Bill Clinton: Debt Talks Missing One Big Point

Talking to more than a thousand student activists gathered for a Campus Progress conference in Washington, DC, former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday commented on the ongoing negotiations on the debt ceiling. He complained that “nobody is talking about one of the central points.” The conversation is focused so much on spending cuts, he explained, and not the vital fact that “we shouldn’t do any of them until the economy is clearly in recovery.”

Clinton also offered his analysis on why the Democrats received a worse-than-expected drubbing in November: the electorate wasn’t aware of President Barack Obama and the Democrats’ multiple accomplishments. He cited a list of examples: most people didn’t know that Obama and the Democrats had given them a tax cut, had enacted a stimulus (insufficient, as it was) that had created or saved millions of jobs, had spurred significant innovation in green technology with a refundable tax credit, had passed reform legislation that would lessen the chances of a future Wall Street bailout, had rescued the auto industry, had taken hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicare savings and used these funds to send checks to seniors to help them plug the hole in their prescription medicine coverage, and had saved $60 billion in the student loan program and shared those savings with students in the form of lower-interest and more flexible loans.

“Nobody knew,” Clinton said.

He was urging the students to become well-informed regarding policy debates in order to educate others. But was this also a critique of the Obama administration’s communications operation? Clinton offered nothing but praise for Obama and his economic vision. But it was hard not to wonder whether Clinton was thinking, Oh, what I could have done, with a record like that.