Can Clinton Deliver on His Many Campaign Promises? With Clinton's Agenda-Box
Nov. 07, 1992
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The slack economy, Bill Clinton's ticket to the White House, is now his burden.
He ran on ''a strategy for change,'' published a book of his plans and created a paper trail of proposals - from a middle-income tax break to universal health care.
He promised $200 billion over the next four years in new domestic spending and pledged to chop in half the $300 billion annual deficit and create ''millions of high-wage jobs'' in the process.
Can he deliver?
And how many of the president-elect's proposals will find their way into legislation in his first 100 days?
Clinton aides have said he will act swiftly and boldly in his first weeks, laying out an ambitious and activist domestic agenda.
But Stuart Eizenstat, President Carter's domestic policy chief and an adviser to the Clinton transition team, says Clinton shouldn't try to do too much too soon.
''There were a number of problems we had, a number of which were self- inflicted like throwing too many early priorities up to the Congress,'' Eizenstat said. ''They should send up a digestible, focused and limited set of priorities so they can get off to a good start and get some things under their belt.''
There seems little doubt that Clinton's economic plan - the centerpiece of his campaign - will be first up. Clinton has said he will ''focus like a laser beam on this economy'' in his first weeks.
In fact, he and his advisers have hinted that he will consult with Democratic leaders on the shape of the program even before the end of the year, so he can get right to work after his inauguration Jan. 20.
Clinton's first task may be to find ways to give the economy a quick boost: perhaps selected tax breaks for businesses and some specific new spending. But he must do a careful balancing act to provide stimulus without widening the deficit.
As Clinton goes through the transition from being a candidate to governing a nation, he might be mindful of an observation made the day after the election by New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: ''My God, it's our deficit now.''
For all his criticism of Bush's slowness to react to the recession, Clinton's ''putting people first'' plan does not include any programs to stimulate the economy in the short term.
Economist Michael Evans said Clinton is blessed by the fact that at least a slow recovery appears to be under way - relieving pressure for dramatic action to spur the economy.
''If he just does nothing next year, we'll probably get 3 percent growth anyway,'' Evans said.
However, doing nothing hardly seems likely from a Democrat who has promised an activist presidency.
In addition to putting his own proposals into legislative form, Clinton is also expected to swiftly undo some Bush administration initiatives.
For example, he could issue executive orders lifting Bush's bans on fetal- tissue research and on abortion counseling at federally financed clinics.
All executive orders signed by Bush and Ronald Reagan are up for review. And some bills they vetoed are sure to be revived.
And while he's at it, Clinton should take the opportunity to ratchet back the anti-regulatory fervor that marked the Reagan and Bush years, said Gary Bass, director of OMB Watch, a private group that monitors the government's budget and regulatory activities.
''He would be wise to jump in and grab hold of the regulatory process and to try to make it a more well-coordinated system,'' Bass said. ''The notion of working in consensus and compromise is his bailiwick.''
Here are Clinton's key economic proposals:
-JOBS. Clinton says he would create 8 million new jobs in four years. The program is built around a $20-billion-a-year spending plan for highways, bridges and other public works projects to create jobs.
-TAXES. He would raise the top rate on those earning over $200,000 a year from 31 percent to 36 percent and give middle-income taxpayers a choice between a modest tax cut or an increase in the per-child deduction. He wants an investment tax credit for new plants and equipment and would collect more taxes on foreign companies that do business in the United States. He would end tax breaks for U.S. companies that ship jobs overseas. He supports lower capital-gains taxes for investments in new businesses.
-HEALTH CARE. He promises health care to every American as ''a right, not a privilege'' and would require all employers to insure their workers - either directly or through a purchasing group. Businesses would get new tax credits to help offset their costs. Nonworkers would be covered, but exactly how hasn't been determined. Clinton hasn't said exactly how he'd pay for the program. Outside analysts contend it could cost $140 billion over four years.