Yep, as I've said often, looking back ole Bubba was pretty damn effective. and, well you know the rest of the story.

Lets just say there was more to Bill that met the eye.

dmarks said...

I do find a couple of the points debatable. One of them highly so.

"Rock-solid ability to keep federal spending under control"

He ran deficits for each of his 8 years for a total of a $1.6 trillion increase in the national debt. While he is not as bad as those before and after, I'd call this "no ability" rather than "rock solid ability"

"Mitchell actually goes as far as to say that Clinton wasn't even a big spender prior to the Republican takeover of the House in 1994"

Now, I really wonder where he gets this idea? Checking the cold hard facts, Clinton was a much bigger spender BEFORE 1994 than he was AFTER. I wonder if he made a typo.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

dmarks, according to findthedata.com, the federal budget in 1993 (Clinton's first) was 1.41 trillion and spending as a % of GDP was 21.4%. By 1995, those numbers were 1.51 trillion (roughly a 7% increase over 2 years and roughly the same rate of growth as the proposed Ryan budget) and 20.6%. That isn't bad.

dmarks said...
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dmarks said...
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Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I don't think that Mitchell was saying that 1993-1995 was better than 1995-2001, just that a 3.5 growth in spending per year and an actual reduction in spending as a % of GDP from 21.4% to 20.6% wasn't bad.............And, while I agree with you on the technical definition of what constitutes a surplus, please keep in mind here that Gingrich and co. on the Republican side were also trying to take credit for these nonexistent surpluses.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Here's a post that I did several years ago in which I actually buttressed your viewpoint here; i.e., that these federal surpluses came about via the raiding of various trust funds - http://paranoiacstoogetalk.blogspot.com/2011/04/from-us-treasury.html

dmarks said...

I've criticized Gingrich for making a similar false boast. Gingrich in fact balanced the budget as much as Gore invented the Internet.

False boasts are hardly a Democrats-only phenomenon.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Fair enough and well said.

Barlowe Bayer said...

I thought there was a surplus due to the dot-com bubble as well as the Republican Congress putting the breaks on spending. What's with this "no surplus" assertion that Will and dmarks are both making?

dmarks said...

Will doesn't make it, Barlowe. However, when I look at the Treasury Department figures (here), I find no surpluses. Just constantly increasing debt due to deficits each year. And in the Clinton years that some claim there was a surplus, all that shows is a lower deficit than usual. But still a deficit.

As Clinton increased the debt by $1.6 trillion, it is my opinion that he is grossly irresponsible from a fiscal management point of view.... but definitely less grossly irresponsible than GWB and Obama.