Bill Clinton’s Hypocritical Obama Ad

Bill Clinton’s Hypocritical Obama Ad September 7, 2012

I’m seeing this commercial constantly now, with Bill Clinton saying that everyone should vote for Obama because, “The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That’s what got us in trouble in the first place.” Here’s the ad:

httpv://youtu.be/Sdl2MmLxDPI

Seriously? Bill Clinton is complaining about how deregulation got us into the current financial trouble? He’s right, that is the Republican plan — but it was his plan as well. He’s the one who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall that largely deregulated Wall Street. And he’s the one who got rid of Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, when she wrote a memo arguing that the derivatives market should be regulated by the CFTC, and then signed into law a bill forbidding regulation of credit default swaps just a few weeks before leaving office. Everyone thinks this all happened under Bush, but it happened under Clinton. He was the one who deregulated Wall Street, over the objections of most of his fellow Democrats and with the support of most of the Republicans in Congress.

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  • D. C. Sessions

    It’s either hypocrisy or someone who changed his mind from painful experience. No way to tell from here.

  • Chiroptera

    Would have have made a more effective add if Clinton has said,

    “I believed that the Republicans’ plans were good ones. And look at the mess we’re in!

    “I blew it. Let’s not blow it again.”

  • Abby Normal

    Can’t wait to see his anti-tobacco ad, “Cigars are bad, mmkay.”

    (Is it just me or does Bill Clinton sounds just like Mr. Mackey to anyone else?)

  • Everything is the fault of the Democrats because they did not stop the Republicans, who apparently lack free will and are never responsible for anything.

  • Aratina Cage

    I agree with Chiroptera. Clinton did horrible things as president, things that have damn near ruined my life a few times and the lives of many others, and most of them were from him not fighting the Republicans but joining them!

  • Michael Heath

    I think moderates are usually justified in our smugness when it comes to condeming old-timey liberals and modern-day conservatives adhering to their ideology at the expense of optimal results.

    However there are three major issues where we can rightly point at moderates and claim, “you caused this mess!”. In both cases it’s because we didn’t listen to liberals and took the side of conservatives. Those three are (I’m sure there are more, but these are big):

    1) Not fighting hard enough to maintain a revenue stream and expenditure level to transform our current labor market into one that’s in sync with America’s place in the global economy.

    2) Repealing regulations that allowed investment banks to act like commercial banks and insurance companies, without sufficient monitoring they were grading their assets correctly and sufficiently hedging those assets with enough liquid reserves. (This is what Ed is referring to above).

    3) Supporting the War in Iraq.

    Re # 1: A pivotal juncture in #1’s debate was President Clinton siding with his moderate Treasury Cabinet (Bob Rubin and Larry Summers) over his Labor Secretary Bob Reich when it came to the passing of NAFTA and their foreknowledge of pending budget surpluses early in Clinton’s first term. They used those surpluses to pay down the debt and not fight harder for even more revenue and spending to prepare for the 2000s and beyond where our labor market is structurally ill-fit for the types of economic opportunities we can best exploit, as is out mitigation of climate change.

  • aluchko

    In Clinton’s defence I will point out that there’s a difference between creating the conditions that cause a problem, and failing to act once the problem becomes apparent. The Republicans had between 6 and 8 years to recognize the trouble and do something to stop it (that being said I don’t know if the Democrats were any better in trying to reverse deregulation after it happened).

  • Like others say, I’d like him to admit he had his own part in the big deregulation mistake. A cornerstone of political tactics I’ve grown to hate is the refusal to admit to making mistakes. A politician with ability to admit mistakes would go a long way towards earning my trust. Of course, I’m wary of “misspeaking,” “joking,” and notpologies which attempt to feign the ability without admitting to the real mistake.

  • Hey, why do you think Republicans are now praising Clinton as a good president (besides his approval ratings, that is)?

    I’m sure if we looked, we could find plenty of examples back in the day (particularly when health care was being discussed) of them calling Clinton a socialist out to destroy ‘Merica as we know it just as they do with Obama. This is all about soundbites and is inherently hypocritical because the vast majority of the electorate suffers MEGO if any nuance is brought up. It has always been thus in our democracy.

  • Michael Heath, James Shanley and a few other folks can do the wonkery on a reply but this:

    “Democrats agreed to support the bill after Republicans agreed to strengthen provisions of the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act and address certain privacy concerns; the conference committee then finished its work by the beginning of November.[9][12] On November 4, the final bill resolving the differences was passed by the Senate 90-8,[13][note 4] and by the House 362-57.[14][note 5] The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999.[15]”

    is from wiki. It makes clear that if Clinton had vetoed the bill it the Congress could have shoved the it up the ass and lit it on fire.

    I’m no economist, politician or pundit–I worked ALL my life (well, except for the time I spent stoned and drunk and mumble,mumble,mumble…)–but 90-8 & 362-57 are Custer v The pissed off indians kinda numbers.

    Can anyone explain to me how Slick Willie could have prevented this from happening?

  • ricko

    Yes.

    He could have done what Ed Brayton would have done if he, Ed Brayton, had been elected President.

    Unfortunately, Ed Brayton has an equally high level of trust in his abilities as he has in everyone else’s… That’s why Ed’s a libertarian.

  • d cwilson

    Clinton was always quick to support “free trade” and Wall Street. One of his first acts as president was to the democrat’s own base and push NAFTA through the Senate. That was who he was at the time. Whether he still believes that and is just doing the ad out of partisan support or he’s truly seen that the deregulation of Wall Street played a major role in the 2008 collapse, I don’t know.

    Either way, I doubt the average voter remembers the repeal of Glass-Steagall. They see Clinton and remember him as the president who, despite numerous personal flaws, presided over a period of relative peace and prosperity. It’s why he has the highest approval rating of all living ex-presidents. Putting him in this ad might be hypocritical, but it’s smart politics.

  • Alverant

    Even though Clinton did do some deregulation, he didn’t make the businesses do reckless things. Businesses made their decisions and we the taxpayers had to pay for it. Think of it this way, Texas decided to raise the speed limit to 85. But if someone goes 85 and gets in a speed related accident, is it Texas’s fault? Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you should do it.

    That being said, deregulation is a mistake because history has shown that a business will do just about anything for a profit no matter who get hurt an hour, day, year, decade, or more from now.

  • That being said, deregulation is a mistake because history has shown that a business will do just about anything for a profit no matter who get hurt an hour, day, year, decade, or more from now.

    I don’t know about business in general, but if there is one industry that has clearly and repeatedly shown that it’s incapable of self-regulation, it’s the financial industry. Financial crises and panics are as old as banking itself. Seriously, it takes pages and pages just to list all of history’s financial crises, and we’re talking about something whose modern roots don’t go back very far.

  • mantistoboggan

    “Bill Clinton is complaining about how deregulation got us into the current financial trouble? He’s right, that is the Republican plan”

    In terms of action, I don’t see much evidence that deregulation is the republicans’ plan. The only use they have for deregulation now is as a dogwhistle to be used in case of a Team Blue administration.

    http://reason.com/archives/2008/12/10/bushs-regulatory-kiss-off

    Further, the Glass-Steagall repeal had no effect on Bear, Lehman, Merrill or Morgan Stanley going mammaries north.

    The repeal had a bit part in the crisis, along with a laundry list of other issues. However, the depth of the crisis was not possible without the absurdly easy money policies of the Fed.

  • Michael Heath

    democommie,

    There plenty of opportunities Clinton had beyond the one bill you noted. Here’s one bill he passed right before Christmas as a lame duck: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_Futures_Modernization_Act_of_2000

    Then consider the story of Brooksley Born by reading the link Ed provides above in his post, but especially, consider watching the Frontline documentary titled The Warning on how Clinton sold her out to Congress by his Treasury Dept. heads backing Alan Greenspan in the congressional hearings. She cried wolf, a pack existed, and Clinton was part of the pack who ate her by selling her out in Congress.

  • Michael Heath

    d cwilson:

    One of his first acts as president was to the democrat’s own base and push NAFTA through the Senate. That was who he was at the time. Whether he still believes that and is just doing the ad out of partisan support or he’s truly seen that the deregulation of Wall Street played a major role in the 2008 collapse, I don’t know.

    According to the economists I read, NAFTA remains good economic policy. The problem is our inability to craft domestic policy within the context we operate in a global economy; primarily caused by conservatives unwillingness to commit sufficient public resources to education and job re-training costs. The same obstructions existed with Clinton Administration in the early-90s though Democrats have since realized we need these initiatives while Republicans continue to deny the reality of this need.

    The Republican party depends on a voting base which is uneducated and committed to the philosophy that government shouldn’t get involved in efforts to match a labor market to the opportunities and constraints which exist in an ever-evolving global economy. So it’s not all that surprising they resist such efforts.

  • Childermass

    Getting it wrong…forgivable and understandable.

    Getting it wrong, seeing clear evidence that the results are disastrous, and proposing the exact same thing as “medicine” for the economy is crazy.

    That is the difference between Mr. Clinton and the GOP.

    Or at least that is what I hope is the case. Has Clinton ever admitted to the error? Has anyone ever really asked him about it?

  • Hypocritical as it may be, it has the saving grace of being correct. The Republican plan for the deep hole is more shoveling.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Michael Heath @ # 17: According to the economists I read, NAFTA remains good economic policy.

    Please find some better economists to read.

  • @DC Sessions:

    It’s either hypocrisy or someone who changed his mind from painful experience. No way to tell from here.

    Indeed, but he’s a brilliant man and I’d be willing to bet he changed his mind from painful experience.

    I could be wrong, but I imagine that DC would agree with me that plenty of people, including many economists, changed their minds about financial industry regulation as a result of painful experience. That’s what should happen. And that takes us to what’s wrong with Republicans: they refuse to allow their beliefs to suffer the depredations of reality.

    As for Clinton’s hypocrisy, I’d say that his job at the convention wasn’t to be a vessel of truth. His job was to help Obama get reelected, which, given the current alternative, is about the best outcome one can reasonably hope for.

    Subtract everything that’s right with Obama, take everything that’s wrong with Obama, add fevered paranoia, rampant bigotry, non-stop Christianist efforts to undermine social and religious liberty, reality-ignoring economic policies, the potential destruction of social security, more tax cuts and further soaring deficits, war on the environment, the prospect of more arrogant, extremist, anti-women, immigrant-hating appointments to the bench, and maybe a major, futile attack on Iran, and you’ve to the alternative. No thanks. I’d like to keep at least a toehold on 21st century life.

    This election will be decided by: 1) voter turnout, which will be manipulated by the crude, conservative politics of poor and minority exclusion, and targeted, tactical canvassing based on the last 10 years of electoral field experiments and 2) branding to shift small, targeted segments of low-information, uncommitted voters in critical states.

    Clinton’s convention responsibility was to address the latter by buffing the Obama brand and tarnishing the Romney brand. Remarkably, he was able to do that while actually telling far more truth in his speech than we ordinarily get from politicians, but there was no way in hell he was going to admit that he was instrumental in the policies that caused our current mess. That would be like a restaurant advertising the Sunday breakfast special by announcing that our food is much safer than it was 15 years ago when we had a botulism outbreak that sent hundreds to the hospital. If the public forgot or never knew in the first place, telling them is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done.

  • Michael Heath

    I wrote:

    According to the economists I read, NAFTA remains good economic policy.

    Pierce Butler responds:

    Please find some better economists to read.

    You lost me Pierce. Your link points to Paul Krugman’s blog; it doesn’t point to an article which has Krugman, in hindsight, now opposing NAFTA. I read Krugman enough to know he supports globalization and was a supporter of NAFTA when it was being debated. So it would be news to me if he’s swapped positions. So citation is requested; especially given your claim my purview of economists is deficient where Krugman is a population of one which sufficiently proves me wrong.

  • Michael Heath

    Dr. X writes:

    As for Clinton’s hypocrisy, I’d say that his job at the convention wasn’t to be a vessel of truth. His job was to help Obama get reelected, which, given the current alternative, is about the best outcome one can reasonably hope for.

    I think a laudable feature demonstrated by the national leaders of the Democratic party, and their power base, is their transforming their positions based on both historical lessons and as the experts develop better theories, concede what those experts consensually and confidently assert. Even such lessons requires requires the party to abandon what was once sacred cows within early- to mid-20th century liberalism.

    Now in the late-1980s and 90s this had the Democratic party shifting to a more technocratic right position from a populist left one. However this shift also had them taking on new positions on the right which were obviously wrong, like their support for deregulating the financial sector. I think their learning these lessons is a feature of their party they should energetically proclaim in such speeches, not avoid. So I appreciate the hypocritical irony Ed observes and reports here, precisely because Bill Clinton avoids both his own culpability for the financial crisis and the opportunity to distinguish a commendable feature of the modern Democratic party. Especially versus a directly corresponding and fatally defective bug in the Republican party; which is the GOP’s increased commitment to popular conservative policies which fail.

  • mhedhli

    Clinton got some bad advice from Government Sachs, his financial advisors. They were pushing their agenda and took advantage that Clinton was on his way to get the Glass-Steagall Act repealed.