Bill Clinton Promotes 'Infrastructure Bank'

Tuesday, 08 Nov 2011 09:58 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Former President Bill Clinton said today there is “no silver bullet” to help resolve America’s economic problems, but the nation “can beat the odds” by creating a public-private “infrastructure bank” to help create new jobs and put people back to work.
 
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Clinton said he is as frustrated as any American about the partisan bickering in Washington. He he called on lawmakers to stop arguing and to focus on creating a growth plan that rebuilds America’s crumbling infrastructure and puts the country in a better position to compete in the global economy.
 
“We have to set up a system that keeps pushing us in the future,” Clinton said, adding that it will require a huge investment from both the government and the private sector.
 
“We have just got to reorganize this country so we’re always in the competition.”
 
In Clinton's new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,” which was released today, the former president offers his own ideas for putting the country back on track. But he said on "Morning Joe" that it would require “both a smart economy and a smart government working together.”
 
The first step, he said, should be the creation of what he called an “infrastructure bank” that marries both government and private funding to make investments in rebuilding and expanding vital services — such as transportation — to help sustain as well as create new economic growth.
 
Clinton also said it is crucial that the nation’s big financial institutions start lending again rather than sitting on their profits to help keep existing businesses alive and stimulate the growth of new ones.
 
Asked about the Occupy Wall Street effort to shift billions from big banks to smaller credit unions, Clinton said he believes it is “a good thing,” especially because bigger banks are reluctant now to loan.
 
“That’s a simple thing people can do — is put the money in a community bank that’s sensitive to their needs,” he said.
 
Clinton also said he agrees with some of the arguments Occupy protesters have been making across the country, particularly as it relates to the shrinking middle class and the push for nation’s wealthy to pay a larger share of taxes. Clinton noted that for an economy to be successful over the long run, people have to be able to work their way toward the middle class and a better life. 
 
Clinton also said President Barack Obama has made some right moves to help improve the economy, including his jobs plan.
 
“I do think the president has done a better job than he’s gotten credit for,” Clinton said.
 
Asked how he felt about not being able to run for the presidency again, Clinton said he liked the idea of changing the law so that presidents could serve as long as Americans felt they were capable.
 
But he quickly added that if the law were changed to allow a president to serve more than two terms, it should be applied to future presidents and not to those who have already served.

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