Republicans use Clinton's words to pound Obama
Updated: 2012-06-09 08:00
By Associated Press in Washington (China Daily)
Former US president Bill Clinton speaking at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative America in Chicago on Thursday. Clinton urged those attending the two-day event to invest in projects that will create jobs. M. Spencer Green / Associated Press
Republicans who tried to strip Bill Clinton of his presidency have eagerly embraced the Democrat, taking his words on taxes and decisions on Bosnia and using them to pound another Democratic president, Barack Obama.
In conflict with the Obama White House, Clinton said this week that broad tax cuts that expired in January should be temporarily renewed, including for the wealthiest Americans, to give lawmakers time to reach a deal on a longer-term extension that should exclude the rich. Republicans pounced on the election-year gift on Wednesday, highlighting the former president's comments and urging Obama to follow his advice.
The next day, in a Senate speech criticizing the Obama administration's response to the violence in Syria, Republican Senator John McCain recalled Clinton's moves to end the civil strife in the Balkans in the 1990s.
"I pray that President Obama will finally realize what President Clinton came to understand during the Balkans wars," said McCain. "President Clinton - who took military action to stop ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and who did so in Kosovo without a UN Security Council mandate - ultimately understood that, when regimes are willing to commit any atrocity to stay in power, diplomacy cannot succeed until the military balance of power changes on the ground."
McCain added: "How many more people have to die in Syria before the United States will assume its responsibility of leadership?"
Pursuing any political advantage, Republicans gleefully are tossing Clinton's record and rhetoric at Obama, highlighting what they see as a split between the two Democrats and using it to advance their arguments.
That was certainly the case this week on whether to extend the reductions in income tax rates and other levies first enacted under former president George W. Bush. Clinton was at odds with Obama, the candidate he backs for re-election and the man he raised millions for at New York events earlier in the week. Republicans reveled in the divide.
"Republicans have always liked Democrats who are no longer eligible for election," said Democratic Representative Barney Frank.
Democrats do it, too, most recently quoting Republican President Ronald Reagan on raising the nation's borrowing limit. The difference is that these are Republicans, who tried to run Clinton out of Washington in 1998, voting for his impeachment and conviction over whether he committed perjury and obstructed justice in trying to hide his sexual relationship with a White House intern. Now his words resonate on taxes and even Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's business career.
On taxes, Obama opposes renewing the reductions for people earning more than $250,000 a year, arguing that they should do their part to rein in the deficit.
Clinton, in an interview this week on CNBC's Closing Bell, said "What I think we need to do is to find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long-term debt reduction plan as soon as they can, which presumably will be after the election."
Asked whether that meant extending the tax cuts, Clinton said: "They will probably have to put everything off until early next year. That's probably the best thing to do right now."