Fastforwarding to the present, Bill was on his former aide's show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos (free subscription required). He wasted no time blasted the Bush administration's policies, no doubt hoping to galvanize support for Hillary's 2008 Presidential run. I couldn't agree more with the former President as he starts off:
They're [the Bush administration] responsible for this big structural deficit, and they're not going away, the deficits aren't. Now, what Americans need to understand is that that means every single day of the year, our Government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else.
Indeed. Fiscal conservatives are now an endangered species. He continues:
Preach on, Mr. President! Maybe Michael Moore is on to something when he accuses you of being the greatest conservative politician in a generation. Don't let me interrupt:
So what if they just got tired of buying our debt? What if the Japanese got tired of doing it? Japan's economy is beginning to grow again. Suppose they decided they wanted to keep some of their money at home and invest it in Japan, because they're starting to grow? We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense. I think it's wrong.
Well, it was good while it lasted, but the prevarications had to enter the fray at some point. He is correct in stating that in the year 2000, the black poverty rate was the lowest it has ever been. It's crept back up following September 11, although during Bush's time in office the black poverty rate has averaged 24.0%, while under Clinton it averaged 27.5%. The reduction has more to do with the drastic in reduction in the welfare doles that were pushed through by Newt Gingrich's Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Clinton than anything else either Bush or Clinton has done.
We had the lowest African-American unemployment, the lowest African-American poverty rate ever recorded. We had the highest homeownership, highest business ownership, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty in eight years as had been moved out in the previous 12 years.
The homeownership boasts are completely fallacious, however. Bush can brag about having overseen the highest homeownership rates for blacks of any President in US history (49.1% compared to Clinton's highest rate of 47.2%). In fact, the ownership society appears to be having a positive impact in this arena, as all ethnic and racial categories have seen increased rates of homeownership over the last five year.
Clinton goes on to talk about how the Bush tax cuts have caused increased poverty and that it was higher taxes that kept the poverty rate low during the go-go Clinton years. I'll let the rah-rahs snipe back and forth over how well their guys have done while in office. The effect of a President on the economy is overrated, of course. Just follow the stock market--and the technological processes, investment decisions, global factors, etc that it relies on--and you will have your indicator of how well the economy is performing. Presidential policies are a diminutive piece of the overall economic pie. Although it is hardly enlightening, it appears a Democratically-controlled White House and a Republican-controlled Congress enjoy the greatest economic prosperity. A cynic might say that is because in such a situation there is gridlock, and the more impotent the government is, the more the citizenry benefits.
Clinton spoke on the upward trend in poverty rates today, insinuating again that tax policies are the culprit:
The problem is, Bush has outspent Clinton on poverty entitlements. The 2006 budget calls for an incredible $368 billion for poverty entitlements--that breaks down to an astounding $9,900 per impoverished person! Because it's run by government wastrels, most of that money is spent on ineffective programs rather "efficient" wealth transfers, but the sheer amount is stultifying. The PPP in socialist Cuba is $3,000--in other words, free-market America redistributes over three times as much to its poor as the average Cuban receives in work compensation and from the government dole combined! Sheesh. So, the fiscally responsible Clinton criticizes Bush for giving too much back to people and not spending enough. Why not stick with the criticisms you laid out earlier about Bush's profligate spending habits, and point out what a prodigal President he has been. Promise us you'll force Hillary to reign in spending and keep handouts at a bare minimum, unlike the pseudo-conservative that's in the White House now! During your Presidency, the federal budget grew at an average annual rate of 3% (p30). During your successor's term, it has grown by an average of 7%. Don't tell us Bush is not doing enough--tell us he's doing too much! It's all so inane.
This is a matter of public policy, and whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up, and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made.
Anyhow, when it comes to increasing poverty rates, the elephant in the room is immigration. Few will state this obvious fact, because the left wants to manufacture voters out of poor Hispanics and the many on the right want cheap labor and/or are terrified of the "racist" moniker. But if the average immigrant's annual income is some $20,000 less per year than that of the average native, what do you think adding more immigrants is going to do the overall average economic health of the nation? See my previous post on the detrimental effect huge Hispanic immigration is having on the US.