Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Salon Compares '94 GOP Takeover To Today

I thought this was interesting - an article by Steve Kornacki for Salon discusses the Republican opposition during the first two years of Bill Clinton's first two years in office, in which Kornacki describes the complaints made by the GOP then when they were locked out of power by Democratic majorities and a Democratic president.  While the GOP screamed "Arrogance!" and "Overreach!" much like they do today, Kornacki had something very interesting - the results of some of Bill Clinton's most unpopular legislative acts.
The most unpopular legislation that Bill Clinton pushed through Congress in those first two years -- legislation that played no small role in the GOP's takeover in 1994 -- was thoroughly vindicated with the passage of time. Clinton's 1993 budget, which included an income tax hike for roughly the most wealthy 1.2 percent of Americans, a four-cent hike in the gas tax, and an extension of the earned income tax credit, cleared Congress -- just like healthcare reform this year and pretty much like the stimulus last year -- without a single Republican vote and amid GOP cries that would kill jobs, ruin the economy, explode the deficit further, and break faith with the majority of Americans who told pollsters they opposed it.
What were the results?
History, of course, records a far different result than the GOP predicted. After '93, budget deficits shrank every year, and by the end of Clinton's second term, the country was actually running surpluses. Unemployment continued to fall after the package was enacted, there never was a second recession, and the higher upper-income rates did nothing to inhibit the sustained economic expansion that marked the rest of the decade.

The Republicans were right, though, in forecasting that the budget would hurt Democrats in '94. It clearly did, with polls showing that many voters believed their income taxes had been raised (even though they hadn't). In the climate of '93 and '94, it was easy for the GOP to gin up this kind of anger and resentment. Just like it was easy for them to foment popular unease with Obama's program.
It seems as if history has decided to repeat itself...

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