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RELEASE: Power of Progressive Economics: The Clinton Years

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Contact: Katie Peters
Phone: 202.741.6285
Email: kpeters@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — Today a new issue brief released by the Center for American Progress demonstrates ways in which the progressive economic strategies employed during the Clinton administration helped turn a floundering economy into a robust one and how those lessons can apply to today’s economy.

The Clinton administration employed an economic strategy that focused on policies that invested in people, innovation, and infrastructure—investments that strengthened communities and our middle class. By pairing that strategy with a smart fiscal approach, during President Bill Clinton’s two terms in office, his administration and Congress transformed a weak economy into a fundamentally strong one, turned deficits into surpluses, and created the conditions for strong future growth. And because Clinton saw the changes globalization would bring to the world economy, his administration began to push for the kind of solutions our country would need to prosper in the 21st century as well.

Entitled "Power of Progressive Economics: The Clinton Years," the brief documents that the progressive economic strategy employed during those years accomplished the following outcomes:

  • Grew and strengthened the middle class by rewarding work, modernizing the social safety net, and helping families lift themselves out of poverty
  • Built the foundation of a 21st century economy through robust investments in education, science, technology, and infrastructure
  • Encouraged investments in America’s communities, particularly those located in inner-city and rural areas
  • Accomplished all of the above while closing the fiscal gap

In the eight years that followed the Clinton administration, policymakers failed to build on this strategy, and the United States’ position of strength was lost. As a result, the U.S. economy faces even greater challenges today than it faced when Clinton took office.

Today, as our nation fights its way out of the worst economic crisis in 70 years, President Barack Obama is working to once again put in place a progressive economic strategy. Many of the progressive economic strategies championed in the Clinton years can be employed today to strengthen the middle class, invest in the future, and put the economy on a firm path to growth once again. This issue brief examines the accomplishments of the Clinton era and highlights the lessons we can learn for use today.

Read the report

To speak to a CAP expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at kpeters1@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6285.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund, women's issues)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org