Book review: The Agenda Inside the Clinton White House

A continuing discussion

In the first months of the incoming Clinton White House, the budget, especially to begin cutting the deficit was one of the biggest concerns of the new president.  That plus health care reform.  As Woodward put it, President Clinton had literally surrounded himself with various policy wonks  and New Democrat ideologues who often worked at cross purposes to one another.

One of the budgetary issues that had come up was the idea of literally raising (or restoring) taxes on the very wealthy and major corporations.  However, behind the scenes the more pro-business New Democrats hammered the idea of raising such taxes worrying that they would be “jobs killers.”  Clinton finally backed off on the idea.  Given the fact that it was during the time of a particularly soft economy with an unemployment rate of 7.8%.

What was particularly interesting was that this was only one of many pro-business decisions that Clinton would make during his two terms in office.  What was equally telling however, was just how quickly Clinton’s pro-business decisions as a New Democrat would fly under the GOP radar.  If they were not screaming about Clinton as a “socialist” (basically tied in knots that Clinton had taken the presidency away from them) then they were instead looking for excuses to remove the man from his duly elected position.  It would only be later, that Clinton’s pro-business decisions that the GOP refused to acknowledge, would then be used against him, long after he was no longer president when the  failures of the financial institutions circa 2008 occurred.  Quite frankly, it is hard to say that any of Clinton’s pro-business decisions inclusive of “fast-track agreements” on trade such as NAFTA ought to have come back to haunt him.  He was literally trying to rebuild a soft economy.  The GOP were simply being as obstructionist then, as they are today.

Cut to the latest Mona Charen rant about Obama in the wake of the 2 November 2010 mid term elections.  I sent a snail mail to Creators Syndicate (office is in California) to complain about Ms. Charen’s shrill hatred of the President of the United States.  (Headlined in the Spokesman-Review:  “The GOP teach the VIP.”)  Yeah, exactly what did they “teach” Obama anyway?  The capacity to lie?  So, I have a standing invitation with Charen as well as Creators Syndicate to visit my preceding post, When banks go wrong part 6.  After all, one of her complaints was that the Obama administration was “intimidating businesses.”  Maybe if he no longer did, was her shrill off the wall rant, then probably the economy would improve.  Uh, aren’t misbehaving financial institutions one of the premier reasons why the economy isn’t improving now?  Quite frankly, I am not so sure who is the more delusional, the people who read Charen’s crap, or Charen herself.  (Oh and she has a Face Book page too.)  Thus, one reason for including her, is that much the same language was in effect back when Clinton was in office.  What you would call particularly tired and old and when was the last time she might have come up with anything new or original?

“Intimidating businesses” sounds exactly like a most excellent decision to kick start the economy.  Giving these businesses free rein without any sense of moral responsibility (rules and regulations, precisely) and they drove the country off the cliff.  Yes, Ms. Charen, if she cares to pay a visit to this blog, or for that matter, Creators Syndicate, can see for themselves the actual harm that businesses did do when they were released from any kind of responsibility for their anti-free enterprise actions.  Obama like Clinton has made a great many pro-free enterprise efforts.  Whether anyone would care to believe that or not.  And the  GOP, apparently they do not believe in the free enterprise system by being obstructionist to a Democratic president with threats that they will be even more so, if possible.

Unlike 1994 when the GOP ran successfully against health care reform that had not been passed into law and gained majority control of Congress—both the House of Representatives and the Senate—2010 only showed that the GOP regained partial control of Congress, which meant that the American electorate did not exactly trust the Republican party entirely to deliver a government for the people.  And that was despite “Obamacare” being “unpopular” according to Charen.  Or shall we put it more bluntly, that “Obamacare” was highly unpopular to the insurance industry and certain health care providers who would set out to fund a great many Republican party campaigns.  But don’t expect Ms. Charen to disclose that little factoid.

By referring to Woodward’s almost 20 year old book about Clinton in the context of current events, there is a valid reason for doing so.  It is called reading “deja vu.”  Where you are literally seeing recent history repeat itself.  Bear in mind that Clinton was elected to office primarily because the people then were suffering from the  Reagan/Bush(41) anti-market pro-business agenda.  Obama came into office by 2008 because of GW’s own anti-market and pro-business agenda.  Clinton faced the aftermath of the S&L bailout.  Obama had to face the aftermath of the bank and mortgage company bailouts.  The one difference between two eras?  The financial collapse of the Savings and Loans as a consequence of the Reagan “market deregulatory” fervor was that it did not cause a world market collapse.  Only two years ago, banks and other lending firms engaging in international business, did precisely oversee a world market collapse.  A true tragedy.

When reading Woodward’s book about the Clinton White House, he recorded a cacophony of divergent interests and ideologies among the White House staff.  It also brings to mind exactly why Clinton was accused of “waffling” on any number of issues.  Such as the one example described above.  His people were not singing on the same page.  Quite frankly, it was a wonder how Clinton managed to do much of anything.  Yet, by the time Clinton left office in 2001, the deficit was reduced, the jobless rate was around 4.5%.  I’d say that regardless the man should have been able to take credit for something.


One Response to “Book review: The Agenda Inside the Clinton White House”

  1. Ginette Stidman Says:

    Hello Great website you have some amazinggreat helpful tips

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