Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, has an Op-Ed in the NYTimes today that makes the obvious point that conservatives should rethink the Clinton presidency and admit that he was a better president than they have given him credit for.
Here are some of Clinton’s accomplishments (as summarized from the article) that should have pleased any fair-minded conservative:
*Bringing the federal budget into surplus is obviously an achievement. After inheriting a deficit of 4.7 percent of gross domestic product in 1992, Mr. Clinton turned this into a surplus of 2.4 percent of G.D.P. in 2000 — a remarkable turnaround...
*Clinton achieved his surplus in large part by curtailing spending. Federal spending fell to 18.4 percent of G.D.P. in 2000 from 22.2 percent in 1992. Although he raised taxes in 1993, he cut them in 1997. He even reduced the capital gains tax — something his predecessor, George H. W. Bush, tried but failed to accomplish.
*Clinton signed welfare reform into law in 1996, the only time in American history when an entitlement program was abolished.
*Clinton was also steadfast in his support for free trade. It is doubtful that anyone else could have persuaded Congress to approve the North American Free Trade Agreement.
*...he reappointed Alan Greenspan, a Republican, as chairman of the Federal Reserve, thereby helping to bring inflation down to its lowest sustained level in a generation.
By contrast, Mr. Clinton's Republican successor has caused the surplus to evaporate, raised total federal spending by 1.6 percent of G.D.P., established a new entitlement program for prescription drugs and adopted the most protectionist trade policy since Herbert Hoover.
I think he makes a very persuasive argument. If you want to go back to the good old days of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility... vote Democratic!