May 20, 2016

538: Bill Clinton’s Economic Prowess A “Mirage”

Hillary Clinton wants voters to believe that a Clinton in the White House means strong economic growth. To further push that point, Clinton has taken to saying that if elected she’d put Bill Clinton in charge of growing the economy:

“Mrs. Clinton told voters in Kentucky on Sunday that Mr. Clinton would be ‘in charge of revitalizing the economy, because, you know, he knows how to do it,’ especially ‘in places like coal country and inner cities.’ On a campaign swing this month before the West Virginia primary, she said her husband has ‘got to come out of retirement and be in charge’ of creating jobs.”

Yet a new 538analysis of Bill Clinton’s eight years in office paints a much different picture of Bill Clinton’s skill at creating jobs and generating economic growth. According to 538, while the economy did grow during Clinton’s two terms as president,that growth was a “mirage”:

“The bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, and the subsequent recession, revealed that the 1990s boom was, at least to some degree, a mirage, the result of cheap money and, in then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s famous phrase, ‘irrational exuberance.’”

Additionally, 538 argues Clinton’s economic policies also contributed to the Great Recession that happened after he left office:

“But the Clinton boom, and even some specific Clinton policies, also helped sow the seeds for the far more severe Great Recession of the late 2000s… Critics on the right argue Clinton-administration policies promoting increased lending to low-income and minority applicants contributed to the subsequent bubble; critics on the left, including Bernie Sanders, argue that Clinton’s deregulation of the banking industry paved the way for the crisis.”

Finally, 538 demolishes Hillary Clinton’s argument that Bill Clinton has some special economy fixing knowledge. They state that while a president can affect the economy on the margins, economic growth is largely not generated from the White House:

“Those policies no doubt affected the economy, for good or bad. But their impact pales in comparison to that of forces beyond Clinton’s control: the rise of the internet, the entrance of the baby boomers into their peak earning years, the ‘peace dividend’ that came from the fall of the Soviet Union.”

Unless Bill Clinton plans on asking Al Gore to re-invent the internet, Hillary Clinton’s promise on Bill Clinton’s White House role is similar to most everything else she says on the campaign trail, empty words.