A swing voter could well glance at the screen and recall that Clinton heeded the voters, whereas Obama thumbed his nose. After suffering a rebuke in 1994, Clinton backed away from Hillarycare, tax increases, opposition to welfare reform and huge increases in federal spending. With Republicans controlling the Congress, Bill Clinton -- after some resistance and after insisting it couldn't be done -- signed a balanced budget.
The combination of the end of the Cold War and the dot.com bubble gave Clinton's first term respectable economic growth of 3.2 percent. But the real boom came toward the latter half of his second term, after Clinton (reluctantly) signed welfare reform, a dramatic cut in the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent, and a phased-in reduction in the estate (or death) tax, which exempted estates up to $1 million from $600,000. Clinton lobbied for and got the North American Free Trade Agreement and maintained a strong dollar. With Republicans in Congress demanding spending restraint, the federal government -- younger readers may be incredulous -- ran a surplus.
The results, as Charles Kadlec recalls in Forbes, were impressive. Economic growth jumped to 4.2 percent. Unemployment fell from 5.4 to 4 percent. Average real wages improved. Millions of Americans shared in the general prosperity as their 401(k)s swelled with the rising stock market. Investors responded with enthusiasm to the sense that America was a business-friendly country. Venture capital exploded.
Obama has chosen the exact opposite response to voter disaffection. Unlike Clinton, Obama is a committed leftist. He doubled down on Obamacare, ramming it through in an ugly, totally partisan vote. He refuses to budge on his insistence on tax increases -- though he has himself acknowledged that tax hikes are counterproductive in a weak economy. He has attempted to undo the key feature of welfare reform, the work requirement. And he has presided over the downgrading of America's AAA credit rating as he races heedlessly into crippling levels of federal debt.
Bill Clinton can attempt to perfume Obama's record -- but the truth is that Obama has chosen the exact opposite policies. The results speak more eloquently than either man can.