Bill Clinton’s Economic Record

Someone asked me to briefly describe what President Clinton did for the U.S. economy. Here’s my response off the top of my head:

Clinton had a relatively conservative economic policy. The conventional wisdom is that he had the wisdom not to intervene in the economy too much, to over-regulate and over-tax — that might stymie economic growth. He realized early that reducing the federal deficit would be crucial to hold down interest rates, free capital for the private sector and reassure investors about long-term economic stability. His disciplined economic plan passed by one vote in 1993. His management of economic policy spurred growth and led to revenue surpluses. Unemployment fell, as did the number of people in poverty. He turned the Democrats into the party of fiscal responsibility.

On international issues, he recognized the power of globalization to reshape economies. He could have been a protectionist, he could have opposed NAFTA. Indeed half the Democrats in Congress did. But he thought it was a good idea for the U.S. economy and workers for the long run.

Drill Deeper:

  • “Bill Clinton’s Economic Policies: The Wisdom to Let the Good Times Roll,” New York Times, 2001.
  • “He Was Slick, Thank God,” by James Fallows. “Bill Clinton’s talent for confounding his enemies, manipulating his friends, and playing all sides against the middle helped to create the economic golden years.”
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