From Mr Tom McGrath.
Sir, Paul Bledsoe’s recollection (Letters, August 5) of the Clinton administration is erroneous. The 1993 tax increases did not lead to a rebound in economic growth, job creation, or the financial markets. The recovery from the 1991 recession was the slowest and weakest on record, until the current. The inflection point in trends of each of those was January 1995, just two months after the GOP’s stunning Congressional victory in the midterm elections – a victory due largely to public opposition to President Clinton’s tax increases and Hillary Clinton’s efforts to implement an Obama-style healthcare reform.
Mr Clinton’s successes and admirable move to the centre came after those midterm elections. Over the next two years, and against the stiff opposition of Congressional Democrats, Mr Clinton balanced the budget largely on terms dictated by Republican Newt Gingrich, steeply cut taxes on dividends and capital gains, and ended life-long entitlement to welfare. His successful conclusion of Nafta and Gatt were indeed commendable. He famously declared in his early-1996 State of the Union address that the “era of big government is over”.
Many speculate that the GOP has moved so far to the right in recent years that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t win the party’s presidential nomination today. In fact, Reagan was more radically conservative, more Tea Party-ish than any GOP presidential nominee since him.
Mr Bledsoe subtly lets slip that the Democrats have moved much further to the left. He can harbour only a “suspicion that Hillary Clinton will pursue similar economic policies” because today’s Democrats are vehemently opposed to all the measures that made Bill successful. Any public announcement by Mrs Clinton in favour of them would turn Mrs Inevitable into Mrs Pariah among Democratic presidential primary voters.
There was an element of luck to Mr Clinton’s success. He was the beneficiary of events beyond his control: first, the reduction in defence spending made possible by the end of the cold war, and second, the employment boom brought upon by the internet revolution – much of which was reversed when the internet bubble burst in 2000.
Tom McGrath, Paris, France
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