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Did the White House make Bill Clinton recant opposition to job-killing tax hikes?

As the American Action Forum (AAF) notes, pretty much. Quick background: it more or less got overlooked, but former President Clinton argued yesterday (June 5th) that it would be advisable for the ‘Bush tax cuts’ (which is Dizzy-City speak for ‘current tax baseline’) to be ‘temporarily’ (read: ‘permanently’) instituted, even if it would benefit the ‘wealthiest Americans’ (translation: it’s probably not a good idea to kick American small businesses in the kidneys again). That this is contrary to current administration policy is apparently not serving as a warning sign to the White House that maybe they should be changing said policy, despite the fact that Democrats are apparently starting to line up in order to get their new-found distance from the Obama administration. Instead, the administration apparently twisted some arms, and hey presto! – Bill Clinton is retracting:

…a spokesman for Mr. Clinton issued a statement walking back the comments. It said that Mr. Clinton “doesn’t believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again.”

Two things about this: first, never trust a Democratic politician to stay sensible on fiscal policy. Second… never trust a Democratic politician to stay sensible on fiscal policy*.

I’ll let the AAF explain the basic problem, here:

Just a few weeks ago the CBO warned that if the fiscal cliff that looms at the end of 2012 goes unaddressed, the United States faces another recession in 2013 (although if you ask Mr. Clinton, he, and many Americans, already think the United States is still in a recession). But because of the seriousness of the report released yesterday, dodging the fiscal cliff should not be allowed to add to the debt. CBO’s most recent report reiterates the point that they have been making for years: serious, substantive solutions dealing with the underlying drivers of our debt (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) are absolutely essential to ensuring the economic health and future of the country.

Perhaps what is most starting about yesterday’s report is that it shows that the future is now here. By 2041, interest payments on the debt will be the single largest government “program.” In 2035 the economy will be over one-fifth smaller than the CBO’s economic benchmark and the debt will be 250 percent of the economy. By 2042, debt held by the public will be 247 percent of GDP.

To which I’ll add… do not expect President Obama to care about this, for one very brutal reason: in 2042 Barack Obama will be eighty-one years old. Which means that he will either be alive and rich enough to not really have to care about the country’s general fiscal situation, or dead of old age and thus essentially indifferent to it. I will probably be alive, and not nearly as rich, and a good deal more worried about my own kids, who will likewise probably be not nearly as rich. Which is a roundabout way of noting that it’d be great if the current President had more skin in this particular game. Or, in fact, had any skin in it at all.

And let’s not get into Bill Clinton’s need to be concerned about the consequences of his policy positions. The man was born in ’46, after all.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: AAF noted, by the way, that the President still likes the Buffett rule. Entertainingly, Warren Buffett today made it clear that he wasn’t one of those card-carrying Democrats or anything, golly gee. It’s the little things that set off the big, honking warning bells, I find.

*To paraphrase the classics: yes, that’s only one thing … but it’s such an important thing that I thought that I should mention it twice.

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