Former U.S. president Bill Clinton said Wednesday that Democrats can still pull the November elections out of the fire if they refute Republican arguments and keep it from becoming a referendum on President Barack Obama.
He said the Democrats have to assume they will lose some Congressional seats in the midterm voting because they won a lot of exceedingly marginal seats in 2006 and 2008, “but whether these elections will be a big setback for the Democrats is yet to be determined.”
“If the Democrats can make this a choice, not a referendum, they can win,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If it’s a referendum on anger, apathy, laced with amnesia, they’re going to have a problem.”
The Democrats need to answer the two key Republican arguments — that they should be thrown out because they haven’t reveresed the economic slump resulting from the global financial crisis and that “there’s too much spending and too much government.”
“I think the Democrats ought to stand up and say … you gave them eight years to dig this hole, and to double the debt of the country, and not to produce any jobs, and then to have a financial collapse and all this calamity. At least give us four to dig out of it,” Clinton said.
“If we’re wrong, throw us all out. But don’t bring back the people that dug the hole,” he said.
Democrats are facing a wave of voter anger over the struggling economy, and are hoping the Republicans will be saddled with unelectable Tea Party candidates whose ultraconservative policies may be too extreme for moderate voters.
Still, the Republicans appear poised to gain seats and possibly control of the House, and win seats in the Senate.
This would position them to block virtually any Obama initiatives in the next two years. Polls show Democrats far less excited about the Nov. 2 elections than Republicans are, and independent voters are favoring the Republicans.
Clinton said it’s important for Democrats to tell voters that “we didn’t get out of the hole but we have stopped digging.”
The United States has done better than almost any other major industrialized nation hit by the 2008 financial meltdown, recovering 70 percent of its lost income growth, he said. In contrast, Germany has recovered 60 percent, Japan 50 percent and Britain just 30 percent.
Clinton said Democrats shouldn’t be asking for “gratitude” from voters because they haven’t felt the effects yet, but they should be delivering the message that “it’s too soon for you to go back to the policies that got us in trouble in the first place.”
He said the Democrats must also emphasize to voters the impact of Republican promises such as rolling back the financial oversight bill and repeal the student loan reform bill and Obama’s landmark health care bill.
“I think we ought to defend the stimulus,” Clinton said. “The stimulus was $800 billion. The hole was $3 trillion. Two-thirds of the stimulus was not designed to get us out of the hole. It was designed to help us tread water so we didn’t drown.”
Democrats need to make the case that the stimulus provided a modest tax cut for modest income people, and grants to state and local governments to keep people from being laid off, mainly teachers and health care workers, he said.
“Only one-third went to creating jobs in infrastructure and clean energy, and every independent study shows that more jobs were created than the experts estimated, and that the unemployment rate would be 1.5 percent higher if we hand’t done it,” Clinton said.
Democrats also need to make the point that their priority now is to create jobs in small businesses, manufacturing and clean energy, he said.
“President Obama and the Democrats have an initiative in all three of these areas, and all the initiative has been entirely opposed by the Republicans running for Congress,” Clinton said.
Where is the money going to come from?
Clinton said corporations have $1.6 trillion they haven’t released for investment and banks have $1.8 trillion in cash, which means they have the capacity to loan $18 trillion.
“This whole world recession would be over if they loan that kind of money,” he said.
Source: The Associated Press.