We all know that Bill Clinton had personal reasons to be upset about Obama’s defeat of his wife Hillary in 2008. That said, Bill’s own passion for America’s future has long out-weighed his personal concerns and he has been a stalwart supporter of Obama ever since his election.
Now, Bill adds passion and truth-telling of historical value in order to support an American revival and rejection of republican policies that only benefit the wealthy and which have caused so much harm over the last 12 years.
Clinton’s resolute ballad was not a speech of glittering generalities and platitudes. Clinton instead delivered with passion, verve, grace, and eloquence a number of stunning facts the likes of which should make even the fact-immune Paul Ryan stand up and pay attention.
Clinton began his speech by noting the stunning difference between jobs growth of Republican and Democratic administrations, showing that Democrats are twice as effective at jobs creation as Republicans over the last fifty years. Clinton continues by chiding Republicans for their obvious hatred of Democrats and stunning failure to work with Democrats over the past four years of devastating obstructionist policies.
Clinton noted “I’m working all the time with Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We focus on seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time… The politics of constant conflict… doesn’t work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation.”
Cooperation, not conflict and competition, was a running theme throughout Clinton’s speech.
“Los Angeles is getting Green… because Republicans and Democrats are working together.”
“Unfortunately the faction that now dominates the Republican party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy they’re always right and that compromise is weakness… They beat a republican Congressman with almost a 100% voting record on every conservation score because he said he realized he didn’t have to hate the President to disagree with him. Boy that was a non-starter and they threw him out.”
“One of the main reasons we should re-elect Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation.”
Clinton gracefully connected the concept of cooperation to the highest aspirations of democracy. He appealed for a democracy that was “an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.”
Clinton continued to reveal the stunning lack of cooperation of republicans, noting that they’d turned democracy into a blood sport when they claimed their #1 goal, two years before the election, was to make certain Obama didn’t get re-elected.
Clinton then turned to celebrate the massive number of successes achieved by President Obama. He noted his skillful halting of a recession that could have been as bad as the Great Depression. He noted the numerous months of jobs growth. He showed how Obamacare was already helping, how it had extended the life of Medicare.
“When President Obama took office the economy was in free fall, it had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP, we were losing 750,000 jobs per month. Are we doing better than that. The answer is yes!”
Clinton relentlessly reapplied a job scoring set of facts that showed how damaging republican policies had been to US employment, showing that Republicans blocked a bill that would have resulted in a million extra jobs created just last year even as they opposed the rescue of the auto industry that saved 1.1 million jobs and created over 250,000 additional jobs since 2009.
But Clinton didn’t only criticize. From point to point he pivoted to supporting solutions. To providing a clear rationale and policy platform for continued recovery. He supported Obama’s student loan policies, he supported his recovery efforts, he supported Obama’s immigration reform policies, and he celebrated the principles of inclusion and equality in the American system.
Perhaps most eloquent was his defense of Obamacare:
“Let’s take a look at what’s actually happened so far. First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more than a billion dollars in refunds from insurance companies because of a little law that requires 80-85 percent of your premium to go to health care not profits or promotions. And the gains are even greater than that because a bunch of insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply with the requirement. Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents policies can cover them. Third, millions of seniors are receiving preventive care all the way from breast cancer screenings to tests for heart problems and scores of other things and young people are getting them too. Fourth, soon insurance companies, not the government, the insurance companies will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with preexisting conditions who never could get insurance before.
“Finally for the last two years… after going up at 3 times the rate of inflation for a decade, for the last two years healthcare costs have been under 4% in both years for the first time in fifty years. So, let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for Health Care reform? You bet we are!!”
Clinton went on to gracefully deconstruct the Republican’s lies about cuts to Medicare by 716 billion dollars.
“That’s the same attack they leveled against Congress in 2010 and they got a lot of votes for it. But it’s not true. Here’s what really happened. You be the judge. There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the President did was, to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals. To cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service. And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program. And to add eight years to the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent until 2024.
“So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare. They strengthened Medicare.”
Clinton continues by showing that Ryan’s plan keeps the same savings, but, more darkly, Romney’s does not. So, in the end, Romney makes Medicare insolvent, through his plan, by 2016.
Listening to Clinton’s speech it is impossible to continue to take seriously almost any of the Republican’s assertions during this election. They are revealed for what they are. Blatant falsehoods. But, more important, these falsehoods are destructive in so many ways it takes a 45 minute speech by Clinton to lightly, albeit gracefully, and with strength, touch on just how destructive.
Clinton showed pathos for all those who would lose their coverage. Who would lose their hopes for decent health care. Who would be unfairly taxed under republican policies. And his passion in this fight shows that he has transcended the role of political leader and taken a solid stand for economic justice in the United States.
The man who led the strongest economic expansion in United States history makes a very compelling case. If you haven’t yet seen his speech, I urge you to watch and to share with your friends. His speech is a matter of historic importance. For he clearly defines our paths — one that offers very real hope, and another that offers little more than decline.