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Obama – Clinton 2012

[ 68 ] December 30, 2011 |

or so desires Robert Reich.

I have several quibbles with this, from an empirical perspective.  First, the strong implication is that Obama-Clinton would gain more votes than Obama-Biden, or specifically, “Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.”

There is no empirical evidence that the VP nominee makes a substantive difference in the vote; indeed, the VP nominee only makes the most marginal of differences in their home state (at a whopping 0.3%, with this article an outlier at 2.5%).  Nor did Sarah Palin have a measurable effect on the outcome, either pro or con, though that 0.5% – 2.5% boost in Alaska quite likely secured those three critical electoral college votes for the Republicans as they were clearly in doubt.

Second, as Reich believes that the possibility exists for another recession prior to November, “Clinton would help deflect attention from the bad economy and put it on foreign policy, where she and Obama have shined.”  Again, empirically, foreign policy will not make much of a difference against the backdrop of a bad economy; ironically, those who give a damn about foreign policy would likely point out that removing her as Secretary of State is a negative, not a positive.

Finally:

The deal would also make Clinton the obvious Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 – offering the Democrats a shot at twelve (or more) years in the White House, something the Republicans had with Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush but which the Democrats haven’t had since FDR. Twelve years gives the party in power a chance to reshape the Supreme Court as well as put an indelible stamp on America.

I agree with the Supreme Court statement; that’s where presidential legacy is at.  However, this assumes an Obama-Clinton ticket wins in 2012, which is not obvious.  Losing as VP nominee doesn’t burnish Clinton’s credentials for 2016.  Second, Clinton will be 69 years old on election day 2016.  It’s not clear that she would even want to run at 69.

While I admire Robert Reich and find myself in agreement with him far more often than not, if we’re looking for a silver bullet to salvage Obama’s chances in 2012, this isn’t it.

Comments (68)

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  1. John says:

    I thought there were studies that showed that Sarah Palin really did hurt McCain.

    • John F says:

      Yes, but that would seemingly contradict the point that Brockington wants to make. Personally I think a veep has potential to hurt, and very little ability to help. Personally, 2nd term? I think Obama should be looking either to his hoped for successor or alternatively someone exceedingly unlikely to be his successor or to even try to be.

    • Sarah Palin’s level of influence was an enormous deviation from the historical norm.

    • Charlie says:

      There is a paper demonstrating the negative impact of Palin on the McCain ticket, by Richard Johnston and Emily Thorson. I can’t find a direct link, but here are some blog posts summarizing their findings.

      http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2009/04/05/a_tantalizing_graph_featuring/

      http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-study/95874/sarah-palins-historic-achievement

    • R Johnston says:

      Has everyone simply missed the link on “Nor did Sarah Palin“? Perhaps people commenting on her affect on McCain’s vote totals would care to address the linked article, or at least acknowledge it?

      It’s nice when authors include links. Let’s please encourage it by not completely ignoring them when they happen.

      • Bill Murray says:

        In my reading this is a pretty weak paper, and mostly tries to show if the Palin nomination achieved its goals as defined by the McCain campaign.

        Goals

        1. Get more women to vote R

        By there measure — sample ballot of women respondents favoring which candidate (which is not a great measure but probably the only possible one) before Palin O was +3, went to +0 after Palin (with 44.6% of respondents having not yet formed an opinion of Palin) to O+7 for the election, which would to me indicate a potential negative impact.

        2. Distance ticket from Bush

        Method was a comparison of the difference in thermometer scores between Bush and Palin, which to me does not seem to correspond with distancing the ticket from Bush, but again the polling may not exist to separate out this correctly

        In the end most groups dropped to a somewhat more positive rating (~5-10%) of Palin than Bush, which the authors take as meaning the McCain campaign did not get much of a boost in separating themselves from Bush from Palin’s selection. But, again I don’t think this metric means what they ascribe to it, but also there was pretty much no way the Rs weren’t going to get tarred with Bush, short of the Dems picking Kerry again.

        I have to go broadcast a couple of HS basketball games so will do the other 2 points later if this isn’t a moot point by late tonight or tomorrow morning.

        • R Johnston says:

          I agree from a skimming that the paper seems pretty weak, but I don’t think that really differentiates it from the papers finding that Palin had some huge effect on the race. Between the time that Palin was named to the ticket and the time of the election the economy was busy collapsing and McCain was busy saying how he wouldn’t do anything about it and more generally being ridiculous. Separating any effect Palin had on the McCain ticket from the effects of the economic downturn being blamed on the Republicans and of McCain consistently exhibiting shoddy judgment is difficult at best, and it’s not something that any of the papers I’ve seen that try to determine whether and how much Palin hurt the ticket really try to do.

          Statistical study of elections, especially Presidential elections, is a tricky thing. Sample sizes of the number of usefully comparable elections are small–vanishingly small in the case of Presidential elections, which occur one at a time every four years and where the electoral and media landscape change so rapidly that anything more than a handful of elections ago usually isn’t a particularly useful comparison point. There’s also a tendency for statistical investigation to be driven by an examination of the truthfulness of various narratives constructed by the media, but media narratives aren’t constructed with the feasibility of statistically analyzing the narratives in mind, resulting in a tendency to analyze particularly difficult to analyze questions with a grossly inadequate sample size.

          • Bill Murray says:

            How much a Democratic voter liked Palin was a fairly significant voting indicator, p<0.05 (and probably close to 0.01, although the exact p values weren't given) but without knowing the range of thermometer scores it's hard to say much about this.

            Biden also had a fairly significant (P<0.05) effect on Dems and independents.

            Republican votes seem to mostly be for the team as opposed to any specific cause, well white Republicans anyway, race was a fairly significant factor. My guess is, with 207 Rs in the sample, there were maybe 20 blacks in this group and they all voted for Obama

            • dave brockington says:

              The paper I cited regarding Palin isn’t by any means a strong paper. That said, anything I’ve seen on how Palin *did* have an effect is weak if not weaker; to wit, the paper by Johnston and Thorson up on the Monkey Cage: at least what we’re able to see of that paper (my guess is it was presented at the MPSA that year, but ATM I don’t have the time to go trolling through the MPSA archives in search of it). What that paper shows is some sort of association between McCain’s and Palin’s approval ratings. Any inference of causality based on that figure would be highly suspect, and I wouldn’t even so much as “suggest” a specific causal relationship based on that figure. Nor would I in an OLS model for that matter lacking time series data.

              Yet that’s exactly what is trying to be done when one argues that Palin did have an effect: it’s a clear causal claim.

              Given that the overwhelming consensus of the extant literature points to the VP nominee having a negligible effect, I’m more inclined to accept the findings of a weak paper consistent with the extant lit over a weaker paper inconsistent with the extant lit.

  2. wengler says:

    Secretary of State is a more interesting position than VP. Who knows if Clinton would even want it?

    • howard says:

      wengler, this was one of two points i wanted to make: why in the world would clinton want to disappear into the vice presidency?

      the other is the rather strange notion that clinton would inspire frustrated progressives: i can’t begin to understand why reich thinks that’s true.

    • R Johnston says:

      That the being Secretary of State is more interesting than being VP is a large part of the problem with the Obama Administration. President of the Senate is, in theory, a very powerful position that can be used to overcome Senate obstruction. Senate rules can’t change that because the position is constitutionally enshrined. Under the circumstances of Obama’s first term–especially his first two years, when he had a Democratically controlled House–the Vice Presidency should have been a phenomenally interesting post to occupy.

      • President of the Senate is, in theory, a very powerful position that can be used to overcome Senate obstruction.

        We have over two centuries of practice by which to test the theory that the Vice Presidency can play a large role in overcoming Senate obstruction.

        Conclusions?

    • LKS says:

      Also, she’s been a pretty damned good SoS. We can debate specifics, of course, but overall I can’t see anyone dealing any better with the Middle East and a really pissed off Pakistan than she has.

  3. Hovde says:

    The best silver bullet I can think of is Paul on the Libertarian ticket, and I’m guardedly optimistic.

  4. djw says:

    And what about the implied assumption that if this ticket wins in 2012, and if Clinton wants to run in 2016, this would increase the chances of Clinton winning in 2016? What’s the evidence there? There’s a longstanding view in some circles that contested primaries are hurt one’s chances in the general, which seems dubious. But even more dubious is the belief that we can know, right now in 2011, that Clinton offers a better electoral opportunity than all her potential competitors in 2016, and we can reliably know this based on information available now. I’m not buying that.

    • I agree 100%. The historical record for sitting VPs running for the presidency is not good. Gore lost, Bush won, Humphrey lost, Nixon lost. At a minimum, we can say that the record provides no support for Reich’s position.

      I don’t think a sitting VP enjoys an incumbency advantage. Quite the opposite, the VP gets tagged with the all of the opposition people have towards the administration, but gets none of the credit.

  5. rea says:

    If Hillary Clinton won in 2016, she would beat out Reagan, Eisenhower and W. H. Harrison as the oldest person ever to begin their first term as president. These precedents (even Eisenhower had major health problems arguably impacting his performance)are not reassuring.

    • witless chum says:

      Don’t you have to grade on a curve, given womens’ generally longer life expectancy?

    • Paul Campos says:

      Clinton would be eight months younger than Reagan was when he took office.

      • Steve in Clearwater says:

        True indeed. But regardless of the merit in the “Clinton 2012 VP” chat, I’ll submit that if President in 2017, she would not only be female (longer life expectancy) but also it’s reasonable to presume she is in substantially better health as a woman in 2017 than were Reagan, Ike or WHH. This presumption is founded not only on massively improved health care/science of the past 40 years, but also the fact that Clinton (AFAIK) has never been a tobacco user nor a notably consistent user of alcohol – the two drugs that most commonly contribute to physical/mental debilitation later in life.

    • Ed says:

      Dorothy Rodham just died at ninety-two. HRC should be hale for years. I don’t think she’s interested but her age is not necessarily any barrier.

      I don’t think a sitting VP enjoys an incumbency advantage.

      The VPs seem to think otherwise and there’s some reason for that.

      • The VPs seem to think otherwise and there’s some reason for that.

        What makes you think they do?

        And what reason would that be? Their losing record?

        Since FDR, this country has given the White House to the same party three times in a row exactly once (that is, the same number of times that a sitting Senator has won). A sitting VP, running to succeed his eight-year boss, is running against the historical record.

  6. Manju says:

    It used to be common to switch VPs but these days I think it would be viewed as an admission of failure or desperation. So, best not to go there.

    “Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.”

    I think you have some lefty talking heads like Jane Hamsher and Paul Krugman who see the Clintons has progressive heros, but the base?

    I mean take Krugman. Rubinomics ain’t exactly boilerplate Keynesianism, so why all the love? As far as I can tell its cultural. What Obama needs to do to win them over is have sex with his intern or grope some liberal woman who only the RW press decides to take seriously. Then they’ll love him.

    But for the rest of us, Obama is Clinton plus. Or Clinton minus the misogyny and southern strategy.

    • Hogan says:

      Rubinomics ain’t exactly boilerplate Keynesianism

      And the ’90s weren’t exactly an economic contraction. Coincidence?

      • Manju says:

        Well, that’s my point. The expansion we witnessed under Rubinomics isn’t exactly exhibit 1 that Keynes was right.

        Outside of raising taxes on the rich, which granted is no small point, the 90′s were practically an orgy of RWing ideas: nafta, welfare reform, repeal of glass steagel, deregulation of the derivatives market, globalization, inflation hawk Greenspan.

        Reich himself was complaining.

        • The expansion we witnessed under Rubinomics isn’t exactly exhibit 1 that Keynes was right.

          Um, deficit reduction during economic expansions is textbook Keynesianism.

          Why does everyone always forget that Kenynesianism has two halves?

          • Manju says:

            When Clinton entered office we had just learned that the recession was over. Thats not exactly the time to practice the Keynesian rejoinder…as we see today.

            And Clinton didn’t do that. He cut taxes for low-income folks (which is moderately stimulative, I think) and raised taxes on the rich (which produces only a small drag, in the Keynesian paradigm).

            Thats a net stimulus but its still not the favored Keynesian approach (borrow and spend on the poor, which is very stimulative).

            Then things get funky. Clinton turned to reeling in the deficit. A basic Keynesian analysis says that as the federal government spends less demand decreases and the economy cools. But on Rubin’s advice, Clinton made a paradoxical bet: wall st traders fearing a contraction would pile into long term t-bills… effectively keeping interest rates down. This would in-turn spur lending and jolt the economy. And at the end of the day the bond markets were likely to view fiscal austerity positively.

            At some point in his first year, Clinton tried to also get a fiscal stimulus thru (I think a short term jobs plan) as a backup, but the R’s blocked him. So in a weak economy he went after the deficit, when keynsiansm advises countercyclical spending. Oddly, he actually cut taxes during the boom…also counter-keynes.

            • When Clinton came into office at the end of January 1993, the recession had been over for 22 months.

              His first act upon coming into office was to pass his economic program, which included short-term stimulus and a plan for long-term deficit reduction.

              As you can see in the link, the Great Recession (going by GDP growth rate) ended in mid-2009. Following Clinton’s successful path would mean stimulus through about the end of 2011, then transitioning to deficit-reduction over the subsequent four years.

              And Clinton didn’t do that. He cut taxes for low-income folks (which is moderately stimulative, I think) and raised taxes on the rich (which produces only a small drag, in the Keynesian paradigm).

              He did so in a way that added up to a significant tax increase, but more than made up for it with spending.

              Thats a net stimulus but its still not the favored Keynesian approach (borrow and spend on the poor, which is very stimulative).

              You are misstating Keynes here, with your discussion of “spending for the poor.” He favored public projects with broad public benefits, but quite famously argued, over and over again, that it doesn’t much matter how the money is spent.

              Clinton turned to reeling in the deficit.

              He didn’t “turn to” anything. Cutting the deficit in the out years had been Clinton’s policy since he was running for the nomination. Heck, the Bush/Congressional budget deal did the same thing, and that was years before we showed the first drop of black ink.

              A basic Keynesian analysis says that as the federal government spends less demand decreases and the economy cools.

              Not quite. It’s certainly true that reducing government spending can have a cooling effect on the economy, but Keynesians are also quite clear on the point that, during a boom, there is a lot more economic activity going on than the actions of the federal government. Cuts and deficit reduction are intended to have a cooling effect, yes, but this shows itself in a small reduction in the rate of growth, not in stalling the economy.

              • Manju says:

                When Clinton came into office at the end of January 1993, the recession had been over for 22 months.

                Yes, that why I said “we had just learned that the recession was over”. NBER made the call in Dec ’92.

                His first act upon coming into office was to pass his economic program, which included short-term stimulus and a plan for long-term deficit reduction.

                You did a 180. Before you countered me by saying the economy was strong and that he practiced deficit reduction, which you (correctly) said was in line with Keynes.

                Now you say the economy was weak and that he gave us a (presumably Keynesian) stimulus. What you are now saying contradicts this:

                The fiscal year 1994 budget proposed the highest peace-time tax increases (on high income earners) in United States history, cut appropriations spending, and renewed the framework of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990.

                President Clinton’s first budget, submitted in 1993 for fiscal year 1994, proposed to cut spending and increase taxes in order to reduce the budget deficit. The budget proposal submitted by Clinton’s OMB included increasing the marginal tax rate for incomes of over $180,000 from 31 to 36 percent, with an additional 10% for those earning over $250,000 annually. The proposal also called for: increasing the corporate income tax from 34 to 36 percent for corporations with incomes over $10 million; ending some corporate subsidies; taxing on Social Security benefits for high income earners; and an earned income tax credit for incomes under $30,000. The proposal also included significant investments in education, technology, and infrastructure; however, these proposals were largely gutted during Congressional negotiations based on fears that they would add to the deficit. Clinton had promised “middle class tax cuts” during the campaign but had left those out of the budget for fears of adding to the deficit.

                http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/debt/1993reconciliationact.html

                He did so in a way that added up to a significant tax increase, but more than made up for it with spending.

                same source:

                President Clinton’s first budget, submitted in 1993 for fiscal year 1994, proposed to cut spending

                Me: Clinton turned to reeling in the deficit.

                Joe: He didn’t “turn to” anything. Cutting the deficit in the out years had been Clinton’s policy since he was running for the nomination. Heck, the Bush/Congressional budget deal did the same thing, and that was years before we showed the first drop of black ink.

                same source:

                Although Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to invest in America through stimulus spending (and middle-class tax cuts), shortly after his victory in November 1992, he began instead to focus on reducing the deficit.

    • JL says:

      The only people that I know who think Bill Clinton was some kind of progressive hero are people who are too young to remember the details of his presidency (I’m 26, but I started paying attention to politics way early in life – the people that I’m talking about were in their preteens or early teens in 2000).

      Now, that’s a non-negligible chunk of potential voters. But even those people don’t seem to think that Hillary Clinton is a progressive hero – she’s been an office-holder within their political memories, so there’s not the same weird whitewashing.

    • What Obama needs to do to win them over is have sex with his intern or grope some liberal woman who only the RW press decides to take seriously. Then they’ll love him.

      His skin color and name have been enough to get the RW to make fools of themselves and generate backlash-support for Obama. He doesn’t need to have a personal indiscretion.

  7. Tom M says:

    While I admire Robert Reich and find myself in agreement with him far more often than not, if we’re looking for a silver bullet to salvage Obama’s chances in 2012, this isn’t it.

    Fortunately the Republicans are determined to nominate a candidate which by itself will boost Obama’s chance at re-election.
    It almost seems as if the ballots were to say “generic Republican” or “candidate to be named later” the Rs would fare best.

    • Dave Brockington says:

      That’s exactly what the aggregates at RCP indicate: a generic Republican is currently ahead by 0.5%, whereas Obama is 1.6% ahead of Romney, 8.9% ahead of Newt. This disparity has been stable for the past three or so months as well.

      • howard says:

        it’s probably hard to remember that, in 1995, bill clinton’s re-election was hardly a sure thing, and what i kept saying over and over was “it doesn’t matter how the generic republican presidential candidate polls; you can’t beat somebody with nobody, and once they pick a real candidate, clinton will win easily….”

        • cleter says:

          True. The Economist had a piece on how Reaganesque California Governor Pete Wilson was going to beat Clinton like a drum. A lot of Republicans at this point were thinking the trick was getting the nomination, not facing that loser Clinton.

    • DrDick says:

      I agree with this. In addition, I am a bit skeptical that Clinton is even interested in this. Certainly Reich knows the Clintons and their circle far better than I ever will, but I have seen absolutely no signs in her part.

    • chris says:

      It almost seems as if the ballots were to say “generic Republican” or “candidate to be named later” the Rs would fare best.

      Generic candidates usually outpoll specific ones. Voters project their own preferences onto the generic candidate and then discover that they agree with them.

      If I could design a Republican from scratch, I could come up with one that even I like better than their current field. (A very carefully selected handful of Ron Paul positions would be key, I think.) But it doesn’t work that way.

  8. Charlie Sweatpants says:

    I’ve never understood why the idea that Barack and Hillary would be able to form some kind of invincible political supergroup has such appeal. Otherwise sensible people were pitching it before the 2008 primary, during the 2008 primary, and after the 2008 primary. It got kicked around again last year, and now here it is one more time. Supergroups don’t work:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs4v-zexx8M&t=2m14s

    I wouldn’t be shocked if Obama replaced Biden with someone younger who could conceivably help in some state in 2012 and serve as the heir apparent for 2016. I don’t think it’ll happen, but if it did it would never be Clinton.

    • leo from Chicago says:

      Exactly. Same story as 2008. Makes about as much sense now as it did then. Reich’s suffering from a lack of imagination.

      (Although I have to give Hillary her due: she’s worked out way better as SoS than I thought.)

  9. chris says:

    Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.

    How? Even back in the ’08 primaries Clinton was seen as about as moderate as Obama if not more so. Political constraints on what any president can accomplish aren’t going to be any less restrictive for Clinton; if anything, they’d be worse, because of all the effort Republicans have already put into demonizing her.

    Demonization of Clinton is also a good reason to keep her off the ticket from a winning 2012 perspective. One of Obama’s biggest advantages is likely to be a lack of base enthusiasm for Romney equaling, or even exceeding, his own disenchanted base problem. Putting Clinton on the ticket would weaken that — Republican base voters who aren’t all that interested in donating or volunteering to put Romney in office would still walk through fire to keep Clinton out.

    Plus, Clinton is old. You can make an argument that Obama benefited from an old running mate last time, when he was being attacked for inexperience; but you can’t attack an incumbent for inexperience. If the VP slot is going to be good for anything besides obituary-reading, it could give a potential 2016 candidate some defense against an inexperience attack. Clinton doesn’t need that.

    …of course, this is all assuming that Biden either wants out, or ought to be shown the door for some overriding need. I don’t know of any evidence for the former. Maybe, if there were some youngish governor or senator that could be set up for 2016 with four years of VP experience, there’d be a case for the latter, but that doesn’t apply to Clinton.

    In short, I can’t think of any way this ticket would help either Obama or Clinton.

  10. Alan Tomlinson says:

    Put Clinton on the Supreme Court–ideally as chief after Roberts has the massive stroke that removes him from the bench.

    Cheers,

    Alan Tomlinson

    • mark f says:

      Idealer: The Obama/Biden ticket wins re-election and Hillary Clinton either continues to serve as Sec. of State or retires from public life.

    • R Johnston says:

      She’s at least 20 years too old for that appointment.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        This.

        Also: the combination of deep Republican hatred and centrism is not a winning one. It would be a particularly bitter confirmation battle resulting in relative modest rewards.

        I can’t see her doing much more good–for herself or the administration–than she’s doing as Secretary of State.

  11. Because Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans.

    Obama’s approval rating among Democrats is back over 80%. That’s Democrats who say they approve of his job performance, not just those who favor him over the Republicans.

    Robert Reich needs to get off the internet.

    • Hogan says:

      Well, he needs to stop apouting off about stuff outside his expertise, but if evrybody did that what would happen to the internet?

  12. R Johnston says:

    Nothing screams pathetically weak anarchic desperation like swapping out your Vice President in the hopes of picking up votes. An Obama 2012 ticket without Biden would, in the absence of a major health crisis or some other legitimate non-political reason for him to step aside, be political suicide, not because Biden is particularly loved or competent but because it reeks of spineless fear.

  13. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    The Vice Presidency is not broke with Joe Biden in that slot. He’s been quite a good VP.

    The argument for swapping him out for Clinton is quite a bit different than the argument for picking her over him when Obama was picking a running mate. It isn’t just their relative merits that matter.

  14. cleter says:

    Don’t replace Biden. I want to watch him tear apart whatever right-wing nutball Romney has to pick for a running mate.

    • rea says:

      Romney will need a wingnut woman for balance, and there are really only two names that come to mind there . . .

      • R Johnston says:

        Priscilla Owen and . . . I give up. Who’s the other one?

        • I assume rea is thinking of La Bachmann and maybe The Palinator (Palinatrix?).

          • R Johnston says:

            Sorry, forgot my winky. ;) Those two were obviously the two in mind.

            But, more seriously speaking, Priscilla Owen would be a far more politically useful wingnut woman choice than either of them. She’s absolutely adored by the wingnuts and it’s much harder to make the argument that a Federal Appellate judge is a completely uneducated raving lunatic than it is to point out the obvious fact that Palin and Bachmann are completely uneducated raving lunatics.

      • chris says:

        Romney will need a wingnut woman

        I don’t dispute that he’ll need a wingnut, but don’t you think the Republicans have figured out by now that nominating a woman doesn’t get women to vote for you? Especially if she’s viewed as an unqualified token.

  15. Manju says:

    When Clinton came into office at the end of January 1993, the recession had been over for 22 months.

    Yes, that why I said “we had just learned that the recession was over”. NBER made the call in Dec ’92.

    His first act upon coming into office was to pass his economic program, which included short-term stimulus and a plan for long-term deficit reduction.

    You did a 180. Before you countered me by saying the economy was strong and that he practiced deficit reduction, which you (correctly) said was in line with Keynes.

    Now you say the economy was weak and that he gave us a (presumably Keynesian) stimulus. What you are now saying contradicts this:

    The fiscal year 1994 budget proposed the highest peace-time tax increases (on high income earners) in United States history, cut appropriations spending, and renewed the framework of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990.

    President Clinton’s first budget, submitted in 1993 for fiscal year 1994, proposed to cut spending and increase taxes in order to reduce the budget deficit. The budget proposal submitted by Clinton’s OMB included increasing the marginal tax rate for incomes of over $180,000 from 31 to 36 percent, with an additional 10% for those earning over $250,000 annually. The proposal also called for: increasing the corporate income tax from 34 to 36 percent for corporations with incomes over $10 million; ending some corporate subsidies; taxing on Social Security benefits for high income earners; and an earned income tax credit for incomes under $30,000. The proposal also included significant investments in education, technology, and infrastructure; however, these proposals were largely gutted during Congressional negotiations based on fears that they would add to the deficit. Clinton had promised “middle class tax cuts” during the campaign but had left those out of the budget for fears of adding to the deficit.

    http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/debt/1993reconciliationact.html

    He did so in a way that added up to a significant tax increase, but more than made up for it with spending.

    same source:

    President Clinton’s first budget, submitted in 1993 for fiscal year 1994, proposed to cut spending

    Me: Clinton turned to reeling in the deficit.

    Joe: He didn’t “turn to” anything. Cutting the deficit in the out years had been Clinton’s policy since he was running for the nomination. Heck, the Bush/Congressional budget deal did the same thing, and that was years before we showed the first drop of black ink.

    same source:

    Although Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to invest in America through stimulus spending (and middle-class tax cuts), shortly after his victory in November 1992, he began instead to focus on reducing the deficit.

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