Yesterday, former president Bill Clinton endorsed New York’s attorney general — and his former secretary of Housing and Urban Development — Andrew Cuomo at the New York City College of Technology Klitgord Center in Brooklyn.
Clinton began with three quick reasons to vote for Cuomo. First, he “turned around” the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which the Government Accountability Office had labeled “high risk” in the early 1990s because of its susceptibility to waste and abuse. Second, Clinton boasted of the attorney general’s recovering $283 million in fraudulent payments for the state’s Medicaid program. “That’s a pretty good deal,” he joked. Third, Clinton concluded, “He actually has a vision for the future of New York.”
After rushing through the first part of his speech, Clinton turned to the “national backdrop” against which the election was unfolding. “Politics is not like football,” he said, using a comparison that often appears in his speeches, “We care about football so the facts matter.” He also mentioned President Obama’s favorite metaphor: the ditch. “[Republicans] are right we didn’t get you out of the hole,” Clinton told the crowd, “but at least we stopped digging.”
After reminding voters about all the goodies Democrats had given them — a government-run student loan program, Obamacare, financial reform — Clinton gave them a psychology and a history lesson. First, he said there’s always a gap between when government enacts a policy and when people feel its effects. Until people feel the effects, then, “We just have to take our lamps and make our case,” Clinton conceded.
He also decried the “30 years of propaganda” that all government action was bad. A conservative, he lamented, used to be “someone who thought we should balance the budget unless we’re in a recession.” Dwight Eisenhower, the father of the interstate highway, and Richard Nixon, the father of the Environmental Protection Agency, were “conservatives,” he claimed.
Near the end of the speech, however, Clinton sounded like Ronald Reagan. He justified Cuomo’s candidacy based on a desire for smaller government. Reminding the crowd that government spending as a percentage of the economy had been larger both before and after his administration, he declared, “If you want small government you should support the Democrats because we know how to do it.”