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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A political rant, because sometimes, you just have to say it.

OK, I've had it up to here with all the Hillary bashing and the talk about how Bill Clinton's policies were the worst thing that could have happened to women, to blacks to the poor, to immigrants, etc., etc. and how Hillary will just be more of the same. Bill  Clinton was not a perfect president; he made some mistakes, some pretty bad ones, actually.  But  he also  kept  a lot of things from becoming really horrendous for a lot of people in this country. Where were you people in the 1990s when Newt Gingrich was ramming his "Contract with America" down our throats? Where were you when a Republican Congress was insisting, and refused to budge, on cutting food stamps by $24 billion over six years, with $3 billion more cut by banning food stamps to legal immigrants and insisting on no food stamps for unemployed workers not raising children, without any hardship exemptions? Do you remember when Congress also refused to budge on allowing legal immigrants to receive social services, declaring that legal immigrants who had not become U.S. citizens could not get Federal welfare benefits and social services during their first five years in the U.S.and insisting that food stamps and SSI benefits be cut off?

Do you recall that President Clinton vetoed two welfare reform bills put forward by Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole before finally signing a third one in which he had managed to force some compromises from Gingrich and Dole. Congress had called for letting the states determine how to allocate food stamp money and determine eligibility requirements for the program. Clinton managed to preserve national standards and the guarantee that the poor will obtain food stamps.  He also won the fight to guarantee Medicaid coverage- another program the Congress wanted to turn completely over to the states. Clinton also succeeded in strengthening day care support for children of welfare recipients. Congress had been demanding much deeper cuts than the cuts that were in the final bill signed by the President.

How many of you remember the  "Taking Back Our Streets Act" of 1994 proposed by   the Republican Congress, that sought to establish a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for state or federal drug or violent crimes involving possession of a gun, or the repeal of the Crime Control Act that had provided funds for drug courts, community justice programs and social prevention spending?  Clinton did what he could to get Congress to compromise before signing some of these bills to prevent a total gridlock in Washington. Maybe he could have fought harder, dug his heels in, refused to compromise, etc. Then you’d be complaining about something else he did or didn’t accomplish.
I remember those years  too well, and I remember  how frustrated and angry I got every time I saw Gingrich with his smarmy smile and his hateful, nightmarish proposals. Clinton vetoed 35 bills between 1995-2000 and although the Republicans challenged 11 of those vetoes, they were able to override only one. But Clinton was an adept  politician who knew how to use the threat of a veto to get the Republicans to back down from some of their more nightmarish  proposals, and he threatened  a veto on  140 bills in order to get those concessions. Without those concessions, the poor, the middle class, the American worker, the immigrant population would have most likely been much worse off. So no, I don’t think Bill Clinton was the worst thing that happened to  a lot of people, nor do I think Hillary, if she were  elected, would be either.  She has already shown that she knows who and what she’s dealing with and has demonstrated her ability to stand up to them under some of the most adverse conditions.  In my opinion,  she has both the domestic and foreign policy experience to be the next president  and commander-in-chief and I  will continue to support her.

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