TRIVIA QUESTION: Why was President Bill Clinton’s speech in the Spring of 1995 so controversial? by Gregory Hilton —
Vice President Al Gore called the heads of all three networks on the morning of June 13th 1995 to obtain a prime time slot for an address by the President that evening. Clinton’s speech was highly controversial within the White House and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles, George Stephanopoulos and Laura Tyson all said they considered resigning because of his message. The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), said after the speech ‘This is not leadership. It is BS.’
Several memoirs of the Clinton years have now been written and in hindsight we know about the drama surrounding this speech. The President made a few revisions in the speech to please the First Lady, but he did not change the substance. After the speech he had remorse and thought he might have made the wrong decision. What had Clinton done?”
ANSWER: On June 13, 1995, President Clinton revealed his plan to balance the budget, and while he had previously said this, his staff was dismayed because this time he appeared to mean it. In 1994 he said a balanced budget could be achieved in 10 years, but now he was agreeing to the Republican timetable and was submitting a plan to achieve this goal in 7 years. The Clinton plan delayed many of the hard cuts until he would have been out of office, and it would have balanced the budget in 2002. The liberals were angry because it meant the end of some of their cherished future plans.
The Clinton plan did not reflect the immediate cuts advocated by Republicans but it was still considered a devastating blow to Clinton supporters. The shape of debate was fundamentally changed. The dismay was especially apparent among member of his 1992 “War Room.” James Carville, Mandy Grunwald and Paul Begala had consistently defended Clinton’s liberal campaign promises.
Labor Secretary Robert Reich had written the party’s 1992 campaign manifesto which was called “Putting People First.” George Stephanopoulos told Clinton that if he went ahead with a balanced budget plan their new platform would be known as “Putting People Last.”