News alert: Bill Clinton supports President Obama's jobs bill and his plan to pay for it by raising taxes on the wealthy, the "Buffett Rule." You might not think this was newsworthy, a former Democratic president supporting another Democratic president's proposal to bring taxes closer in line with where they were under the first president's tenure, but Clinton, in typically Clintonesque fashion, managed to leave that support rather in doubt. In an interview late last month with Newsmax (Newsmax??) Clinton subtly disparaged Obama's proposal, saying, "I personally don’t believe we ought to be raising taxes or cutting spending until we get this economy off the ground," and then adding for good measure:
"We don't have a lot of resentment against people who are successful. We kind of like it, Americans. It's one of our best characteristics that, if we think someone earned their money fairly, we do not resent their success. Americans lost the fact that, whatever you think about this millionaire surcharge -- I don't really care because I would pay it but it won't affect me because I already paid income because I live in New York. I will pay more, but it won't solve the problem."
Republicans wasted little time making use of this -- earlier this week, Karl Rove's American Crossroads put out an ad attacking Obama centered around Clinton's comments, placing it in the St. Louis market with a $50,000 buy on the day that Obama came there for fundraisers. It is surely not the least we will see of the Clinton clip. But now that this particular lip-biting horse is out of the barn, Clinton has come out with a statement seeking to set matters straight.
"The Republican group American Crossroads has used a quote from me in a video opposing President Obama’s jobs plan and the ‘Buffett Rule.’ The advertisement implies that I opposed the ‘Buffett Rule.’ In fact, I support both the American Jobs Act and the ‘Buffett Rule.’ I believe that it’s only fair to ask those of us in high-income groups -- who have received the primary benefits of the last decade’s economic growth and the majority of its tax cuts as well -- to contribute to solving our long term debt problem. What I did say was that the ‘Buffett Rule’ cannot solve the problem alone. Reducing the debt requires three things: more economic growth, more spending cuts, and more revenue. Right now, the most important thing is to put America back to work. That’s why I support the American Jobs Act."
Look for the Crossroads ads to be revised in due course with an asterisk to account for this clarification.