Taking Responsibility for our Economic Woes
By Mario Giardiello
Recently on WTIX's Ringside Politics, my brother Joe (the Conservative) blamed the ailing economy on the Clinton Administration. It seems everything that is going wrong with our country can somehow be blamed on Clinton, and everything that is going right (not much by the way) can be credited to Bush. Even when things were going right, my brother refused to give Clinton credit. He attributed the economic boom of the 90ís to Reagan (and now we know he didnít even know what was going on, never mind being able to manipulate the economy). Joe, like many Republicans, never looks at the facts, playing the slander game that he accuses the Democrats of playing. We have been accused of name-calling and not backing up our cases with facts. So here are a few facts to chew on:
Clinton enacted the Economic Plan in 1993 that jumped-started our economy by cutting taxes on 15 million low-income families while raising taxes on 1.2 percent of the wealthiest. Reagan or Bush would have never done this for the American people; they would lose too many important business contacts, campaign funding, and votes. Clinton, like many Democrats believe that the richest in our country owe the American people for their success because without us they would have nobody to buy their products. This philosophy does not undermine capitalism like my brother would have you believe. Anytime Democrats want to regulate big business in order to force them to be honest (we know they are unable to do this on their own), we are accused of being anti-capitalist. The fact is that we understand that big business, left to their own devices, would cheat, lie and steal anytime they could get away with it, and that is why Americans have lost confidence in our economy.
Bush must stand up to these corporate bullies and state, clearly, enough is enough. Instead, he is still unwilling to look at putting a halt to the ten-year tax-cut that is predicted to cripple our social security fund. Even though the Bush administration vowed to not spend our social security surplus, that is exactly what they are doing. Paul OíNeill, Secretary of the Treasury still denies that we are or ever were in a recession. He also denied that corporate corruption is a widespread problem on Meet the Press this week, even though 75% of the American people see it so. We need to impose moral standards on our Big Business and get rid of politicians that refuse to believe that there is a problem.
Clintonís Economic Plan was also credited for the combination of the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in twenty-five years. He did this at the same time that he signed the largest deficit reduction plan resulting in over 600 billion dollars in deficit reduction. Even before he signed this bi-partisan plan, he helped create over 6 million jobs in his first two years. He also passed NAFTA and GATT, resulting in a 23 percent increase of exports from Mexico.
These were concrete policies and bills that were passed on Clintonís ticker. He was not just sitting idly by, trying to reassure the American people that all will be okay. The Bush Administration is praying that the economy will recover so they will not be forced to put more regulations on Big Business. It is not just regulations that Bush is against, but severely punishing these corporate criminals. Even though he uses strong rhetoric against corporate corruption, he is holding back on strong action that matches his own rhetoric, and that of the American people.
Clinton did a lot for the economy. And he did it all without crippling our natural resources and social services. Republicans would have you believe that we cannot have the most powerful military in the world and simultaneously fund our public school system and supply our most needy citizens with much-needed services. During Clintonís presidency he enacted bills that improved the life style of American families. The Family and Medical Leave Act guaranteed 42 million Americans a job after child-birth. He also began the first big crack down on "dead-beat" dads. He created opportunity to train welfare mothers for jobs by granting 25 states welfare demonstrations. He signed into law the Brady Bill which demanded background checks and waiting periods for purchasing guns. The Crime Bill created 100,00 new police on our streets, three strikes youíre out, and banned 19 deadly assault weapons while protecting 650 hunting rifles.
He did this before the hype of school shootings forced us to take a hard look at our gun laws. Bush still hasnít pushed for any restrictions on assault weapons. Clinton will be remembered as the Education President. No other President did more for students and increasing educational opportunities for all. He created the Student Loan Program, the Safe School Act, and School to Work program. He instituted the Goals 2000 that gave much-needed grants to most states for their schools. He also started the AmeriCorps that put 20,000 volunteers in our communities, which is still a very successful program today.
Harvey Pitt and Paul OíNeill continue to blame the poor economy on the War on Terror, which they too happily point out the favorable opinions on this effort by the American people. This excuse does not take into account all the things they can be doing to give the economy a boost. OíNeill stays over seas when our markets are crashing, and is unable to appear optimistic and truthful. Pitt and OíNeill have been asked to step down by a bi-partisan group, but shrug off their adversaries as playing politics. Whenever either of them are cornered by a tough question about our economy, inevitably they bring up 9-11 or the War on Terror. Now I ask you, who is playing politics?
Are you getting tired of hearing about all the Clinton accomplishments? I can go on, but Republicans must feel ashamed by only focusing on the sexual exploits of our most infamous President. I must admit I have done my homework, and could list accomplishments in the environment, the military, and foreign policy, but I have made my point. The Bush Administration is threatening all these services (except for the military, of course). They are cutting many of these programs in favor of a larger military that is already bigger than the next five militaries combined. Bush has continued to make excuses for big business, never committing to a tough stance against these corporate money mongers. So if you hear Democrats describe Republicans as "war-mongers," "anti-family," or refer to them as "sleeping with Big Business" then you can understand that this is not slander, but based in facts. While Bush, Pitt, and OíNeill would have you believe that everything is okay just remember one fact: The Dow Jones lost 37% since George Bush stole the Presidency a short two years ago. Isnít it time for a change?