Bill Clinton Criticizes Obama on Debt Ceiling, Taxes in New Book

In a new book meant as a prescription for the sluggish U.S. economy, former President Clinton says Democrats and President Obama bungled their response to the country’s debt and deficit crisis, leaving the U.S. looking “weak and confused.”

The book, “Back to Work,” will be published Tuesday.  The details of Clinton’s analysis come from The Associated Press, which obtained an advance copy.

Clinton maintains that  Obama could have  averted this summer’s politically damaging debt ceiling standoff if he’d pushed for for an increase when Democrats controlled Congress, or through a unilateral show of executive power.

Instead, he says, the deal brokered with Republicans does little to address unemployment or curb long-term debt, leaving Obama with a “tough hand to play” in the months ahead.  

Clinton also says Obama and Democrats could now be more effective in making their case for higher taxes on wealthier Americans by not emphasizing the class divide.

“I didn’t attack them for their success,” Clinton says, citing his economic record during eight years in office that included raising new tax revenue.

Clinton, who has largely supported Obama’s handling of the economy under difficult circumstances, expresses misgivings over his messaging, reported the AP.

By Cllinton’s telling, Obama and the Democrats lost control of Congress in 2010 in large part because they didn’t make a convincing case — “in plain language” — aimed at countering assaults by the Tea Party.

Clinton says he and Vice President Joe Biden personally pushed Democratic activists to develop a unified set of talking points on the Recovery Act, auto bailout and financial regulatory reform – all to no avail.

“We couldn’t persuade the decision makers to do so,” Clinton said.