WASHINGTON,VARGHESE K. GEORGE:Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said her husband and former President Bill Clinton would be in charge of revitalising the economy under her presidency. Ms. Clinton has been walking a tightrope in debating her husband’s legacy, and her announcement on Sunday will ensure that questions about Mr. Clinton’s economic policies will substantially dominate the campaign, going into the November general election.
Mr. Clinton’s track record of managing the economy has been a talking point in Ms. Clinton’s campaign but this can cut both ways. The economy grew at 4 per cent annually, jobs and wages grew and the Americans were generally happy at the end of Mr. Clinton’s term. But the decisions underlying the recovery during the Bill Clinton years are increasingly coming under scrutiny in the recent months, in the primary campaign.
Commentators and political opponents have pointed out that between 1992 and 2002 big corporations tightened their stranglehold on U.S. economy, CEO salaries rocketed, and the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed.
Many critics, including Ms. Clinton’s Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders and Republican challenger Donald Trump, allege that the crisis in the U.S. economy that began to play out in 2008 was seeded during the Clinton years. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders say that NAFTA was a “disastrous trade deal”, and remind people that Ms. Clinton was a supporter of the deal.
On her part, she had disowned the deal during her 2008 presidential campaign, coming under attack by Barack Obama, who was, then, a critic of the deal. Emphasis on Mr. Clinton’s economic policies to ward off criticism of the current turbulence will also mean a distancing from Mr. Obama’s policies for Ms. Clinton. Mr. Clinton’s assessment of the economy has been widely interpreted as a criticism of Mr. Obama.
“Eighty per cent of the American people are still living on what they were living on the day before the crash,” Mr. Clinton said recently. “And about half the American people, after you adjust for inflation, are living on what they were living on the last day I was president 15 years ago. So that‘s what’s the matter.”