October 1, 2011

Bill Clinton Whines About Wanting More Credit For Welfare Reform, Balanced Budget; No Challenge From Politico

BillClinton0911.pngAt the Politico, James Hohmann’s biography page indicates that he is “an Honors graduate of Stanford University” who “studied American political history.” I hope he skipped class during the time his profs covered the 1990s, because if not, he and many other classmates have been badly misled.

Hohmann covered Bill Clinton’s commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of his presidential candidacy announcement at his library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and let the following Clintonian howlers go by without challenge:

Bill Clinton wants more credit

Bill Clinton thinks he deserves more credit for reforming welfare and balancing the budget.

“I go crazy every time I read the conventional wisdom,” he said Friday night at his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark. “So part of the Republican narrative is that I was ‘saved’ from myself by the election of the Republican Congress [in 1994] that ‘forced me’ to do welfare reform and ‘made the balanced budget possible.’”

Clinton said reporters and commentators “keep saying this, overlooking all relevant facts.”

The 42nd president said Arkansas had been a test case for reform during his governorship. At the federal level, he said 43 states received federal waivers to implement welfare reform before the GOP-controlled House passed the final bill.

“And yet I kept reading how this was ‘a Republican idea,’ just because President Reagan had a good story about a welfare queen and a Cadillac who didn’t exist,” Clinton said.

The feisty comments came during 20 minutes of unscripted remarks that immediately followed a one-hour panel discussion commemorating the 20th anniversary of Clinton announcing his run for president in front of the nearby state house. They showcased a Clinton determined to present himself as a transformational figure.

The historical record shows that Bill Clinton doesn’t deserve credit for welfare reform, and doesn’t deserve credit for the balanced budget.

As to welfare reform, it was a Republican idea not because of what Ronald Reagan said, but because of what former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson did. As the Wall Street Journal wrote in a 2006 editorial excerpted at my home blog (bold is mine):

Reform really took off in the early 1990s as Governors, led by Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson, took the initiative. They battled for waivers from the feds, and then one of their own, Mr. Clinton, decided to run for the White House in 1992 using welfare reform as a way of proving his New Democrat bona fides.

He quickly shelved the idea in his first two years, bowing to a Democratic Congress. But when Republicans won the House in 1994, they made it one of their priorities. Mr. Clinton declared this week that the bill he signed was a “bipartisan” triumph, and in a narrow sense it was. But 98 Democrats opposed him on the House floor, including many of the Democrats who would chair committees in the House if they re-take Congress in November. Mr. Clinton also vetoed reform twice before finally signing it in 1996 after his political guru Dick Morris told him it was the one issue that could cost him re-election. Make no mistake: This was a conservative reform opposed every step of the way by the political left and its media allies.

Exactly:

  • Media Research Center CyberAlerts at the time carried multiple examples of liberals like Charles Grodin, Walter Cronkite and others predicting hordes of Americans starving in the streets if welfare reform became law. Six June-August 1996 examples are at the top of this Google search on [Cyberalert "welfare reform"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets).
  • Both Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton made a point of emphasizing how the bill the President had signed would need to be “fixed.”
  • The fears of the status quo’s defenders never materialized, and the Clintons never “fixed” anything. The welfare rolls dropped from a 1996 average of 12.3 million to less than 4.5 million in 2000. It’s likely that at least 1.5 million adults entered the workforce during that four-year period who would otherwise have stayed on the dole.

As to Clinton’s claim of responsibility for the late-1990s balanced budget — first, as noted, he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into welfare reform, which saved billion in entitlement spending while adding billions in tax collections.

More crucially, it was the 1997 Republican Congress which did the heavy lifting, particularly then-Congressman and now Ohio Governor John Kasich. As the Associated Press wrote when Kasich declared his Buckeye State candidacy in 2009: “Kasich, a 9-term Congressman from Ohio, was the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Budget Committee in 1997 that balanced the nation’s budget for the first time in more than 30 years.”

As I wrote at the time:

Kasich and his committee (with his senatorial colleagues) balanced the budget. Bill Clinton did NOTHING on the spending side to balance the budget except sign the related bills. What Clinton deserves some credit for is getting on board with the supply-side capital gains tax cut in 1997 that created a gusher on the revenue side — a cut passed by the GOP Congress over strenuous objections from some Democrats.

With welfare reform, Bill Clinton was a stubborn, reluctant, and self-preserving; his signature on the bill had nothing to do with anything resembling principled commitment to reform. With the balanced budget, Clinton was mostly a spectator who has basked in undeserved glory for over a decade in what Republicans created. The Politico’s Hohmann either knew better and decided not to interject the truth into his report, or he didn’t learn much about the 1990s when he was at Stanford.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update: In case anyone wonders, Hohmann was writing for the Daily Stanford in 2008, and was likely still in grade school at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100111)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:40 am

Rules are here.

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Since it’s the weekend and I’m in an experimental mood, I’ll deposit a number of suggestions for comment. Off-topics (or maybe I should call them off-off-topics) are okay too.

Here are the suggestions:

  • An AP story on “Hizbut Tahrir” — It is described as “an enigmatic global movement” which “wants to unite all Muslim countries in a globe-spanning bloc ruled by strict sharia law. It targets university students and professionals, working within countries to try to persuade people to overthrow their governments.” It’s also in the U.S.: “Hizbut Tahrir, which means The Party of Liberation, is also raising its profile in the U.S. after operating largely underground since the 1990s. Its first major event was a 2009 conference, followed by another one in Chicago this June.” In something truly unusual, someone at the AP gets it: The described topic in the web page’s URL is “AS_INDONESIA_GLOBAL_CALIPHATE.”
  • Another one bites the dust, this time out of Phoenix (“Stirling Energy Systems files for bankruptcy”) — “Stirling’s pilot project, Maricopa Solar, which opened with fanfare about 20 months ago, has been offline for a week. … But the technology that started strong ran into myriad problems trying to come to market. It once had more than 1.8 gigawatts of solar contracts to provide power to California utilities, but ran into a lawsuit on one project, and failed to get loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy.” Thank goodness for small favors.
  • Ironic, in light of previous item, from Michelle Malkin — “Solar Energy School Propaganda 101″
  • At the Christian Science Monitor“Bankruptcy imminent for Kodak? “Investors dumped Kodak stock Friday, under suspicion that the company had plans to declare bankruptcy.” Whoa.
  • Also from Michelle Malkin — “Judge upholds key parts of Alabama immigration enforcement law.” Related from AP, with a scare headline not supported by the underlying article: “Hispanic students vanish from Alabama schools.”
  • You don’t say? At the Wall Street Journal: “Solyndra Said to Have Violated Terms of Its U.S. Loan”
  • On the Obamacare front, at Newsmax: “McCaughey: Surge in Costs Start Of Obamacare Disaster”
  • Regarding Herman Cain, via Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal, making a point I wanted to make on last night’s TIB Radio Show“Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them, and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead. Not least, Mr. Cain’s life experience suggests that, unlike the incumbent, he will adjust his ideas to reality.” We could sort of use that (/understatement). This explains the substantive underpinning of Cain’s candidacy as well as anything I’ve seen.

IBD: ‘Don’t Cry Over Terrorist Awlaki’s Death’

No tears here (bolds are mine):

U.S. forces dealt a huge blow to al-Qaida’s Western recruiting when they took out two American al-Qaida traitors on the Saudi-Yemen border. It’s also a blow to the ACLU.

Dead: Anwar Awlaki, tops on the CIA kill list, and his understudy Samir Khan, both U.S. citizens blasted by drone-fired missiles.

Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who advised the 9/11 hijackers and the Fort Hood gunman, became al-Qaida’s top recruiter and external operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula. Khan, a 25-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., joined him in Yemen, where he published in English al-Qaida’s slick, new jihad how-to journal.

… Earth to ACLU: The battlefield in the war on terrorists is anywhere we find them. And Awlaki gave up his rights when he joined a hostile foreign enemy’s military force. When he declared war on his birthplace, he gave it the right to fire back.

Besides, he knew he was wanted — the U.S. officially designated him an al-Qaida terrorist in July 2010. So he had a chance to turn himself in and get his due process. He chose instead to become a “martyr.” Excuse us if we don’t shed a tear.

Awlaki had already tried to kill Americans and was trying again. He posed an imminent threat to the lives of his fellow citizens. He not only directed the Christmas Day bomb plot, but also last year’s cargo bomb plot.

If we want tears, we’ll give in to the ACLU types and let terrorist enemies pull off attacks on the U.S. at the Ft. Hood level (or far worse) because we supposedly can’t touch “American citizens.” This is where Ron Paul, who says we had no right to do what we did, loses me and everyone else who understands that the Constitution (and, by extension, Christianity, since this is a nation founded on Christian principles) isn’t a suicide pact.

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UPDATE: In this morning’s Wall Street Journal

In the decade before his death, Anwar al-Awlaki served as an imam at two American mosques attended by 9/11 hijackers. He corresponded regularly with Nidal Hasan before the Army major went on his murder spree at Fort Hood in November 2009. He was in touch with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who nearly brought down a jetliner over Detroit the following month. His sermons were cited as an inspiration by attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. He said that “jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

But we shouldn’t have been allowed to go after him? Horse manure.

Positivity: Mexico’s Supreme Court rejects move to legalize abortion

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 8:21 am

From Mexico City:

Sep 28, 2011 / 03:33 pm (CNA).- The members of Mexico’s Supreme Court on Sept. 28 rejected a decision that would have legalized abortion in the country.

By a 7 to 4 margin, the judges struck down a proposal by Supreme Justice Fernando Franco, which declared that the states’ legal shields against abortion were unconstitutional, and that abortion should be legal nationwide—up to the ninth month of pregnancy.

Debates over Justice Franco’s motion started on Sept. 26 among the 11-member Supreme Court and ended on Wednesday at noon, when Supreme justice Jorge Pardo forcefully argued against the measure.

Before Justice Pardo’s speech, five judges expressed support for Franco’s draft, while only three were against.

Justice Pardo noted that article 7 of the Mexican constitution recognized protection of the unborn. He rejected the idea that the states’ efforts to protect the life of the unborn were creating new rights.

The judge also made the case for the federal nature of the Mexican government, highlighting that the Mexican Constitution “protects the states in exercising their freedom to establish the starting point of the right to life.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Two Bad Presidential Election Ideas Require Rejection

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Nix the “national popular vote,” and keep states’ winner-take-all electoral voting.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.

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When one loses a contest perceived to have been “unfair,” the natural human instinct is to try to change the rules. That instinct is perilously close to harmfully affecting the conduct of our presidential elections.

Two separate efforts, the “national popular vote” (NPV) movement and Pennsylvania’s recent attempt to implement congressional district-based electoral voting (which I will call “CEV”), have gained traction. Both ideas recall a pithy phrase attributed to Ben Franklin in 1787 shortly after the Constitution’s adoption. When asked whether the Founders’ handiwork represented a republic or a monarchy, Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.” I contend that his response would have been the same if the question’s alternatives had been a republic or a democracy. Both NPV and CEV represent dangerous movements towards the latter at the expense of the former.

Democrats and the leftist media weren’t and still aren’t happy that Al Gore, despite tallying 544,000 more votes nationwide, lost to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election thanks to 537 votes in Florida. (A newspaper consortium’s study carried out by a national accounting firm showed that Bush really did prevail.) In 2004, if about 60,000 Ohioans had decided to vote for John Kerry instead of to reelect Bush, Kerry would have won despite Bush’s 3-million vote national margin.

In response to these results, eight blue states and the District of Columbia have agreed to an “interstate compact” whereby the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote will select participating states’ electors, regardless of who won each state’s popular vote. As written, the compact will take effect if states representing a majority of the country’s electoral votes agree to it. California joined the compact in August. Having rounded up a total of 132 electoral votes, NPV proponents are almost halfway there. If they get to 270, NPV supposedly becomes the law of the land, and the constitutionally designed presidential voting system effectively goes into history’s dustbin.

Why NPV-approving states believe that their compact presumptively passes constitutional muster is a mystery. True, Article II, Section 1 (“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors”) gives the states exclusive control over how they award their electoral votes. But, going back to Franklin’s warning, does that mean they can base their decision on the Election Day temperature, the winner of an intrastate college football game, or even the flip of a coin? More seriously, do these legislatures and governors agree that deliberately overriding the majority of their own voters is what the Founders intended? Do they really believe that twenty or so states can lawfully conspire to take an action which contravenes the Constitution’s clear intent — namely that each state have its own, distinct say in the matter of who should be the nation’s president — without going through the deliberately more difficult process of amending the Constitution itself? I don’t think so.

At a more practical level, NPV could and probably would turn a close popular-vote election into the legal equivalent of hand-to-hand combat over qualified and disqualified votes in all 50 states and their 3,100 counties, a debacle which would make Florida 2000 look like a walk in the park. Beyond that, in the wake of NPV’s passage in California, Debra Saunders got most of the way towards raising a critical heads-we-win, tails-you-lose scenario:

What happens if enough states pass NPV compacts in time for the 2012 election and Californians go for President Barack Obama but the national vote swings to the Republican nominee by a tight margin?

Will Gov. (Jerry) Brown stand by the law, or will he refuse to support it, just as he refused to support Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage measure, when he was the state’s attorney general?

Even if one believes that Brown wouldn’t defy an NPV compact if it delivers “bad” results, what’s to prevent him or any other governor from calling in the legislature to ram through a post-election law nullifying the compact before the Electoral College convenes?

Under CEV, electoral votes are assigned based on each congressional district’s popular-vote winner, while the two electoral votes tied to each state’s senators go to the overall statewide victor. Current practitioners Nebraska and Maine have never had a meaningful electoral impact. That would change if states like Pennsylvania, which is seriously considering CEV, make the move.

The frustration of Keystone State residents outside of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas is understandable. Those two blue urban tails in an otherwise red state have wagged the presidential dog for decades. Pennsylvania’s switch to CEV would probably mean about a dozen electoral votes for the 2012 Republican nominee in a state the GOP hasn’t won since 1988.

Though the practice is probably constitutional, the arguments against CEV go to the Founders’ intent and longer-term problems:

  • As noted earlier, the Founders wanted the states and not individual congressional districts to decide who should be president.
  • States would see concerted attempts by the national parties to influence the shape of already far too gerrymandered congressional districts. This could make an intolerable situation (see Illinois; Ohio) even worse.
  • An incumbent president could bypass the states and direct disproportionate and highly visible pork and other government goodies to key districts in amounts which would make today’s efforts look like child’s play. At some point, individual district giveaways might become expected as a price of admission. I even wonder if relatively red Cincinnati-area congressional districts could be bought off if President Obama made sure that the replacement for the chronically overcrowded Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky got magically fast-tracked instead of pretending it was, as he did last week? Presidential challengers, instead of campaigning on overall national priorities, would feel compelled to join the bidding, but with far less credibility. Even if we weren’t nearly broke as a nation, this would be a serious problem. Because we are, it could be fatal.
  • At the extreme — well, really not so extreme given President Obama’s months of delay in fully reacting to the Texas wildfires — an incumbent could shower swing districts with disaster relief and withhold it from or be stingy with those who oppose him. In a CEV regime, such localized selectivity could have a chilling effect on voter decisions (“If we don’t support him, will he leave us high and dry in the next catastrophe?”).

NPV and CEV should both be DOA — Dead On Arrival. The fact that they aren’t shows how far we have strayed from fundamental constitutional principles and the Founders’ intent.