Former President Bill Clinton appeared on both “Meet the Press” and “This Week” on Sunday to promote the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, but he spent most of the time answering questions about President Obama and his jobs bill proposal.
When Clinton was asked, “what's going wrong with this president?” he answered that economic recession of the type that began with the financial crisis in October 2008, shortly before Obama became president, normally takes about five years to recover.
The current financial climate would be difficult for any president, Clinton argued, but Obama's jobs bill is a step in the right direction.
“A broad range of economists,” according to Clinton, say that if the jobs bill was passed, “GDP growth will be somewhere between 1.3 and two percent higher than it otherwise would be; unemployment will drop a percent, maybe more than a percent lower than it otherwise would.”
“I think he's got a plan now. I think he's on the right track,” Clinton said. “The poll numbers don't mean much now. Right now, he's running against himself running up against the American people's disappointments and frustrations.”
Obama's jobs bill will likely be a centerpiece in his reelection campaign, Clinton implied.
“Finally, he's got a plan that he can push, and if he pushes it, the American people can make their own judgments about how the Congress responds and who's responsible from here on in. He finally got a plan that people can gravitate to.”
Clinton’s use of the word “finally” twice may be a reference to some of the frustration expressed by some Democrats when Obama announced in August that he had a jobs plan, but would wait until September, after his vacation in Martha's Vineyard, to put it forth.
“If you have a jobs plan, put it out,” former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (Tenn.) suggested to Obama on the Aug. 21, 2001, episode of “Meet the Press.”
Clinton also insinuated that Republicans might oppose the plan because they would rather have high unemployment to improve their chances of defeating Obama than to help reduce unemployment.
“I doubt that the Republicans would want [lower unemployment] in 2012,” Clinton said, “but it's the right thing to do.”
When asked if Obama can win in 2012, Clinton took a long pause, and said, “Yes, if people believe that he had a credible plan and the Republicans thwarted it, either because they were wrong or they just wanted to beat him.”
The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting will be held Sept.20-22 in New York. The goal of the meeting is to foster creative public/private partnerships to tackle global problems. The main focus of this year's meeting is global unemployment.
There will be $5-6 billion in commitments, according to Clinton. Among them, Clinton cited efforts to help women in developing countries start their own businesses and to send more young girls to school.