- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bill Clinton’s new book doesn’t mince words about the dismal state of the Obama economy. The former president flatly declares, “We’re in a mess now.”

Are we ever. But the fact that this withering indictment comes from a former Democratic president, who is widely credited for the strong job-creating economy that emerged in his second term, is an embarrassing lecture from a political master who thinks President Obama is in over his head.

This is the news equivalent of “man bites dog,” or in this case, “Democrat bites Democrat.”

Mr. Clinton not only criticizes Mr. Obama’s economy but also his relentless attacks on Wall Street executives (although he is happy to take their money for his campaign).

“Many of them supported me when I raised their taxes in 1993, because I didn’t attack them for their success,” Mr. Clinton writes in “Back To Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy” (Knopf, 2011).

That cutting criticism, among others in the book, led to “some eye-rolling among senior Obama advisers,” said The Washington Post, and maybe a few expletives to boot.

Even the title of Mr. Clinton’s book is a slap at Mr. Obama’s economic incompetence.

If “we need smart government for a strong economy,” as Mr. Clinton correctly states, it necessarily follows that we now have incompetent government and a dangerously weak economy.

“It is heartening that people all over the world want to pursue their version of the American Dream but troubling that others are doing a better job than we are of providing it to their people,” Mr. Clinton says.

He also takes Mr. Obama to task for not dealing with the debt-ceiling issue in his first two years, when he had huge Democratic majorities in Congress, and for failing to come up with a coherent campaign message to blunt the GOP’s political attacks in the 2010 midterm elections.

Mr. Clinton offers his own prescriptions for economic growth, including passage of President George W. Bush’s free-trade agreements that Mr. Obama belatedly signed last month after nearly three years of inaction.

But Mr. Clinton already had been offering more far-reaching advice on the economy that Mr. Obama has been ignoring to his own political peril: This is no time to be raising taxes.

“I personally don’t believe we ought to be raising taxes or cutting spending, either one, until we get this economy off the ground,” Mr. Clinton said earlier this fall in an interview with Newsmax.

Notably, he warned against imposing new government regulations, “particularly in a fragile time [when employers] don’t like to have too many things changing at once,” he said. “A business can’t do five things at once and decide whether to get back into the investment business after it’s slow.”

Mr. Obama rejects Mr. Clinton’s advice on both grounds. His nearly $500 billion jobs bill calls for raising taxes on higher-income Americans, investors, corporations and small businesses. He has made no effort to roll back the massive business, health care and financial regulatory apparatus he put in place in his first two years.

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