Charlotte (CNSNews.com) – On the day when the national debt surpassed $16 trillion in the midst of 8.3 percent unemployment under President Barack Obama, Arkansas Democrats gathered to celebrate the last president to have a balanced budget, even proclaiming that Barack Obama would “take us back” to the strong economy of former President Bill Clinton.
CNSNews.com asked, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) “There are quite a few folks who say President Obama is running on President Clinton’s economy. Do you think that’s the case?”
Ross responded, “I don’t think so. I think President Obama is trying to take us back to a place where we were with President Clinton in terms of the economy in addressing the debt and the deficit.”
On Tuesday, the first day of the Democratic National Convention, Ross – the only Democrat in Arkansas’ House delegation -- attended an event marking the 20th anniversary of Clinton accepting his party’s nomination at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. The event itself, a $150-per-head fundraiser, was closed to the press.
CNSNews.com interviewed Ross afterwards.
“I think President Clinton did an excellent job tonight of laying out we haven’t gotten into this mess in the last four years. It’s taken a very long time,” Ross told CNSNews.com.
“President Clinton did a lot to get us out of the mess, and we saw eight years of (Bush) putting us back in the mess. The record deficits, folks losing three-quarters of million jobs a month under President Bush, the stock market crashed about 6,000 points. Now we’ve had 29 consecutive months of job growth. The stock market is back up over 13,000. We’re clearly headed in the right direction. It’s still a slow recovery. That’s why folks like me are not going to rest until everybody who wants a job has one.”
CNSNews.com asked about the escalating debt and deficit under Obama versus a balanced budget under Clinton. Ross blamed Bush for this as well.
“What you got to look at, we had a record deficit under President Bush and we haven’t been able to address that in the last four years because we’ve been in the worst economic recession since World War II,” Ross said. “I can tell you, I think Joe Biden said it best the other day, you know -- ‘Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.’
“But I think we’ve made real progress as this economy turns around, and we get more and more people back to work, and the underemployed fully employed, then I think we can make great strides in addressing the deficit, something that’s very special and very dear to me.”
The Obama campaign repeatedly has invoked the Clinton presidency as their model for success. However, the economy under Obama has maintained an unemployment rate of higher than 8 percent, compared with that under Clinton, who presided over an economy with an average unemployment rate of about 5 percent.
Clinton did a campaign ad for the Obama campaign and is speaking at the convention Wednesday night.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) also attended the event honoring Clinton. CNSNews.com asked Pryor, “Is President Obama running on President Clinton’s economy?” Pryor declined to answer.