Last Updated:April 15 @ 10:13 pm

Clinton claims of compromise a big stretch

By Matt Apuzzo and Tom Raum

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's a fact of life in Washington that what one party considers a principled stand, the opposition considers pigheadedness. Compromise? That's the other guy's problem.

But when former President Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, he portrayed President Barack Obama as a pragmatic compromiser who has been stymied at every turn by Republicans. There was no mention of the role that the president and the Democrats have played in grinding compromise to a halt on some of the most important issues facing the country.

That was among the lines by the former president and others Wednesday that either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition. A look at some of them:

CLINTON: "When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. ...Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is the enemy and compromise is weakness. One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation."

THE FACTS: From Clinton's speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.

One of the more high-profile examples of a deal that fell apart was the outline of a proposed "grand bargain" budget agreement between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011.

The deal would have required compromise from both sides. It slashed domestic spending more than most Democrats wanted and would have raised some taxes, which most Republicans oppose.

Boehner couldn't sell the plan to tea party factions in the House or to other conservative activists. And Obama found himself accused of going too far by some Democratic leaders. The deal died before it ever even came up for a vote.

In another instance, Obama appointed a bipartisan group, known as the Simpsons-Bowles Commission, to recommend ways to fix major fiscal problems like Social Security and Medicare. The commission issued its recommendations but fell three votes short of formally endorsing them. And Obama mostly walked away from the report. He later incorporated some of the less contentious proposals from the report into legislation he supported.

But that ensured the tough compromises would not get made.

The problem with compromising in Washington is that there are few true moderates left in either party. The notion that Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of compromise is inaccurate.

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CLINTON: Clinton suggested that Obama's health care law is keeping health care costs in check.

"For the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4 percent, for the first time in 50 years. So, are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are."

THE FACTS: That's wishful thinking at best. The nation's total health care tab has been growing at historically low rates, but most experts attribute that to continued uncertainty over the economy, not to Obama's health care law.

Two of the main cost-control measures in Obama's law - a powerful board to keep Medicare spending manageable and a tax on high cost health insurance plans - have yet to take effect.

Under the law, Medicare has launched dozens of experiments aimed at providing quality care for lower cost, but most of those are still in their infancy and measurable results have yet to be obtained. Former administration officials say the law deserves at least part of the credit for easing health care inflation, but even they acknowledge that the lackluster economy is playing a major role.

Meanwhile, people insured through the workplace by and large have seen little relief from rising premiums and cost shifts. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for job-based family coverage rose from $13,375 in 2009 when Obama took office to $15,073 in 2011. During the same period, the average share paid by employees rose from $3,515 to $4,129.

While those premium increases cannot be blamed on the health care law - as Republicans try to do - neither can Democrats claim credit for breaking the back of health care inflation.

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CLINTON: "I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. ... I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn't feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history."

THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.

While the economy and markets experienced a record expansion for most of the rest of Clinton's two-term presidency, at the start of 2000, there were troubling signs. Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned in February 2000 that "we are entering a period of considerable turbulence in financial markets."

Sure enough, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average both peaked in March 2000. The bursting of the high-tech bubble dragged down the economy and markets through the rest of the year. From September 2000 to January 2001 when Clinton left office, the Nasdaq dropped 46 percent. Even now, in 2012, the Nasdaq has not returned to its 2000 peak. By March 2001, the economy toppled into recession.

Also, as president, Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law dating back to the Great Depression that separated banking from high-risk financial speculation. Robert Rubin, who had been Clinton's first treasury secretary, helped broker the final deal on Capitol Hill that enabled the repeal legislation to pass. Some financial historians say the repeal of the law paved the way for banks to invest in risky investments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations that played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown.

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CLINTON: "Their campaign pollster said, `We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself - I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."

THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were "legally accurate" but also allowed that he "misled people, including even my wife."

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Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

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16 Comments

  1. billwvComment by billwv
    September 6, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

    Clinton would have in his fantasy world that he was a ‘great compromiser’. NOT He had his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress and was made to balance the budget, reform welfare, and come to grips with many of the nations ills. Obama will never come to any agreement with the GOP and for Clinton to blame the Republican Congress is assanine. The big problem for Obama is he is in over his head and the collective heads of all his cronies as to how to create jobs and get the economy running with a Socialist plan of action. Government has never helped in the job market with it’s serpintine meddling; yet just the opposite needs be the case: Less government and more private sector is the answer.

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  2. slickzipComment by slickzip
    September 6, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    The only thing Slick Willy was able to do was to get a little chubby girl to play his skin flute ,,,

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      September 6, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

      UGH! Just the thought makes my stomach turn! He is a disgusting slob. The fact that he supports oblamer says volumes about his credibility. What is so telling is that THIS slob is the BEST the dumbocrats can muster for their messiah. Well, THAT convinced me, huh??

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      Rating: 3.3/5 (4 votes cast)
  3. Delores BrayComment by Delores Bray
    September 6, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    Bill Clinton can’t stand Obama,he sold himself out by agreeing to be a speaker at the dnc, he should have declined,I wonder how much he received from Obama, or the Democratic party? Shame on you Bill, I didn’t think you could be bought,I was foolish enough to belive you loved America, and would prevent it from becoming a dictatorship in the hands of Obama. I pray That the American people are not as blind as you, and will vote for Romney in a sweeping victory.

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      September 6, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

      I don’t think the former slob-in-chief took any money to do this. I think he is starving for public attention and couldn’t help himself. Remember what he was overheard saying as he left the White House? Something to the effect that he felt sad because there was no crowd fawning over him as he got onto the plane. What a strutting, egotistical, infantile, narcissistic slob! Great choice, oblamer!

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  4. AMVoterComment by AMVoter
    September 6, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    Obama must have written Slick Willie’s speech for him. Clinton was forced to compromise and Obama is a rigid idealogue who lies every time he opens his mouth.

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    • joelinpdxComment by joelinpdx
      September 6, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

      More like Slick Willy’s speech was definitely written for him by the Obozo campaign. As this article (from the left wing AP) points out Clinton overstepped the truth on a number of matters. The equally left-wing Washington Post Fact Checker hits several more inaccuracies in Willy’s nomination speech.

      And by the by, weren’t we all so “surprised” when Obozo came out at the end of the Slickster’s speech and embraced him. Couldn’t see that one coming…much. Actually it’s amazing that Obozo didn’t fall asleep waiting for Clinton’s speech to conclude. He only went overtime by 25 minutes.

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  5. adrianpaulComment by adrianpaul
    September 6, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    It’s a real chill every time Willie points that crooked finger, so reminiscent of his lying days leading up to his impeachment!

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    • vevaComment by veva
      September 9, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

      He earned quite a few “Pinnochios” with that speech. You can see his nose has been growing. ha. There is no honor among thieves. I read the Clintons are still thinking (dreaming) for Hillary to later become president.

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  6. popstComment by popst
    September 6, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    Funny. The word “bipartisan” wasn’t in Obama’s vocabulary until after the GOP won the house in 2010. He was following Rahm Emmanuel’s adice of ” Them” Now, all he does is whine about the GOP not helping him be successful. Maybe it’s payback time for what the Dem’s did to the 1st. George Bush and his “No New Taxes” statement. They left him no choice. He compromised with the Dem’s and Teddy Kennedy after them promised to make some real budget cuts if he would raise taxes. Then they used it against him in the next election. We’re still waiting for the budget cut. Make this sorry excuse of a president do the compromising. The GOP needs to grow some and stand up to this bunch of phonies.

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  7. popstComment by popst
    September 6, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    Slick Willie also said the GOP wouldn’t pass Obama’s Job Bill the would create 1,000,000 new jobs. What Jobs Bill? Do you mean the one that wasn’t even written when he introduced the idea or the one NO Democrats would sponsor once a bill was written? Bill needs to do some research before he opens his mouth.

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  8. middlegroundComment by middleground
    September 6, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    The great economic recovery of the Clinton years was the creation of “Bubble Economy”, beginning with Subprime and Dotcom and continuing into credit card, student loan, diplomas and several others that will eventually emerge.

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  9. lewcbluisComment by lewcbluis
    September 6, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

    Did anyone really expect him to do anything BUT, lie..this is the Liar in Chief…Clinto we’re talking about. The Cheating Potus…what a sad state of affairs when the best person Obama can find to speak up for him is a former lying, cheating impeached president. He might as well have had Nixon speaking for him.
    Clinton is really to blame for the current economic state this
    country is in…it all started with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac..being ordered by Clinton to give loans to people who did not qualify for the loans and then defaulted…millions of them..it’s history you can look it all up…but, they don’t..

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      September 6, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

      Compared to what the former slob-in-chief has done, along with this present occupant of the White House, Nixon was a saint.

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  10. mcrankComment by mcrank
    September 6, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    Number 1—look who’s talking—the Presidential Playboy. And I suppose his handling of Vince Foster is his idea of compromise.

    Number 2—same old broken record—it’s the Republicans’ fault. It was Bush during the first campaign—it has been the Republicans during the past four years—it is Romney during the present campaign. So, how did the Republicans cause so much deadlock when we have a Democrat-controlled Senate and a President who circumvents Constitutional protocol and freely issues executive orders to get what he wants?

    Number 3—Slick Willie is quite obviously still smoking pot.

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  11. JDZComment by JDZ
    September 6, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

    I found it interesting that Clinton was proud of declaring that more jobs were created under Democratic administrations then under Republican administrations, but what “slick Willie” failed to explain was how the economic cycle actually works. There is always a time lag for a change in policy to take effect and the results to begin to show, particularly if you have to go through a major recovery. And, depending on the complexity of the program, it may take years for the impact to be felt. So, if the typical administration is eight years, then many times, it may take years to revise or reverse policies and to implement change, and the administration coming in usually reaps the benefit or lack of benefits of the administration before them. Given that premise, I would expect the Democrats to reap the benefits or lack of benefits of Republican administrations and vice versa. So, therefore, if more jobs were created during Democratic administrations, then the Republican administrations must have done a good job.

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  12. Pingback: Post-conventions, parties sharply divided on health care politics – News-Medical.net

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