Bill Clinton's Transformative Change Vs. Barack Obama's Incremental Change
The Village Blogs have adopted Jacob Weisberg's clarion pom poms in arguing that President Obama is having the most transformative first year any Democrat has had since FDR. This strikes me as a ludicrous claim. Chris Bowers discusses Nathan Newman's much more reasonable claim that President Obama has achieved small progressive victories. Chris makes the salient point that Newman's list of achievements are largely a part of a temporary stimulus bill, not lasting, transformative change. I want to add a point I have made before - the biggest change in the first year of a Democratic Presidency since FDR was President Bill Clinton's revamping of the U.S. tax structure. Clinton has been labelled by these same pom pom wavers as an incrementalist, small bore President, but they always ignore, as they must, the most important progressive accomplishment of the past 40 years - the raising of taxes on the well off and the lowering of the tax burden on the less well off enacted by President Clinton. I'll repeat from my earlier post on the subject here:
[I]n 1993, Bill Clinton pushed through the most progressive legislation the US has had since the Johnson Administration. It was called, prosaically, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. What did it do?
It created 36 percent and 39.6 income tax rates for individuals. [up from 33% top rate]
It created a 35 percent income tax rate for corporations. [up from 28%]
The cap on Medicare taxes was repealed. [Making it less regressive.]
Transportation fuels taxes were raised by 4.3 cents per gallon.[Helpful for the environment.]
The taxable portion of Social Security benefits was raised.[Making wealthier seniors pay more in taxes.]
The phase-out of the personal exemption and limit on itemized deductions were permanently extended. [Again, making wealthier Americans pay more in taxes.]
Part IV Section 14131: Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and added inflation adjustments [In essence eliminating taxes for the working poor.]
Clinton's initiative passed by the barest of margins - 218-216 in the House and with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Al Gore in the Senate.
What was the effect of Clinton's initiative? You know the usual litany - 8 years of economic expansion, the creation of 22 million jobs, etc.
But most importantly, Clinton lifted the poor out of poverty and improved the lives of the less well off. I find it ironic that many of Clinton's critics at the time, including Jared Bernstein, now an economic advisor for Vice President Biden, are so silent about the regressive character of BaucusCare.
If BaucusCare becomes the singular achievement of the Obama Administration, it will be damning indeed. And all of the Bill Clinton "triangulation" bashers who stand in support of BaucusCare will be exposed as hypocrites.
Speaking for me only
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