You know how Democrats was nostalgic about the Clinton years when, they claim, the Arkansas Democrat’s economic policies lifted us out of a lingering recession and the charismatic Southerner single-handedly balanced the budget. There are a number of problems with this narrative, the first being that the recession ended before Clinton took office. He was just lucky that it appeared to linger through the 1992 campaign.
Now, to be sure, I do give the Democrat credit for learning from his mistakes and his party’s setbacks at the ballot box. After the 1994 elections, he pivoted to the center and worked with congressional Republicans to enact real reforms and balance the budget. Indeed, the unemployment rate in November 1992 was 7.4%, down from its peak of 7.8% in June of that year.
There’s another thing to bear in mind when talking about Bill Clinton’s economic policies. Senate Republicans blocked his “stimulus”. From the April 22, 1993 New York Times:
Senate Republicans killed President Clinton’s economic stimulus program today, maintaining their filibuster until Democrats surrendered and agreed to limit the bill to $4 billion for extended unemployment benefits.
Mr. Clinton’s first serious legislative defeat was marked by complaints from Democrats in the Senate and the White House. But Bob Dole, the Senate minority leader, was satisfied that the Republicans had shown that they deserved to be taken seriously. He avoided gloating, and promised occasional cooperation with the President.
A brief, harsh outburst from Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee, served as the eulogy for Mr. Clinton’s original $19.5 billion measure, which was proposed in February.
Emphasis added. $19.5 billion dollars ($31.4 billion in today’s dollars), chump change to the guy who has Clinton’s old job. Does look like Bob Dole actually did some good while in the Senate. Had Republicans succeeded in filibustering the Illinois Democrat’s stimulus plan, we might have seen a less anemic recovery.
Do hope the president recalls that Clinton’s success may well have derived, in part, from his failure to pass his “stimulus.”