Former President Bill Clinton is peddling out the theory that a Republican majority in the House would only help President Obama, the way it helped his presidency following the 1994 Republican sweep and takeover of the House. In a CBS interview with Bob Shieffer, Mr. Clinton gave his thoughts on the issue :
“When the Republicans took the House and Newt Gingrich came to power,” said Schieffer, “a lot of people said that that’s also when your administration finally began to focus and get some things done. You were having your problems going into that election, you lost a bunch of seats in the House. But after that, you did things like welfare and NAFTA. You got some tax cuts in. You balanced the budget.
“Would it be good for [Obama], in a way, if he lost the House and the Republicans came to power and had to share some of the responsibility here?” Schieffer asked.
“Well, I think it would increase his chances of being re-elected,” Clinton said. “Whether it would be good for the country or not. I don’t know. You said that’s part of the narrative.
“But, yeah, we passed a balanced budget bill, but it was easy to pass the balanced budget bill because 90% of the deficit was reduced by the budget that only Democrats voted for in 1993, that the Republicans beat them for, because that’s what reversed trickled-own economics. That’s what put the country on a whole new course. It was that budget, and the people who got beat were the people who voted for it.”
President Clinton is conveniently omitting the old 90’s “triangulation” strategy (co-opting ideas from both major parties on major legislation to make the president appear moderate) employed by then Clinton strategist Dick Morris to help the former president get re-elected in 1996. This may have worked for Mr. Clinton at the time, because unlike President Obama today, President Clinton was less of an ideologue. Don’t expect Mr. Obama holding any signing ceremonies for a Republican bill similar to welfare reform like Bill Clinton did in 1996.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton likely believe that a Republican majority will allow Democrats to blame Republicans for any obstructions happening to Democratic legislation on the Hill. However, even with a Democratic Majority in both Houses now, the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats use that excuse presently anyway. The only potential difference is Republicans could have the numbers in November to be more effective.