After Michele Obama’s speech on Tuesday, we wondered if Bill Clinton could reclaim his title as Barack Obama’s most effective surrogate. We do not know who wrote the carefully crafted Obama speech, but have no such question about Clinton’s. This was pure Bill, all 49 minutes of it - rambling, wonkish, and incredibly effective. As a political junkie, I thought that I would be familiar with all the arguments on both sides of the spectrum, but Clinton added some new ones. I did not like him as President, but this is one incredible politician.
For starters, I was not aware - even amidst the debate over student loan rates - that Obama’s education reforms would have student loans repaid at a rate that is tied to actual income. So, as Clinton pointed out, college graduates could take jobs for which the compensation may not be so great, but would help boost the economy, because they had a more reasonable chance to repay the loans. (Mitt Romney’s solution - not mentioned by Clinton – was to ask your parents to help.)
Clinton further pointed out that the GOP’s cuts to Medicaid would result in reduction in benefits to the elderly in nursing homes who rely on Medicaid for benefits not covered by Medicare. The Republicans, of course, describe their changes as providing block grants to states, but what that really means is the federal government saves money, and unless the states want to pick up the increased costs, it requires reducing benefits.
Clinton had many great lines, including the Romney campaign’s saying, “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” a rare example, according to Clinton, of a true statement coming from the Republican camp.
President Obama has been rightfully criticized for not doing enough to promote his policies - “Obamacare” being the most notable example - but such diffidence is not the style of Bill Clinton. When a surrogate is doing a much better job explaining the principal’s policies, you have one hell of a surrogate.