Channeling party's left, Clinton bashes Bush, defends husband
May 16th, 2014
02:31 PM ET
7 months ago

Channeling party's left, Clinton bashes Bush, defends husband

Washington (CNN) - Hillary Clinton offered a strong defense of her husband's presidency on Friday as both Democrats and Republicans have started to link the former first lady to the economic policies of the 1990s.

Clinton's comments were more political than historical, and she offered a tough critique of former President George W. Bush as someone focused solely on tax cuts for the rich.

The former first lady, who’s considering a presidential run in 2016, also painted a dour picture of Republican economic policies and commended the economic decisions of the Obama administration.

"The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult long term economic trends, it is possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad-based growth and shared prosperity," Clinton said during a speech at a New America Foundation confab, adding that her husband’s years in the White House showed that "a rising tide really did raise all boats."

Clinton went on to say that the Bush years indicated "we can turn surpluses into debt, we can return to rising deficits.”

“That is what happens when your only policy prescription is to cut taxes for the wealthy," she added.

In describing the Bush years, Clinton said the government "allowed the evolution of an entire shadow banking system that operated without accountability" and failed "to invest adequately in infrastructure, education, basic research and then the housing crash, the financial crisis hit like a flash flood."

Clinton overtly added politics to the speech, too, by mentioning the upcoming midterm elections.

"Americans will have choices to make about which path they want to go down and whether we will make the investments we need in our people," Clinton said of the November elections. "I will leave that discussion to others."

Republican attacks on Clinton have stepped up since the former secretary of state openly acknowledged that she was thinking about running for president. While many Republicans have focused on her record at the State Department and in the Senate, some have begun to take aim at Bill Clinton's economic record.

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Not all attacks have come from Republicans, though.

Most notably, Vice President Joe Biden lobbed a critique of the Clinton White House in a South Carolina closed-door fundraiser last week. According to several Democrats at the event, Biden said the fraying of middle-class economic security did not begin during President George W. Bush’s terms, but earlier, in the “later years of the Clinton administration.”

Biden, like Clinton, is weighing a bid for the presidency in 2016, and the two would face off in the Democratic primary if both decide to run.

Hillary Clinton has shied away from making similar attacks at possible Democratic challengers, but her defense of her husband's economic decisions – something she hasn’t done until recently – appears to be a response to those critiques. Former President Clinton has even begun to defend his own record. At a speech last month at Georgetown University, Bill Clinton delivered a professorial defense of his record, complete with slides, graphs and sleeping students.

Clinton also used her speech to showcase her views on income inequality and social mobility in the United States. Channeling leaders in her party's left – like Sen. Elizabeth Warren who has spoken extensively about income inequality – Clinton touted the need for equal pay, paid family leave, and increased skills training for young Americans.

"We know that America is strongest when prosperity and common purpose are broadly shared," Clinton said. "When all our people believe they have the opportunity and in fact, do, to participate fully in our economy and our democracy."

Clinton added that "the dream of upward mobility that made this country a model for the world feel further and further out of reach" and because of that, "many Americans understandably feel frustrated, even angry."

The former first lady also made an economic pitch to millennials, a group she described as "optimistic," "tolerant" and "creative."

"There is no doubt that the biggest cause of youth unemployment is an economy that is still not generating enough demand, despite the recovery," Clinton said. "This is a longterm challenge, but we can't wait for government, which seems so paralyzed."

– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Bill Clinton • George W. Bush • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. mrants

    Never made more money in wages, stocks, low inflation (purchases) than when Bill Clinton was president. Of course the repubs ruined the end of it with the monica bj witchhunt. Bill was really making them look bad to the average working guy. People had money, vacations, cars, ect. The only other better 8 or 10 years was the 60's!

    May 16, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. tom l

    " Tax cuts for the wealthy do NOT increase revenue and they do NOT create jobs"
    =========

    Tax Revenues to the US Govt (tax cuts enacted in 2002)
    2002 – $3.299B
    2003 – $3.456B
    2004 – $3.891B
    2005 – $4.243B
    2006 – $4.696B
    2007 – $5.170B

    Sooooo, Sniffit, facts and stats that are unable to be manipulated (unlike unemployment number which is very much manipulated) demonstrate you to be....wait for it....completely incorrect.

    May 16, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein

    I think that Hillary Clinton should have quoted Alan Greenspan on one of his appearances on Meet the Press. The quote goes something like this: "Tax cuts should be done if they are paid for." The Bush tax cuts weren't paid for as best I can tell. The thought that you would cut taxes despite there being a huge deficit and debt from the four previous presidential administrations is just plain stupid. It didn't help when there was no attempt to pay for Medicare expansion to include perscription drugs.

    May 16, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. just asking

    Clinton also used her speech to showcase her views on income inequality and social mobility in the United States. Channeling leaders in her party's left – like Sen. Elizabeth Warren who has spoken extensively about income inequality – Clinton touted the need for equal pay, paid family leave, and increased skills training for young Americans.
    ----

    equal pay? do we all have equal education, experience, talents? of course not. pure leftist drivel from this leftist loser.

    paid family leave? how many millions of jobs is that going to cost? will everybody be paying for it with higher costs? no free lunches people. if there is a 'freebie', somebody else is paying.

    increased skills training? like we already don't have enough unemployed college kids thanks to obama and the democrats. with four more years of hillary clinton, they will all need to be retrained for the burger king drive thru jobs. what total rubbish she spews.

    just more leftist freebies for the nanny state suckers that think this ponzi scheme can go on forever, as this nation falls in debt further and further. $18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 trillion. the sky is the limit for the left. after all, it has worked out smashingly for greece.

    May 16, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Tommy G

    mrants
    Never made more money in wages, stocks, low inflation (purchases) than when Bill Clinton was president. Of course the repubs ruined the end of it with the monica bj witchhunt. Bill was really making them look bad to the average working guy. People had money, vacations, cars, ect. The only other better 8 or 10 years was the 60's!
    --–

    You do realize Clinton had the good fortune of having a Republican controlled Congress that provided him with bills to sign, which is all he had to do. Where is your praise of the Republican Congress?

    May 16, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    HammerSD – "The 'Dems' had control of the House, the Senate, AND the White House for the 'early Obama years'"

    Glad you noticed. Did you also notice the awesome, positive changes, in job growth, GDP, and the stock markets during those 2 years? And did you notice how they all slowed greatly when the repubs got the ability to filibuster with their 41 votes? And later stopped most growth with control of the House?

    These are all easily verifiable facts.

    May 16, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    " Tax cuts for the wealthy do NOT increase revenue and they do NOT create jobs"
    =========

    Tax Revenues to the US Govt (tax cuts enacted in 2002)
    2002 – $3.299B
    2003 – $3.456B
    2004 – $3.891B
    2005 – $4.243B
    2006 – $4.696B
    2007 – $5.170B

    Sooooo, Sniffit, facts and stats that are unable to be manipulated (unlike unemployment number which is very much manipulated) demonstrate you to be....wait for it....completely incorrect.

    ================================================================

    You're forgetting one thing, spending. The economic recovery has been slow under Obama, right? Bush also increased spending from one year to the next, by an average of 7-9%, every year that he was in office. Under Barack Obama we had the same tax cuts for his first term, but we've also had spending cuts and sluggish economic growth.

    May 16, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Jodo

    How about this quote hillary?

    From Obama's own deficit commission: "The decision in 2000 to shield the exotic financial instruments known as over-the-counter derivatives from regulation, made during the last year of President Bill Clinton’s term, is called “a key turning point in the march toward the financial crisis.”

    May 16, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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