NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton's Critics On The Left

March 3, 1999

Those on the left have always viewed Clinton with deep suspicion. They have never trusted him, fearing (rightly) that he will sell them out in a second to advance his popularity.

They continue to defend him in public, but in their own publications leftists are scathing in their condemnation. For instance, a new book by liberal economist Michael Meeropol -- "Surrender: How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution," (University of Michigan Press) -- criticizes Clinton for repudiating traditional liberal economic policies. Here are a few of Meeropol's criticisms:

  • Balanced budget. Historically liberals have used budget deficits to expand government. By caving-in to Republican demands to balanced the federal budget, Clinton reversed the liberal agenda. In fact, government spending as a share of the economy has fallen during the Clinton years from 22.5 percent in fiscal year 1992 to 19.7 percent this year.
  • Tax cuts. The 1997 tax cut was minuscule, but Meeropol and others bemoan the fact there was any tax cut at all -- especially cutting the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent. Spending should have been increased instead, and tax cuts worsen the distribution of income.
  • Welfare reform. Clinton's signing of the welfare reform bill in 1996 as nothing less than total abandonment of the poor. No Republican president could have ever achieved the abolition of welfare as entitlement.
  • Tight money. Clinton's reappointment of Republican Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve basically guaranteed continued conservative macroeconomic policy. This has meant giving low inflation a priority over low unemployment. Low inflation mainly benefits the rich because it leads to lower interest rates and thus higher bond and stock prices.

Finally, a February 8 editorial in the far left magazine The Nation calls Clinton's latest budget "arch-conservative," by paying down the debt for Social Security and increasing defense spending rather than expanding social programs.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, March 3, 1999.


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