Feb 072012

Source: Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton
Abstracted from pages 42-47

Whatever our shortcomings, because Democrats, whether conservative, liberal, or moderate, basically believe government has an important role to play in our lives, they want it to work well. That makes most of them less ideological and more open to policies that have both progressive and conservative elements than their anti-government adversaries.

To get America back into the future business, we’ll have to make choices and changes in both our government and our private economic practices. To create jobs and raise incomes; to create new businesses and restore our manufacturing base; to have a finance sector that both earns money for itself and promotes a strong economy; to save ourselves and our children from the ravages of climate change in a way that increases growth and broadens prosperity; to move back to a balanced budget—these tasks will require the best ideas of conservatives, liberals, and moderates, Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

But we can’t get the right answers if we begin with the wrong question. [Conservatives ask] How can we weaken our government, reduce its revenues, and restrict its reach the so we can throw off its chains? That’s the wrong question.

Here are the right questions:

  • How can we move back to a full-employment economy with good jobs and rising middle-class incomes?
  • How can we restore American leadership for peace and prosperity and leave our children and grandchildren a brighter future?
  • What do Americans need governments to do to achieve these goals?
  • How are we doing now, compared with our own history and expectations?
  • How are we doing compared with the competition from other nations?

There remains a lot of space for a real, productive debate, areas in which both Democrats and Republicans could contribute to bipartisan solutions that actually get our country back in the future business.

The only people who have taken themselves out of this needed debate are the antigovernment idealogues. They already have the answers, and the fact that the evidence doesn’t support them is irrelevant. The inevitable consequence of their policies is to push the pedal to the metal of the most destructive trends of the last thirty years, to increase inequality and instability, and to forfeit the future.

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