After Distancing Herself From Bill Clinton’s Economic Policies, Hillary Wants Him as Mr. Economic Fix It

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After having institutionalized the neoliberal economic policies that have enriched the 1% and particularly the 0.1% at the expense of everyone else, Hillary Clinton wants to give the long-suffering citizenry an even bigger dose. As she said in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky:

“My husband, who I’m going to put in charge of revitalising the economy, because you know he knows how to do it,” Clinton said in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, on Sunday. And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”

This plan is revealing, and in not a good way.
.
There Goes Hillary as “Most Qualified Candidate Evah” . Since when does a supposedly super competent elected official use their spouse in a policy design and implementation capacity outside of existing bureaucratic role and capacities? In banana republics and the Clinton presidency. And remember how well that co-presidency thingie worked out? Hillary’s big special project, health care reform, was such a bomb that it was over 20 years before the idea could be revived. And after that debacle, she retreated from taking on high-profile tasks and moved in the direction of a more traditional First Lady role.

Needless to say, if Hillary doubts she can get the job done with her Cabinet and if needed, a czar here or there, and needs to bring in Bill too, this is an admission that her vaunted experience is not what it is cracked up to be. Hillary has the classic resume of someone who has failed upward: a series of every-splashier job titles, but with no or negative accomplishments.

For instance, I was told about a friend’s mother, who is the prototypical Hillary voter: retired financial services industry professional, liberal, Jewish, very very well off. A couple of years ago, she decided she wasn’t so keen on Clinton: “She likes war too much.” She nevertheless asked a friend of hers who was a Clinton bundler to tell her what Clinton had achieved as Secretary of State. The response? A few necdotes about how she’d been a more inclusive manager.

Bill as Big Shiny Object. This prospective appointment suggests Hillary she feels pressed enough by Sanders and Trump to give Bill a more prominent campaign role so as to remind voters of how great things were in the 1990s. In reality, she can’t propose policies that will appeal to both “moderate Republicans” and progressives. In other words, they should just trust Bill and not worry about pesky details.

Hillary Doubles Down on Failed Neoliberal Policies After Kinda Sorta Distancing Herself From Them. As average wages have stagnated since the mid-1970s, and the salient characteristic of the Obama “recovery” was that the top 1% gained in income at the expense of all other groups, it behooves candidates to make plausible-souding noises about what they will do to straighten out what went wrong. Since the Clinton-Obama program was all of a muchness (Obama brought back the Clinton economics team, after all), and Clinton defends the Obama administration’s record regularly, hauling Bill out of mothballs is a way to pretend things might change (by virtue of the 1990s being so far away the campaign will reimage it in magic pixie dust) when the message to the cognoscenti is that nothing will change, save maybe bigger-scale looting. Expect “revitalization” to consist heavily of “public private partnerships”.

Let’s consider a few of the Clinton-era policies that Hillary supported then but has disowned more recently:

Trade deals. Hillary supported Nafta was a huge promoter of the TPP until it was clear it was becoming a liability. Now she wants some not very clearly articulated changes made.

Social Security. Bill, in true “only Nixon can go to China” fashion, was prepared to push for the privatization of Social Security. He’d even worked out a deal with Newt Gingrich. But Monica Lewinsky intervened. The nation owes her its gratitude.

Hillary has made noises meant to sound as if she intends to strengthen Social Security as a social safety net, but which are troublingly vague. She has said she will not privatize it, but that she intends to “preserve and strengthen” it. But does that mean benefits or the funding of the system? Recall that Bill appointed Janet Yellen to head the Council of Economic Advisers. Yellen was and remains a forceful proponent of chained CPI, which is a stealthy way to lower benefits in real terms by having them lag inflation (particularly as experienced by seniors, who are over-exposed to medical cost increases) even more. Similarly, one of Hillary’s innocuous-sounding Trojan horses for “fixing” Social Security is to effectively means test benefits by increasing taxes on the wealthiest recipients. That moves Social Security away from being a universal safety net toward being a welfare program… and welfare programs have this nasty way of being cut. Never forget Lambert’s second rule of neoliberalism: “Go die.”

Bank deregulation. Lest you have forgotten or are too young to have lived through it, please have a look at Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm Have a Love Fest Over Repeal of Glass Steagall to remind yourself of how utterly convinced Team Clinton was of the benefits of letting banks free to roam and forage on their own. We know how that movie ended.

Clinton embraced the idea of the primacy of banking enthusiastically. Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, in one of his early moves, raided the Exchange Stabilization Fund, a kitty created during the Depression to defend the dollar if needed, to instead rescue Mexican banks (to which firms like Morgan Stanley were overexposed, see Frank Partnoy’s Fiasco for details) when Congress nixed a bailout. Clinton reappointed Ayn Rand stalwart Alan Greenspan, who let a thousand derivatives bloom despite a derivatives crash in 1994-1995 that destroyed more value than the 1987 crash. Needless to say, that also led to the infamous fight with Brooksley Born of the CFTC who had the temerity to suggest she was considering regulating credit default swaps.

It was Greenspan who also decided the stock market was part of the Fed’s job (per a May 2000 Wall Street Journal story describing how for years Greenspan had had bright young Fed economists try to figure out what determined the general level of stock prices). And he also institutionalized the Greenspan put, of quickly lowering rates any time the Market Gods got unhappy, but was nowhere as concerned when markets got frothy. That turned the traditional role of the Fed, described by William McChesney Martin as “taking the punch bowl away when the party starts getting good” on its head.

Destructive debt reduction. Bob Rubin and Clinton himself took misguided pride in the reduction of Federal debt outstanding during the Clinton administration. In fact, the only time for a currency issuer to run a surplus is when the economy is in danger of overheating, as in when unemployment is very low, wage growth is high, and labor has strong bargaining rights. The last time we had those conditions was in the 1960s, when Johnson was unwilling to raise taxes to fund an unpopular war, despite warnings from both Keynesians and Milton Friedman. Economists are still using the excuse of fighting that now 50 year old war (whose severity was greatly amplified by the 1970s oil shock) as the excuse for continuing to squeeze labor.

The results of the Clinton surpluses was the early 2000s recession, which Greenspan saw as sufficiently serious that he pushed real interest rates negative for an unprecedented nine quarters (the norm in past downturns was one). That in turn did more to stimulate leveraged speculation in assets (hedge and private equity funds, and investment in residential housing) than real economy investment. As we wrote at the time, corporations were actually net savers, an unheard of development in an expansion, while households ran at zero or even negative savings levels, which was another unprecedented and unhealthy development.

On a broader basis, the undershooting of federal deficit spending meant some other sector – households, businesses, or the export/import sector – had to take up the slack. It was the household sector, which showed rising debt loaned in the 1990s, which dropped modestly (but stayed well above their pre-Clinton era levels) before exploding in the early 2000s through the crisis. Household debt growth is unproductive, yet Clinton era policies encouraged it.

So American voters are told they should welcome the return of the Clinton dynasty in the White House. Those outside the 1% who understand how the Clintons undermined their economic well-being have every reason to be leery. Like the Bourbons, they appear to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

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96 comments

  1. Dave

    Thank You for this post. I was really hoping it would be Trump vs Sanders as that would show the american voters have finally had enough of the BS both sides peddle. And Sanders would win in a landslide.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Well it is not impossible for Sanders but it will be over the party’s dead body. July is still a long way away and as we said, event risk does not favor Hillary.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I concur. And I think that there’s something very wrong with Hillary’s health — she doesn’t look well. I’ve noticed quite a difference in her appearance since last fall’s debates.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Campaigns are stressful enough. They are murder on the candidates. They must be even worse if they have to calculate a response to every question. Bernie seems worst on foreign policy when he isn’t try going to trash the President. For everything else, he’s not saying anything he hasn’t said all along.

          Sanders’ early rallies were meant to drive down his interactions with voters and the media. If he was younger, he would do more political stunts.

          I always thought she would never survive a grueling campaign because she doesn’t have a record which can speak for her. Questioning would crush her.

        2. Dave

          What’s hidden in her neck? She only wears high collars. Is it a goiter, which means thyroid problems and would lead to the bloat that afflicts her?

          1. Marion

            Take a look at Bernie or Trump. Trump is so fat that even his dark suits can’t hide the blubber. And Bernie, pleeze, the pale, sweating face and rasping voice; he must be sick, especially being an old man.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Oh, come on. Bernie looks very good for his age and is consistently energetic. Trump is fat but looks robust. Hillary on the other hand looks like she’s gaining 5 lbs every month, does not move well, and looks older than Bernie when she’s younger and men typically age worse than women.

            2. redleg

              If you’ve never been on a stage in the spotlights then you have no idea how hot it gets up there.

            3. aab

              Bernie is doing often several public speeches to thousands of supporters PER DAY, flying back and forth across the continental United States (I think he did Puerto Rico one day and California the next), and in his “spare time” walking picket lines.

              He must be one of the healthiest 74 year olds on the planet.

    2. fritter

      If it helps, Congress’s best shot at finding a backbone is with a Trump presidency. When he starts using executive privilege against the elites for giggles, assuming we don’t fall into a black hole from the sheer mass of irony, there will be a re-balancing of the “four” branches of government. I suspect that drives a fair number of his voters. The 0.1% have been shackling us with a two tier justice system for so long we finally have a chance to drag some of them down to our level. If its Trump versus Hillary I’d vote for him just to watch the Democrats squirm. After Obama and the Clintons, its the government they deserve even if its not the one they need.

  2. Marshall Auerback

    And if Bill comes in as an “economic Tsar”, then can Rasputin (oops, I mean Bob Rubin) be far behind?

    1. fosforos

      Please don’t denigrate Rasputin. He was about the only intelligent person in the whole Romanoff court. He was assassinated by idiotic noblemen who feared (unrealistically, given the stupidity of Nicholas The Bloody) that he might, through his influence over the Tsarina, persuade the Tsar to end the war before the war would end his dynasty.

      1. Graham Clark

        Because Brest-Litovsk was such a sweet deal for Russia that they really should have made it a year earlier.

      1. bowserhead

        Bill will be happy to lend all his legendary economic expertise (cough, cough) to all those willing to pony up a major contribution to the Clinton Foundation.

  3. fajensen

    It seems like Bill and Hillary are totally “on the same page” on that other issue too: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3593626/Calling-celebs-Clinton-frantic-stop-Bernie-killing-campaign-buzz-California-s-tapped-Christina-Aguillera-John-Legend-Ricky-Martin-Stevie-Wonder-sizzling-fundraiser.html#i-151398a5b7531a04

    One wonder who actually runs the Clinton campaign. These way these “bloopers” just keep popping up is not indicating great competence in perception management (or maybe it is the work of powerful enemies yet to reveal themselves – The Daily Fail is a Murdoch rag, I think).

    My bet is professional sycophants and “YES-people”; It is obvious that “The House of Hillary” does not tolerate any dissent, not even when dissent is really the best advice available. This can work with Rock-stars because the potential upside is good and the negative scope is limited to bankruptcies and drug overdoses. I don’t think it is the proper way to run a business, never mind a country.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Quoting the Daily Fail story: “Clinton will try to lean on her edge among minority voters while trying to hold off Sanders’ youth appeal – another reason a splashy concert could help.”

      Yup. Those young ‘uns will really respond to a concert by a bunch of has-beens.

      1. petal

        Well, there’s one youngish divorced white woman, one gay Latino dad, and one older blind black man. They’re trying to hit all the boxes with this one concert. She’s trying to say (yet again) “See, I’m hip and cool, too-just like you! Check out my friends!”. Hits such an off-note. I cannot imagine who comes up with these great ideas. I’d love to sit on that brainstorming meeting!

        1. Jess

          The thing about the people who come up with these crazy ideas is that they are all being paid, often extravagantly, to do so. Bunch of volunteer morons contributing dumb ideas for free is one thing; paying big bucks for this kind of crap ought to be a crime against nature.

        2. aab

          Picky, I know, but Aguillara is Latino — South American on her father’s side, IIRC.

          Yes, they think famous has-been singers will make up for deporting and killing Latinos.

          I try not to dwell on this side of the Clintons, because Hillary’s orientation and possibly closeted status is not a reason to oppose her. But that photo of her staring at Aguillara’s breasts does not look like photo assumption to me. I don’t look at other women’s breasts like that. There’s something creepy about it, too. I can’t quite explain it. It could be as simple as if she was a man, that would be unacceptably lascivious. But it’s not quite that.

          I don’t think either of them views any person outside their marriage as fully human.

      2. jrs

        Well someone has to appeal to Gen X. Everyone else has written that voting block off entirely. Bernie is the millennial candidate and Hillary the boomer candidate. But middle aged people are killing themselves waiting to be someone’s demographic, and if noone else tries Trump might just get them all.

        1. inode_buddha

          Dunno, I’m on the older end of the GenX spectrum, I’m for bernie precisely because I remember going from Carter to Reagan, to Clinton, to the Bushes… Pretty much everyone I know is either Sanders or Trump, with a slight edge to Trump. Western NY for what its worth. (might as well secede from NYC and became a sepatate state)

        2. Skippy

          I thought on NC the whole generational meme thingy was understood to be divisive at the least and an enabler of ageism at the worst….

          Disheveled Marsupial…. compartmentalization of the worst sort….

    2. polecat

      Do ANY of these celebs, who have thrown in their support to the Clinton campaign, realize just how phony and disingenuous they are projecting to the public at large……..I mean, do they groak that many people are totally turned-off by such aloofness!! I guess these actors, singers, artists think their big fortunes will shield them from the ever growing angst building up among the plebes !!

      …disgusting….

      I’m at the point of NEVER purchasing anything by these hacks….and I most surely am not alone in feeling betrayed by these ‘titans of entertainment’!

      1. redleg

        Are the celebs getting paid, or are they donating their time and paying the backing band/tech crew out of their own pocket?

        1. oh

          I doubt if these ‘over the hillies’ are donating their time. In most campaigns “nobody’s money” gets splashed around like water.

        2. aab

          Yes, they are being paid. A lot. Clinton staffers took jobs with major talent agencies a couple of years ago, in a clearly planned strategy to do this effectively. But she had NO IDEA when she gave her Goldman speeches that she would run again. None.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Oh, come on. The Clintons have been systematically deepening their control over the Democratic party. The idea that Hillary woke up one day in 2014 and decided to run is not remotely credible. See this re her decades-long interest in running for President.

            http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/may/05/10-times-hillary-clinton-was-asked-about-running-p/

            This story inherently came from Hillary insiders. The key part:

            In the aftermath of the 2008 campaign, before she accepted Obama’s offer to become secretary of state, Clinton was genuinely burned out and told friends she thought her electoral career was behind her. But as her approval ratings spiked during the controversy-free first years at Foggy Bottom, she started reconsidering.

            So she most assuredly had it as a serious possibility while at State. She was burned out but after a few months of R&R and encouraging calls from allies, she was back to being very much interested. And ironically, her doubt was a challenge from the left…which she assumed would come from Warren. No one anticipated the Sanders wild card.

            http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/hillary-clinton-2016-announcement-slow-walk-to-yes-116887

      2. fajensen

        Celebs have their bills to pay and services to render as have we all. It’s not worse than the stupidity one has to put up with at work all the time – if one cares too much, one just gets clogged arteries and stress as the reward for the efforts.

        I am just shocked over the torrent of shockingly cringe-worthy photos that came out of all that effort.

        Someone must really dislike Hillary – going through literally hundreds of shots to pick out the worst ones takes work and someone else is at best incompetent with the worst pictures being available for picking up by media.

        This mess would NOT have happened to people with better management, like Heidi Klum, for example.

  4. Barmitt O'Bamney

    The Clintons promised that Bill would focus “like a pedophile” on the economy. A spokesperson later explained that this phrase was intended to convey an obsessive, single minded attention on the nation’s economy that would be certain to bear fruit. “Ima love that pretty little economy all over,” the ex-President vowed with a trembling smile as he tightly closed his eyes. “I can love it in places only its momma has ever seen.”

    1. TheCatSaid

      That is creepy, considering what has come out about Bill Clinton’s taking trips on Jeff Epstein’s pedophile plane.

      If you want context about Epstein from a different source (no mention of Bill Clinton–though Trump is mentioned in Epstein’s black book), the documentary “Justice for Jill” by Ste Murray came out recently in relation to the unsolved murder of high-profile BBC presenter Jill Dando. Epstein and his circle figures in the story, with other high-profile pedophiles and friends. Warning–the documentary is disturbing, particularly Part 3. I’d love to have a reason to dismiss it, but unfortunately the information dovetails with detailed research from a different source.

  5. oho

    Cricky—–If Bill Clinton just spent every day of his last term playing golf, the country would’ve been better off.

    No fluidic blue dress means that a few thousand more Floridians would be less disgusted to vote Democratic.

    No NATO intervention in Serbia—which set the precedent for constantly intervening in other people’s wars and the souring of US-Russian relations.

    No Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

    1. Dave

      Remember Bill’s famous golf game with Vernon Jordan?

      When a reporter asked them what they had talked about on the course,
      Bill quite candidly said “Pussy”.

  6. Anne

    What does it say about a candidate who feels the need to conscript her husband to play some kind of major role in her administration? What does it say when she is drafting big-name film and music industry stars as if she were casting a Robert Altman movie or a Save the US rock concert?

    Nothing good.

    The worst thing it tells me is that she is unbelievably out of touch with the American people. I think we now know that what we see in all the video of her in small, intimate, I’m-your-friend, you-can-relate-to-me campaign events is about 17 kinds of phony.

    Sometimes I feel like I am watching one of those kind of sad PBS-pledge-week concerts where people who still remember the ’50s gather to watch septuagenarian musicians pretend they are still in their prime. Yes, those were the days, but those days are over.

    Bill Clinton’s day in the sun is over. He has moved on to amassing a fortune on the backs of shady deals through his eponymous foundation. No one under 35 gives a crap about Bill Clinton; I know because I have two daughters, and sons-in-law, in their early 30’s to whom Bill Clinton means exactly nothing.

    Does Clinton not understand that if there is any ooh-ing and aah-ing over Bill, it’s probably about his rumored exploits with women and his shady dealings through the foundation? No one’s genuflecting at Bill Clinton’s economic prowess, not anymore, not now that we know more about where his decisions took us and the consequences that were baked into them.

    Maybe she’s just trying to keep Bill close by so she can keep him out of trouble; couldn’t see just have him carry her handbag instead of giving him a policy position?

    Jesus.

    1. John Wright

      Possibly this is a return to form for HRC.

      Hillary originally attempted to position herself to rise, independent of Arkansas based Bill, through the Washington DC world by taking the Washington DC bar exam in 1973.

      817 took the exam, 551 passed and HRC was NOT one of the passing 551.

      She never attempted the bar exam again in DC..

      After that experience, she went to Arkansas, hitched her wagon to Bill, and passed the Arkansas Bar.

      Possibly when things are desperate, HRC hopes Bill can work some magic for her.

      Attempting to leverage Bill again, may suggest that HRC is very worried about Bernie and/or Trump.

          1. aab

            Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, that seems like the correct answer, based on all the actual evidence we have. Even her scripted policy answers are usually word salad. You could chalk that up to her need to prevaricate. But she has no tangible accomplishments other than grifting. She failed at health care reform. She was ineffective as a Senator. She’s a terrible campaigner. She learned NOTHING from 2008 that suggests critical thinking or a capacity to learn. She hired some Obama hands and figured she needed to steal the caucuses rather than ignoring them. But she’s making most of the same mistakes in strategy, management, etc. Again, maybe this is just her being a rigid authoritarian. But her plans for Libya didn’t even work out. Only simple influence peddling and grifting, like “you pay my husband, I’ll get you your weapons” seem to be within her wheelhouse, and that really doesn’t take brain power; just a lack of morality plus opportunity. The emails that have been leaked have demonstrated NO intellectual fire power that I have seen. My tweets in the middle of the night pack more content.

            And Chelsea seems slow witted (in a deeply average sense). It’s not just privilege, because Ivanka Trump seems pretty sharp. My guess is that Bill has all the brains, such as they are, and Chelsea takes more after her mother.

    2. Pavel

      Kudos +++ for the “casting a Robert Altman movie” line!

      Maybe it’s time for a remake of “Nashville”… though why bother, the original is a masterpiece and probably seems pretty much like modern times.

      “You may say
      That I ain’t free
      But it don’t worry me”

        1. Pavel

          A short and (I hope) sweet little story about that magnificent song from that classic movie:

          Years ago I spent some time in NY and happened one evening to be listening to the Pacifica radio station there, WBAI late one night. It was their fundraiser and the DJ was playing music and asking for donations. Around midnight he played the “You may say” song from Nashville, so I called up and pledged $100 (real money back then!) and told him how much I loved the song.

          Five or ten years later I was at a party in Brooklyn (this was before it became The Hippest Place on Earth, mind you) and met a fellow who said he worked at WBAI. I told him that story and his face broke into a smile — he said “That was me that night!”

          A small world, and sometimes a wonderful one, with such films and such music and sometimes such people.

      1. polecat

        “That’s why I’m ‘sleasy’………..’sleasy’ like Tuesday Election Mourning………..”

  7. RW Tucker

    Hillary’s tactic in invoking the husked-out wraith of Bill Clinton is basically the same strategy Hollywood is using in doing remakes of old IP – Jurassic Park, Power Rangers, etc. She’s testing the waters to see if people get excited at Bill’s remake.

    It’s a strategy of nostalgia. I call it, “The Farce Awakens.”

    1. Roger Smith

      Jesus, I hope not. Even though these nostalgia products are almost always completely terrible, people still buy into them. We do not need any more of Bill or the Clinton’s in general.

      A Farce Indeed.

  8. TheCatSaid

    Yves, missing word(s)? “The last time we had those conditions was in the 1960s, when Johnson was unwilling to raise taxes to fund an unpopular,”

    “tax increase” ?
    or something more exciting?

  9. jfleni

    After Bernie’s campaign was hacked, swindled, ignored, and now threatened with “Slick Willie” put in charge, it’s time to seriously the alternatives: Run as independent, join the greens, or openly support Trump who cannot be worse!

  10. flora

    Great post. Hillary has been determined to run on her own merits. If she’s bringing in Bill at the 11th hour she must see her campaign as in big trouble against Trump in the general. But that adds to the charge that she only got where she is because she’s married to Bill.

    1. Roger Smith

      The best part is that Trump will exploit that (rightfully). I can see it now and it is hilarious. Should Clinton make it that far, I cannot wait to see her get decimated in the last big failure of her career.

      1. Tom

        I also believe Trump will obliterate Hillary once he trains his linquistic kills shots on her. For all Trump’s craziness, he is an absolute master at destroying elitist, entitled, pious, hypocritical political creatures of which the Clinton and Bush families are the prime examples.
        One of the most delightful moments in my lifetime of watching politics came when Trump unloaded on Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, the Neocons and the whole accepted narrative of the GWOT during the debates. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but it’s well worth watching again as a fine example of someone finally calling bullshit on the whole rotten mess:
        http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/15/the_war_in_iraq_was_a
        Pure joy, I tell you. And the kicker is how Jeb starts out his rebuttal with a non sequitur — “I’m sick and tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for everything that’s wrong …” Jeb, what are you talking about? That wasn’t Obama — that was Trump and he’s right there looking at you. Jeb — like Hillary — is totally unable to think on the fly and duke it out with someone who isn’t afraid to call B.S.
        She should be very, very afraid.

        1. katiebird

          That exchange was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was overjoyed to see it as it happened.

        2. fresno dan

          Tom
          May 17, 2016 at 11:28 am
          I agree one zillion percent!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          No matter how much anyone detests Trump, the nation and the world owe him an YUUUUGE debt of gratitude for utterly destroying such Bush hogwash as “he kept us save” and “Iraq was a success until Obama” as well as too many utter inanities too numerous to list.

          Trump has pretty much demolished the repubs, and their no nothing contradictions, and if he can somehow fatally wound the dems, (whether elected or not) I would SERIOUSLY* put forth the notion that he will have done more for this country except maybe Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt…

          *Other than the country being founded, the civil war, and the great depression/WWII, the US really hasn’t had any crises. As bad as Vietnam was, I don’t think it threatened the very total structure of governance that money is now threatening to do so. Now, the crises is more subtle, but more severe – is this country to morph into a kleptocracy and oligarchy – complete and total contempt for the rule of law and control by the few?

        3. pretzelattack

          what got me was the wild applause bush got for the non-sequitur. im sure it was a selected audience.

        4. Roger Smith

          Hah that is great. It is amazing the way Trump toppled all of these clowns with such little, simple, passive-aggressive language. “How you doing Jeb, you aren’t looking so good.”

          1. Tom

            Love him or hate, Trump uses language like a sledgehammer, doesn’t he? I mean, the way he adds the word “fat” to the phrase “big fat mistake.” No tiptoeing just over the line of acceptability. The Iraq war isn’t just a mistake. It’s not even just a big mistake. No, it’s a big fat mistake. With a scathing emphasis on fat. I believe Jeb Bush lost all hope right at that second.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s baffling because many of her supporters despise Bill and actively believe Hillary is a secret liberal.

    1. Jim Haygood

      It’s that, but it’s more too — a matter of taste and good grace.

      The tradition since Washington (which derives from his Farewell Address) is that having served his/her term, the president disengages from the cut and thrust of the political sausage factory and — if returning to rustic life on the farm doesn’t appeal — becomes an elder statesman in the mold of Carter, seeking to leverage an ex-president’s clout to ameliorate some chronic problems in the world.

      As permanent seekers of public office, the Clintons have no use for Washington’s tradition. Even as they were leaving the White House in disgrace, with the stink of Bill’s “compensated pardons” in the air, Hillary was moving into the Senate, as a calculated stepping stone for her own presidential run.

      Involving Bill in the minutiae of domestic politics keeps him “viable within the system” as a peddler of influence. It’s a degrading role for a man who was once in charge.

      Ultimately, the Clintons’ obsession with staying engaged as fixers is vulgar. They are as sad a sight as an elderly streetwalker, still plying the trade.

        1. Pavel

          Agreed, particularly the last line.

          As for bowing out none-too-gracefully, Tony Blair in the UK has done the same as the Clintons… making millions out of his relationships and stuffing the monies in a bunch of opaque shell companies. No doubt David Cameron will do the same when he leaves office.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Yes. Mercifully, though, the Blairs have spared us from the spectacle of Cherie seeking the prime minister’s post, whilst promising to bring Tony into her cabinet to “revitalise the economy.”

            Naturally, this rent-seeking couple intersects with the Clintons:

            The release of a further batch of Hillary Clinton emails included several showing Cherie pressing the then US secretary of state on behalf of the Qatari royal family.

            http://tinyurl.com/nhvp926

            Why would Cherie Blair be concerned about the Qatari royal family? Because that’s where the money is.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Cherie Blair can’t serve as PM of the UK. Legally, Blair can’t either anymore. The UK has religious toleration.

            2. Pavel

              Don’t try to get between Cherie Blair and a ten pound note.

              She had her own financial scandal relating to real estate investments IIRC, and dubious “charity” work where not much of the donations went to charity. Sound familiar?

      1. marym

        John Quincy Adams subsequently served as a Congressman. He did try to “to ameliorate some chronic problems in the world” though as he became an opponent of slavery, and successfully defended the African captives who had seized control of the Amistad..

        1. Malcolm MacLeod, MD

          When I think of the Clintons back in the White House, I think of sleaze city.

        2. aab

          I realize this will be dismissed as paranoid, but I honestly fear that this is their ACTUAL plan. Mom does her eight years, then passes it to Chelsea. Ancient Rome the second time as farce.

  11. grayslady

    Just a reminder of what an economic bumpkin Bill Clinton is. From the May, 2016 Public Citizen Global Trade analysis of U.S. International Trade Commission projections v. actual results:

    U.S.-Mexico Trade under NAFTA was

    1993 Baseline: $2.6 billion goods surplus (services data not available)
    USITC Projection: $10.6 billion goods and services surplus
    2015 Actual: $57 billion goods and services deficit plus 843,000 jobs lost directly related to NAFTA

    Hillary and Bill Clinton will devastate what remains of our economy, not to mention our paltry social safety net. They must be stopped. Period.

    1. BradK

      ZH has some good pieces, but beware the comment section. It’s not NC, not by a long shot. More like an (even more) third-grade version of Breitbart or Red State.

  12. fresno dan

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Why EXACTLY do we want a president who can get things done, pass more laws, enact more “reforms”???

    What law, what policy, what reform has any of the last three presidents done that was good for the 99%?
    It seems to me every “reform” is to get more money into the pockets of the 1%.
    Did Sarbanes Oxley work????
    Will Dodd Frank?

    And if by chance, there was a program to supply high quality shoelaces to poor kids that actually supplied shoelaces to some poor kids, does it make up for the millions paid to Nike??? (for the shoelaces Nike paid a quarter of a cent per shoelace for from the Philippines?)

    1. oh

      There are many fools in this country who says “Sanders can’t get elected and even if he could, he can’t get his programs passed”. Why don’t they try to give him a chance?
      Similarly, such fools say “the green party candidate won’t win”. Only true if people refuse to even consider voting for him/her. If they keep parroting this Dem meme, they’ll get the same old, same old.
      So many fools……

  13. JohnSF

    The prototypical Hillary voter is rich and Jewish? Not poor and black?

    Interesting observation!

  14. redleg

    Don’t forget the Telecommunication Act of 1996 that allowed media consolidation. That principle (deregulation leading to consolidation) can yet be applied to, y’know, moar stuff.

  15. Lambert Strether

    “Since when does a supposedly super competent elected official use their spouse in a policy design and implementation capacity outside of existing bureaucratic role and capacities? In banana republics and the Clinton presidency.”

    Ouch!!!!!

    1. BradK

      I’ve said it for years that Bill and Hill are our Yanqui Juan and Evita.

      And the money kept rolling in from every side

  16. Skippy

    I did not know Bill had an economics policy… ev’a… I thought Rubin sorted that…. Bill understands hiving off risk…

    Disheveled Marsupial… O’ld Bill was just following orders…

  17. ewmayer

    Nice write-up Yves. I have one small quibble — I would rephrase

    The results of the Clinton surpluses was the early 2000s recession

    to look a bit further upstream, via

    The results of DotCom bubble — another monster largely created by the Greenspan Fed and the Clinton-era deregulatory frenzy — which fueled the transient but oh-so-ballyhooed Clinton surpluses was the early 2000s recession

    Neolib economists make a persistent habit of ignoring the perpetually-‘unforeseeable’ bubbles which inevitably end in busts during which the same cabal of well-paid ignoramuses only consolidate their influence rather than learning a damned thing, which makes it all the more crucial that sites like this not fail to provide corrective reminders.

  18. Olaf Lukk

    A flashback to Bill Clinton’s economic brain trust would not be complete without reminding people of the Time magazine cover of February 15, 1999.
    Featuring Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers, it was subtitled: “The Committee to Save the World”.
    Three horsemen of the (financial) apocalypse. Whether Phil Gramm or Bill Clinton should be honored as the fourth would be open to debate.

  19. RBHoughton

    What Hillary seems to be saying is when she’s POTUS she will chose the people she knows to effect her policies. This is fairly certain to mean those policies will be effective.

    So Its a bit like having 8 years of Julius Caesar or Napoleon (to pick a couple of her democrat predecessors). How that will go down in a supposedly democratic Republic is anyone’s guess.

    I think its absolutely likely to unite the parties.

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