Bill Clinton Raps GOP, Obama — Politics Must Stop Being ' Dysfunctional'

Tuesday, 08 Nov 2011 01:09 PM

By Jim Meyers

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“I wrote this book because I love my country and I’m concerned about our future,” Bill Clinton tells readers of his new book “Back to Work.”

“We’ve got to get America back in the future business.”

In “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,” scheduled for publication on Tuesday, the former president takes President Barack Obama to task on several issues, criticizing his handling of the debt limit and his promotion of nuclear energy.

But he saves his harshest criticism for what he calls the “antigovernment” movement, including the tea party, that seeks to reduce the role of government, cut spending and taxes, and scale back regulations in an effort to stimulate the economy and cut the deficit.

In his post-presidency, Clinton has not only remained a powerful voice within the Democrat Party but also become popular with Republicans, including many of his former critics. A recent poll found that Clinton’s favorability rating stood at 67 percent, his highest rating since leaving office, with his favorability among Republicans at 40 percent.

On economic issues, Clinton’s views carry great weight. In the 1990s, he worked with congressional Republicans and presided over a booming economy that saw the creation of more than 22 million new jobs and the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history. When he left office, he was the first post-War World II president since Eisenhower to leave the nation with a budget surplus.

In his new book, the former president argues that the government and the private sector — as well as Democrats and Republicans — need to work together to assure a bright future for America.

Editor's Note: To order President Clinton's new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,” Click Here.

“I believe the only way we can keep the American Dream alive for all Americans and continue to be the world’s leading force for freedom and prosperity, peace and security, is to have both a strong, effective private sector and a strong, effective government that work together to promote an economy of good jobs, rising incomes, increasing exports, and greater energy independence,” Clinton writes.

He observes elsewhere: “There remains a lot of space for a real, productive debate, areas in which both Democrats and Republicans could contribute to bipartisan solutions that actually get our country back in the future business.”

Clinton criticizes Obama and the Democrats for failing to raise the debt ceiling in November and December 2010, when they still controlled both houses of Congress, leading to a partisan battle over the budget that made the United States look “weak and confused” to the outside world.

It also led to Standard & Poor’s downgrading of America’s long-term credit rating on the belief that American politics “have become dysfunctional,” according to Clinton.

Clinton also takes issue with Obama on nuclear energy.

“The one area where I disagree with the administration on energy policy is in the provision of large loan guarantees to nuclear power,” he writes.

The nation needs to consider the “relative economic and energy benefits of other options,” he asserts, including solar power and other clean fuel sources.

Clinton explains that he campaigned on behalf of Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections, but was thwarted because Democrats failed to formulate a national message to counter the wave of antigovernment sentiment that swept many Republicans into office.

He also criticizes Obama and the Democrats for not strongly touting the steps they did take to stabilize the U.S. economy, and concedes that the current state of the country is “a mess.”

Clinton consistently chides the “antigovernment” forces and argues for a strong role for government, rejecting calls for spending cuts and tax increases.

“Even though I strongly favor a multiyear plan to bring our budget back into balance, if we cut spending or raise taxes a lot when the economy is still weak, it will slow down economic recovery,” he states.

The former president offers 46 specific proposals “to increase bank lending and corporate investment, to create more jobs that pay well, and to make sure we have enough people trained to fill them.”

Among the proposals: End the “mortgage mess,” lower corporate tax rates while reducing credits and deductions, build a 21st-century infrastructure, encourage the creation of new green-technology jobs, and provide disincentives to laying off workers.

Clinton’s strongest message, as the title of his book suggests, is the need to put Americans back to work.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he writes, “to see so many people trapped in a web of enforced idleness, deep debt, and gnawing self-doubt. We have to change that. And we can.”

Editor's Note: To order President Clinton's new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,” Click Here.

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