Today Show: Bill Clinton Speaks On The Economy

Bill Clinton speaks on the economySep 19, 2011 – NBC’s Today Show had former President Bill Clinton in an exclusive live in-studio interview with Matt Lauer.  This week in New York, The Clinton Global Initiative will have their 6th conference, bringing together some of the top minds in the world and in the world of business, to discuss current global issues. Of course one topic will be jobs as President Clinton pointed out there are hundreds of millions of people looking for jobs all over the world. Also, as President Obama is set to unveil his long term plan to bring down the national debt, Matt Lauer took this opportuniy to get Bill Clinton’s opinions on what it will take to turn the nation’s struggling economy around.

Clinton says our financial crash occurred in 2008, 4 months before President Obama took office and looking at history it takes about 5 years for a country to get out of a financial system crash. The Japanese took 10 years.

He thinks the quickest way is to clear the mortgage debt more quickly.  Everyone that has an underwater mortgage, where the mortgage is more than the value of the house, we should either write the mortgage down or lengthen it out. If they still cannot afford the mortgage, instead of dumping more houses in the market, give them the option of converting it into rent, enough to cover the taxes, utilities and the maintenance.  There are lots of variations on that.  If you clean up the banks’ balance sheets, then Clinton thinks that there is enough money in the banks and in corporate treasuries to get this economy going again. We could beat that 5 year period but we have to do something on the housing.

Clinton agreed with Matt that banks and corporations are sitting on about 2 trillion dollars in cash and they are not spending it, they are not hiring people.

Clinton says the reasons corporate leaders are giving him for not spending and hiring is that they feel that the demand for products is weak. If they hire, they are not sure their products will be sold. However no one complains about the price and the quality of American labor. They all feel that Americans are highly productive. But to help these businesses Clinton says we need to find ways to increase sales, sector by sector.

Matt brings up that the average consumer is afraid of spending right now and many are cutting back to the bone.  How do we convince the consumer that we need to spend our way out of this recession?

Clinton says we can’t completely spend our way out of the recession. Before the 2008 crash, there was little job growth, and most of the economy was in consumer spending, finance and home buying. So there is some understandable reluctance.  So don’t go over board with the spending.  If President Obama’s plan to lower the payroll tax 50% passes, that’s worth about $1500 per family. If every family spent $1000 and saved $500 that would help grow the economy.
But Clinton says to note that the banks have 2 trillion dollars uncommitted to loans. He says there is enough money to get this thing started!

Another area of concern is that businesses believe we should have a more competitive business tax system in America. Some businesses pay as little as 15% on their income and some pay the full 35%. It needs to be level out so everybody pays about the same.

Matt Lauer bought up the Buffet Rule that is part of  Obama’s deficit reduction plan, which calls for the wealthy to give up their lower tax rates and to pay the same tax rate as the middle class.

Matt read the following objection in a statement by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.  “We’ve thrown a big wet blanket over the private sector economy…And now we’re threatening to raise taxes on top of it…That’s not going to get the economy moving”

Clinton said they said the same thing about him when he was in office. He asked the wealthiest Americans who had their incomes grow the most and had had repeated tax cuts, to give back some of that money so we could balance the budget and get interest rates down and it worked! But Republicans all say the same thing. They feel any tax increase on an upper income person is bad because they are the job creators.

Matt says it seems nowadays in America, they put politics before the good of the people. He asked Clinton in his travels around the world with the Clinton Global Initiative, does he see the same attitude in other countries.

Clinton says all over the world, conservatives and liberals disagree on taxes and spending cuts but they seem to be more interested in how to do something. Their arguments seemed to be rooted on what works in the real world. He says the U.S. is the only major country that he goes to where someone takes a position and it doesn’t seem to matter if there are no facts to support it!

Clinton says “like this tax thing. “No, No we will never raise another penny on taxes on anybody, no matter how well off they are!”  This extreme position scares other governments around the world. They think Americans have voted for a government that is idiological and too uprooted from facts. And it bothers them.

Regarding his work with his Global Initiative, Clinton says it’s easier to get things done when there is no politics involved.  What works in bringing the economy back again is cooperation. What works in getting on the news and in politics is conflict. Conflict is great for politics and news coverage, lousy for economic policy. He says we have got to go back to a cooperative environment where everybody kicks in a little.

On Clinton just turning 65 and being a Vegan? He says when you get older, you want to have as many good days as possible and being a Vegan seems to be the best way to do that! 

 

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