Friday, 19 February 2016

Bill Clinton's Presidency.

I recently heard it argued that Bill Clinton was a heroic president.  My anarchism aside I set out to prove them wrong and this is what I found.

Bill Clinton , a summary :-  signed law creating  US form of workfare, signed NAFTA,death penalty expansion - death penalty for more than 60 violent crimes, boot camps, more prisons built, Plan Colombia( Part of the 'war on drugs') , supported free markets and said so, Clinton Doctrine, signed the  Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act  which repealed the glass steagall  act of 1933, sided too much with Israel during Camp David Summit, refusal to free Leonard Peltier,

Howard Zinn reports, " In early 1996, the Congress and the President joined to pass an "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act," allowing deportation of any immigrant ever convicted of a crime, no matter how long ago or how serious. Lawful permanent residents who had married Americans and now had children were not exempt. The New York Times reported that July that "hundreds of long-term legal residents have been arrested since the law passed." 

Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996   which instituted in the US what we now know as workfare in the UK.
The rhetoric around the Bill sounds much like the Tories of today.

Howard Zinn writes " In the summer of 1996 (apparently seeking the support of "centrist" voters for the coming election), Clinton signed a law to end the federal government's guarantee, created under the New Deal, of financial help to poor families with dependent children. This was called "welfare reform," and the law itself had the deceptive tide of "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996." Its aim was to force poor families receiving federal cash benefits (many of them single mothers with children) to go to work, by cutting off their benefits after two years, limiting lifetime benefits to five years, and allowing people without children to get food stamps for only three months in any three-year period. "

" According to Edelman, the 1996 welfare reform law destroyed the safety net. It increased poverty, lowered income for single mothers, put people from welfare into homeless shelters, and left states free to eliminate welfare entirely. It moved mothers and children from welfare to work, but many of them are not making enough to survive. Many of them were pushed off welfare rolls because they didn't show up for an appointment, because they could not get to an appointment for lack of child care, said Edelman, or because they were not notified of the appointment"

"Feminist critics, such as Barbara Ehrenreich, said that PRWORA was motivated by racism and misogyny, using stereotypes of lazy, overweight, slovenly, sexually indulgent and "endlessly fecund" African-American welfare recipients. PRWORA assumed that out-of-wedlock births were "illegitimate" and that only a male could confer respectability on a child, said Ehrenreich. PRWORA dismissed the value of the unpaid work of raising a family, and insisted that mothers get paid work, "no matter how dangerous, abusive, or poorly paid"

And there's NAFTA

"Democrats and Republicans, enthusiastically supported by corporate interests, joined to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Clinton signed. Labor unions opposed it, because it meant businesses would be free to move across borders to find workers who would work at lower wages, under poor conditions. The claim of "free trade" was hardly to be believed, since U.S. policy was to interfere with trade when it served certain political or economic ends (although the phrase always used was "national interest"). Thus, the United States went to lengths to prevent tomato growers in Mexico from entering the U.S. market and put pressure on Thailand to open its markets to American tobacco companies, even while at home mounting public protest led to restrictions on the sale of tobacco. "-Zinn.

NAFTA has harmed the workers and worst off in the US and Mexico and increase Maquiladoras which are essentially sweatshops. 

Disadvantages of NAFTA

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA: 20 years of regret for Mexico