How Monica Lewinsky saved Social Security

There’s a fascinating 2004 article at Counterpunch by Robin Blackburn called “How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security” (h/t Matt Stoller). The gist is that Clinton and crew wanted to do what Obama’s trying to do, but in Clinton’s case he Wienered himself.

Our 2011 route to salvation will probably have to be different. But the list of names that turns up in the article is (as they say) “ripped from the headlines.” Here’s a taste (my emphasis):

Had it not been for Monica’s captivating smile and first inviting snap of that famous thong, President Bill Clinton would have consummated the politics of triangulation, heeding the counsel of a secret White House team and deputy treasury secretary Larry Summers. Late in 1998 or in the State of the Union message of 1999 a solemn Clinton would have told Congress and the nation that, just like welfare, Social Security was near-broke, had to be “reformed” and its immense pool of capital tendered in part to the mutual funds industry. The itinerary mapped out for Clinton by the Democratic Leadership Committee would have been complete. …

We have this on the authority of high-ranking members of the Clinton Treasury who gathered in Harvard in the summer of 2001 to mull over the lessons of the 1990s. At that conclave it was revealed that on Clinton’s orders a top secret White House working party had been established to study in detail the basis for a bipartisan policy on Social Security that would splice individual accounts into the program. Such was the delicacy of this exercise that meetings of the group were flagged under the innocent rubric “Special Issues” on the White House agenda. …

The “Special Issues” secret team was set up by then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers (later elevated to Treasury Secretary and now President of Harvard) and Gene Sperling, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

A similar piece by Jane Hamsher (one almost identically titled) adds other names, including:

By 1997, Bill Clinton felt he had the upper hand with Congress and it was time for him to make historic moves. He had replaced Leon Panetta as Chief of Staff with investment banker Erskine Bowles late in his first term, and as author Steven Gillon tells the tale, Bowles brought a sense of order to the White House. Bowles planned to return to the private sector as Clinton’s second term began, but Bill and Hillary implored him to stay on for one final task: “fixing” Social Security.

The list, of course, includes Bill Clinton himself. You remember Clinton, don’t you? He’s this guy:

Can’t know the players without a scorecard.

GP


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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