Times were good in the last years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But to put the arch-deregulator in charge of an economy wrecked by financial bubbles is sheer folly
Donald Trump’s campaign to “Make America Great Again” is one big, flatulent exercise in delusional nostalgia, as so many have noted. Given the likely outcome of the American presidential contest, however, it is Hillary Clinton’s delusional nostalgia that may ultimately prove more harmful for the country.
Campaigning in Kentucky recently, she promised that, should she be elected, she would task former president Bill Clinton with “revitalizing the economy, because he knows how to do it”. A few minutes before, she had recited her husband’s qualifications for this job: “In the 90s, everybody’s income went up, not just people at the top. We lifted more people out of poverty than at any time in our recent history.” And so on.
Ah, the 90s. It seems that Hillary, too, longs to make America great again, and she reminded the audience in Kentucky of the specific elements of our lost golden age. First among those gauzy memories: “A budget that is balanced and in surplus” – like the budget Bill Clinton built in the good old days before the spendthrift George W Bush administration came in. There were other ways in which the GOP had diverged from Clinton orthodoxy as well, like their desire to “Cut taxes on the wealthy [and] get out of the way of regulation of all kinds,” sins that, Hillary said, contributed directly to the financial crisis of 2008.