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The Clinton Regime’s Final Bosh

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“WE HAVE A NEW SENSE OF optimism in America…. America has come back under his regime,” declared White House press spokesman Jake Siewert at the final White House briefing of Clinton’s presidency. Siewert recognized his gaffe and quickly repeated himself, substituting the word “administration” for “regime.” But actually, the word “regime” is far more accurate, at least insofar as how Clinton and his lackeys wish Americans to view Clinton’s rule.

Thanks to the enlightened and caring leadership of Bill Clinton, the sun rose in the east across this great land every morning for more than 2,900 days in a row. Without the Clinton-masterminded reinvention of government, the inclusion of minorities in government positions, and the slaying of the federal budget deficit, the sun would not have risen, crops would not have ripened, and more than 200 million Americans would have starved to death.

That is the basic formula for much of the drivel that gushed out of the White House in Clinton’s last days. It was difficult to flip on C-SPAN without seeing tape of one of Bill Clinton’s speeches pounding some New Hampshire or Nebraska audience into a stupor with an endless recitation of his great achievements.

In his final week in power, the Clinton White House did a document dump on the American people — a 110-page tome entitled “Eight Years of Peace, Progress, and Prosperity.” This was, according to the most recently updated count, the 257th victory lap that Clinton has run in front of the American people. Unfortunately, most of the media are blindly accepting many of Clinton’s achievement claims, proving that the press corps has learned nothing since 1993.

The more statistics the government collects, the easier it becomes for politicians to lie. There are so many different statistical measurements out there and so many different time lines, that Clinton can pick and choose which data series, which baseline, and which spin for almost any area on which he wants to crow.

Reading a Clinton White House document requires the same skepticism that statisticians used when analyzing Soviet economic data. The key is often to detect the absurd baselines that allow the Politburo to proclaim the success of the latest five-year plan.

Some startling “achievements”

The Clinton “Eight Years” report contains startling revelations, such as the assertion that “in 1992, home computers were rare.” Actually, home computers were about as rare in 1992 as white picket fences were in 1952. But claiming that computers were rare in 1992 allows Clinton to take credit for the millions of home-computer purchases since then.

Readers will also be stunned to learn that “in 1992, the technology revolution was just about to hit.” Silicon Valley was actually a hotbed long before 1992 and the United States had led the world in computer production for years before Clinton took office. But the White House wants to make Americans think that Clinton’s inauguration somehow unleashed the modern age. The report asserts:

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have fostered the tremendous growth in technology in the past eight years and helped to ensure that the New Economy has flourished, turning around the stagnant economic growth of the 1980s.

The report is one last effort to make Americans view Clinton as the Sun King — he from whom all benefits flowed.

The report resurrects the old canard that

100,000 new community police [were] funded along with record investments in local law enforcement. President Clinton fought for and signed a plan to help communities across the country move to community policing by funding the hiring and redeployment of 100,000 new police officers over five years.

The 100,000 claim can hold water only if one counts like Uncle Sam — i.e., if one assumes that two new laptops in patrol cars equal a new policeman on the beat.

The report brags,

The federal government has also made record investments helping local authorities fight crime — increasing funding for state and local law enforcement by more than 300 percent since 1993.

The surge in federal handouts is responsible for the nation’s taking a huge step towards the federalization of law enforcement. It would have been more honest if Clinton had simply announced his plans to lay the groundwork for a national police force, just as Third World countries and France have.

Some of the assertions in the report look like the kind of garbage a person would expect to be hit with in a Sociology 101 course. The report declares: “Through the 1980s, America’s sense of community and shared purpose began to disintegrate.”

The report then concocts a ludicrous baseline — for instance, it declares that prior to 1993, there had been

no significant new investment in community service in a decade. Previous generations of Americans had answered the call to service of their country through programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Peace Corps, and VISTA. However, it had been more than a decade since the federal government challenged the energy of Americans by putting significant resources behind a meaningful effort to expand community service opportunities.

At the time that Clinton took office, roughly 90 million Americans were volunteering their time each year to aid some charitable activity. But for Clinton, the only efforts that are “meaningful” are ones that are politically controlled, that are top-down-controlled service. And since politicians could not claim credit for the efforts Americans made to help their neighbors, townsfolk, and others, those efforts did not exist, at least not by Washington’s calculation.

Recycling and petty claims

The report recycles claims that were exposed half a decade ago. “President Clinton has opened markets for U.S. exports abroad and created American jobs through nearly 300 other free-trade and fair-trade agreements.”

In reality, at least a third of those agreements were one-sided edicts compelling foreign governments to restrict the amount of panties, nightgowns, T-shirts, and other clothing and textile items their nations sold to American consumers. Such agreements did nothing to open foreign markets to American-made goods.

Some of the claims in the Clinton report are petty. The report brags:

In July 1999, the President visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to encourage investment in Indian Country, making him the first sitting President to visit a reservation since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Does Clinton think he should have received a Medal of Valor for this whistle stop? Maybe the report should also have mentioned that Clinton was the first president ever to attend the opening day of the annual Sheep Shearing Festival in Boarhawg, Idaho. Besides, Clinton’s visit offered the Indians little more than another reminder that “white men speak with forked tongue”: he promised them 300 new HUD-financed homes, a promise that HUD quickly defaulted on.

The report contains the usual Clinton lies to make Americans think they are not overtaxed, asserting that, thanks to Bill the Magnificent, Americans now enjoy the “lowest federal income tax burden in 35 years.” How is it possible to reconcile this with the fact that federal income tax revenue has doubled since 1992? Far more Americans are in higher tax brackets now, bushwhacked by bracket creep and by Congress and Clinton wheedling in one covert tax hike after another.

The report specifies, “Federal income taxes as a percentage of income for the typical American family have dropped to their lowest level in 35 years.” Clintonites make this claim because they have worked ceaselessly to turn the “typical American family” into a dolee, with a huge expansion of the fraudulently labeled Earned Income Tax Credit welfare program. Since huge numbers of Americans have been exempted from paying any federal income taxes, and since the IRS has been turned into a welfare agency for selected favored income groups, Clinton can try to persuade the average American that the exactions on his W-2 form are an optical illusion.

Some of the great achievements should seem great only to people who think government is inherently superior to private citizens. The report brags that the Clinton administration produced “the Largest [budget] Surplus Ever: The surplus in FY 2000 is $237 billion — the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.”

Why is it a good thing if government overcharges people by a few hundred billion dollars for the services that it deigns to render in any given year? Is there any reason to expect that politicians will honorably use the surplus? And if the president and Congress have the right to overtax Americans by more than $200 billion, compared with the amount spent, why shouldn’t they have the right to run up a $500 billion surplus? Or a trillion dollar surplus? Or why not just let them take the entire private output of all Americans so that Washington can brag that the mega-surplus proves that government is serving people better than ever before?

The closing barrage of Clinton administration bragging is the signal that the battle over the Clinton legacy will soon become much hotter. We are likely to hear of new and even more startling Clinton contributions to America in the coming months. The media are likely to continue their servile glorification of Clinton. But will the American people continue to be so gullible?

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    James Bovard serves as policy adviser to The Future of Freedom Foundation. He has written for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New Republic, Reader's Digest, Playboy, American Spectator, Investors Business Daily, and many other publications. He is the author of a new e-book memoir, Public Policy Hooligan. His other books include: Attention Deficit Democracy (2006); The Bush Betrayal (2004); Terrorism and Tyranny (2003); Feeling Your Pain (2000); Freedom in Chains (1999); Shakedown (1995); Lost Rights (1994); The Fair Trade Fraud (1991); and The Farm Fiasco (1989). He was the 1995 co-recipient of the Thomas Szasz Award for Civil Liberties work, awarded by the Center for Independent Thought, and the recipient of the 1996 Freedom Fund Award from the Firearms Civil Rights Defense Fund of the National Rifle Association. His book Lost Rights received the Mencken Award as Book of the Year from the Free Press Association. His Terrorism and Tyranny won Laissez Faire Book's Lysander Spooner award for the Best Book on Liberty in 2003. Read his blog. Send him email.