Bill Clinton hits Trump, tax reform plan in Georgetown speech
In a Monday evening speech at Georgetown University marking the 25th anniversary of his securing the White House, former President Bill Clinton said “believe it or not, we thought it was pretty polarized” back in 1992.
“The media was less polarized and a little straighter in the nature of the coverage, but we had income inequality, we had alienation, we had unequal opportunities, and we had a lot of social division,” Clinton said.
“As we all know there’s big divide again today: about the fundamental character of America,” he added. “What are our responsibilities to each other in an age of unprecedented interdependence and globalization?”
Clinton, speaking in Georgetown’s historic Gaston Hall, said geography and community dynamics were key factors in President Trump’s victory last year over former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“In the last election, in the counties that Hillary carried, you find 64 percent of America’s GDP. In the more numerous, rural counties carried by President Trump, you find 36 percent of the GDP, even though the median income of a Trump voter was higher. What does that tell you?” Clinton asked, referring to the country’s gross domestic product.
“Even poor people are more hopeful if they’re in a dynamic place,” he continued. “Being trapped with a lack of mobility is more damaging emotionally and makes you more vulnerable to false claims, from my point of view, than if you’re poor.”
The former commander in chief said Trump had secured a short-term victory, but that his divisive policies would cost him and the country further down the road.
“Which works better in economics, politics, and social policy: addition or subtraction, multiplication or division? You can win more elections in the short run when people are mad with subtraction and division, but it’s a lousy way to run a railroad,” he said.
The 42nd president also took issue with current GOP tax-reform plans, saying if Republican lawmakers are willing to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit — the most allowed under recently passed budget rules — they could do more practical things with the money.
“I can’t figure out how come we’re about to spend one and a half trillion dollars on a tax cut that will mostly benefit people in my income group instead of — if we’re going to run the debt up, we ought to at least spend it on infrastructure where there’s a high rate of return and we’ll get the money back.”
Clinton, a 1968 Georgetown graduate, has given three other speeches at the university as part of the Clinton Lectures series, which began in 2013.