Politico on why the Obama campaign is using former President Bill Clinton so often:
As the campaign acknowledges, Clinton brings credibility to the connection between an Obama presidency and a strong economy, reinforcing the idea that there’s a straight line between Obama’s proposals and Clinton’s legacy of budget surpluses and middle class prosperity.
It’s only a credible connection if you don’t consider the wildly differing contexts.
As Tim pointed out earlier this month, “the so-called “Clinton surpluses” didn’t arrive until 1998, four years after Newt Gingrich and the Republicans captured Congress for the first time in four decades, and six years after Clinton was elected. Given the fact that Congress controls the budget under our Constitution, it is therefore disingenuous for Clinton and his apologists to claim sole credit.”
Thus, if in 2012 the Obama camp really wants to make the case that a national economic recovery is just around the corner, it should have prayed for a complete conservative takeover of Congress in 2010. Had he been faced with an entire branch of government – not just the House – passing real budgets, chances are the Obama White House would have had a Clintonesque opportunity to make a deal.
Instead, Obama has had no incentive to move to the middle for the sake of compromise because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been willing to abdicate his chamber’s constitutional responsibility to pass a new budget for the last three years of Obama’s term of office. And so the President dithers while the economy sputters.
Call it the Clinton Conundrum. Both Clinton and Obama are doctrinaire liberals whose policy impulses created pushes to nationalize health care. Both prefer to raise taxes and spend money. But Clinton, unlike Obama, was saved from oblivion when Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1994 and (implicitly and unintentionally) made him an offer he didn’t refuse: either adopt our reform agenda or face defeat in reelection. Clinton accepted and has benefited ever since. Obama’s choice was between Senate Democrat dithering and House Republican reform. He sided with his party and hasn’t governed since.
If Barack Obama wants Bill Clinton’s success, he’ll have to adopt Bill Clinton’s policies. In large part, that means adopting conservative budget reforms so that he can claim credit for a rebounding economy.