A Return To The 1990s

By Big Tent Democrat

Matt Yglesias writes:

McCain[']s [priorities] are reducing the level of government services in order to pay for an indefinite prolongation of the war in Iraq, the extension of Bush's tax cuts for the highest-income Americans, a large hike in non-war defense spending, and a series of new tax breaks. Clinton and Obama are both, in somewhat different ways, offering more services paid for by returning to something more like the levels of taxation that so devastated the national economy in the 1990s.

(Emphasis supplied.) I think that is right and it is what made Obama's comment on the Clinton economic policies of the 1990s so perplexing:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration . . .

As Yglesias rightly points out, both Hillary Clinton and Obama are promising a return to the fiscal policies of Bill Clinton. It makes no sense for Obama to lump the Clinton era with the disastrous Bush Presidency.

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    I must have been stoned (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by myiq2xu on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:30:28 PM EST
    during the nineties because I missed the part about a devasted national economy.

    I Was Stoned In The 90's! (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by JoeCHI on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:00:02 PM EST
    And I could afford GREAT POT, thanks to the successful economic policies of the Clinton years!

    Yglesias hasn't gotten the Obama memo (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by angie on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:36:46 PM EST
    the 90s are bad. What I find ironic is that Yglesias can write (and presumably believe) that Obama wants a return to the fiscal responsibility of the Bill Clinton years when the Obama camp has done everything it can to tear down his legacy.  

    that one really pisses me off (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Turkana on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:38:13 PM EST
    and it's a major theme of obama's campaign- lump clinton with the bushes, or denigrate him in comparison to reagan. not that he goes negative or uses dishonest campaign themes or anything. because we all know he's running against the way things are done in washington.

    Yes. BTD wondered earlier today where (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Teresa on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:57:37 PM EST
    the passion comes from for the separate supporters of two similar candidates. This Clinton administration dissing by Obama and the media slant against anything Clinton is why I feel that passion for her.

    Plus she's an extremely smart lady and doesn't deserve the outright scorn she receives.


    not at all perplexing... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by white n az on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:43:11 PM EST
    why Obama trashed the impact of Bill Clinton's years on the middle class...he's committed to trashing anything positive about any Clinton so of course there's collateral damage.

    It is the 'ends justify the means' thinking that you are finding perplexing. That explains to a very large extent why there is such a generational split between the two candidates.

    Those under 30 simply can't know what it was like in the 90's because they were pre-occupied with growing up.

    Those over 40 are either suffering from CDS, misogynistic, or black in which case Obama's their guy.

    Otherwise the over 40 crowd is for Hillary.

    Not really that confusing except for the calculation on how many of these 40+ Obama would lose to McCain in a general election.

    Ok someone just created an account to give (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Florida Resident on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:49:51 PM EST
    us a lesson from the gallery on what Obama really meant.  Thank you oh so gracious one we are too dumb to know anything without your enlightenment.

    Too much acrimony (none / 0) (#13)
    by Peanut on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:55:10 PM EST
    It's a sunny day, my 2 year-old daughter is just now waking up from her nap, and I'm not going to engage with this kind of sarcastic and angry response.

    Hey your the one with the funny handle. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Florida Resident on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:02:39 PM EST
    Who comes here to WORM us about policies.

    The ONLY reason (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by Edgar08 on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:51:19 PM EST
    Why Obama is perceived to have an edge over McCain on the economy is because Bill Clinton proved Democrats can handle the economy.  Everyone wants to talk about Democratic Party branding.   That was DEMOCRATIC BRANDING!  A part of the Democratic Brand that would not exist at all if it wasn't for the Clinton administration.

    He (Obama) will modulate his message in the General Election and it will only add insult to injury to anyone who paid attention in the primary.

    Anyway, nice to see another piece of hypocrisy from the Obama boys.

    What I can say is this.  I love the morons who say Clinton should not be creditted with the economy because presidents don't have any control over that.

    Oh really.  Is that the case?

    So when Obama says he can do something about the economy I should consider him quite deluded into thinking he can do anything about the economy.

    Presidents don't have any control over that.

    Anyway, I have to confess I wasn't that politically active in the 90s.  I was too busy making and spending money.

    Bill Clinton Gets Double The Credit Because.... (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by PssttCmere08 on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:00:42 PM EST
    ...he managed the peace, prosperity, balanced budget and a surplus while working with a Republican Congress.  Let Obama put that in his pipe and smoke it.

    Part of the reason for the losses- (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by kc on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:18:13 PM EST
    -during the Bush years is that there has been no enforcement of trade agreements about environmental and labor policies. Also, have personally heard Clinton say that we need to come up with new job sectors about every 7 years. In the 90's it was technology and hopefully in the near future it will be climate change jobs.

    I agree with this (none / 0) (#28)
    by hairspray on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 05:11:03 PM EST
    When BC signed NAFTA I was worried. However, he stressed that you cannot stop a tide, but must make it work for you. Reminded me of my history lessons of the indstrial revolution and the huge dislocations at the time.  Had Al Gore become president I have no doubt that we would have had a "green revolution" by now with a whole new industrial boom spurred by those policies.  In fact, BC had already been talking about that in the late '90's.

    I know I've said it before (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by ChrisO on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 04:08:02 PM EST
    but the candidate who is doing the most damage to the Democratic Party is Obama. Contrasting the last eight years with the Clinton administration should be the strongest selling point the Dems have. Instead, we have a candidate who takes pains to point out that the last Dem President wasn't that great. Oh well, I guess that's what we should expect from someone who will say anything to win.

    Thank You Melchidezek (1.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Peanut on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:45:17 PM EST
    I just created an account here to respond to this. Obama was talking about the flight of jobs, not policies. And he was absolutely right to lump Bill Clinton in with both Bushes on this topic, all of them are responsible for policies which made it easier for manufacturing jobs to be offshored. Or isn't Hillary opposed to Bill's NAFTA?

    I understand that there's some acrimony here, but is it really necessary to MANUFACTURE controversies?

    He was talking about the flight of jobs (5.00 / 7) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:48:46 PM EST
    in the 90s??????

    Then he is pretty freaking ignorant. 22 million new jobs were created in the US during the Clinton Administration.

    Of course EVEN IF he was talking about jobs, what exactly was Obama offering on the issue BUT POLICIES??? does the government do something besides ENACT POLICIES?

    Of course the fact that PA went big for Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and that Gore and Kerry won PA make the whole statement from Obama extremely ridiculous.

    What's The Matter With Kansas, whatever the merits of the argument, does not work in PA.


    He must have meant... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by dianem on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:58:45 PM EST
    ...the flight of jobs toward the poor and middle class. The ones that enabled people to get off welfare and to ask for more money by threatening to leave the company they were working for - or just to jump ship into a better job.

    You're not even making sense (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Edgar08 on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:00:19 PM EST
    Obama wasn't talking about policies.  That's what you say in one sentence.

    And then you say it's right to lump Bill and Bush together on the topic because they are responsible for the Policies.

    Are you saying they had the same policies?

    I hope not.

    That would be really really dumb.


    Can we no longer read? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Melchizedek on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:39:47 PM EST
    Obama is talking about larger economic forces of globalization and the fact that jobs (JOBS, not TAXES) have not been replaced. Come on, Armando. You wrongly project an observation about jobs onto an attitude about "fiscal policy" and taxes writ large,  and then you scratch your head about how "perplexing" it all is? You simply cannot be serious. He's talking about those specific jobs in PA and the Midwest, not the balanced budget act of '93.

    And, by the way, those jobs are not coming back, no matter what Obama and Clinton say. The next president is going to have to break some hard truths to the American people, and I don't envy whoever it is.

    Um (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:41:31 PM EST
    Wait up, are you saying Obama is arguing that NAFTA is the cause of the bitterness? Because there was NO JOB LOSS in PA in the 90s you know.

    Are you saying Obama is lying for political gain? How DARE you?!?


    heh (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:42:22 PM EST
    Um (none / 0) (#11)
    by Peanut on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 02:50:58 PM EST
    There may have been a net gain of jobs in PA during the 90s, but probably only because job losses in small towns and cities were offset by gains in urban and exurban service/informational industries. Which does not take a way from the validity of what Obama was talking about.

    when you make these kinds of statements (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Florida Resident on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:00:35 PM EST
    you better come with some evidence to back them up or I'll have to attribute them to ignorance.  Small towns and the inner cities are usually the hardest hit when jobs are lost in my experience and this has been no different since 2000.  So when you say;
    job losses in small towns and cities were offset by gains in urban and exurban service/informational industries.

    I need number backing that statement up specially the service one.  Because it is now that those mickey D's type jobs are replacing good paying jobs.  The Jobs of the 1990's were good paying jobs.

    BTW let me point out another perplexing (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Florida Resident on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:23:36 PM EST
    contradiction if losses had been offset then we must assume that job levels would have remained the same not grow.  The fact that there was growth even with the loss of some manufacturing and mining jobs makes the Job growth in other areas after the recession the more remarkable.  The fact that i think some 90% of those jobs we private sector jobs speaks of policies that were business and investment friendly. (Darn them Tax and Spend Democrats) :-)

    Well (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:14:52 PM EST
    Do you have any more statements to pull from your backside or what?

    Nice WORM (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by angie on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:00:09 PM EST
    but I'm not buying it -- besides the fact that the job "flight" rationale isn't true (as pointed out by BTD), Obama has gone out of his way to paint everything and anything associated with the Clinton presidency as "bad."  I'm not going to believe now that he has something positive to say about it.

    In what sense are the 90s like the Bushes? (none / 0) (#24)
    by marcel on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 03:23:32 PM EST
    See the graph that Krugman put together last week.  Unlike Truman, JFK and LBJ (and also the first part of Eisenhower's  administration), inequality increased under Clinton, in both 4 year periods.  Is he responsible for this?   Hard to believe.  Likely that inequality would have increased substantially more during the 90s without his tax increase in the first part of his presidency.  But in this respect, his legacy does resemble that of Republican presidents more than any other Democrat except Carter.

    I read something about this in (none / 0) (#27)
    by hairspray on Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 05:03:18 PM EST
    The American Prospect, I think Robert Kuttner was the author.  The spike and inequality was driven by technology in the entertainment/sport  industry.  If I can recall the details it had to do with the enormous growth of income going to the stars themselves but to supporting professionals as well. A good part of it were the 30 million dollar incomes to baseball and movie stars as one data point, but the internationalization of music and and movies was another large chunk of that. Recording artists were now able to sell records throughout the world with enormous monetary rewards.  This is really an important piece of that puzzle.