Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Wants the Economy of the 1990s Without Its Policy Agenda

On budgets, trade, and more, the Democratic nominee rejects Bill Clinton's economic initiatives.


Credit—JOE RAEDLE/EPA/Newscom

For a brief, fleeting moment during last night's presidential debate, I thought we might get a discussion about the federal budget. Budget issues—and in particular, the deficit and the national debt—have gone almost entirely unmentioned throughout the presidential campaign, but Hillary Clinton actually said the words "balanced budget" during the course of defending Bill Clinton's record as president in the 1990s.

"I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s," she said. "I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again." After Trump cut in to complain that Bill approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Hillary continued talking, mentioning millions of new jobs, incomes rising for everybody, and "a balanced budget."

The crosstalk heavy exchange wasn't exactly an Aaron Sorkin monologue, and the conversation quickly veered towards trade as Trump continued to harp on NAFTA ("the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country"). But it was something we haven't seen much of during this campaign: a direct defense of Bill Clinton's economic policies—including his balanced budgets.

That's nice to hear, even if only for a moment. But it would be more believable if Hillary Clinton's economic plans looked more like Bill's.

Under Bill Clinton, the federal government recorded a surplus from 1998 through 2001, the last year that the Clinton administration put forth a budget proposal. Bill didn't just balance the budget, though. During his administration, the size of the federal government was relatively restrained, dropping down to just a shade over 18 percent of the economy by the time he left office. Yes, total federal spending grew over his two terms—from about $1.4 trillion in 1993 to about $1.8 trillion when Clinton left office—but the economy grew even faster.

Hillary Clinton's proposals, in contrast, would allow annual deficits to continue to rise, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects, and would probably raise them somewhat during her first term, according to one estimate. And while she has laid out plans to increase taxes almost enough to cover the $1.8 trillion price tag for her new spending projects, she wouldn't stop the national debt from increasing from already unusually high levels over the next decade. And she has ruled out many of the sorts of major entitlement reforms and spending cuts that would likely be necessary to meaningfully reduce the debt.

The balanced budget isn't the only part of Bill Clinton's economic policy legacy that Hillary Clinton would be unlikely to replicate. Bill's administration took a hands-off approach to regulating the internet; Hillary has vowed to enforce strong net neutrality rules. Bill signed a welfare reform law that has helped reduce poverty; Hillary has indicated that she would revisit the law. Bill signed NAFTA, opening up trade along the border; Hillary has reversed her initial support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has backpedaled on free trade.

Indeed, during the same segment last night, she essentially refused to mount a direct defense of NAFTA. Here's the complete exchange:

TRUMP: I will bring—excuse me. I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs.

CLINTON: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.

TRUMP: Yeah, for 30 years.

CLINTON: And I have—well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again…

TRUMP: Well, he approved NAFTA…


CLINTON: … million new jobs, a balanced budget…

TRUMP: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.

CLINTON: Incomes went up for everybody. Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s, if we're actually going to look at the facts.


When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that helped to create more new jobs.

HOLT: Very quickly…

TRUMP: But you haven't done it in 30 years or 26 years or any number you want to…

CLINTON: Well, I've been a senator, Donald…

TRUMP: You haven't done it. You haven't done it.

CLINTON: And I have been a secretary of state…

TRUMP: Excuse me.

CLINTON: And I have done a lot…

TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.

CLINTON: Well, that's your opinion. That is your opinion.

It's an incredibly telling moment.

Hillary Clinton—who had an insider's view of the White House when the trade agreement was signed, the former senator and Secretary of State who is renowned for her grasp of policy arcana, who is sometimes criticized for being overly detailed in the way she talks about policy—is given a chance to defend NAFTA against a blithering, incoherent opponent who cannot name one single thing he actually wants to change about the trade deal he constantly lambasts, and all she can muster is the content-free middle-school retort, "Well, that's your opinion."

What you see in that exchange is the subtext of so much of Hillary Clinton's breezy talk about the virtues of the 1990s. She isn't really looking to see "what worked" and how those policies can be made to work again. She isn't really touting Bill's policy record. Instead, she's touting its effects while refusing to defend or flatly rejecting the major economic initiatives that shaped the era. Hillary Clinton wants the booming economy of the 1990s—but she doesn't want its policies.

NEXT: Hillary Talks Police Brutality at Debate, Connects Reform to Black-on-Black Violence

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  1. Lying liars got up on stage and lied.

    Naturally, Reason magazine must discuss the lies. They must analyze the lies. Because the lies are the only things that matter right now.

    The Cory Mayes, the Cheye Calvos, the Celeste Guaps all can wait. They don’t matter. The important thing is that the lies must be spread far and wide; for that is important mission, nay service, that all journalists are called upon to carry out.

    1. Hillary Clinton is a god damned idiot robot.

      1. Hillary Clinton said “don’t let them tell you business create jobs”.

    2. I Make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $70h to $86h..Go to this website and click tech tab to start your work.Visit this web… http://tinyurl.com/hygs5jl

  2. The folks where I sit at work are talking about the debate right now. It’s split entirely evenly between the men, bashing Hillary, and the women, bashing Trump. One of the ladies just loudly declared that rich people like Trump not paying their taxes is the reason our country is in debt.

    This is what happens when you give women the vote.

    1. Oh and I should point out, these are all STEM people. I sit back in the tech support area, and it’s three dudes and two chicks who make up our tech support team. And yes, both chicks are programmers.

      1. They let bitches do the programming ‘n shit these days? What’s happening to this country?!!

      2. Ask them which tax laws he broke.

        1. As Tony will gladly point out, paying anything less than whatever the left wants to take from you is cheating on your taxes.

          1. Not giving is taking. So every dollar that the rich weasel out of paying is stolen directly from a starving child. Also, not taking is giving. So every dollar that is not taken from a rich person is a gift from the government.

        2. Well, this goes back to the fact that he won’t release his tax records.

          And, as we all know, if someone won’t release records, then they definitely have something to hide, as Hillary Clinton says.

      3. Having dated a programmer: you do not need much intellectual firepower to be a programmer. I’m sure it helps and I’m sure the average is high, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary.

        1. Depends on the programming. Starting in the late 90s, there was this new phenomenon of people referring to themselves as “programmers” who were glorified script-kiddies. That’s when I got out.

          Also, being a good programmer doesn’t mean you understand economics or other unrelated fields.

          1. S’true. But I do think curiosity and humility are marks of an intellect, and the incuriosity and smug self-assurance this girl reeked of spoke to a very dumb outlook. I’m probably being unfair.

            1. (Then again, she’s graduated, earning decent money, bought a house, and I’m still pulling at the threads of my own collegiate career trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life, so maybe incuriosity and overconfidence are virtues.)

              1. maybe incuriosity and overconfidence are virtues

                You can make a pretty solid living as internal IT, yeah.

                1. I made a decent living in IT, and I have high curiosity and low self esteem.

            2. Well, there are lots of kinds of smart people. Some people are generally curious, some are good at one thing and that’s about it.

              1. I’m curious like a cat. That’s why my friends call me Whiskers!

          2. doesn’t mean you understand economics

            Yet another failure of the public education system.

    2. This is what happens when you give women the vote.

      I thought you just got more fire-engine red dresses.

      1. You misspelled “pantsuit”.

    3. During a 1985 bookmobile segment on Letterman, one book was touted as a fresh voice for these turbulent times: Ike Turner’s “Womans Be Thinking Too Much”

    4. I went into the break room to have coffee and three people were talking about the debate. I slowly backed out. I drank coffee in the bathroom.

      1. Reminds me of a friend who got so high, he decided to eat dinner while taking a shit because of the efficiency.

        1. It’s not the worse idea I’ve heard.

        2. Reminds me of the Seinfeld where Kramer multitasked in the ahower.

      2. You’re gonna end up there anyway.

      3. I have the good fortune of working from home on Tuesdays… so I get to avoid all of the post debate prattling

    5. At least she didn’t start with the whole “can you believe these right wing 1%ers want me to pay for my own abortions?!”

    6. One of the ladies just loudly declared that rich people like Trump not paying their taxes is the reason our country is in debt.

      I live across the state line from a swing state and so sometimes catch campaign commercials before I can find the remote to hit mute. One of Hillary’s commercials explicitly declares that one way she will create economic growth is by forcing the rich to pay their fair share. Another way will be to force American companies to bring taxes back home.

      Yep, one candidate for president believes this will create economic growth. And the other believes restricting free trade will get the job done. Summed up here (TW: Facebook video).

      1. All of the corporations I know told me that the reason they shipped their jobs overseas was that they weren’t being taxed enough in the US and the regulatory burden was too low. Thankfully, Hillary will solve that!

        1. “I refuse to build another plant in the US until there is a higher minimum wage, equal pay laws with mandatory quarterly reporting, and six months of maternity leave at full salary and benefits.”

      2. “Another way will be to force American companies to bring taxes back home.”

        That’s something I noticed with both of them. Both talked about FORCING businesses to stay in America.

        Neither questioned that maybe the businesses had good reasons to leave.

        Trump touched on the subject, saying Clinton’s tax plans would scare away more businesses, but somehow didn’t connect that logic to his idea to FORCE businesses to stay that he had stated only moments earlier.

        1. This drive me crazy. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I tried, but oh my god they’re both just the worst.

    7. I work in a conservative office where almost everyone is too polite to discuss politics.

      1. No one where I work openly discusses politics. Thankfully.

  3. I’m glad to see the Red Dress is still in vogue for the female political set.

    1. Red is always in vogue for that particular political set.

      1. Signaling her political pay-for-play whore status?

    2. Well, red is the power color.

      I think it’s funny to see which politicians always wear a red tie. Someone told them “red ties are power ties” and they took it to heart, I guess.

      1. Such as virtually the entire Republican party? Both parties seem to generally color code their ties to party affiliation.

        1. Yeah, wearing a red tie as a politician at a political event really isn’t anything to talk about unless its e democrat.

          Then, of course, assuming the media doesn’t like that particular democrat, and assuming Trump hasn’t spoken recently, that will be the biggest news story: the conspiracy and hidden meaning of his tie.

  4. Overregulation: hit her on Pennsylvanian coal miners.

    Perverse incentives: hit her on declining hours worked under ACA.

    Government malinvestment: housing is maybe too involved for the time allotted, but Soylendra is a good example.

    Tax rates: highest corporate tax in the developed world. Apple’s located in Ireland for a reason, now trying to get shaken down by the EU, we should be doing everything we can to repatriate tax refugees.

    Immigration: buoy up low-income wages by using immigration law to tighten the labor market. Not my fave, but it would resonate.

    Fuck, Donald, there’s so much to pummel her on. Instead we get more bullshit NAFTA bashing.

    1. I would be happy if one candidate… ONE candidate would point out that the government, both state and federal work to reduce the availability of healthcare to keep prices high.

      1. I also wished that a Republican would call out the Dem’s bullshit when they say that they only want to lower taxes for the wealthy when we all know that isn’t true and can be refuted in a minute or two.

        It’s a strawman that needs to be destroyed.

        1. “I want everyone to be rich enough that their tax bill is high enough to be worth dodging.”

        2. It’s also bullshit when the Democrats say they only want to raise taxes on “the rich”. Certainly they want to increase the top marginal tax rate, but they won’t get nearly enough money from that bracket alone.

          1. Yeah, if I recall, for all Bernie’s talk about only hitting the rich, his actual tax plan was a real bitch for every single taxpayer. Clinton’s is a little more measured because she’s not trying to fund single-payer with it right off the bat, but that’s not to say it’s good.

      2. Republicans are almost always useless, but at least they will sometimes articulate things like that well.

        Another reason why this election is the worst ever. Democrats nominate old, corrupt and awful Hillary and swing further left. And Republicans nominate this fucking buffoon who can’t even do proper lip service to the principles that party pretends to have.

    2. It was incredibly frustrating to watch the Donald go on and on about NAFTA when those topics that you listed above would have resonated well with the audience.

      I’m not even a fan of his but I thought at the very least he would destroy her because she’s not that good of a debater. Instead he said the same thing over and over again.

      1. That blobby, orange, tufted punk has been trash-talking for months.

        Now, he wants decorum.

        The shit-talking was the one area on which I found him trustworthy. Boooo, Donald, booooo.

    3. now trying to get getting shaken down

    4. I wish I were running for president just so I could stand on that stage and say, ‘there’s nothing wrong with a trade deficit, give me one ducking reason we should care about a trade deficit.” Well errrrr x – y is negative! That’s bad, mkay.

    5. Why do so many here keep expecting Trump to deliver on these talking points?

      1. He can’t even reliably deliver on being a brash, pushy loudmouth.


      2. It’s not even an expectation that Trump will dive head-first into a decent argument against Clinton’s fascism, it’s that he’s not even capable of stumbling backward into one.

      3. Misplaced hope leftover from the 2008 election.

  5. Is it time to hate on Suderman yet, or should I read the article first?

    1. It’s not bad. Maybe a little more flattering to Hillary, but not obnoxiously so.

    2. who is renowned for her grasp of policy arcana, who is sometimes criticized for being overly detailed in the way she talks about policy?is given a chance to defend NAFTA against a blithering, incoherent opponent

      Sounds like he’s just disappointed in the candidate he’s voting for.

    3. ::checks watch::

      It’s always time to hate on Suderman.

    4. Its actually, well, sorta balanced and doesn’t come across as the raving of a lunatic. So, probably worth reading.

  6. Yes she’s terrible on the economy. However, Trump is terrible-squared. Clinton is not nearly as smart and persuasive as Obama. So the key is to elect down-ballot libertarians/conservatives and keep her in check. So there will be gridlock for the next 4 years until the presidency can be handed down to its rightful heir – Rand Paul (or Austin Petersen).

    1. Clinton is probably smarter than Obama. Obama keeps getting this credit for being so analytical, and yet his fingerprints are some of the dumbest acts of government in recent memory. I don’t think he understands simple concepts like incentives or moral hazard. His foreign policy has been laughably incompetent and his first reaction to anything that happens in the world is a kind of what-aboutism. He strikes me as having the acumen of a kind-of-bright middle schooler who just discovered politics and believes that there are simple answers to incredibly complex problems– all of which can be solved by simply empathizing with a perceived victim class.

      I think that Hillary does understand economic incentives* and the difficult complexities of various problems, but either doesn’t care or ignores them if she can demagogue an issue which gains her increased political power.

      *If Hillary didn’t understand economic incentives, the Clinton Foundation is proof.

      1. Obama was a diversity hire. He failed up his entire career.

        1. Obama was a diversity hire. He failed up his entire career.

          IDK, politically/popularly, I think he’s schooled Hillary. She’s certainly done her share of failing up.

          1. Hillary has been playing political chess since before anyone had heard of her. She was able to drive her husband into the governor’s mansion in Arkansas, and she’s had her eye on the presidency ever since.

  7. Hey Peter,

    Did you mention that One of the first acts of the Clinton administration was to raise taxes on rich people?

    1. Hey there. How do you feel about nafta?

      1. I was nodding my head when trump asked Clinton about what she had done over the last 30 years. Her brand of third way centrism is why Democrats can’t go into West Virginia or Nebraska or Indiana and ask voters with a straight face to vote for them. That’s why you see a lot of liberals claiming that people who vote for Trump are ncorrigible racists. They’re not. They just need a plausible reason– I say a militant and resurgent labor movement would be one– to vote for Democrats. What specific policies should people in those areas left out of the technology sector rally around to say that the Democratic party’s establishment wing is not totally full-of-shit?

        1. american socialist|9.27.16 @ 1:16PM|#
          “…I say a militant and resurgent labor movement would be one– to vote for Democrats….”

          Yeah, we need a lot more Detroits so assholes like you can claim victory.

    2. And what a fat load of good that did.

      During the first four years of his Presidency, real GDP growth average 3.2%, respectable relative to today’s economy, but disappointing coming as it did following just one year of recovery from the 1991 recession, the end of the Cold War and the reduction in consumer price inflation below 3% for the first time (with the single exception of 1986) since 1965.

      For example, it was a half a percentage point slower than under Reagan during the four years following the first year of the recovery from the 1982 recession.

      Employment growth was a respectable 2 million a year. But real hourly wages continued to stagnate, rising only 2 cents to 7.43 an hour in 1996 from $7.41 in 1992. No real gains for the middle class there.

      The economy boomed following Clinton’s income and cap gains tax cuts and when the tech industry took off (the latter he had little to do with – the Republicans thankfully kept the Feds out of that industry, much to our lasting benefit).

    3. Did you wet your pants?

    4. The administration sets tax rates, huh?

      1. This as well. I believe it would require legislation.

      2. That tax increase was passed by a Democratic congress without a single Republican vote.

        1. It’s a shame they didn’t bother to do what people actually wanted. But at least there was an election in 1994 to let them know.

        2. american socialist|9.27.16 @ 1:19PM|#
          “That tax increase was passed by a Democratic congress without a single Republican vote.”

          At least the GOP gets some things right.

    5. Rich people such as herself? Or are exorbitant payments for “speeches” to wallstreet investors and money laundering through “charitable” foundation exempt?

    6. You do know that the current highest marginal tax rate is the same as it was under Clinton?

      1. No, no he doesn’t know that. amsoc is a fucking moron of biblical proportions.

  8. Economy of the 1990s Without Its Policy Agenda

    So, Hillary doesn’t want to be in charge of healthcare? Huh.

  9. The ‘debt free college’ promise is terrible – it puts young people in a terrible bind – go to school now or wait until it’s free? And she didn’t even need to do it, she could win easily without that promise.

    1. It’s also about as fiscally retarded as giving every young person a debt free BMW.

    2. And does nothing but further enrich university presidents, administrators, and professors. A more effective solution would be to put schools on the hook for a portion of the debt their students incur, or better yet, to get out of the college game altogether.

      1. A great solution would be to hand over servicing of the loans to the alma maters of the students, as part of their budgets. So, it’s then up to the universities to “forgive” student loans.

  10. None of Clintons budgets actually balanced. The last year got very close.

    The Treadury Dept website shows this clearly.

    1. But, I mean, I’d kill someone to get even that close again. Where current expenditures balanced with current income, but future commitments increased. Remember those glory days?

  11. The crosstalk heavy exchange wasn’t exactly an Aaron Sorkin monologue…


  12. Trump gave a lamentable, bantamweight performance. Sure, he was still standing by the end even if he spent most of the match up against the ropes or swinging wildly, but somehow he’s credited with “winning” the debate. Does not compute.

    1. Is he? Every headline I read seems to indicate he lost. Degrees vary.

      1. People were throwing around polls in the mourning lynx showing Trump up by a substantial amount. Only CNN’s had Clinton leading.

        1. Trump has pretty much only led in online polls that are worthless due to voluntary response, no random sampling etc. It’s the same reason why Ron Paul dominated a bunch of online polls during his runs while being nowhere near the top in real polls and election results.

          Among actual polls, I’ve also seen PPP and Breitbart/Gravis with polls showing more people thought Clinton won.

          1. The only two polls I have seen showing Clinton winning were both based on samples that were wildly skewed with Democrats. I have yet to see a poll with a reasonable partisan sample of likely voters.

            Beyond that, being perceived as “winning” or “losing” doesn’t really tell the story. Winning doesn’t do you any good if you haven’t won in a way that causes anyone to switch their vote. The person who won this debate, if anyone can be said to have, is the one who changed the most votes from undecided or supporting the other candidate to their favor. And polls asking people the question of who won or lost doesn’t tell you that. Only time and subsequent polls of the electorate about who they will vote for will tell you that.

            1. Yeah, that’s sorta what I’m doing: assuming the real clear politics average is close enough to true, or at least provides a good way to see change in voting (so, its accurate enough to show that trump support went up or down, even if its not accurate enough to say how much it actually went up, and from what base), I’m going to wait until, I don’t know, next week and that new data comes out to say who won the debate.

      2. Trump supporters voted in every online poll available. That’s how he “won” them.

          1. Illegal immigrants don’t vote in online polls because they’re too busy shooting all the jobs.

      3. All I see is confirmation bias so far. Nothing significant on either side.

        1. Same here.

    2. People probably scored the round where Foreman tired himself out punching Ali’s arms as wins for him.

    3. The only way to win is not to play.

      So Imma say that Gary Johnson won.

    4. My wife asked me last night if I was looking for somewhere else to live because we’re probably going to get attacked. She typically only does that when Trump is gaining, so my inkling is that he did better than expected among normal people that are not politically energized.

      1. Could you elaborate on this? Did you put a giant obnocious T for Trump in your yard or something?

    5. Trump gave a lamentable, bantamweight performance.

      We aren’t electing the top debater or an entertainer. The question is ultimately what policies these people are pursuing, and what laws they can actually passed.

      Clinton’s stated policy objectives are a disaster, and she has the power to pass many of them. Even if she is actually lying about most of them, that’s still a huge problem.

      Trump’s policy objectives are actually fairly moderate: lowering taxes, reducing illegal immigration, negotiating trade deals differently. I don’t agree with all of them, but they are nowhere near as disastrous as Clinton’s. Trump is also going to be much more limited in what he can accomplish.

      So, neither the fact that Clinton is an evil bitch and Trump is an pompous ass really matters much for the presidency. What matters is policies.

  13. From what I recall, wasn’t the budget ‘surplus’ in the 1990’s the result of accounting tricks rather than a genuine ‘surplus’? Maybe I’m recalling partisan media attention on that subject, but that does confirm my biases. Anyone?

    1. For a brief time, I believe the government budget surplus was in fact, a surplus, in that it could meet it’s short term obligations with incoming revenue.

      But the surplus had nothing to do with the national debt, or the general spending trajectory.

      The President, having a hostile congress was somewhat hamstrung– for instance, Clinton failed to nationalize a significant portion of the economy, even with his wife in charge.

      1. And he passed a tax increase early in his term that added billions of dollars to the treasury. See commenter above that laments 3% annual gdp growth rates. That’s a cautionary note for him/her.

        1. Which was combined with military cuts– and also helped by the simple increase in economic activity that absent a tax increase will raise revenue.

          Also note that the national debt never went down (its growth only slowed) and further note that nearly everything Bill Clinton believed is now repudiated by his own party, including his own wife.

          And note again the sharp, shocking rise in the national debt which we are told by the Democratic party isn’t fast enough.

          1. “(N)early everything Bill Clinton believed is now repudiated by his own party, including his own wife.”

            Someone today espousing policies in line with Bill Clinton during his presidency would be portrayed as a hardcore right wing extremist. Things have changed.

        2. american socialist|9.27.16 @ 1:25PM|#
          “And he passed a tax increase early in his term that added billions of dollars to the treasury. See commenter above that laments 3% annual gdp growth rates.”

          See commie kid cream his jeans at a tax increase.

        3. And lets not forget, Bill Clinton turned down the opportunity to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his justice department created the rules which prevented the NSA from telling the FBI and INS to deport the 911 hijackers. And he also waged an illegal war against Serbia that was not only based on a lie but also poisoned relations with Russia and set it on a course towards becoming the strategic adversary it is today.

          1. The 1980s called and it wants its foreign policy back /Obama

            1. In fairness to Bill, who would have ever thought that Russia might get pissed off over a Western Power attacking Serbia. I mean it is completely unprecedented right?

              1. I mean, there might be some precedent, but hell, that was ancient, ancient history.

        4. Any reduction in deficits in the 1990s had nothing to do with the Clinton tax increases.

          Income tax collections as percentage of GDP were flat.

          The major causes of lower* deficits in the 90s were the “peace dividend” and reduced interest rates. In the 80s, interest on the debt was a significant line item in the budget. Since the 90s it has been almost negligible.

          The Clinton tax increase was a symbolic bone thrown to the dogs of the political left.

    2. As I recall, for one thing they were counting Social Security receipts against the deficit, even though they like to tell us that those receipts go into a “lockbox” for our retirement needs. Taking that away by itself erased the so-called surplus.

      1. Notice I said “short term obligations”. The government accounting is allowed to do stuff the rest of us would be in jail if we did: ignore unfunded liabilities and future expenses that haven’t yet kicked in, but are guaranteed to do so.

      2. Now that you said it, I’m pretty sure this is what I was kind-of-but-not-really remembering. Thanks!

    3. Basically they used the same trick as Enron, booking money borrowed from the social security trust fund as tax revenue.

      1. But the fact that they could even do that means it was a hell of a lot better than what we have now.

    4. They looted the Social Security fund and claimed it didn’t matter because it was just money that the government owes itself.

      1. No, that isn’t what happened at all. The Social Security Trust Fund has always been a fiction. Pay as you go was always primarily a source of government revenue for current expenditures ever since Bismark conceived it. Roosevelt just copied it.

        And they would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those pesky demographics.

  14. See, this is why I didn’t waste my time listening to these two mediocre nonentities trade feeble insults. They’re not going to tell me anything I don’t already know, and they’re not going to explain anything I want explained. The good night’s sleep I got was a much better use of my time.

    1. I went dress shopping with my wife instead of watching the debate. Spoiler alert: we went to 6 stores and bought nothing. I still would rather do that, than watch the debate.

      1. If you didn’t buy yourself a dress then what are you wearing to the cotillion?

        1. I already have a spandex number with a plunging neckline. My wife is the one that needs a better wardrobe.

      2. If you have Netflix, check out the movie “Curse of the Jade Scorpion”. It’s what my wife and I watched last night, and it’s pretty funny (ignore the 1 star ratings by all the Woody Allen haters).

        1. I’ll add it to the list. I’m trying to watch all the American horror stories before Halloween horror nights.

        2. Woody Allen is in it? Thanks for the warning. Pass.

        3. I’ve watched every one of Woody Allen’s movies up to Whatever Works; Jade Scorpion was not among his better ones in my opinion.

          Supposedly his work got better in recent years; Match Point was pretty good, but it was much better in 1989 as Crimes and Misdemeanors. Anything Else was clumsy, Scoop was meh, Whatever Works suuuuucked, Melinda and Melinda was decent but largely forgettable. I don’t want to invest the time in his more recent stuff to find out if he indeed got better.

          1. I liked Jade Scorpion. That was the last one of his movies I watched. I didn’t see any of his 90s movies except for Bullets over Broadway and Jade Scorpion. I liked them both but neither are his best. I have seen every one of them up to Crimes and Misdemeanors. Crimes and Misdemeanors is in my opinion a great movie and as far as I can see the last great movie he ever made. It might in fact be he best movie in some ways.

          2. Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of his best. Highly underrated.

          3. I don’t think Jade Scorpion is a great movie. It’s a fun movie. The soundrack is nice. The plot is amusing. The scenes of sexual harassment in an office in the 1940’s are hilarious.

            It’s not a masterpiece. But, it’s a nice diversion after a tough day at work.

            1. I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t good. I guess I’m holding it to the standards of Crimes and Misdemeanors, Deconstructing Harry, Annie Hall, and Hannah and Her Sisters rather than the standards of the average movie.

        4. Meh. I’d really recommend Small Time Crooks.

  15. There was a debate?

    1. There was some master-debating last night.

  16. Bill Clinton came in on a growing economy. Growth was 4.1 the quarter of his election. The next 2 years had tax raises and trying to get Hillcare. Then the R’s took over congress .He changed course. Then the .com and housing boom took off. Taxes and spending were stable for years with no big programs. Her Self wants to go in the other direction.Of course,Bush and congress wiped out all the gains with war,security,defense and new programs and the hosing bubble burst.

    1. …war,security,defense and new programs…

      All of which Hillary supported.

      1. The fact is that Hillary owns whatever is wrong in the country.

        She is running against almost everything that she claimed she was for for the last twenty-five years.

        OTOH, Trump is going for the hard hats for Nixon vote.

  17. All I got from Cankles last night was a string of platitudes followed by vague policy proscriptions that would achieve the exact opposite of her platitudes.

    Trump was a bit more specific but I doubt he won anyone over.

    1. She mentioned “working together” a lot, but when pressed for specifics, she listed various “communities” with which she would work, rather than, you know, what she would do.

      1. She mentioned “working together” a lot, but when pressed for specifics,

        What about the 40-50% of the country that don’t want to “work together” with the kind of crony capitalist, totalitarian, and racist crooks she represents?

  18. I didn’t really want to watch the “debate” last night but my wife turned it on. The commentators afterwards seemed in awe over what a shitshow it was, describing it as “surreal!” and a guy I work with (and Bernie supporter) had the same reaction. I wasn’t surprised in the least by what I saw I must say – Trump was Trump and Hillary said hardly anything and absolutely nothing of substance.

    Regarding the economy, I am still waiting for a candidate who will speak the truth: “The only role the government can play in the economy is to screw it up.”

    1. “The only role the government can play in the economy is to screw it up.”

      The role of government in the economy is to enforce property rights, contracts, criminal law, and to provide courts for resolving disputes. Oh, you mean a direct role? Yeah. Never mind.

    2. In many ways it was an honest showing of what they both are. Trump was the pissed off disorganized outsider who thinks the country is headed down the toilet and wants to do something about it but talks too much and is a bit confusing in the details of just what and Hillary was the insider who thinks that outside of race relations everything is going pretty well except that a large part of the public isn’t bright enough to realize it and it is her duty as the national nagging mother in law to explain it to them.

      1. “national nagging mother in law”

        I am so stealing this.

  19. Most people glaze over on the details and just get the big picture. Suderman being a first rate nerd doesn’t get that. What Hillary wants is more taxes and more regulation. She said so at every opportunity. And that is what the non rapid partisan watching the debate; that Hillary thinks the economy is doing pretty well all things considered and she wants to be President to give it more taxes and more regulations, things that she sees as the path to prosperity.

    If you want to know why so many online polls and focus groups keep showing Trump as the winner of this debate while nerd journalists of all persuasions are convinced it was a tie or that Hillary won, this is why. I have to give Hillary credit, it is the one time in her 26 years of public life she has ever been honest with the public.

    1. things that she sees as the path to prosperity.

      Central planners are incapable of imagining anything happening without orders from the top. Biden said as much. Wouldn’t surprise me if she believes that as well.

      1. You are right. In the past Democrats, even Obama, have always pretended to be centrists and praised the free market and business. Hillary is the first one I can remember who says straight up she is going to tax and regulate the economy more because that is what makes it grow.

    2. “I have to give Hillary credit, it is the one time in her 26 years of public life she has ever been honest with the public.”

      I didn’t hear Hillary say much of anything. It seemed like she just wanted to let Trump rant on and on most of the time. I missed the first 10 minutes and got up a few times that coincided with Hillary talking (I didn’t plan it that way!). What I did hear from her that was not a specific reply to Trump was very vague.

      I kept wondering how the debate would have gone if GJ were there

      1. I heard her say a lot. She spent the entire first half of the debate talking up the economy and how she planned to tax and regulate it to even more prosperity once she is President. She was very clear about that. It wasn’t until the debate switched to race that Hillary admitted things might not be going so well in the country.

    3. I think there was another factor in play, as well. If you have only been half-paying attention up to this point, and getting what little politics you do follow from your evening news, you would have the impression that Trump was a raving madman who would erupt into rage at any moment. Trump did not do so and, thus, exceeded expectations.

      1. That is very true. If there is one remarkable thing about this debate it is that on the day after it all of the madness and nonsense of the last year, with all the claims of Trump being a racist and hating Mexicans and being too dangerous to be President, has completely fallen away. It is like none of that ever happened. When you think of all of the ink spilled and gnashing of teeth that went on over all of that, that is pretty remarkable.

  20. How much of the ’98 through ’01 budgets as implemented were what the Clinton adminstration proposed? I seem to remember them complaining that the GOP Congress not increasing spending at the rate they wanted was draconian budget cuts.

    1. The 1990s economy was created by the tech boom. Bill Clinton just got lucky in both being President when it happened and the Democrats losing the Congress in 1994 depriving him of the ability to screw it up. You have to remember, unlike Obama, Bill Clinton didn’t get his wish list during his first two years in office when the Democrats had control of Congress. Hillarycare died and Bill Clinton’s big energy tax died as well. So he was prevented from screwing up the recovery.

      Think of it this way; imagine if Congress had killed Dodd Frank and Obamacare during Obama’s first two years and then the Republicans had taken over the House in 2010 preventing Obama from doing anything else very significant. I bet the economy would have had a normal recovery and everyone would be talking about what a genius Obama was and how great he is at handling the economy. Getting that 60 vote Senate majority was in many ways the worst thing that could have happened to Obama.

      1. But the tech boom only happened because government invented computers and the the Internet!

        Joe Biden says government invented fire and the wheel!

        1. Hey, don’t knock Joe! He’s thiiiiis close to curing cancer!

      2. That is what I mean. Bill Clinton wanted to screw around with the economy very much, he just was stymied in his efforts, but this is being talked about as if what happened in the late nineties went according to his plans and intentions.

  21. Bill Clinton never had anything to do with making the economy better when he was President in the first place.

    An economic expansion began before he ever took office in his first turn and the stock market and the economy turned down again before he left it in his second term.

    He had no more to do with creating it or sustaining it than a rooster’s crowing makes the sun come up in the east every morning.

    His fat butt just happened to be parked in the oval office when the private sector created growth wave passed by.

    1. Exactly. And if he had been able to get Hillarycare and his energy tax through Congress, there never would have been a recovery. Bill Clinton blundered into being President when the economy was that good. He had nothing to do with it and in fact would have prevented it if Congress had been willing to give him his way.

      1. And he blundered in putting his wife in charge of managing his administration’s health care proposal.

        Her autocratic, secretive and arrogant management of it was so incompetent , they couldn’t even get their own party for vote for it.

    2. Clinton was good enough not to screw it up. Obama would have thrown down every obstacle he could during the tech boom had he been president.

      1. No he wasn’t good enough not to screw it up. He was lucky enough to be unable to screw it up. Had Congress given him what he wanted, he most certainly would have screwed it up. Saying Bill Clinton deserves credit for the economy is like saying a mother who tried but failed to strangle her child in the cradle deserves credit for the child growing to adulthood because they at least didn’t screw the kid up.

        1. I agree with you but the fact of the matter is that most of America thinks of the 1990’s economy with some kind of halcyon glaze and associates that with slick Willie.

        2. Saying Bill Clinton deserves credit for the economy

          …which is not at all what I said.

          When the Democrats got knocked the fuck out in 1994, Bill Clinton didn’t take that as a sign that “I’ve got to do MOAR HARDER.” – he triangulated. Clinton won re-election because he gave ground and did things that Republicans favored, like signing welfare reform.

          Obama NEVER would have done that.

          1. He said he didn’t want to do more harder. And maybe he meant it. Only he knows. The point is that it doesn’t matter what he said or thought because he no longer controlled Congress. He no longer had the ability to do more harder. So the fact that he didn’t, really has nothing to do with him or any choice he made.

            1. But Obama hasn’t controlled Congress either. In spite of that, he’s interfered with anything resembling economic growth at every turn.

    3. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in 2008 that said : “Gas cost $1.68 a gallon before Bush was President” VOTE DEMOCRAT.

  22. Hillary was extremely boring. I was almost dozing everytime she started talking. Then Trump would chime in with yeah and look where your ideas/experience has gotten us. That seemed to work effectively for him.

    1. I thought she sounded horrible when talking about the economy. She sounded like the national mother inlaw lecturing the country about how good they have it and how they need to stop bellyaching and take more of their medicine. It was just astoundingly tone deaf and out of touch.

      She sounded okay on the racial stuff except that everyone listening was thinking “but we have had a black Democratic President for 8 years”. In fairness to her, I am not sure what she could have said differently. It is not like she can tell the truth that Obama has been horrible for race relations in this country.

      She might have been at her worst when talking about Russia and hacking. Her standing up there talking about the dangers of Russian hackers was like something out of Monty Python. I couldn’t believe she was doing it. It was so obvious and so painfully awkward, I think Trump was smart not to say what everyone was thinking. It just would have made him look mean and everyone was thinking it anyway.

      1. I like that we can call black people black people now instead of the inane “African-American”.

        1. I think we’ve moved on to “person of color,” actually. But not “colored person.” That’d be racist.

      2. ——She might have been at her worst when talking about Russia and hacking. Her standing up there talking about the dangers of Russian hackers was like something out of Monty Python.—–

        Those were the words of someone who is absolutely certain that she can get away with anything. She can speak with as much cognitive dissonance as she likes, and if anyone tries to hold her accountable, the entire elitist establishment will stomp on the poor sap with both feel.

        1. ….well, with both feet, because FEELZ.

          sort of a Freudian slip (but not really).

    2. I agree that Hillary was predictably boring. I don’t know how effective Trump was.

      1. Hillary didn’t collapse on stage and didn’t have the moderator killed after the debate. Trump didn’t veer into any major incoherent rant and didn’t start screaming. I think they both did OK, considering what could have happened.

  23. There wasn’t any surplus during the Clinton years. Not when you count SS “IOU”s as debt.

    Trump blasted Clinton for signing NAFTA and Clinton (apparently) did not defend her husband. So basically, neither candidate wants to return to the 90’s economy. Which is largely unattainable anyways.

  24. RE: Hillary Clinton Wants the Economy of the 1990s Without Its Policy Agenda
    On budgets, trade, and more, the Democratic nominee rejects Bill Clinton’s economic initiatives.

    Heil Hitlary’s economic policies will a State planned economy.
    She wisely recognizes all State planned have worked in other countries, and they will work here as well.
    I can hardly wait.

  25. RE: Hillary Clinton Wants the Economy of the 1990s Without Its Policy Agenda

    Yes, Heil Hitlary wants the economy of the 1990’s, the Cuban economy of the 1990’s.
    It worked so well down there that I’m sure it will work wonders here in this country the next four (or eight) years as well.

    1. The Era of Big Government is Over . . . hahahaha, suckers.

  26. Donald trump is awful and kind of the same thing as that hag. At least he is tolerable as far as having to listen to 4 years of bullsh*t.
    She makes the skin crawl.

    One thing is for certain: people who vote for that bitch are either brain dead dipshit sheep or they are in need of her corrupt power to benefit themselves.

    Those are the only two categories

  27. I’ll take the federal budget of the 90s over the current one.

  28. Peter, you’re some kind of fool if you think Hillary Clinton wants peace AND prosperity AND smaller government.

    The Era of Big Government is over? Oh, no my dear.

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  30. What worked in the 1990s was a Republican congress thwarting Bubba’s plans.


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  35. attributing that outcome to the policies of bill clinton is wildly disingenuous, revisionist history.

    bill and hillary drove the economy into a ditch in their first two years.

    they were then saved by a landslide congressional election that swept the gingrich congress into power with its “contract with america”.

    THAT is what got things going. cap gains taxes were slashed. that tax affects growth more directly than any other.

    that was when the regulatasaurus got a muzzle. that was when budgets started to get more reasonable. (though calling them “balanced” is a farce. that never happened. only using the federal cash accounting standards that would have any public company ceo jailed that this is so. using GAAP, it was never even close)

    bill clinton, had he had his way, would have wrecked the US economy. he got bailed out by congress and had enough sense to sit down, shut up, and go along for the ride.

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