The former president and bestselling author comes out swinging on the economic front.
He does so, it seems, a touch reluctantly. Clinton (Giving, 2007, etc.) writes that he had conceived this book but then shelved it several times “because politics is no longer the center of my working life”—and, he continues, “I don’t just want to add another stone to the Democratic side of the partisan scale.” An apolitical, nonpartisan Clinton? Fat chance, and here, with considerable appetite, he tears into the antigovernment opposition, the ones who assert, with Ronald Reagan, that government is part of the problem, if not the problem. Nonsense, Clinton argues: Government has many roles, not least an economic one in assuring that the political and social conditions are fitting to a robust economy. Besides, he writes, despite what that opposition is saying, the recent banking meltdown happened because the banks were overleveraged. The government helped avert a full-scale depression, and the stimulus helped “put a floor under the collapse and begin the recovery.” The opposition—he keeps returning to it—may appear to be antigovernment, but it’s really antitax and antiregulation, two things that simply don’t make sense in the current economic climate. In good political form, Clinton begins with generalities about what a good country this could be and what’s wrong with it—all those antigovernment talking heads, for one thing, who “already have the answers, and the fact that the evidence doesn’t support them is irrelevant.” Happily, though, he moves on to pointed specifics, some honed in policy-wonkish detail—on, for example, relaxing mortgage debt, developing a renewable energy regime and getting small businesses into the exporting game (“This is what Germany does”).
Vintage Clinton, with provocative if generally evenhanded solutions to the economic crisis and political stalemate plaguing the country.