Former Pres. Clinton: 'Huge disconnect' between Washington and economy

Former President Bill Clinton (D) urged quick action on Obama’s jobs bill and criticized what he termed a “huge disconnect” between Washington politics and the state of the economy.

"If we adopt the plan the president outlined it will create between one and a half and two percent increase in GDP growth,” Clinton predicted Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” He added that Obama’s proposals would likely lead to 1.3 million to 2 million new jobs.

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Clinton said that the president’s bill was the best option on the table for lawmakers. “We can’t do much better than that right now,” said Clinton.  In particular he praised the plan for “lowering payroll taxes” which would “make it more attractive for [businesses] to hire new people.”

On Sept. 20th, the former president will host the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative where business and political leaders convene to discuss world affairs.

This year's conference will focus on solutions for the nation's high unemployment rate.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Clinton said he believes Washington should first focus on job creation. “I think we need to focus on putting the country back to work,” the former president said.


Clinton said if the Obama jobs plan is enacted soon, in about a year it should get the economy “rolling.” Once that occurs, under Clinton’s time line, Washington could then “put the hammer down” on paring the federal deficit.

It is unlikely the nation would return to the low unemployment rates of the 1990s until the nation’s banks are able to shed a considerable amount of debt leftover from the mortgage crisis, Clinton added.

Clinton also said it is “commendable” that Obama plans to propose a tax hike on wealthy Americans, who he noted benefited most from the policies of the George W. Bush administration.

He applauded Obama for “telling the American people that we’ve got a debt program” that must be addressed. But the immediate focus should on the nation’s “economic problem,” which Clinton said can only be cured with “spending restraint, new revenues and economic growth.”

Without putting policies in place to deal with each issue, “you cannot address the debt problem,” the 42nd president said.

On ABC, Clinton took particular aim at political fighting in Washington for hampering efforts to act quickly on jobs.

Lawmakers need to “think about where we are now and what we can do now” he urged.

Clinton said he saw a “huge disconnect between how the political system works and how the economic system works.”

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“Conflict has proved to be remarkably good politics,” he said. “It's very hard for the people in Washington, who got there based on pure conflict, pure attack, pure ideology, to take it seriously when their same constituents are saying please do something positive. That's not how they got elected," Clinton said.

“We need some signal from Washington that they understand cooperation is good politics,” said Clinton.

He called on voters to pressure lawmakers to work together. "So until the American people make it clear that whatever -- however they voted in past elections, they want these folks to work together and to do something, there's going to be a little ambivalence in Washington," he predicted.

The former president also down played the loss of former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D) seat in a New York special election last week.

“I know that district very well and they were good enough to vote for me twice,” Clinton noted.

He suggested that voters' concerns about Israel’s security and economic woes led to the Democratic defeat.

"I think, Mayor Koch had a big impact on that election because of the controversy surrounding Israel and how they're reacting to the proposal of the Palestinians to get the U.N. to recognize them as a state. I think that had a lot to do with it," said Clinton.

"I also think it's a real blue-collar district that is suffering economically. So, it didn't surprise me," he added.

This story was first posted at 10:41 a.m. and has been updated.