Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clinton's Legacy, a Few Thoughts

--Democrats often claim, quite rightly, that Clinton was better at cutting spending (both defense and non-defense discretionary spending) and cutting the deficit than Bush or Reagan. (Yes, Republicans in Congress helped out here but it is a Republican myth that Clinton was a spend-happy socialist from 93-95, the facts are that he didn't change the spending-level status quo during that time). One would think that liberal Democrats are therefore in favor of general spending cuts and deficit reduction. Are they?

--By the same token, why doesn't Bush get credit from liberal Democrats on the huge expansion of the welfare state he presided over? Will they come around in another ten years and realize Bush wasn't as bad as they thought, just like a lot of Republicans are coming around to the idea that Clinton actually gave them a lot of what they wanted?

--I lived through the Clinton years and I remember quit vividly that Clinton was often accused of being a closet Republican, of using Republican policy ideas, of being center-right in his economic policy, and all of this from the disillusioned socialist wing of the Democrat Party. Now they seem to cheer him for the results of his policies but when a Republican proposes much of the same they get attacked for it. I have no problem with criticizing a Republican hypocrite, but don't criticize Clinton for his economic policy in the 90s, and then praise him for it fifteen years later because of the results. That's hypocrisy too.

--This is just a hypothesis: could inadequacies in how we adjust numbers for inflation throw us far off the mark? Could Reagan-era spending levels be exaggerated because we adjust using the (flawed) CPI rather than using monetary bases? Hmmm......

--Democrats should not over-gloat. After all, Obama is making a decent showing in the Misery Index and is making Reagan and Bush's spending look like Clinton's.