Bill Clinton's Political Views
The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton served from 1993-2001 and presided over one of the longest periods of economic growth in American History, leaving office with the highest approval rating of any President since World War II. Before becoming President, Clinton served as Governor of Arkansas from 1978-1992 before launching his successful run for the White House. Since leaving Office, Clinton has served as the Chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization devoted to forging "solutions to the world’s most pressing challenge." While Bill has largely stayed out of politics since leaving office, taking a back seat to his wife, Hilary Clinton, the current U.S. Secretary of State (and possible future presidential candidate?), he continues to offer support to Democratic candidates each election cycle, including current President Barack Obama. This hub will look at the political views of former President Clinton, including those expressed during his time as President and in the years since, so readers can judge what he really thinks about the key political issues of our time.
Bill Clinton's Political Views
1. Health Care:As President, Clinton unsuccessfully tried to pass a health care reform bill during his first term in office. The bill, which would have provided health care to all Americans, including the currently uninsured, was voted down by a Democratically controlled Congress because of worries about the costs of the legislation and the effect it would have on small businesses. Since leaving office, Clinton has expressed strong support for the Health care reform bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, stating in 2009: "I'm telling you no matter how low they drive support for this with misinformation, the minute the president signs a health care reform bill his approval will go up. Secondly, within a year, when all those bad things they say will happen don't happen, and all the good things happen, approval will explode."
2. Budget Deficits and the Economy: Clinton advisor James Carville famously posted a sign in the campaign headquarters during the 1992 election that listed "the economy, stupid" as Cilnton's main message is his successful campaign against then President George H.W. Bush. As President, Clinton oversaw a period of record economic expansion, with economic growth averaging 4.0% during his 8 years in Office. Clinton was largely moderate on tax policy, signing a law that increased taxes on the wealthy by 1.2% of taxpayers in 1993 while reducing tax rates for over 15 million low-income families. The strong growth of the United States during the 1990s combined with a reluctance by Clinton to pass unnecessary tax cuts resulted in a budget surplus during his final four years in Office, allowing the federal government to reduce its overall deficit without cutting services.
3. Foreign Policy: Clinton's greatest foreign policy success while in office was his overseeing of the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993, which made substantial progress in resolving the long running conflict between Israel and Palestine. However, Clinton was unable to successfully build on that agreement during the remainder of his term in Office. Clinton largely focused on trade policy during his administration, signing over 300 trade agreements, including the treaty that ultimately created the World Trade Organization. While many economists praised the agreements as increasing economic growth, others criticized them for reducing American competitiveness and paving the way for some of the manufacturing job losses that followed during the 2000s.
4. Education: Since leaving office, President Clinton has expressed strong support for the educational policies of President Obama. When asked about President Obama's plan for increasing access to college in 2011, Clinton told reporters: "I hope the Obama student-loan program will correct [our current negative] trend. Under the new system, the federal government will lend the money directly to students, instead of guaranteeing bank loans. That will lower student loan costs. The students also don't need to be afraid of running up debt to get a degree, because their loans can be paid off over 20 years as a small, fixed percentage of income. No one will ever have to drop out of college again because of the cost."
5. Gun Control: Clinton passed several successful gun control measures while serving as President, including the assault weapons ban of 1994 and the Brady Bill of 1993, which legally mandated background checks for weapons sales. A hunter growing up in Arkansas, Clinton credited his success to passing gun control legislation to his ability to talk from personal experience, telling reporters in 2012, "I had a .22 and was shooting cans off fence posts when I was 10 or 11 years old. They tried hard to demonize me, but the reason I was able to prevail with the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban — but never did get the gun show loophole passed once the Republicans got to Congress — is that I came from a culture where people could hear me talk about it and they couldn't imagine me shutting them out of deer season."
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