The Campaign Spot

Recall That in January 1993, Bill Clinton Abandoned His Tax Cut Pledge

Remember this the next time Obama repeats his promise of a middle-class tax cut:

Clinton Now Says: The ‘Big Things’ Never Included his Tax-cut Vow

By Paul F. Horvitz

Published: FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 1993
WASHINGTON: Seeking to explain why he is backtracking on a campaign promise to cut taxes for the middle class, President-elect Bill Clinton said Thursday that the plan was never a major theme in his race for the White House.
Mr. Clinton, speaking at a news conference a day after saying he would have to “revisit” his tax-cut plan, said Americans voted for him because of the “big things” he wanted to do.
The middle-class tax cut, he said, was not among them.

He said he was “absolutely mystified” that the news media had perceived it as a major pledge. In interviews Wednesday, Mr. Clinton said that, because of worsening deficit projections,”I have to put everything back on the table.”
Mr. Clinton spoke throughout the campaign of the need to redress declining middle-class incomes during the 1980s. He proposed a tax cut for the middle class nearly a year ago, in New Hampshire, and repeated the pledge frequently.

But in the weeks since his election, two things have changed. The government’s estimate of growth of the federal budget deficit over the next five years has grown about $60 billion. Also, the new team of Clinton economic advisers has apparently made new calculations and concluded that the tax cut idea is not tenable if Mr. Clinton wants to reduce the deficit and also move ahead with an “investment” program to revive the economy.
Growing deficit estimates require a president to shift gears, he said, adding: “I think that it would be irresponsible for any president of the United States ever not to respond to changing circumstances.”

Before he even took office, Bill Clinton was saying, “whoops, nevermind” about one of the right-leaning promises that convinced Americans he was a moderate. (It took another three years and a Republican Congress to get him to achieve the other, which was welfare reform.)

In January 2009, we will hear the same old song and dance. We will be told the deficit is worse than expected, the need for new spending is too great, and we will be told that the tax cuts will have to be trimmed or eliminated entirely. None of Obama’s spending proposals will be tossed aside.

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