Basic math with Bill Clinton

Former president’s convention speech makes the case by the numbers

By ROMA PANGANIBAN
Democratic Columnist
[email protected]

On Thursday night, former President of the United States Bill Clinton delivered an address to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, nominating current President Barack Obama for re-election in November.

He spoke for almost 49 minutes and during that time dropped some serious stats about the state of our economy. Now, I’m an English major, but if you’ll bear with me, I think even I remember enough from high school algebra to give a credible rundown of the numbers.

Clinton, apparently having consulted a calculator in the days preceding the convention, calculated that in the 52 years since the 1961 election of Democrat John F. Kennedy, the private sector has witnessed the creation of 66 million jobs.
Clinton attributed 42 million of those new jobs to Democratic leaders, and a mere 24 million to Republicans. For those of you following along at home, that’s a little over half, and with four more years in office than the Democrats to do it – no contest there.

If we bring public sector jobs into the equation, knowing that Democrats have historically proven more willing to hire for governmental positions than Republicans, it appears Clinton may even have been modest about those numbers.
During the course of his presidency, Obama has admittedly contributed less to that 42 million figure than his predecessors have: Clinton himself, according to data from the Bureau of Labor, was responsible for the bulk of those numbers, though Obama’s more modest record is at least in the positives, in contrast to George W. Bush’s generous contribution of -646,000 jobs over eight years.

Clinton mediated this knowledge, however, with an acknowledgement that the current president inherited a state of affairs far worse than that existing prior to his time in the White House, namely an economy leaking jobs at a rate of 750,000 per month.
The Recovery Act passed by the Obama administration not only reversed this alarming downward trend but also created 4.5 million private-sector jobs over the course of the past 29 months.

As Clinton pointed out, the current President has the GOP beat again, with their whopping score of zero jobs created. In calling a halt to the president’s proposed job plan in October 2011, Congressional Republicans nixed an additional one million potential new jobs; to be nice, we won’t count them into the negatives.

Clinton’s math got a little more complicated as he segued into the consequences of Obama’s environmental and education reforms. Clinton pointed out that as a result of the Department of Transportation’s new fuel efficiency regulations, car mileage will nearly double by 2025; therefore, gas bills will halve. I’ll wait as everyone quickly punches the air in celebration.

In the meantime, consider your federal student loans, if you have them, and try not to hyperventilate at the thought of repayment. Thanks to recent student loan reform, students – that’s us – now have the right to repay our debts as a fixed low percentage of our income, whatever it amounts to, for up to 20 years. Phew.

While we’re on the subject of debt, let’s talk federal: we’re about $16 trillion in the hole right now, though about $4.7 trillion of that is money that the government owes to itself, much like when I hide a $20 bill in the pocket of my winter coat before putting it away in the spring, so that the flush of new wealth can warm me through the early autumn chill.
Obama’s debt-reduction plan calls for a 2.5:1 ratio of spending cuts to new revenue, for a total of $4 trillion of debt down in 10 years – sounds reasonable.

Alternatively, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plan would get an F in third-grade math: as most eight-year-olds could tell you, adding two negatives makes a bigger negative, and $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy on top of a deficit will only increase our national debt. As Clinton remarked, “The numbers just don’t add up.”

As of press time, there are 60 days left until Election Day with the next four years of our nation at stake.
I’ll let you do the math.