Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention was a brilliant act performed by a master magician. It was also, like all magic, sleight-of-hand.
Actually, to be more blunt, it was a toxic, 50-minute bromide of lies, prevarications, and misdirections so fictional that it ought to be placed on the shelves alongside Fifty Shades of Gray (come to think of it, the speech was also sadomasochistic, if the reaction of the Clintonite media was any indicator).
There are dozens of problems in the Clinton speech. But let’s just start with the top ten:
- “Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two.”
Technically, this is true. Just as technically, Barack Obama should run screaming with his hair on fire from this statistic. There’s a reason for that: Clinton is measuring presidential tenure purely from inauguration to inauguration. For example, he’s taking jobs numbers from January 1981 to January 1985 to measure Reagan’s first term. Only one problem with this: by this standard, Barack Obama is the second-worst private jobs creator of the last half-century (George W. Bush is first, but still created far more net jobs than Obama overall, putting Obama dead last if you include state and federal jobs in the statistic). Which is why our unemployment rate is terrible.
- “Though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president and a lot of other Democrats.”
This is crapola. Clinton frequently says or implies that Republicans are racists who want to toss grandma off a cliff. Here’s what Clinton said about the Tea Party’s view of Barack Obama just a couple years ago: “They want to turn him into a space alien. It helps that his skin color is different. But their motivation is what it always is: power and money.” And when he was president, Clinton was fond of using the FBI to investigate his political opponents. His political guru, Dick Morris, suggested that Clinton try a “ricochet strategy” to link Republicans with terrorists. Clinton is a hater. He always has been, as Barack Obama should know. He just hides it well because he’s a genius politician.
- “We all know that [Obama] also tried to work with congressional Republicans on health care, debt reduction, and new jobs.”
Really? Obamacare passed with precisely zero Republican votes, and only after the Democrats used legislative dirty tricks to pass it. On the debt reduction, Obama killed a deal with House Speaker John Boehner by trying to shoehorn massive tax increases into his final proposal. Republicans voted for Obama’s proposed – and sheepish – extension of the payroll tax rates. The Republican House has passed dozens of jobs bills. The Democratic Senate hasn’t even brought them to a vote. Obama’s budgets are so ridiculously non-moderate that they’ve received zero votes in the House and Senate – twice.
- “They want to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit federal bailouts.”
Ah, the irony. Obama’s Dodd-Frank regulations enshrine bailouts into law. And as for those “pesky financial regulations,” Clinton’s administration is responsible for doing away with the Glass-Steagall Act, the left’s favorite bugaboo on this score. The fact is that Democrats are the largest proponents of bailouts – hell, Clinton was championing Obama’s GM bailouts a few minutes after this point in the speech. And they’re the ones who designed the regulatory regime that created the subprime mortgage crisis.
- “I had this same thing happen in 1994 and early ’95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing, but most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996, the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States.”
Clinton’s policies were not working early in his tenure. The fabled Clinton recovery started under President George H.W. Bush; from January 1992 to January 1993, the H.W. Bush economy created 1.46 million jobs. Clinton’s job creation numbers only jumped after he admitted that he had raised taxes too much, proceeded to cut capital gains taxes in a major way, signed free trade acts, increased the death tax exemption, and worked with a Republican Congress to pass fiscally responsible budgets. The idea that Clinton just kept applying the same leftism in 1995 that he did in 1993 is a lie.
- “President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me now. No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.”
False. The economy Ronald Reagan inherited from DNC speaker Jimmy Carter was not significantly better off than the economy Obama inherited from Bush. In November 1980, inflation was increasing at an annualized rate of 12.6%; unemployment was 7.5%. Prime interest rates were at 19%. These statistics were about the same when Reagan took office. Within four years, Reagan had completely turned the economy around – in September 1983 alone, the Reagan economy produced over 1.1 million jobs. In November 1984, the unemployment rate was 7.2%, and inflation rate was 4.1%. There’s a reason Reagan won 49 states. And let’s not even discuss how Warren G. Harding’s administration dealt with the crippled economy left by Woodrow Wilson.
- “The Recovery Act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes — let me say this again — cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people.”
Saved or created means nothing. Millions means nothing. This is pure hokum. According to certain analysis of CBO data, the Recovery Act – the stimulus – cost taxpayers over $4 million per job created. And as for cutting taxes for 95% of the American people, nearly half of all Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. So how can you give them a federal tax cut? You can’t. These are redistribution checks.
- “And in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private-sector jobs. We could have done better, but last year the Republicans blocked the president’s job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here’s another job score. President Obama: plus 4.5 million. Congressional Republicans: zero.”
Love this magical thinking. If President Obama created 4.5 million jobs over the last 29 months, and if we’re supposed to date responsibility for job creation from the day people take office, then Congressional Republicans, who entered office in January 2011, are responsible for the creation of 2.9 million jobs, and Democrats in Congress are responsible for a massive net loss in jobs. And once again, every time Congressional Republicans attempt to pass jobs measures, President Obama stymies them with the help of his Senate Democratic majority.
- “During this period, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama. That’s the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.”
Picking and choosing periods again. Over the course of Obama’s tenure, approximately 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost on net.
- “He has offered a reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade, with $2.5 trillion coming from — for every $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues, 2.5 to 1. And he has tight controls on future spending. That’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission, a bipartisan commission.”
This one’s so bad that even the Washington Post, Obama’s favorite news outlet, debunked it. The fact remains that both Simpson and Bowles are fans of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Republican VP nominee. And Obama rejected the Simpson-Bowles plan outright. As the Post puts it, “virtually no serious budget analyst agrees with this accounting.”
This doesn’t even get to Clinton’s take on how many kids have been given healthcare they wouldn’t otherwise have under Obamacare (false), his explanation of why health care costs haven’t risen as fast (bull), his take on Obama gutting welfare work requirements (absolute bunk), his description of Paul Ryan’s budget (garbage), his line about oil and gas exploration under Obama (nope), his narrative about student loans (a major stretch), his scare statements about Republicans poisoning air and water (nonsense), and his lionization of the GM bailout (horsepucky).
In short, this was a Clinton classic: lies, lies, and more lies. It was lies posing as “arithmetic,” as Clinton put it. He says where he comes from, 2 + 2 = 4. Unfortunately, where he comes from, that may be the only math problem he can get right.