CNN Frets Bill Clinton Was Too Conservative

Christine Romans, CNN American Morning | NewsBusters.orgThursday's edition of CNN's "American Morning" featured a "fact checking" segment on the claims former President Bill Clinton made about his accomplishments as president during his speech to the Democratic National Convention. The segment wasn't much of a "fact check" as CNN Business Correspondent Christine Romans mostly reminisced about the "glory days" of the '90's. But what she did find was that the worst part of Clinton's presidency was one of his more conservative actions: "He also signed into law a historic deregulation of the financial system, dismantling laws from the Great Depression that many say would have protected us against the current mortgage crisis."

Other problems the correspondent found with Clinton's presidency include: "the go-go days of the '90s also gave us the dotcom boom. And when that went bust, Allan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to ease the pain. Dropping them so low, many now see the roots of the current housing mess way back in the dotcom boom. Plus, the '90s gave us this obsession with record home ownership with Clinton as a principal cheerleader."

Romans, of course, included praise of Clinton in her report, saying "Well, you know, Bill Clinton is and rightfully credited with being the president who resided over the longest economic expansion in American history." She also reminisced about the "incredible" '90's, claiming, "But you can't really argue with some of these job creation and poverty numbers from the '90s. It was an incredible period."

However, Romans failed to investigate Clinton's statements about the current Bush administration in which he argued, "They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt. From over 22 million new jobs to just five million. From increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year. For almost eight million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty and millions more losing their health insurance." It is possible to argue that a good number of the more than 5 million people "driven into poverty" Clinton noted are actually illegal immigrants who have entered the country in the past eight years.

A transcript of the August 28 segment follows:

7:34 a.m.
KIRAN CHETRY: Well, former President Bill Clinton gave Barack Obama one huge endorsement last night saying he is ready to lead. His campaign coined the phrase "it's the economy, stupid." Clinton supporters say that his policies led to unprecedented gains, but his critics argue that the housing crisis really has its roots in the '90s when Clinton was in charge. Business correspondent Christine Romans is here with a little bit of fact check for us about this. I guess, there's two ways to look at this. There's different sides.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Well, you know, Bill Clinton is and rightfully credited with being the president who resided over the longest economic expansion in American history. And he used that part of his legacy to slam the Bush administration and the Republicans.

PRES. BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt. From over 22 million new jobs to just five million. From increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year. For almost eight million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty and millions more losing their health insurance.

ROMANS: So, quick fact check. Let's look at some of those numbers over the eight years. 22 million jobs, the lowest jobless rate in 30 years. From record deficit to record surplus, average family income rose, poverty fell.

But Kiran, the go-go days of the '90s also gave us the dotcom boom. And when that went bust, Allan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to ease the pain. Dropping them so low, many now see the roots of the current housing mess way back in the dotcom boom. Plus, the '90s gave us this obsession with record home ownership with Clinton as a principal cheerleader. He also signed into law a historic deregulation of the financial system, dismantling laws from the Great Depression that many say would have protected us against the current mortgage crisis.

Now, here we are. Hindsight is always 20/20. But some people are looking back and saying, wow, maybe some of the moves that we made way back then kind of led, started us on the path to where we are here today. But you know, a lot of folks say presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. But you can't really argue with some of these job creation and poverty numbers from the '90s. It was an incredible period.

CHETRY: Very interesting. Christine, thanks.