Political Animal


October 07, 2011 12:35 PM Clinton sets the record straight

By Steve Benen

A couple of weeks ago, former President Clinton raised concerns about raising taxes when the economy is still struggling. A wide variety of media outlets — Politico, USA Today, Time’s Mark Halperin — pounced, presenting it as evidence of Clinton breaking with President Obama, whose debt-reduction plan relies on tax increases on the wealthy.

The media, however, was wrong. Not only did the same quote decry spending cuts — a detail news organizations ignored — but more importantly, Obama and Clinton both support the same approach to tax policy. Neither want to see increases now, but both support increases later.

The news outlets that screwed this up were very likely fed a misleading story by Republican attack dogs like Karl Rove. And as it turns out, Rove’s attack operation, American Crossroads, is using Clinton’s quote in a new ad. The spot, running in Missouri, shows the former president saying, “I personally don’t believe we ought to be raising taxes, it won’t solve the problem.”

Rove, just as he’s done throughout his career, simply assumes Americans won’t know the difference. For what it’s worth, Clinton is making an effort to set the record straight.

“The Republican group American Crossroads has used a quote from me in a video opposing President Obama’s jobs plan and the ‘Buffett Rule,’” [Clinton] said in the statement provided to Politico.

“The advertisement implies that I opposed the ‘Buffett Rule.’ In fact, I support both the American Jobs Act and the ‘Buffett Rule.’ I believe that it’s only fair to ask those of us in high-income groups — who have received the primary benefits of the last decade’s economic growth and the majority of its tax cuts as well — to contribute to solving our long term debt problem.”

And Clinton added a clarification, in case his point remained unclear.

“What I did say was that the ‘Buffett Rule’ cannot solve the problem alone. Reducing the debt requires three things: more economic growth, more spending cuts, and more revenue,” he said.

Sounding a lot like the current president, Clinton asserted, “Right now, the most important thing is to put America back to work. That’s why I support the American Jobs Act.”

I’m sure Rove, always a man of integrity and character, will be eager to pull the attack ad, so as to not mislead the public, right?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


  • stormskies on October 07, 2011 12:51 PM:

    Some of the greatest sins according to Jesus was to lie and bare 'false witness'. These repiglicans lie about everything, and bear false witness to everything. Yet, in their distorted and self justifying piety, they somehow go to their Churches on Sunday and cross themselves.

    Repiglicans are nothing if not the results of an enema gone wrong ..........

  • TCinLA on October 07, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Rove, just as heís done throughout his career, simply assumes Americans wonít know the difference.

    Sadly, Rove's career is the monument that proves the truth of Mencken's statement: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

    Reading the whole story, I was reminded of Mark Twain's comment: "A lie can be halfway around the world before truth gets its shoes on." Nowadays, the lie can be around the world ten times before truth gets its shoes on, and nobody gives a damn what truth has to say.

    How many media outlets do you think will be playing Clinton's correction????

  • TCinLA on October 07, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Stormskies said: Repiglicans are nothing if not the results of an enema gone wrong

    Nope, they're the result of a douche gone wrong.

  • c u n d gulag on October 07, 2011 12:56 PM:

    You have a better chance of playing pick-up sticks barefoot with greased buttcheeks on a hockey rink.

    Karl Rove is the ratf*ckers ratf*cker.

    To accept human behaviour from him means you haven't been paying attention to anything in his hidious life.

    And yes, Steve, I know you were kidding.

  • walt on October 07, 2011 12:56 PM:

    The problem for liberalism is that by its very nature it doesn't make good bumper stickers. Instead of pithy put-downs of government, we get policy with sub-parts, footnotes, and provisos. I'm not blaming Clinton here for his wonkish analysis. Ideally, a mature political society understands nuance and complexity. That doesn't describe the US of 2011, however.

    Rove understands the American people. We're going to get the government we deserve because this traitor to America plays the game better than anyone.

  • stormskies on October 07, 2011 1:02 PM:

    How many media outlets do you think will be playing Clinton's correction????


    None of course ...... it's not what they are paid to do. The vast majority of the corporate media is course corrupt .. corrupted by their own desires to be among the 'media elite'. So the corporate Zarathustra's pay them millions so they can then do what they are hired to do. And, yet, despite the corruption to their own souls they find ways to justify and rationalize that corruption to the point that they make themselves believe they are not corrupt. A typical rationalization of these corporate 'journalist's is 'this is just the way the world works'. And then they hide behind this rationalization.

    It's like all those reporters at Obama's press conference yesterday: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE 'REPORTERS' ARE MILLIONAIRES. It is simply fucking unreal to really realize what we are up against. It's like Chris Hedges said awhile back: "they have already won'. Meaning the absolute corporate takeover of our once great country.

  • Anonymous on October 07, 2011 1:06 PM:


  • jl on October 07, 2011 1:11 PM:

    I get that it's easier--less work, more instant gratification--to rail against evil Karl Rove than to criticize the fecklessness of Obama and Clinton's position. After all, they're on our team, and our team must win!

    But there is no economic reason not to raise taxes on the rich and on large financial institutions right now. The vast majority of voters would be for it. Fighting "too big to fail" would do more for our economy than a stimulus or a tax cut.

    Karl Rove has the advantage in this media war because the leaders of the Democratic Party have no guiding principles or coherent narrative. No middle or working class person listening to either of them can reasonably see how what they're proposing will help them escape oppressive debt, an underwater mortgage, falling real wages, or a lack of voice in the political system. As long as people like Clinton and Obama are saying what they're saying here, people like Karl Rove will always have an advantage.

  • Peter C on October 07, 2011 1:40 PM:

    We need to re-establish a political cost for lying.

    Sadly, the power of: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?! At long last, have you left no sense of decency?!" has worn off and the Republicans are at it again.

  • bubba on October 07, 2011 2:32 PM:

    ditto stormskies. The problem isn't really with Rove, it is with the media outlets, who now have no excuse for not knowing the facts and now know how misleading the ad is, who don't refuse to pull and not run the ads.

  • DenverRight on October 07, 2011 2:55 PM:

    "...presenting it as evidence of Clinton breaking with President Obama, whose debt-reduction plan relies on tax increases on the wealthy. The media, however, was wrong. Not only did the same quote decry spending cuts...

    Really? REALLY? Not clear if you meant the Newsmax interview on 9/20. If so, you are right (I checked), Clinton also decried spending cuts in the near-term. But also, YOU ARE WRONG: Responding to a question on Obama's "wealthy American tax", Clinton called Obama's approach to the deficit "confusing" and specifically said

    "I personally donít believe we ought to be raising taxes or cutting spending until we get this economy off the ground."

    You apparently inferred that Clinton statement to mean that
    "Obama and Clinton both support the same approach to tax policy. Neither want to see increases now, but both support increases later."

    If you think that Obama is not interested in tax increases NOW, that is a fiction that none of us have heard from his lips. Increased rates on the top 2% (last December, last August, last week), a "millionaires's surtax" (yesterday).

    If Clinton is "adding a clarification" now, he is certainly entitled to. But would that be like the clarification by Perry on the illegal alien tuition breaks, or the clarification of Gingrich after criticizing Paul Ryan's budgetary Medicare plan? Which utterance is the heart and which is the political calculation?

    Mulligans are fine, I just want to be clear how we respect them, across the board.

    Saying that Obama doesn't want to raise any taxes to pay for his Jobs Act, is like saying the wolf is not interested in the lamb chop, he only wants the mint jelly.

  • Chesire11 on October 07, 2011 3:23 PM:

    Rove? Integrity??

    Yeah, there are things that have come out of a frat boy's butt after a three day bender that have more integirty than Karl Rove!

  • Doug on October 07, 2011 9:17 PM:

    Pitiful, just pitiful, DenverRight. Pardon while I wipe a tear from my eye - from laughter!
    Is THAT is the best you've got? A quote from Mr. Clinton that emphasizes the need to increase spending and re-animate the economy BEFORE looking at raising taxes as proof of something, I'm not certain what. Since Mr. Clinton didn't retract HIS previous stance, I don't see how you think comparing it to statements by Perry and Gingrich, in which they DO retract their previous statements, supports your argument.
    President Obama, from his campaign in 2008 up to the present, has been consistent in stating he believes the tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more shouldn't be there. This is NOT news. Or are we supposed to be outraged - outraged I say! - by the workings of a progressive income tax system being fairly applied?
    Nor does what Mr. Clinton said, in toto, contradict the general aims of President Obama in fighting the economic mess left by GWB & Co.; increase taxes on those who benefited the most from the Bush tax cuts, increase spending to tide the economy over the worst of the recession and THEN close loopholes and eliminate tax breaks for corporations floating in cash once the economy starts moving again.
    If you wish, you can thank the Republicans in Congress for any attempt to re-instate the pre-Bush tax rates at this time. The Republicans are the ones demanding no further increases in the deficit and one of the least harmful ways of NOT increasing the deficit is to increase tax revenues by raising taxes on the wealthy.
    It's been a rather long way 'round, but your "gotcha" suffers from the simple fact that, no matter how YOU, or anyone, parse it, there's nothing there...