Election 2012

Puncturing the Myth of Bill Clinton

Under Democrats and Republicans, regulation grows.


Bill Clinton got rave reviews for his speech at the Democratic National Convention. My wife said: "Clinton was great. He made Republicans look like liars and losers." Clinton, now a sainted elder statesman, also gets credit for the booming economy of the '90s.

Today, he appears in an Obama commercial—in full "I feel your pain" mode—saying that Obama "has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up."

When someone claims anyone can rebuild a society from the ground up, I say he is arrogant and delusional.

Clinton then tries to scare viewers by telling them that Republicans want to "go back to deregulation. That's what got us in trouble in the first place."

Ah, the progressives' George W. Bush deregulation myth: Bush's anti-regulation crusade caused our problems. This is a lie that seems true because of constant media repetition. In fact, Bush talked deregulation but vastly increased the regulatory state. He hired an astounding 90,000 new regulators. Under Democrats and Republicans, regulation grows.

A rare exception was repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which forbade financial companies from offering both commercial and investment banking services. You know who signed that?

Bill Clinton.

He was right to sign it (backed by Treasury Secretary and later Obama adviser Larry Summers) because outlawing full-service banking put American banks at a competitive disadvantage.

Five years earlier, Clinton supported the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, which finally legalized interstate branch banking. Federal and state laws that forbade intrastate and interstate branch banking—that is, diversification—were one of the worst features of American finance. They made banks highly vulnerable to failure of specific business centers and farm communities, helping to make the Great Depression what it was. (By contrast, Canada had no such restrictions and no bank failures.)

So Clinton—not Bush—was the bank deregulator. Were those acts responsible for the financial debacle of 2008? No. Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc. were not affiliated with commercial banks.

Banks got in trouble because they filled their portfolios with securities built on shaky mortgages. And here is where Clinton does bear responsibility.

His secretary of housing and urban development was Andrew Cuomo, now governor of New York and apparent presidential wannabe.

Cuomo, as Wayne Barrett wrote in the Village Voice in 2008, made a series of decisions that "helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded 'kickbacks' to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why."

Barrett goes on: "Perhaps the only domestic issue George Bush and Bill Clinton were in complete agreement about was maximizing home ownership, each trying to lay claim to a record percentage of homeowners, and both describing their efforts as a boon to blacks and Hispanics. HUD, Fannie and Freddie were their instruments, and as is now apparent, the more unsavory the means, the greater the growth. … (Cuomo) did more to set these forces of unregulated expansion in motion than any other secretary and then boasted about it, presenting his initiatives as crusades for racial and social justice."

Naturally, when Clinton's HUD secretary became New York's attorney general, he vowed to prosecute unscrupulous lenders. I'm waiting for him to prosecute himself.

President Clinton happily takes credit for reducing America's budget deficit and presiding over a period of strong economic growth. But this happened not because of wise leadership. Clinton had the good fortune to reside in the White House just as the high-tech information revolution kicked in and a Republican Congress stopped him from spending what Democrats wanted to spend.

Progressives say that his increase of the top tax bracket did not prevent economic growth, but it never occurs to them that growth would have been even stronger had government not confiscated that money.

Sadly, most who watched St. Bill at the DNC will never know the truth.

NEXT: Romney Camp Denies Acting Rashly

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  1. Hell, Clinton was a bigger “deregulator” than W. Bush.

    1. Stossel is right about banking regs except that Fannie mortgages were highly regulated via their “conforming loan” requirements. Most of the subprime shit didn’t conform and was privately held.

      1. “Under reasonable definitions of subprime, almost 30 percent of Fannie and Freddie direct purchases could be considered subprime.”
        Bullshit, shriek.

        1. We don’t need Cato redefining “subprime” to fit their agenda.

          MOST subprime was privately held. If WaMu could have unloaded their crap onto Fannie they would have.

          1. Palin’s Buttplug| 9.12.12 @ 1:18PM |#
            “MOST subprime was privately held.”

            What’s cherry picking paying these days?
            Of course “most” were held privately; FF only bought on the secondary market.

  2. Clinton was a shitty president, who tried to expand government so ineptly that the reaction completely emasculated his administration, making it, in many ways, a Republican-lite one.

    He also took measures that damaged civil liberties, which I don’t have to list here. Let’s just note, though, that much of the USA Patriot Act was initiated during and by the administration.

    Of course, compared to Obama, he was a statesman. Because he at least was willing to go along with most of the rest of the country when we rejected further expansion of “Big Government.” For a few weeks, anyway. Being good compared to Obama is like being a good QB compared to JaMarcus Russell.

    1. When Clinton declared the era of big government over little did he know what the Bushpigs would do.

      Oh, and Obama still has NOT reversed any of those Bush policies.

      1. Palin’s Buttplug| 9.12.12 @ 12:28PM |#
        “When Clinton declared the era of big government over…”
        He had no intention of doing a thing about it.
        He was and remains a lying sleazy bastard.

      2. Re: Palin’s Buttwipe,

        When Clinton declared the era of big government over little did he know what the Bushpigs would do.

        He was already preoccupied bombing a Christian country in favor of Muslims, killing/burning to death Americans in America, bombing a postrated Muslim country, bombing a medicine manufacturing factory in Africa that condemned thousands to death, invading a Muslim country in Africa with absotutely NO strategic justification, and inserting cigars in ladyparts.

        Yeah, he could not have even start to fathom what the “Bushpigs” would do – he already had enough on his lap! Er, plate.

        1. That “Christian” country was slaughtering Muslims – but what the hell? We know its that BJ in the Oval Office that really pisses you wingnuts off the most.

          1. Palin’s Buttplug| 9.12.12 @ 12:52PM |#
            “That “Christian” country was slaughtering Muslims – but what the hell? We know its that BJ in the Oval Office that really pisses you wingnuts off the most.”

            So when you’re caught bullshiting, change the subject, right dipshit?

          2. Re: Palin’s Buttwipe,

            That “Christian” country was slaughtering Muslims

            They were slaughtering EACH OTHER, you nitwit! They have been for CENTURIES!

  3. Today, he appears in an Obama commercial — in full “I feel your pain” mode — saying that Obama “has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.”

    Someone has to say it.

    You know who else had a plan to rebuild a country from the ground up?

    1. I guess you have to destroy the country in order to rebuild it.

    2. George Marshall?

    3. Chiang Kai-Shek?

    4. George Washington?

      1. You know, not to get serious and all, but it is said than shortly before he died Napoleon is said to have said something like “The people wanted George Washington, I was not George Washington.”

        The fact is that Washington was pretty much the polar opposite of someone who wanted “to rebuild a country from the ground up.”

        The presidents we have had who had plans “to rebuild America from the ground up” have been the ones that have worked the most mischief on the nation.

  4. Progressives say that his increase of the top tax bracket did not prevent economic growth, but it never occurs to them that growth would have been even stronger had government not confiscated that money.

    No, no, John, Progressives go beyond that: They pretty much insinuate that the Clinton tax hikes actually IMPROVED the economy during the Clinton years. You just have to watch msnbc a bit more to find out.

    1. Well, progs believe high taxes and stiff regulations are key to a great economy. No fucking joke.

      1. High taxes aren’t a key to a great economy. Even some progressives will acknowledge that. High taxes are a matter of fairness. Income inequality is unfair, and progressive income taxes (ideally with a top bracket of 100% to create a “maximum income”) solve this.
        You see, the purpose of government is to protect private property while also giving one person a claim to the property of someone who has too much of it.
        There is no contradiction there. Tony said so.

        As far as regulation goes, what do you propose?
        Allowing people to engage in economic activity without asking permission or taking orders?
        That would be chaos! Anarchy! Somalia!

        1. How is forcibly taking money from some to give to others fair? What’s fair?

          1. How is forcibly taking money from some to give to others fair? What’s fair?
            OH…you mean fair to everybody…of course it’s not fair to everybody. It’s just fair to freeloaders, and since there are more of them than productive citizens, that’s all that matters right?

            1. Two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner!

    2. Tech bubble, anyone?

      1. In all fairness, since Big Al invented the Internet, doesn’t Bubba get some credit for the tech bubble?

        1. He gets all the credit for the boom but not the bust? Oh, right, the bust of 2000-2001 was all Bush’s fault.

          1. Fear the Boom and the Bust

            Hayek vs Keynes rap anthem!

            We’ve been going back and forth for a century
            [Keynes] I want to steer markets,
            [Hayek] I want them set free
            There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
            [Hayek] Blame low interest rates.
            [Keynes] No? it’s the animal spirits

            1. More economic education than one gets during a 4 year PoliSci program at a good school…

              Ask me how I know.

              1. Ask me how I know.

                Someone told you a liberal arts education was a good idea and you believed them?

    3. The tax hikes had no effect on the economy but did create a surplus (along with his spending cuts).


      1. Re: Palin’s Buttwipe,

        The tax hikes had no effect on the economy[…]

        Thus spake the economic sophist.

        “Ignoring and totally dismissing the Law of Opportunity Cost, calculate the following…”

        I guess that when the robber grabs my wallet, it shouldn’t really affect me because I still have my house, my car and my job. Never mind what I had in store for that money, no – the robber knows better how to spend it.

        Idiot. You’re less than buttwipe.

      2. @Palin’s Buttplug. Tax hikes mean money taken from the citizens or businesses that they can’t then spend on growing the economy or investing in a business that hires people.

        And you pretend they have no effect on the economy. Maybe you might study practical economics before pontificating. Even Keynes knew that taxes affect the economy!

  5. “Fairness.”

    That has to be my favorite Progressive idea.

    As far as I am concerned, I have worked hard to get where I am. Taxing my hard-earned dollars to give to someone else is in no way fair.

    The real issue is not giving money, food, or shelter to those who need it. I donate often, and give to families across borders through an organizations. It’s not the same as laying bricks for the homeless in Haiti, but it’s what I can do.

    The difference is that I am willing to give that money by choice. When the government wants to dip into my paycheck before I even see it, then I have an issue.

    1. Well, if it’s fair to take my money and give it to someone else, why isn’t theft legal, provided that the criminal has less assets than the victim?

      1. It is. Just not for you.
        It’s also legal to profit from insider trading. Just not for you.
        It’s also legal to take bribes in exchange for awarding contracts, creating tax law, and passing legislation that is favorable to the bribe giver. Just not for you.
        It’s also legal to violate someone’s civil rights. Just not for you.

        1. Huh. So, clearly, I’m the problem here.

  6. Anyway, thats my two cents. So screw you, obnoxious Android fanboys, who hate people with different opinions.

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