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A Question for Economy Wonks

Over the weekend some guy was telling me that the reason times were so good under Clinton was because he didn't do anything different than what Reagan had done. I didn't want to get into some heavy debate about it so I let it slide. But later, the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like bullshit (or a Republican talking point, I really cant tell the two apart). I remember Clinton raised taxes on the rich, where Reagan cut them. Clinton cut military spending while Reagan shoveled huge amounts of money on defense. Reagan grew the deficit, Clinton left us with a surplus. I did some reading on Clinton's economic policy, but I really could not find anything that compared and contrasted the two.

So, economy experts, what's the verdict?

by Anonymousreply 2611/28/2012

I'd also like to know.

by Anonymousreply 111/13/2012

Clinton did a lot to shrink government. Reagan complained about it and got the stupid people all worked up and made them think government was the enemy.

For example, instead of complaining about (fictional) Welfare Queens like Reagan did, Clinton actually transformed welfare, into a temporary assistance program instead of a lifetime handout.

by Anonymousreply 211/13/2012

One of Clinton's first acts in office was to create the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families with children. The trickle-up effect this stroke of policy genius had on the economy cannot be overstated.

by Anonymousreply 311/13/2012

He did the exact opposite of what Reagan did. He raised taxes on the rich and cut taxes for the middle class. There's a great PBS series about Clinton. You should watch it.

by Anonymousreply 411/13/2012

Link, R4?

by Anonymousreply 511/13/2012

Clinton was also very lucky, it needs to be said -- a severe recession in 1991 ended with a dramatic economic resurgence in his two terms. By 2000 we seemed to be on top of the world. It took George Bush only two years to turn that right around.

by Anonymousreply 611/13/2012

Neither one was good for the economy.

The economy grew in both decades, but at rates that were much reduced from the fifties, sixties, and even seventies. And that's after they started increasingly fudging the numbers too.

Success was differential too. In the 1980's young people experienced a dramatic loss of earning power: per capita income for the 18-25 crowd went down by 25% in ten years. It was the first time since World War II that young people could not easily find employment. In the nineties, it was the oldsters whose incomes plummeted, because lower interest rates and underreported inflation eroded their purchasing power. In both decades the floor level of job losses continually increased, as employment became insecure. So even though wages held up under Clinton (v. Reagan), incomes did not increase, because insecurity rose rapidly. We were told this was Good for the economy, but it was a lie.

In the 1990s companies started eliminating pension plans.

by Anonymousreply 711/13/2012

Can someone explain how it came to be that almost everything we buy is now made in China?

by Anonymousreply 811/28/2012

R8, Walmart discovered that it could increase its profit margin selling products made with cheap Chinese labor. So it insisted every company that sold products through its stores move manufacturing of their products to China. Walmart was such a dominant force in the retail market that no one wanted to lose access to that distribution, so they complied. After Walmart did it, other stores had to do it to compete.

Walmart sold out America.

by Anonymousreply 911/28/2012

"This guy" IS FULL OF SHIT.

Bill Clinton raised taxes on everyone who uses gasoline, not just income tax for the rich.

In fact, show "this guy" the cover and article of TIME MAGAZINE from August 16, 1993 called "Overturning the Reagan Era" analyzing Clinton's budget -- it had an UPSIDE-DOWN PHOTO OF REAGAN IN HONOR OF CLINTON!

You might want to read the article and Google Clinton's gas tax -- he lost the Congress to the Republicans over it and health care reform proposals, etc. in 1994.

Tell "this guy" that Ronald Reagan was a fantasist who believed that neverending tax cuts would create so much private sector growth that tax revenue would go UP and balance the federal budget all by itself at the same rates.

This supply-side fantasy -- still clung to by Republicans today -- is ABSOLUTELY FALSE: it's never happened anywhere historically.

Money does not grow on trees, government revenue does not "trickle down" or "trickle back in;" bills do not get paid unless you pay them.

Ronald Reagan quadrupled the national debt and George W. Bush nearly doubled it.

Bill Clinton is the only president since the 1950s to balance the annual budget and produce an annual surplus -- he did it for a few years in a row and Washington could have started paying down the national debt.

But then George W. Bush came into office, deliberately refunded the surplus during healthy economic times and put two wars, a new prescription drug benefit for seniors and all kinds of pork barrel, deficit spending on credit.

Bill Clinton also passed economic stimulus, like Barack Obama, which is a very concrete and helpful use of government/taxpayer money during sour economic times, BUT THE REPUBLICANS ALWAYS OPPOSE ECONOMIC STIMULUS.

So just tell "this guy" he's full of shit and there's a reason why the overwhelming majority of Americans favor the DEMOCRATIC PARTY on economic issues.

by Anonymousreply 1011/28/2012

OP - R10 just gave you a valuable lesson in economics.

by Anonymousreply 1111/28/2012

The gas tax increase under Clinton was minimal for most people.

Clinton raised taxes on the rich and lowered them for the rest of us. He also trimmed the rate of increase in spending in a responsible manner. We went from big deficits to surpluses.

by Anonymousreply 1211/28/2012

r8, my understanding was that this was not just Wal-Mart, but a general move to allow US businesses to stay competitive in the face of growing competition from emerging countries with lower production costs, particularly governments with lax environmental laws that allowed poor labour conditions/cheap labour.

It was also related to a company's success being tied to shareholder value.

Once executive compensation and company performance became tied to how a stock traded on financial markets, costs were ruthlessly slashed to make earning targets. Those with the least power got hit the worst.

by Anonymousreply 1311/28/2012

Reagan busted PATCO (the union for air traffic controllers) as his first action in office -- a shout out to bosses that he had their back if they wanted to break unions. More than any other organization, unions built the middle class.

Clinton passed NAFTA, bringing the US labor force into direct competition with cheap labor around the world, forcing an never ending spiral of living standards for working people.

Clinton destroyed the federal welfare programs for poor people ending a long tradition of federal commitment to the those at the bottom. Forcing the poorest people to take any work available or starve puts downward pressure on the workers who have jobs with low wages.

Rather than distinguishing the two, the more useful lesson is that they both follow the same over-all scheme in place since about 1980 -- transfer social power and wealth to the tiny sliver of useless rich people at the very top.

by Anonymousreply 1411/28/2012

The exact opposite is true. Reagan ran the largest deficits in history to that time. Clinton balanced budgets and left surpluses. Reagan lowered taxes on the rich; Clinton raised them (not a huge amount either) to achieve balanced budgets. Reagan and Bush let interest rates start to get out of control again; under Clinton they were the lowest they had been in 40 years and have remained low. Reagan and Bush grew the size of government (mostly through defense); Clinton appointed Gore to reduce the size of government.

Of course Republicans want to latch themselves on to Clinton, because he did the things they talk about doing while doing the exact opposite. And he was a success, whereas they always wreck the economy - under Hoover, under Nixon, under Reagan, under Bush II.

by Anonymousreply 1511/28/2012

Clinton got lucky.

He was President when internet technology exploded, creating the dot.com boom.

He had not canceled Glass-Steagal yet. Wall Street still had some speculation controls in place.

by Anonymousreply 1611/28/2012

Problem is the right will dismiss TIME as a liberal rag. There's no winning with these people.

by Anonymousreply 1711/28/2012

r13 did it have to do with china manipulating currency? I've never understood that argument.

All i know is everything i now buy has a Made in China label. It's difficult to find anything that isn't made in China.

by Anonymousreply 1811/28/2012

Do you think a President has magic powers? It's called the economic CYCLE for a reason--it goers up and down in waves.

Some presidents get lucky, and some get fucked. Obama's first term was a foregone conclusion, it was a disaster, but now the economy is heading back up, and, as long as he doesn't get hit by a major outside event like a large war, or an oil embargo, or a major natural disaster, he's probably going to end his Presidency on a high note.

Anything he can do (assuming Congress lets him) might move the needle 10%, tops. Other than that, he's along for the ride like everyone else on the roller coaster.

by Anonymousreply 1911/28/2012

[quote] Anything he can do (assuming Congress lets him) might move the needle 10%, tops. Other than that, he's along for the ride like everyone else on the roller coaster.

"But it's all the regulations he is imposing on business that is killing the economy"

by Anonymousreply 2011/28/2012

ronnie reegin didn't know what the fuck was going on, it was ALL his handlers and a good measure of his vice-president, George Bush Sr. I have little doubt. Clinton may have been lucky, but he also did all the right things to help the prosperity of the '90s along such as making the rich pay their fair share of taxes for which the rich released a huge barrage of invective bullshit at him. Getting impeached for getting a blowjob is one example of that--republicans thought nothing of wasting taxpayer dollars to do shit like that.

by Anonymousreply 2111/28/2012

You were likely only rich under Clinton because there was a stock market bubble (which then exploded on Bush's watch).

by Anonymousreply 2211/28/2012

bullshit r22. This 'prosperity under clinton was only because of internet bubble' is a rightwing lie.

Nobody on the right wants to admit that government policies can actually benefit the whole country. For one, Clinton balanced the budget -- which did not happen automatically just because a narrow sector in the economy boomed.

Few people benefited directly from the internet bubble.

by Anonymousreply 2311/28/2012

r17, the differences in tax rates, government spending policies and deficit results are MATTERS OF FACT verifiable from a lot more sources than TIME MAGAZINE, including ones that conservatives trust.

There is winning with the majority on matters of fact.

If the OP's "guy" is one of those pathological deniers of any truth, than OP should not associate with that person who few people would take seriously anyway.

by Anonymousreply 2411/28/2012

Dear r19,

Your President or the federal government can move mountains, stimulate the economy back to solid growth and full employment, through stimulus or government works programs and/or tax cuts.

Obama's first term, with its bailouts and economic stimulus, are an example of this -- these measures ended the recession but weren't enough to lower unemployment or grow the GDP above 2%, which is why Obama and Congress should do more stimulus.

The even bigger example was the Great Depression and F.D.R.'s New Deal, combined with World War II spending wildly in the red, which finally pulled the United States out of a much more dire economic depression, regained U.S. economic value and educated the population for a boom that lasted over two decades.

That was massive, "socialist" government intervention in the economy that DID improve things for most everybody without becoming a communist country or wiping out wealthy people.

The government CAN do a little or a lot to help the economy and it CAN succeed or fail.

P.S. The President and Congress always have complete control over whether they balance the federal budget or borrow to spend in the deficit, increasing the national debt.

And you have to admit that Clinton is the only U.S. President to produce an annual surplus since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

by Anonymousreply 2511/28/2012

[quote]Your President or the federal government can move mountains, stimulate the economy back to solid growth and full employment, through stimulus or government works programs and/or tax cuts.

Most of that is nothing but pissing in the ocean to help drown your wife. The economy is too big and too diverse for band-aid solutions. Even FDR needed WWII to get us out of the Great Depression.

To be sure, FDR (or any President) can do things to help people by providing a safety net. They can do a great deal to ease the effects of the economic downturn. However, that's a completely different discussion than actually getting the economy as a whole going again.

Our current crisis is, in the end, about housing. Housing is the engine that drives a staggering number of jobs in this country, both directly and indirectly.

What makes it even more important than the total number of construction and related jobs, is the fact that most of these jobs are open to people lacking in other skills. You're not moving the unemployment number until you start putting sheetrock hangers, and concrete finishers, and roofers back to work. You fix housing, and all those construction workers go buy new pickups, and that saves GM and Ford--it goes on and on.

We had a huge bubble. We were oversupplied with houses. There is nothing any President can do to magically make the economy absorb those excess units. Only time will do that.

by Anonymousreply 2611/28/2012
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