Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

The Impact Of The 1990’s Shutdown

Clinton Shutdown

The last time that the federal government was shutdown as in the 90’s.  President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich didn’t see eye to eye.  The shutdown came in two parts with the longest such disruption lasting 3 weeks.

Who paid the price?

It’s widely understood that the republican’s lost.  Scott Erb even has a post as such:

The first shut down was from November 14-19, 1995,  followed by a second from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.  The Republicans suffered politically from that shutdown…

Indeed.  Republicans suffered politically.  However, what would that mean?  To me, a political loss would manifest itself in any number of ways:

  1. Loss of Presidential Election
  2. Loss of seats in the House
  3. Loss of seats in the Senate
  4. Loss of policy debate

A very strong case can be made that the democrats won on point #1.  Clinton went on  win his second term.  However, the debate is much less clear after that.

Take the House for example.  The make-up in the years before and after the shutdown:

1993-1995  258 Democrats with 176 Republicans

1995-1997  204 Democrats with 230 Republicans

1997-1999  207 Democrats with 227 Republicans

The Senate?

1993-1995  57 Democrats with 43 Republicans

1995-1997  48 Democrats with 52 Republicans

1997-1999  45 Democrats with 55 Republicans


And finally the policy.

The republicans balanced the budget and won welfare reform.

I’d say that the win goes to the republicans.

The Outcome Of Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown

What happened the last time the government shut down?

The democrat President compromised, the budget was balanced and we saw welfare reform pass.

I would like Obama to do that.

Executive Privilege: President Obama

Today President Obama protected Fast and Furious documents by issuing Executive Privilege.  I don’t have a lot any knowledge of what this really is so I did a little digging around.

Turns out that our current President is not alone in such actions.  For examples of recent such occasions we learn that Dubya used this power 6 times and President Clinton 14.  Obama certainly isn’t walking down a path not already well worn.

So, what IS Executive Privilege?

Well, in short, it’s this:

The right of the president of the United States to withhold information from Congress or the courts.

Interesting to note that this very succinct definition simply states that that the president may withhold information.  Not one word about the type of information.

A slightly longer but still rather short explanation followed:

The Constitution does not specifically enumerate the president’s right to executive privilege; rather, the concept has evolved over the years as presidents have claimed it. As the courts have ruled on these claims, their decisions have refined the notion of executive privilege and have clarified the instances in which it can be invoked. The courts have ruled that it is implicit in the constitutional Separation of Powers, which assigns discrete powers and rights to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In reality, however, the three branches enjoy not separate but shared powers, and thus are occasionally in conflict. When the president’s wish to keep certain information confidential causes such a conflict, the president might claim the right of executive privilege.

Again, this seems to offer broad applicability and mentions nothing that the information be directly related to the President himself.  Rather, he can restrict the release of information within the executive branch.

In fact, to this end, the concept of Executive Privilege morphed during Eisenhower:

[another] development in the use of executive privilege became known as the candid interchange doctrine. In an attempt to shield the executive branch from the bullying investigative tactics of Senator joseph r. mccarthy, President Eisenhower directed that executive privilege be applied to all communications and conversations between executive branch employees; without the assurance of confidentiality, he claimed, they could not be completely candid. This doctrine marked a tremendous change in the scope of executive privilege, extending it from the president and the president’s top advisers to the myriad offices and agencies that make up the executive branch.

It seems very clear that this privilege extends to much of the information contained within the executive branch.  It’s interesting hearing the right wing speak out claiming that this privilege extends only to information that the President personally was engaged in.

However, this does not totally remove the shadows of doubt in Obama’s actions.  While the precedent for restricting the release of information goes back to Washington, it did so with a spirit that doesn’t exist today:

The term executive privilege emerged in the 1950s, but presidents since George Washington have claimed the right to withhold information from Congress and the courts. The issue first arose in 1792, when a congressional committee requested information from Washington regarding a disastrous expedition of General Arthur St. Clair against American Indian tribes along the Ohio River, which resulted in the loss of an entire division of the U.S. Army. Washington, concerned about how to respond to this request and about the legal precedent his actions would set, called a cabinet meeting. Although no official record was kept of the proceedings, Thomas Jefferson described the deliberations in his diary. The participants, Jefferson wrote, concluded that Congress had the right to request information from the president and that the president “ought to communicate such papers as the public good would permit & ought to refuse those the disclosure of which would injure the public.” In the case at hand, they agreed that “there was not a paper which might not be properly produced,” so Washington provided all the documents that Congress had requested. This event, though notable as the first recorded deliberation concerning executive privilege, did not carry precedential value until after 1957, when Jefferson’s notes were discovered. In 1958, Attorney General William P. Rogers cited Jefferson’s remarks as precedent for an absolute presidential privilege. Legal scholar Raoul Berger declaimed Rogers’s arguments as “at best self serving assertions by one of the claimants in a constitutional boundary dispute.” Instead, Berger argued, Washington’s willingness to turn over the requested documents shows his recognition of Congress’s right to such materials.

I’m sure Obama’s move is going to enrage the right for some time.  For me, I’m certain that he made this move for political reasons and not for legitimate ones.  For reason, he didn’t restrict this information until the day of the vote for contempt of Holder.  However, Obama certainly isn’t breaking with precedent and is only playing by the rules established by his predecessors.

If you are angry by this move, it would be an example of failing to offer objection to the growth of government power when that power was in “your guy’s” hands.

Make no mistake, I’m distressed by this move made by Obama.  I think it’s motivated by politics alone and is despicable.  But he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done, and approved of, before.

A Thing I Did Not Know This Morning

President Bill Clinton did not get a majority of the vote either time he was elected.

Put another way:  More people didn’t vote for him than did.


Recession Recovery: Unemployment – Obama, Bush, Clinton and Reagan

I have posted on a comparison of the last major recessions.  The first such comparison featured the GDP growth as we march through that recovery.  Each President; Obama, Bush, Clinton and Reagan had a shot at a recovery.

This post will feature the unemployment rate as we continue from recession to recovery.  This specific comparison, or feature, will look at the raw unemployment rate.  All data is taken from the BLS.gov website.

So, what does the data show?

Continue reading

Government Shutdown of 1995-1996

I wasn’t paying attention back in 1995-1996.  I was managing a jazz club at the time and national politics couldn’t have been further from my mind.

If I could go back in time I might have been able to tell you that the government shut down, but maybe not.  It certainly didn’t impact my life one iota.

Come to think of it, that simple fact, that I wasn’t impacted in the least, speaks volumes to the import of most of what the Federal Government has become.

I digress.

As it turns out there are some similar themes between then and now:

The United States federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 was the result of a conflict between Democratic President Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress

A majority of Congress members and the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, had promised to slow the rate of government spending; however, this conflicted with the president’s objectives for education, the environment, Medicare, and public health.

Congress had passed a continuing resolution for funding and a bill for debt limit extension, each of which was vetoed by Clinton,who denounced them as “backdoor efforts” to make cuts.

And then this:

The government shutdown took place in two phases. The first lasted five days in November 1995, until the White House agreed to congressional demands to balance the budget within seven years. But talks on implementing that agreement failed, and the second shutdown lasted 21 days, from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6. 1996. (Then a blizzard struck Washington and local federal workers could not get back to work for days after that.)

The sticking point was the GOP demand that Clinton agree to their version of a balanced budget. In months of negotiations, Clinton had actually given a far amount of ground, infuriating Democrats on the left. He agreed to a balanced budget over seven years, to tax cuts, to changes in mandatory spending programs such as Medicare. But the two sides were remained far apart on the pace of spending cuts — and even further apart on the policies behind those cuts.

Two things seem clear:

  1. It was Clinton who shut the government down the first time until finally agreeing to Republican demands.
  2. History is too kind to President Clinton.  He most certainly did not balance the budget.  That honor falls to the Republican held House of Representatives.

We’re seeing the same thing here.

We have a Democrat spender who wants to not only ignore cutting spending but wants to INCREASE spending.  Add to that his incessant “Class Warfare” and you have the perfect villain.  The set up is pretty close.

Then, as now, it’s the conservative movement that is driving the government to a balanced budget.  It’s conservatives who are holding the line on spending and insisting on cuts.  It’s the democrats who are refusing to give in.

The difference?  Boehner.  He was there in ’95.  He saw the mistakes Newt made:

  1. Seeming to relish the idea of a shutdown
  2. Allowing himself to be caricatured as a crybaby

The result is that you have a Republican caucus that knows it’s values are supported by America.  They know how the Democrats are going to act and they know that a government shutdown will force those Democrats back to the table.  And America will support the will of the conservatives.

They did in 1995 and 1996.

They did in Minnesota.

They will again in 2011.

The lesson is this:  When the Democrats come back and agree to your deal; TAKE IT!


Just A Thought

If President Bill Clinton with a Republican House is credited with balancing the budget why isn’t President Obama with a Republican House being credited with NOT balancing the budget?

Or, the other way:

If the 2011 House is being credited with preventing fiscal responsible legislation, why isn’t the House in the 90’s credited with the passing of the fiscal legislation?