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Does he, or doesn't he? Scott McClellan answers Bill Clinton - sorta

Reported by Chrish - September 20, 2005

On Special Report yesterday 9/19/05, Brit Hume and Major Garrett framed Bill Clinton as "attacking" Bush and said "the White House" wouldn't answer in kind. Then it did, in the persona of Scott McClellan.

Hume introduced the segment saying essentially that former President Clinton had done something that his predecessor, George HW Bush, had not - he criticized the policies of his successor and his administration. According to Hume, "political observers have a sense for Clinton, heee's baaaack."

Garrett reported that (if) Bush hoped pairing his dad and Clinton would shield him from Clinton's criticism, he sorely miscalculated. (Hm, not the first time we've seen that happen, but the first time a Fox personality has reported it.) Garrett said (over video of Clinton and Tim Russert, identified as NBC News/Meet the Press) that on Sunday, Clinton "attacked Bush on Katrina, Iraq, tax cuts, and deficit spending, rolling all into one when decrying U.S. borrowing that finances a nearly 4.6 trillion dollar national debt."

A clip identified as from ABC News/This Week showed Clinton saying "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea, primarily, to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense. I think it's wrong."

Garret "Clinton said Katrina highlighted racial inequalities created in part by White House economic policies."

Clinton "If you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action you made."

Garrett "Clinton also accused Bush of gutting his (Clinton's) anti-poverty programs."

Clinton "We had a program that was drastically reducing poverty and they got rid of it. So...and they don't believe in it. And I don't think that it's race-based, but it has a class impact."

Garrett (as video goes to McClellan in WH press room) "The White House declined to lash back."

But then, McClellan said "We welcome a discussion or a debate of policies that we have implemented and that we have pursued." Comment: Clinton and Bush discussing economics and domestic policies....I'd get pay-per-view for that.

Garrett "The White House said its tax cuts created 4 million new jobs and lowered the jobless rate to 4.9%."

McClellan "The storm has had an impact and it will have an impact on our national economy, but I think if you look at what most economists are saying they contimue to see strong and sustained growth as we move forward."

Garrett "On poverty the White House blamed deeper societal problems and said it's now time to test tax breaks and private home-ownership to see if they can revive pockets of racial isolation and entrenched poverty."

McClellan "One question you have to come back to is do we continue to move forward on failed policies of the past that have left too many behind, or do we think in new and bold ways/" (cut off)

Garrett "Clinton echoed an emerging Democratic theme that Katrina exposed the White House as indifferent to the suffering of the poor and incapable of responding to the country's first post-9/11 catastrophe. Democrats intend to use this theme in next year's Congressional election. The White House, well, says it's eager to fight on this ground having concluded that the GOP will reap the lion's share of credit for rebuilding the Gulf, and daring the Democrats to denounce free market policies the administration says are bound to work better than those that created Gulf coast poverty in the first place."

Comment: I'm glad someone with access to a mic is finally bringing up these issues, and I hope it does spark debate. Reputable economists say our current trend of borrowing is unsustainable and Americans need to steel themselves for cuts in Medicare, Social Security, and across the board spending on social programs. I applaud Clinton for speaking up (and puh-leeze, attacking? lashing? Disagreeing respectfully was all I saw) and hope the more rational members of the Republican party will engage in serious discussions.

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