To President Obama and Secretary Clinton: In the name of god, go

Dear Secretary Clinton and President Obama:

On April 20, 1653, Oliver Cromwell spoke these words to the Long Parliament:

“You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing…. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go.”

Secretary Clinton, you are rightly being blamed for the electoral tragedy that has befallen our country. The country wanted change and you offered continuity. You prided yourself on the neoliberal economic policies of your husband, President Bill Clinton, which have driven our country into stagnation and despair. Your rejection in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania speaks to a greater rejection of the economic policies you, your husband, and your Third Way associates imposed on the party of Franklin Roosevelt.

President Obama, you too deserve enormous blame. You wasted the historic opportunity at the beginning of your presidency to break with neoliberal economics. Instead, you pushed Obamacare with its expensive sub-standard insurance that is punitively imposed on the self-employed. Donald Trump benefited enormously from the premium increase notices that were received up and down the country in the week before the election. And at the end, you pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another neoliberal globalization agreement, which ceded the economic argument to Mr. Trump. Your charm and intelligence are no substitute for the economic change we need, you promised, and then reneged on.

Cromwell’s words apply to both of you. Heed them and be gone.

Sincerely,

Tom Palley

Comments

  1. While I'm in broad agreement with the letter, I think Palley is being too hard on Obama and the Clintons given that they were only following the policies recommended by their advisors, who are themselves a fairly narrow policy and advocacy circle. So the letter should in fact be addressed to the following list of names:

    Ben Bernanke
    Tim Geithner
    Brad DeLong
    Paul Krugman
    Robert Rubin
    Larry Summers
    Mark Thoma
    Laura Tyson

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    Replies
    1. Krugman never advised the Clintons. He resented that in the 1990s, and that they had Reich and Tyson, people he derided as Pop Internationalists. Reich remains a progressive. Bernanke was a Bush appointee both to the CEA and the Fed. And the Clintons and Obama are responsible for the economists they appoint. There is little doubt that they have neoliberal proclivities.

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    2. Reich and Tyson were never as influential in the Clinton administration as Rubin and Summers, who share the same pro-globalization stance as Krugman. And while Tyson was open-minded on industrial policy, she didn't come out then in opposition to NAFTA and similar trade deals, which is why I've put her in the group. Bernanke may not have been appointed by Obama, but they had no significant policy clashes, public or private, during the time that they overlapped in the White House and Fed.

      I agree completely that the Clintons and Obama have neoliberal proclivities, but these proclivities did not spring up out of thin air. The interesting historical what-if question is if instead of the above crew, what would have happened if people like Reich, Jared Bernstein and Jamie Galbraith had been able to spend more time discussing policy with the Clintons and Obama. Who you are is who you talk to...

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