FOR a man whose campaign slogan is “Forward,” President Barack Obama sure spends a lot of time looking backward.
Obama spent the first few years of his presidency blaming the nation's economic troubles on the problems he inherited from his predecessor, George W. Bush. Obama then set about trying to fix them through such things as the stimulus, which stimulated nothing. As he closes in on the end of his fourth year in office, the unemployment rate remains above 8 percent — it ticked upward yet again last month — and the economy is growing at an anemic 1.5 percent. The national deficit is north of $1 trillion, and headed higher.
What to do? If you're Barack Obama, you look even further back than the Bush presidency. You turn the clock back to the 1990s, to those prosperous days of the Bill Clinton presidency.
The key to paying down our debt, Obama now insists, is to return to the tax rates that Americans were paying under Clinton. This would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, those rascals who to date have not been paying what Obama considers their “fair share” to Uncle Sam each year.
He's calling this “our plan” and says it's worth implementing because “it worked” nearly two decades ago. No question, the economy during the Clinton years ran like gangbusters, creating millions of jobs as Washington operated with a budget surplus. “We've tried our plan and it worked,” Obama said on the stump Thursday in Orlando, Fla. “That's the difference. That's the choice in this election.”
But there are other, significant differences the president prefers not to discuss. One is that our nation wasn't at war. Clinton also supported a significant capital gains tax cut. Also, the U.S. economy was growing about 3.5 percent annually, buoyed by the dot-com sector.
That growth rate is particularly important, as Obama seemed to understand at one point. He's fond of looking backward, so we'll rewind to January 2010, when the president agreed to extend the Bush-era tax rates. Why? The economy was growing at just 2.3 percent, which Obama felt was too weak to handle a tax increase.