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.

'The 20th century is gone': Rubio makes apparent dig at Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire speech

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. Tommy G

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

    Well, there you have it America! Hillary Clinton = Obama V2.0. If you thought 6 (soon to be 8) years of record unemployment and economic stagnation was bad, just wait until you have to try and survive 4-8 more years of it with Hillary Clinton at the helm!! Record food stamp recipients, people using up their 401ks to survive. The continued destruction of your healthcare system by Hillary Clinton's refusal to get rid of Obamacare. Yeah, just what the country needs!

    Hillary Clinton just gave the Republicans an even better commercial than her Benghazi statement of what difference does it make. She is blowing it before even starting. Keep up the good work.

    May 16, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Miami Mike

    Lol! When Demos have nothing of substance to say... Blame Bush!

    Muslim Extremists have pledged their lives to destroy America. Too bad Democrats have done the job far better than any of them can ever imagine.

    May 16, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Bill from GA

    Hillary, its really not nice to pick on the mentally challenged. W only did what he was told to do.

    And besides, W was a lot more entertaining than Wild Bill.

    May 16, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    "Muslim Extremists have pledged their lives to destroy America."
    ----------------------------------–
    Home grown, right wing extremists have pledged to replace the current American government.

    May 16, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "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,"
    -------------------------------–
    Either you're going to get your butt and vote or the republicans are going to sell out America to the highest bidder.

    May 16, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. CB FL

    Hell has no fury like the raft of a women.

    May 16, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Wes

    Glad to see she is commenting on her wonderful record of accomplishments. What a joke.

    May 16, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Sniffit

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

    There's no "the party's left" about it, so stop with the desperate attempts to characterize fairly mainstream viewpoints as somehow radical. It's a very universal thing among ALL Dems and liberals to view Dubya's squandering of the surplus Clinton left him via tax cuts for the wealthy as a completely ridiculous and damaging policy decision. It's not even remotely extremist to believe that. You run around writing articles treating Teatroll radicalization as mainstream and then try to characterize a pretty pervasive perception of Dubya's fiscal policies as radical? Shenanigans.

    May 16, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Hillary Clinton just gave the Republicans an even better commercial than her Benghazi statement of what difference does it make."

    Please proceed. Benghazi's not going to work and neither will your meth-addled Limbaugh screed.

    May 16, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Get em Hillary! The do nothing GOP have done nothing in more than 5 years except criticize, whine, and search for elephants in strawberry patches.

    Oh yeah and make President Obama a 2 term POTUS...😄

    May 16, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. smith

    Hil. Clinton failed to mention the national debt increased under her hubby Bill and he repealed the Glass-Steagal Act. Also, made revisions to the community re-investment act. All of which had negative impacts on our economy.

    May 16, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. it must be said

    Hillary Clinton attacking and blaming Bush for how bad things are now after 8 years of Obama and Democrat control of the House and Senate??? Does she honestly think the American people are this stupid??? She sure can't run on "more of the same Obama failure"!! Hillary Clinton had better come up with something more novel than this to get elected. It is not going to fly yet again. The American people have now seen what 8 years of Democrat control looks like and it ain't pretty.

    May 16, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Tommy G
    "Hillary Clinton just gave the Republicans an even better commercial than her Benghazi statement of what difference does it make. "
    --------------
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important.

    May 16, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Tony D

    smith
    Hil. Clinton failed to mention the national debt increased under her hubby Bill and he repealed the Glass-Steagal Act. Also, made revisions to the community re-investment act. All of which had negative impacts on our economy.
    -–

    Don't forget NAFTA. Which Ross Perot accurately predicted was a giant sucking sound of all our jobs heading to Mexico.

    May 16, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Al-NY,NY

    duh duh duh-bya was a nightmare that we are still trying to wake up from. His brother Jethro may be smarter (which is not too difficult) but he's still in the GOP failed trickle-down voodoo economics and life-intrusive polices that women, minorities, and young people reject outright

    May 16, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit

    "Hillary Clinton just gave the Republicans an even better commercial than her Benghazi statement of what difference does it make."

    Please proceed. Benghazi's not going to work and neither will your meth-addled Limbaugh screed.
    ----------------------------------------
    I think playing the Benghazi card is going to work out quite well, from a certain point of view.

    May 16, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    What a joke. Criticizing Dubya for squandering the surplus Clinton handed him is not a perception "channeling the party's left." It's universal throughout Dem and liberal circles to recognize that the policy nonsense of "oh goody, we have a surplus, let's hand most of it all out to the wealthy" and then engaging in 2 unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare D expansion is barebones fiscal irresponsibility. Tax cuts for the wealthy do NOT increase revenue and they do NOT create jobs....and it is NOT "radical" or "extreme" to recognize and accept those FACTS, no matter how hard you try to make it sound like believing those things is falsely equivalent to believing half the crap that comes out of the Teatrolls' mouths just so you can have your 2 "equal" sides to the "debate."

    May 16, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. Uncle Bernie

    Any Clinton, anywhere in the world, whatever time of day or night, if they are talking,they are lying.

    May 16, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. HammerSD

    Wait! The last paragraph is the most entertaining of all. '"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.' The 'Dems' had control of the House, the Senate, AND the White House for the 'early Obama years'. Obama promised 'Hope and Change'. If the economy is "still not generating enough demand", who should be held accountable for that?! Obama has been in office almost six years and, if the economy is still not generating enough demand, then I guess he did not deliver on that Change that people Hoped for.

    May 16, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  20. pjoe

    Clinton showed that lame-duck lie-infested powerless Presidents can get lucky and claim a legacy. So there is hope for Obama.

    May 16, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Gunderson

    Uh, Well,
    It is no secret Hillary thinks you should go with your nanny. GW made Huge Mistake, thinking you could go it on your own! So what is it to be, Do it yourself or wait for your nanny to do it for you. Old Gunderson has seen 100 years of Nanny State. Now down to 29 Hour Work Week. Soon you think that was good old days. Sooner or later your nanny disappear and then you really on your own. Hows that horse doing? Dead yet?

    May 16, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    smith

    Hil. Clinton failed to mention the national debt increased under her hubby Bill and he repealed the Glass-Steagal Act. Also, made revisions to the community re-investment act. All of which had negative impacts on our economy.
    --------------------------
    The repeal of Glass-Steagall was one of the final laws Pres. Clinton signed, if not the last. How it came about has been a hotly debated topic. One version says Clinton was tricked, and one says that he wasn't. What is known is this.

    Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, and wanted to give Pres. Clinton a farewell present, a set of stronger environmental regulations. Yeah, that's right, strong environmental regulations from Republicans. The legislation passed quickly through the lame duck Congress with amendments attached to it by the time it reached the White House, where Clinton apparently signed it. Done.

    Apparently no one at the Clinton White House read what he had signed to closely. It has been rumored that the repeal amendment was added to the bill AFTER it had been voted on and passed. One rumor has it that Lindsey Graham engineered the whole thing with a little help from House colleagues. It was signed into law, and apparently the only folks who knew about it were a handful of select Republicans until Bush was sworn in. Remember, the whole hanging chad argument was ongoing in Florida at the time. To this day, Clinton claims to have not knowingly signed the repeal.

    May 16, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    That tired old tale no longer washes.

    Clinton is a liar, and her own husband was the truly responsible President for the economic collapse of 2008. He was the one that passed the legislation that permitted that to actually happen. It simply 8-10 yrs. for the impact to actually hit.

    The same thing is going to happen with the stuff Obama has done. Much of it takes place over 10 yr. periods........which simply means his destructive legislation will impact for another full decade after he leaves office.........and more.

    May 16, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. tom l

    ummmm, the tax cuts were for every single American. In fact, there were more people that paid zero taxes through the tax cuts...

    May 16, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    ummmm, the tax cuts were for every single American. In fact, there were more people that paid zero taxes through the tax cuts...
    -----------------------------
    What tax cuts are you talking about? The first round of Bush Tax cuts were exclusively for the rich. The second round of Bush Tax cuts were again for the rich, and a token tax cut for the middle class. Someone making $40,0000 per year saw a tax break of just a few dollars, and if you had to pay the AMT then your taxes went up significantly because Bush had included all sorts of "tax break investment incentives" to offset the increased tax rates . In other words, the middle class got stuck with the bill for another tax cut for the wealthy. Most middle class wage earners couldn't afford the level of investment spending that the tax breaks required.

    May 16, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
1 2