Sunday, September 18, 2005

If Bill Clinton were president for a day ...

Bill Clinton talks about what he'd do, were he president for a day:
Clinton's worldview -

...If I had 24 hours, I would at least lay down where I think we ought to go in the Middle East to finish the business between the Israelis and the Palestinians after the withdrawal from Gaza.

I would put a healthcare plan before the Congress that would end this insane system we have that's bankrupting the American economy and is leaving huge numbers of people out. And I would do my dead-level best to change the energy and environmental direction that the current government has.

And of course, now I would have to give them a budget plan to get rid of the deficit I got rid of once, and now - (chuckle) - he's brought it back.

Those would be the things I would do in my day as president.
Deep sigh. Bang head against wall. Contemplate future cave-based historians weeping at the election (bad) and re-election (unforgivable) of George Bush II.

Clinton gives more detail on globalization, employment and the Bush tax cuts:
...On trade, the fundamental problem is that in this decade America has found no new source of jobs. Now when you do a trade deal, the benefits normally cover 90% of the people and the real burdens only fall on maybe 1% of the people. The problem is that the benefits are diffused and the burdens are concentrated. America should, whenever we do trade agreements, have an economic impact statement in which we cost out how much it's going to hurt the people who lose their jobs and their livelihoods and then invest in them and make sure they are restored and they can do something new, something different and they can manage this transition; otherwise, you are always going to have politicians who don't want to do that for ideological reasons, being protectionists.

Instead, they gave me four tax cuts. So you got this ragged edge of the American economy because even though we've been having pretty good growth on the numbers over the last couple of years, we're not generating jobs, we're not generating new income. And if we had, for example, decided to do what I just suggested, gone into on aggressive clean-energy future, we would have created millions of jobs just doing that - but we didn't.

So all of our growth is in corporate profits, housing (because interests rates have been low so there's a huge housing boom in America but that always bursts sooner or later) and consumer spending, financed because the Chinese buy our debt along with others every year.

The other big problem is the legitimate concern in America, or a genuine concern, over the Chinese military build up - and whether China is basically being nice now but some day, once they get the most modern military equipment in the world, is going to provoke some sort of a showdown with Japan, which will draw us in, and throw the world into a turmoil. And there are people in the Pentagon who push that line every single day. Just like there are people in the military in China who, every single day say that someday we're going to have to confront the Americans. They're too aggressive, They're too over-reaching. The Japanese are becoming militant again.

They key is: Where are the people? And where are the leaders? There will always be people who will have an institutional interest in finding an enemy - and finding division. And I don't think we've answered that question yet. So yeah, I'm concerned about it.
We live in a dark age of American politics. It's Taft all over again.

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