December 20, 2008 - The Republican National Committee issued a report this Wednesday blaming Bill Clinton for the current recession. According to a compilation of leading market indicators, they have confirmed the economic downturn in progress began on Clinton's watch.
Congress' Republican Economic Committee claims signs of the current recession were already apparent more than 8 years ago. "By mid-year 2000, the signs of an economic turnaround had become apparent, indicating the present economic slowdown was well underway. A number of key economic and financial indicators presented evidence of slowing growth, suggesting that future growth would also weaken, causing the current recession, also known as the 'Bill Clinton Recession'."
The Republican Council of Economic Advisors agreed, stating, "It is widely recognized that the economy had weakened coming into 2001. The NASDAQ composite peaked on March 10, 2000, the Dow peaked on January 14, 2000, and things have only gotten steadily worse since. It's obvious Clinton's 'do-nothing' policies and lack of ethics set these events in motion. The budget surpluses toward the end of Clinton's tenure were a sham, another example of 'fuzzy math' used to 'cook the books' at a tremendous scale," which was "one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated against the American people."
Prominent Democrats were quick to point out that the Dow Jones did not actually peak until October 9, 2007, when it hit 14,164.53 , roughly on a par with the 2000 record when adjusted for inflation. Republicans shrugged off this information, saying occasional peaks and troughs naturally occur in any economy, and this was just an "unusually high peak that does not reflect the overall downward trend begun during Clinton's Administration." Moreover, they attributed this peak to a remnant of "policies enacted by the great Ronald Reagan, the greatest president who ever lived."
Even Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics, noted that during the Clinton Administration "the groundwork for some of the problems we are now experiencing was being laid. Accounting standards slipped; deregulation was taken further than it should have been; and corporate greed was pandered to."
Interestingly, Stiglitz served under Clinton and helped to define Clinton's "centrist" approach to economics, an approach often credited with the largest economic peacetime expansion of the American economy in the history of the United States. Sometimes called the "Third Way," the centrist philosophy recognizes an important but limited approach to government in economic affairs. The "Third Way" defined in part by Stiglitz neither strangles the economy with burdensome regulations, nor allows unfettered laissez-faire economics. Nevertheless, Stiglitz insists that "the economy was slipping into recession even before Bush took office."
Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury Secretary with whom Stiglitz always had a poor relationship, says that "after using the economic expansion of the 1990s to bring down government indebtedness, the US made a serious error in allowing deficits to rise over the last eight years." The Republican Council of Economic Advisors was quick to react, pointing the finger of blame at Summers and citing his involvement in the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, stating that "tax and spend liberals like this new addition to Obama's Economic Council team are just plain wrong. Tax and spend is bad for America. We prefer to not tax and spend anyway, just like the great Ronald Reagan. He proved that deficits are good for the economy, not to mention supply side economics and a laissez faire approach to regulation."
The recent Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades," and the failure of continued tax cuts for upper income Americans in recent years to avert the financial crisis seem to fly in the face of these comments. Were the assertions true, the alleged "do nothing" policies of Clinton would be more in line with a laissez faire economic philosophy, and a "trickling down" of tax relief for the rich should have, in theory, allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to remain solvent.
Questioned about these apparent contradictions, the Republican Economic Committee and the Republican Council of Advisors held their ground. "There can be little doubt that a significant economic slowdown began about mid-year 2000 near the end of the Clinton Administration. The current crisis was unavoidable because, quite simply, Bill Clinton was the worst president in the history of the United States of America."