And while Clinton was loath to give the Gingrich Republicans any credit, they are responsible for the biggest achievements of his presidency. For they forced him to accede to the balanced budget (which he had previously vetoed). They compelled him to acquiesce to welfare reform (which he previously rejected)
Loath to give the Gingrich Republicans any credit? Clinton out-witted them. Newt was a hapless nobody whose idea of a Contract with America utterly failed. Clinton knows how to play the game. He vetoed a VERY different balanced budget amendment and then CREATED his own that he was able to slide through Congress. Why? Because Newt, despite being the Speaker of the House, had no control over the course of the Congress. I'll elaborate on Clinton's two budgetary legislations in a moment.
And they "compelled him to acquiesce" to nothing. Unless you consider acquiescing using something good for your own political gain. Typically acquiesce means that you have lost something. Clinton lost nothing in that and gained everything. Most Republicans wanted far stronger changes to welfare. Many, included this contract with America, wanted to get rid of the welfare state. Clinton forced them to accept the minor change of restricting access to extra funds for extra children. Newt was NOT happy with that welfare reform. Newt would have been happy with the welfare reform that Clinton was not willing to let him have (referenced by "which he previously rejected).
Looks like on two counts Clinton outwitted the entire Gingrich Congress. At first many democrats feared the changes Clinton was calling into play because they were not main line Democrat appeals. Rather, he was bridging a gap to the future in the ways in which he dealt with politics. At times it required that he fight the Congress until the conceded to work with him. However, public opinion stayed with him through his changes in 1993 with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and in 1996 with his Balanced Budget Act.
One of the first issues that President Clinton dealt with upon entering office was how he would get rid of the looming deficit that was making the national debt uncontrollable. The only way to effectively solve this was through lowering spending and increasing revenue, which through classic budgeting is done through a tax increase, and lowering benefits. Lowering spending was done through both a reduction in military spending and lowering both means tested and non-means tested programs.
The Cold War had ended and there were problems with the welfare system, so Clinton put legislation into the omnibus to help correct both of these problems. The Congressional Budget Office was predicting a current year deficit of $310 billion. With these sorts of alarming numbers the balance between revenues and expenditures had to be fixed. Clinton was stuck with this gap caused by Reagan and unfixed during the Bush administration. It was going to take first raising revenues. The main features of OBRA were the new 36 percent or 39.6 percent tax rates for certain upper income levels. The other revenue changes that OBRA made were to Social Security and business deductions.
The other thing OBRA hoped to accomplish was reductions in spending. These were accomplished by means of discretionary spending caps, entitlement reductions, and interest savings.
1997 Balanced Budget Amendment
President Clinton worked with Congress after the failure of the attempt to make a Balanced Budget Amendment. This agreement between Congress and the President called for the balancing of the budget by 2002.
Initially there was negative reaction to the Clinton budget of 1993 by both liberals and conservatives. Ronald Reagan claimed, ?I have serious concerns about the future of America if this tax-and-spend plan becomes law.? It did eventually become law with bipartisan support. The fears of Reagan proved to be unfounded. According to a CNN poll in Spring 1992 only 12% of the population felt that economic conditions were excellent or good. These statistics rose to 15% in 1993 and to 46% by 1996.
The necessity to get this deficit reduced was spurred by reports from the General Accounting Office claiming that ?if nothing is done about the deficit by the year 2020, middle-class incomes will effectively decrease by one third?
Clinton was the one who took control and made things work. In the process he helped a saturated Medicare, which Bush has now effectively destroyed, and created a more productive welfare system. Instead of rewarding people for having more children they can barely provide for the rewards stopped. Thus creating more social responsibility in the welfare system. All of this was complimented by creating federal responsibility in spending.
Newt might have been a decent politician but he was outplayed by Clinton.