President Clinton Says Gridlock in Washington Hurting the Economy

Clinton: "Cooperation is good economics, even if conflict is good politics"

September 18, 2011, 11:31 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2011— -- On the eve of the annual meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative, Former President Bill Clinton says that partisanship in Washington is hampering any ability to reach economic solutions for the country.

"We live in a time where there's this huge disconnect between the way the political system works and the way the economic system works," President Clinton told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "If you want to put people to work, we've got to focus on what works, and what works is not all this back and forth fighting in Washington."

"Conflict has proved to be remarkably good politics," Clinton added. "It's very hard for the people in Washington, who got there based on pure conflict, pure attack, pure ideology, to take it seriously when their same constituents are saying please do something positive. That's not how they got elected."

Most recent polls have shown dissatisfaction with both President Obama's and Congressional leadership on the economy, but Clinton believes the jobs plan that President Obama has outlined can help improve the economic outlook.

"There's a lot of upheaval now," Clinton said. "People are feeling disjointed because they're hurting economically and they don't see the country going forward."

Clinton says he supports investments outlined in President Obama's jobs plan, believing they can work together with private sector investments to spur growth and reduce unemployment.

"I think that it's a very good program that he outlined," Clinton said, praising payroll tax cuts and incentives to hire the long-term unemployed that President Obama has called for. "I think if the Congress seriously takes him up on it and they start trying to work through it and get anything approaching the amount of activity that was recommended, they could put about two percent more on the GDP growth of the coming year… It will put a million or two million people to work, and we'll be on the way back."

The lead topic for the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting this year will be "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Generating Employment for the 21st Century," with world leaders and CEOs convening over the next week to tackle solutions to the global unemployment crisis, with additional focus on green energy investments worldwide, and empowering girls and women.

"I believe that we, those of us who aren't in government, can think of ways to create jobs which will reinforce what I believe are the positive suggestions coming out of Washington," Clinton said. "So what we should do is focus on possible areas of job creation that will free up some of the corporate money that's in treasuries now, that could be invested in America, and make bank loans more attractive to create jobs."

"I will ask them to put aside for the moment whatever their recommendations are to Washington … and just think about where we are now and what we can do now with the resources we now have," Clinton added.

Clinton said there are cities around the country such as San Diego and Pittsburgh that are experiencing growth and innovation, despite gridlock in Washington.

"There are places all over America, believe it or not, that have low unemployment, high growth, strong home prices, jobs being created, a shortage of skilled workers," Clinton said. "Every place the American economy is booming, cooperation is the order of the day… We need some signal out of Washington that they understand that cooperation is good economics, even if conflict is good politics."

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