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I returned to the rigors of Washington. In the third week of July, on the recommendation of Janet Reno, I dismissed the director of the FBI, William Sessions, after he refused to resign despite numerous problems within the agency. We had to find a replacement. Bernie Nussbaum urged me to choose Louis Freeh, a former FBI agent whom President Bush had appointed to the federal bench in New York after a stellar career as a federal prosecutor. When I met with Freeh, I asked him what he thought about the FBIs assertion at Waco that they had proceeded with the raid because it was wrong to keep so many of their resources tied down in one place for so long. Without knowing what I thought, he said forthrightly that he disagreed: They get paid to wait. That impressed me. I knew Freeh was a Republican, but Nussbaum assured me that he was a professional and a stand-up guy who would not use the FBI for political purposes. We scheduled the announcement for the twentieth. The day before, when word got out about the appointment, a retired FBI agent who was a friend of mine called Nancy Heinrich, who ran the Oval Office operations, to tell me not to do it. He said Freeh was too political and self-serving for the current climate. It gave me pause, but I sent word back that it was too late; the offer had been extended and accepted. I would just have to trust Bernie Nussbaums judgment..cheap nike roshe run.
When we announced Freehs appointment in a morning ceremony in the Rose Garden, I noticed Vince Foster standing at the back, near one of the grand old magnolia trees planted by Andrew Jackson. Vince had a smile on his face, and I remember thinking he must be relieved that he and the counsels office were working on things like Supreme Court and FBI appointments, instead of answering endless questions about the Travel Office. The whole ceremony seemed perfect, almost too good to be true. It was, in more ways than one..moncler jackets outlet.
That night I appeared on Larry Kings show from the library on the ground floor of the White House to talk about my battle for the budget and whatever else was on his and his callers minds. Like everyone else, I liked Larry King. He has a good sense of humor and a human touch, even when hes asking tough questions. About forty-five minutes into the program, things were going so well that Larry asked me if Id do an extra thirty minutes, so that we could take more questions from viewers. I agreed immediately and was looking forward to it, but at the next break Mack McLarty showed up and said we had to end the interview after an hour. At first I was irritated, thinking my staff was worried that I might make a mistake if I kept going, but the look in Macks eyes told me something else was going on..moncler outlet online.
After Larry and I wrapped up the interview and I shook hands with his crew, Mack walked me upstairs to the residence. Holding back tears, he told me Vince Foster was dead. Vince had left the Rose Garden after the ceremony for Louis Freeh, driven out to Fort Marcy Park, and shot himself with an old revolver that was a family heirloom. We had been friends virtually all our lives. Our backyards had touched when I lived with my grandparents in Hope. We had played together even before Mack and I started kindergarten. I knew Vince had been upset by the Travel Office controversy and held himself responsible for the criticism directed at the counsels office. He had also been wounded by questions raised about his competence and integrity in several Wall Street Journal editorials..moncler outlet.
Just the night before, I had called Vince to invite him to watch a movie with me. I was hoping to give him some encouragement, but he had already gone home for the night and said he needed to spend some time with his wife, Lisa. I did my best in our phone conversation to persuade him to shrug off the Journal editorials. The Journal was a fine paper, but not that many people read its editorials; most of those who did were, like the editorial writers, conservatives who were lost to us anyway. Vince listened, but I could tell I hadnt convinced him. He had never been subject to public criticism before and, like so many people when theyre pounded in the press for the first time, he seemed to think that everyone had read the negative things said about him and believed them..cheap moncler jackets.
After Mack told me what had happened, Hillary called me from Little Rock. She already knew and was crying. Vince had been her closest friend at the Rose firm. She was frantically searching for an answer we would never completely findwhy this had happened. I did my best to convince her there was nothing she could have done, all the while wondering what I could have done. Then Mack and I went over to Vinces house to be with the family. Webb and Suzy Hubbell were there, as were several of Vinces friends from Arkansas and the White House. I tried to console everyone, but I was hurting too, and feeling, as I had when Frank Aller killed himself, angry at Vince for doing it and angry at myself for not seeing it coming and doing something, anything, to try to stop it. I was also sad for all my friends from Arkansas who had come to Washington wanting nothing more than to serve and do good, only to find their every move second-guessed. Now Vince, the tall, handsome, strong, and self-assured person they felt was the most stable of them all, was gone..moncler outlet online.
For whatever reason, Vince came to the end of his rope. In his briefcase, Bernie Nussbaum found a note that had been torn into little pieces. When put back together, it said, I was not meant for the job in the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport. . . . The public will never believe the innocence of the Clintons and their loyal staff. Vince was overwhelmed, exhausted, and vulnerable to attacks by people who didnt play by the same rules he did. He was rooted in the values of honor and respect, and uprooted by those who valued power and personal assault more. And his untreated depression stripped him of the defenses that allowed the rest of us to survive..cheap moncler jackets.
The next day I spoke to the staff, telling them that there are things in life we cant control and mysteries we cant understand; that I wanted them to take more care with themselves, their friends, and their families; and that we couldnt deaden our sensitivities by working too hard. That last bit of advice had always been easier for me to give than to take..cheap moncler jackets.
We all went to Little Rock for Vinces funeral at St. Andrews Catholic Cathedral, then drove home to Hope, to lay Vince to rest in the cemetery where my grandparents and father were buried. Many people with whom wed gone to kindergarten and grade school were there. By then, I had given up trying to understand Vinces depression and suicide in favor of accepting them and being grateful for his life. In my eulogy at the funeral, I tried to capture all of Vinces wonderful qualities, what he meant to all of us, how much good hed done at the White House, and how profoundly honorable he was. I quoted from Leon Russells moving A Song for You: I love you in a place where theres no space or time. I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine..moncler outlet online.
It was summertime, and the watermelon crop had begun to come in. Before I left town, I stopped at Carter Russells place and sampled both the red- and yellow-meated ones. Then I discussed the finer points of Hopes main product with the traveling press, who knew I needed a respite from the pain and were uncommonly kind to me that day. I flew back to Washington thinking Vince was home, where he belonged, and thanking God that so many people cared about him..moncler outlet.
The next day, July 24, I welcomed the current class of American Legion Boys Nation senators to the White House, on the thirtieth anniversary of my coming to the Rose Garden to meet President Kennedy. A number of my fellow delegates were also there for the reunion. Al Gore was lobbying hard for our economic plan, but he broke away for a couple of minutes to tell the boys, I have only one word of advice. If you can manage somehow to get a picture of you shaking hands with President Clinton, it might come in handy later on. I shook hands and posed for pictures with all of them, as I would do in six of my eight years in the White House, for both Boys and Girls Nation. I hope some of those photos turn up in campaign ads one day..cartier love bracelet replica.
I spent the rest of the month and the early days of August lobbying individual representatives and senators on the economic plan. Roger Altmans war room was working the public side, having me do telephone press conferences in states whose members of Congress could go either way. Al Gore and the cabinet were making literally hundreds of calls and visits. The outcome was uncertain, and tilting away from us, for two reasons. The first was Senator David Borens proposal to scrap any energy tax; keep most, but not all, of the taxes on the high-income Americans, and make up the difference by eliminating much of the Earned Income Tax Credit; reduce the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and military and civilian pensions; and cap expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid below the projected requirements for new recipients and cost increases. Boren couldnt pass his proposal out of committee, but he gave Democrats from conservative states a place to go. It was also endorsed by Democratic senator Bennett Johnston of Louisiana and Republican senators John Danforth of Missouri and Bill Cohen of Maine..Cartier Love Bracelet Replica.
When the budget had first passed, 5049, with Al Gore breaking the tie, Bennett Johnston had voted against it, along with Sam Nunn, Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Richard Bryan of Nevada, and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Shelby was already drifting toward the Republican Party in an increasingly Republican state; Sam Nunn was a hard no; DeConcini, Bryan, and Lautenberg were worried about the anti-tax mood in their states. As Ive said, I had made it the first time without them because two senators, one Republican and one Democrat, didnt vote. The next time, they would all show up. With all the Republicans against us, if Boren voted no and none of the others changed, I would lose 5149. Besides those six, Senator Bob Kerrey was also saying he might vote against the program. Our relationship had been strained by the presidential campaign, and Nebraska was a heavily Republican state. Still, I was optimistic about Kerrey because he was genuinely committed to reducing the deficit, and he was very close to the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Pat Moynihan, who was strongly supporting my plan..cartier love bracelet replica.
In the House of Representatives, I had a different problem. Every Democrat knew he or she had maximum leverage, and many were bargaining with me over details of the plan or for help on specific issues. Many of the Democrats who came from anti-tax districts were especially afraid of voting for another increase in the gas tax only three years after Congress had last raised it. Besides the Speaker and his leadership team, my strongest supporter was the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski. Rostenkowski was a superb legislator who combined a fine mind with Chicago street skills, but he was being investigated for converting public funds to political uses, and the assumption was that the investigation would reduce his influence over other members. Every time I met with members of Congress, the press would ask me about Rostenkowski. To his everlasting credit, Rosty bulled right ahead, rounding up votes and telling his colleagues they had to do the right thing. He was still effective, and he had to be. The slightest misstep could lose a vote or two, plunging us off the razors edge into defeat..cartier love bracelet replica.
In early August, as the budget drama moved to its climax, Warren Christopher finally secured the agreement of the British and the French to conduct NATO air strikes in Bosnia, but the strikes could occur only if both NATO and the UN approved them, the so-called dual key approach. I was afraid we could never turn both keys, because Russia had a veto on the Security Council and was closely tied to the Serbs. The dual key would prove to be a frustrating impediment to protecting the Bosnians, but it marked another step in the long, tortuous process of moving Europe and the UN to a more aggressive posture.
By August 3, we had settled on a final budget plan, with $255 billion in budget cuts and $241 billion in tax increases. Some Democrats were still worried that any gas-tax increase would kill us with those middle-class voters who were angry anyway about not getting a tax cut. Conservative Democrats said it didnt do enough to reduce the deficit through cutting spending on the entitlements of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. More than 20 percent of our savings already came from reducing future payments to doctors and hospitals under Medicare, plus another big chunk from subjecting more of the Social Security income of better-off retirees to taxation. Thats all I could do without losing more votes in the House than we could gain.
That night, in a televised address from the Oval Office, I made one last pitch for public support for the plan, saying it would create eight million jobs in the next four years, and announcing that I would sign an executive order the following day to establish a deficit-reduction trust fund, assuring that all the new taxes and spending cuts would be used for that purpose only. The trust fund was especially important to Senator Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, and I credited him for the idea in the TV address. Of the six senators who had voted against the plan the first time, DeConcini was my only hope. I had had the others to dinner, met with and called them, and had their closest friends in the administration lobby them, to no avail. If DeConcini didnt change, we were beat.
The next day, he did, saying he would vote yes because of the trust fund. Now, if Bob Kerrey stayed with us we would get fifty votes in the Senate, and Al Gore could break the tie again. But before we got there, the budget first had to pass the House. We had one more day to find a majority of 218 votes, and we still werent there. More than thirty Democrats were wavering. They were afraid of the taxes, though we had done printouts for each of the members showing how many people in their districts would get a tax cut under the EITC, as compared with those who would get an income tax increase. In many cases, the ratio was ten to one or better, and in barely more than a dozen were their constituents so well off that the district would see more tax increases than decreases. Still, they were all worried about the gas tax. I could have passed the plan easily had I dropped the gas tax and offset the loss by abandoning the EITC tax cut. It would have been far less politically damaging. Poor working people had no lobbyists in Washington; they would never have known. But I would have. Besides, if we were going to soak the rich, the bond market wanted us to spray the middle class with a little bit of pain.
That afternoon, Leon Panetta and House majority leader, Dick Gephardt, who was working tirelessly for the budget, had struck a deal with Congressman Tim Penny of Minnesota, the leader of a group of conservative Democrats who wanted more spending cuts, promising the budget cutters another vote during the fall appropriations process to cut spending even more. Penny was satisfied, and his approval brought us seven or eight more votes.
We lost two of our earlier yes votes when Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, who later became a Republican, and Charlie Stenholm of Texas, who represented a district where most of the voters were Republican, said they would vote no. They hated the gas tax and said the unified Republican opposition to the plan had convinced their constituents that it was nothing but a tax increase.
Less than an hour before the vote, I spoke with Congressman Bill Sarpalius from Amarillo, Texas, who had voted against the plan in May. In our fourth phone conversation of the day, Bill said he had decided to vote for the plan, because so many more of his constituents would get tax cuts than tax increases, and because Energy Secretary Hazel OLeary had pledged to shift more government work to the Pantex plant in his district. We made many commitments like that. Someone once said that the two things people should never watch being made are sausages and laws. It was ugly, and uncertain.
When the voting began, I still didnt know whether we were going to win or lose. After David Minge, who represented a rural district in Minnesota, said he would vote no, it all came down to three people: Pat Williams of Montana, Ray Thornton of Arkansas, and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania. I really didnt want Margolies-Mezvinsky to have to vote with us. She was one of the very few Democrats who represented a district with more constituents whod get tax hikes than tax cuts, and in her campaign she had promised not to vote for any tax increases. It was a tough vote for Pat Williams, too. Far more of his constituents would get tax cuts than tax increases, but Montana was a huge, sparsely populated state where people had to drive long distances, so the gas tax would hit them harder than most Americans. But Pat Williams was a good politician and a tough populist who deplored what trickle-down economics had done to his people. There was at least a chance that he could survive the vote.
Compared with Williams and Margolies-Mezvinsky, Thornton had an easy vote. He represented central Arkansas, where there were far more people who would get a tax cut than a tax increase. He was popular and could not have been blown out of his seat with a stick of dynamite. He was my congressman, and my presidency was on the line. And he had lots of cover: both Arkansas senators, David Pryor and Dale Bumpers, were strong supporters of the plan. But in the end Thornton said no. He had never voted for a gas tax before and he wouldnt start now, not to get the deficit down, not to revive the economy, not to save my presidency or the career of Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky.
Finally, Pat Williams and Margolies-Mezvinsky came down the aisle and voted yes, giving us a one-vote victory. The Democrats cheered their courage and the Republicans jeered. They were especially cruel to Margolies-Mezvinsky, waving and singing, Good-bye, Margie. She had earned an honored place in history, with a vote she shouldnt have had to cast. Dan Rostenkowski was so happy he had tears in his eyes. Back in the White House, I let out a whoop of joy, and relief.
The next day, the drama moved to the Senate. Thanks to George Mitchell and his leadership team, and our lobbying, we had held all the senators from the first vote except David Boren. Dennis DeConcini had bravely stepped into his place, but the outcome was still in doubt, because Bob Kerrey remained uncommitted. On Friday he met with me for ninety minutes, then, about an hour and a half before the vote, he spoke on the Senate floor, saying directly to me, I could not and should not cast a vote that brings down your presidency. While he would vote yes, he said I would have to do more to control entitlement spending. I agreed to work with him on this. He was pleased with that, as well as with my acceptance of Tim Pennys proposal for an October vote on more cuts.
Kerreys vote made it a 5050 tie. Then, just as he had in the first vote on June 25, Al Gore, as president of the Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote. In a statement after the vote, I thanked George Mitchell and all the senators who voted for change, and Al Gore for his unwavering contribution in the landslide. Al loved to joke that whenever he voted, we always won.
I signed the legislation on August 10. It reversed twelve years in which the national debt had quadrupled with deficits built on overly optimistic revenue numbers and an almost theological belief that low taxes and high levels of spending would somehow bring enough growth to balance the budget. At the ceremony I specifically acknowledged those senators and representatives whose support never wavered from beginning to end, and who therefore were never mentioned in the news stories. Every yes voter in both houses of the Congress could rightfully say that, but for him or her, we would not be here today.
We had come a long way since those heated debates around the dining-room table in Little Rock the previous December. All by themselves, the Democrats had replaced a wrongheaded but deeply embedded economic theory with a sensible one. Our new economic idea had become reality.
Unfortunately, the Republicans, whose policies had created the problem in the first place, had done a good job portraying the plan as nothing but a tax increase. It was true that most of the spending cuts kicked in later than the tax increases, but that was also true of the alternative budget offered by Senator Dole. In fact, Doles plan had an even higher percentage of its cuts in the last two years of the five-year budget than mine did. It simply takes time to reduce defense and health spending; you cant slash it all at once. Moreover, our future investments in education, training, research, technology, and the environment were already at unacceptably low levels, having been held down in the eighties as tax cuts, defense appropriations, and health costs soared. My budget began to reverse that trend.
Predictably, the Republicans said my economic plan would cause the sky to fall in, calling it a job killer and a one-way ticket to recession. They were wrong. Our bond market gambit would work beyond our wildest dreams, bringing lower interest rates, a soaring stock market, and a booming economy. Just as Lloyd Bentsen had predicted, the wealthiest Americans would get their tax money back, and more, in investment income. The middle class would get their gas-tax money back many times over, in lower home mortgage rates and lower interest costs for car payments, student loans, and credit card purchases. Working families with modest incomes benefited from the Earned Income Tax Credit right away.
In later years I was often asked what great new idea my economic team and I brought to economic policy making. Rather than give a complicated explanation of the bond market/deficit-reduction strategy, I always gave a one-word answer: arithmetic. The American people had been told for more than a decade that their government was a gluttonous leviathan swallowing their hard-earned tax dollars to no good end. Then the same politicians who told them that, and served up tax cuts to starve the evil beast, would turn right around and spend themselves to reelection, leaving the false impression that the voters could have programs they didnt pay for, and that the only reason we had big deficits was wasteful spending on foreign aid, welfare, and other programs for poor people, a tiny fraction of the budget. Spending on them was bad; spending and tax cuts for us were good. As my fiscally conservative friend Senator Dale Bumpers used to say: You let me write $200 billion a year in hot checks and Ill show you a good time, too.
We had brought arithmetic back to the budget, and broken America of a bad habit. Unfortunately, though the benefits began to accrue right away, the people wouldnt feel them for some time. In the meantime, my fellow Democrats and I bore the brunt of the publics withdrawal pains. I couldnt expect gratitude. Even with an abscessed tooth, nobody likes to go to the dentist.