Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton believes we're supposed to be impressed by the idea of putting her husband Bill, in the Associated Press's words, "in charge of revitalizing the economy." Yep, the old "2-for-1" offer from the early 1990s is back.
In 1993, President Bill put First Lady Hill in charge of health care. Fortunately, nothing tangible resulted, but we did get an early lesson in the extremes of Clintonian secrecy and stonewalling. This time, a President Hill would put "First Dude" Bill — as the AP's Lisa Lerer and Catherine Lucey, brazenly stealing Sarah Palin's description of husband Todd while she was Alaska's Governor, prospectively described him on Monday — effectively in charge of the economy. Here's the big problem the press is virtually certain to ignore: Bill Clinton guaranteed the nation in 2012 that the economy under a reelected Barack Obama would not need revitalization by now.
Specifically, concerning the apparently imminent and wondrous improvements to come, he guaranteed that "You will feel it."
The occasion of Bill Clinton's guarantee was the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September 2012.
In that nationally televised speech, he assured his audience that the Obama economy by now would be a "new, modern, successful" one "of shared prosperity," as seen at the conclusion of the video excerpt which follows (HT to a caller into Rush Limbaugh's Wednesday show):
Transcript (full speech transcript is here; slightly edited to reflect what Clinton actually said; bolds are mine):
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. Here it is. He inherited a deeply damaged economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well- balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, are we where we want to be today? No.
CLINTON: Is the president satisfied? Of course not.
CLINTON: But are we better off than we were when he took office? (Cheers, applause.)
And listen to this. Listen to this. Everybody's forgotten. Everybody's forgotten — when President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in free fall. It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month.
Are we doing better than that today?
AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)
CLINTON: The answer is "yes."
Now, look. Here’s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I’ve been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again. And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up.
But too many people do not feel it yet.
I had the same thing happen in 1994 and early ‘95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing. But most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996 the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. But — (cheers, applause) — wait, wait. The difference this time is purely in the circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. (Cheers, applause.)
Now — but — (cheers, applause) — he has — he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it. (Cheers, applause.)
Despite Clinton's promise, Americans don't "feel it" — nor should they:
- According to American Research Group, for the past eight months, 75 percent to 80 percent of Americans have said that their household financial situations are staying the same or getting worse. Keep in mind that situation in most of the "stay the same" households is not strong, as only 20 percent to 30 percent of Americans polled by ARG have been saying that their financial situation is excellent or very good.
- More generally, for the past three years, virtually without exception, Rasmussen has reported that over 60 percent of Americans believe that the nation is on the "wrong track."
In excerpted and unexcerpted material during that speech, Clinton, as has been his lifelong tendency, told at least six outrageous whoppers:
- About the economy during his presidency — It was strong, but not as strong as Ronald Reagan's Seven Fat Years in the 1980s.
- About who deserved the credit for the strong economy during his second term — Republican-inspired capital gains tax cuts and budget-balancing, and not the Democrats' 1993 tax hikes, were the primary contributors. As James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute noted on the day Clinton spoke, "The 1990s boom happened despite the Clinton tax hikes." It's clear, given the technological and other developments during that decade, that growth would have been far greater if those 1993 hikes had not occurred.
- Concerning the causes of the most recent recession — They were the Democrat-inspired Community Reinvestment Act; housing policies begun during the Clinton administration which demanded that banks lend to people who were serious credit risks and gave rise to subprime lending; Democrat crony-run government-sponsored enterprises which foisted hundreds of billions in deceptively packaged mortgage-backed securities onto the financial markets; and last but certainly not least, Obama's 2008 campaign promises to do everything he could to get in the way of fossil-fuel production, to raise taxes, and to punish the successful.
- How deep the most recent recession really was — Clinton plainly claimed "a full 9 percent." It was less than half of that. In real terms in 2009 dollars, government data shows that the economy shrunk from an annualized $14.9918 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $14.3556 trillion in the second quarter of 2009. That's 4.24 percent. That's indeed a serious shrinkage, but let's note for the record that 3.46 points of that 4.24-point decline, i.e., over 80 percent of it, occurred during the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 — arguably pointing to the impact of the realization that a hardened leftist would and then did get elected president as being a prime contributor to the downturn's steepness.
- Who was responsible for how deep the recession really was — Obama did not "inherit" a bad economy. He and his fellow Democrats, as noted in Item 3, created it. Also as noted there, they talked the economy down and threatened it into submission during the 2008 campaign. Then, Obama's statements and actions after his election and before his inauguration reinforced the fact that his threats weren't empty. Finally, the "stimulus" package passed the month after his inauguration stimulated nothing except record deficit spending, a frightening and ongoing increase in the national debt, and Democratic Party crony capitalism. All of these factors deepened and lengthened the recession, and then led the nation into by far its weakest economic recovery since World War II.
- About the nature of the recovery to that point — Obama's policies during his first four years clearly created no "foundation for a new prosperity." They only created historically weak growth, trillions of dollars in deficits, and dangerously high dependency on federal handout programs.
The AP's "2-for-1" report referenced earlier has its own set of whoppers and instances of historical revisionism, which will get their own treatment in a later separate post.
But for now, Hillary Clinton's promise to have her husband Bill involved in "revitalizing the economy" conveniently overlooks the fact that he said four years ago that by now we wouldn't need him or anyone else for that task. So what he thought would work, didn't. Why would things get any better, except by sheer coincidence, if he's around?
Don't spend a lot of time searching the Internet for evidence that the establishment press will recognize this cold, cruel reality.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.