If Not For Monica Lewinsky
If only President Clinton had been removed from office rather than merely being impeached. Al Gore would have become President, would have won re-election, and wouldn't have headed off to some fake ranch when presented with the intelligence reading "bin Laden determined to strike inside U.S."
Speaking at the Peter G. Peterson's Foundation 2nd Annual Fiscal Summit, former President Clinton remarked
You shouldn't draw the conclusion that the New York race means that nobody can do anything solve the rising Medicare costs.... I just don't agree with that. I think you should draw the conclusion that the people made a judgment that this proposal in the Republican is not the right one. I agree with that, but I'm afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion that because Congressman Ryan's proposal, I think, is not the best one, that we shouldn't do anything and I completely disagree with that.
Backstage, he told Paul Ryan “I hope Democrats don't use this as an excuse to do nothing.”
Apparently, this willingness to sacrifice the elderly is nothing knew for Clinton. In 1998, he had turned his sights on Social Security:
"It would be unconscionable if we failed to act," President Bill Clinton said at a forum in 1998, when he made fixing the nation's retirement program a top priority of his second term.
Clinton's efforts then, in light of President Bush's now, induce an extraordinary sense of déjà vu.
Clinton appointed a bipartisan commission, which delivered in 1997 three options to save the giant retirement program. They included a now-familiar list of possible benefit cuts, from changing indexing formulas to raising the retirement age.
Then along came the Lewinsky scandal, about which Dean Baker has pointed out
As many former aids have acknowledged, President Clinton had been considering a variety of options for partially privatizing Social Security in the beginning of 1998 when the Lewinsky scandal exploded. With his presidency in jeopardy, Clinton had to rely on his core constituencies — labor, the African American community, women’s organizations — all groups that would have been infuriated by an effort to privatize Social Security. As a result, Clinton was forced to abandon this effort.
So, at the next affair you attend, don't forget to hoist a beverage of your choice and offer a toast to Monica Lewinsky, who may have played a major role in preserving Social Security.
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