Bill Clinton. Big Dog. The guy the Democrats trot out every national convention time to rah rah the electorate to a fever pitch to bring the Democratic presidential nominee on home!
Big dog? Big phony. The only thing big about Bill is the stick he keeps trying to bash Bernie Sanders over the head with.
This morning I again heard on the radio the corporate media fiction of Clinton’s “Age of Prosperity” in the 90s. Yes, it was prosperous for some, unless you were poor. If you were lower-working class or among the poor there was little if any prosperity for you. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the Republican bill which Clinton signed into law took care of that. It penalized poor children for living with their dysfunctional parent(s). It forced people with no hope of finding a job to look for work or be removed from the cash grant after two years while a portion of any of the income they might be able to earn or receive was allocated to the child(ren) to further reduce their cash grant. After five years on welfare whether the parent(s) had found work or not the family timed out on welfare entirely.
The Food Stamps program (run by the USDA partly on behalf of agribusiness to sell more crops to sell more food) was slashed by over $20 billion dollars. The AFDC budget was $14 billion—less than 1% of the federal budget. Meanwhile, military spending was increased by about $60 billion over a six-year period, a time when we weren’t officially at war with anybody. SSI eligibility for children was restricted. LEGAL immigrants had their eligibility for programs greatly restricted and their benefits cut.
But while the those living in poverty were pushed into living in abject poverty, the rest of us were prospering, right? For some. For awhile. The Bill Clinton Golden Age of Prosperity sat atop the twin dotcom and real estate bubbles and balanced by some fancy shmancy bookkeeping that moved selected Accounts Payable ledger items off the Clinton books and onto the books of the next presidential administration. Yes, Dubya did fine in massively escalating the federal budget on his own but Bill did help his future best buddy along that path.
Yes, it sure was the Age of Prosperity alright, but all that prosperity was paid with credit cards and the bills started to come due in the 2nd financial quarter of 2007. You see, during Bill’s Age of Prosperity he sneaked a couple of things through: repeal of Glass-Steagall and the successful kibosh of the regulation of the sale of derivatives of which—if you saw “The Big Short” credit default swaps played a big part.
So here’s all these stock traders and stockholders becoming prosperous during the 90s but then the strangest stuff started to happen in 2007. Banks started to fail. Brokerage houses started to fail. Mortgage lenders started to fail. A whole lot of prosperous people lost their investments, lost their retirement savings, lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their families, lost their lives.
The Republicans came up with a plan to save it all called TARP. They came up with at near the end of Dubya’s term. Obama replaced Bush but on the first round of voting Senate Democrats stuck to their principles and voted it down. They became unstuck on the second vote and passed it with Obama signing into law in 2009. The problem with TARP was handled was similar to what happens on a baseball sandlot. Kids line up and wait to see which team captain will chose them. The team captain sticks with his favorite players and tries to give the lesser players to the other team. This is what happened with TARP. Obama chose his favorites: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, AIG. The lesser players not chosen: Bear Stearns, Shearson Lehman Brothers, Wachovia Bank, Countrywide, among others didn’t get to play at all because there was no other team to play for. They had to take their bats and balls and thousands of employees and millions of customers and clients and walk away.
This is reality. This is fact. This is not the Camelot-like “Age of Prosperity” that the Clintons, the Democratic Party (especially the DNC), and the corporate media is attempting to have you still believe. When the lie becomes truth, then what is the truth?
So I will not join in on the Big Dog rah rah stuff. I will not speaking glowingly and nostalgically of the Bill Clinton Golden Age of Prosperity. Too much water has flowed under that bridge. The same floodwater that swept all that “prosperity” away for good. At least it worked out for the poor. As Janis once sang, “when you got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose”.