Bill Clinton vs Organised Labour

An interesting account of Bill Clinton’s betrayal of U.S. labour, and how that’s shaped many of the issues the U.S. is still contending with.

In his first administration, a much-touted healthcare reform bill led by Hillary Clinton failed badly. By 1994 it was dead on arrival. As Secretary of Labor Robert Reich finally conceded, ‘The quest for universal healthcare had a rich history, but “managed competition” was something brand new. It was designed to placate all the powerful interest groups…this scheme had few defenders who were both knowledgeable and committed.’ It was a profound failure among those who had long wanted an extension of Medicare, passed in the 1960s by Lyndon B. Johnson in his Great Society program.

What did get passed was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Though it was not the most economically consequential, the authors argue that ‘it remains the most politically and ideologically toxic’ issue pushed by Clinton, an ‘apolitical blunder of the first order’ that opened up the opportunity to the Republicans during the 1994 mid-term elections and alienated large segments of the working class who, as Lichtenstein underscores, eventually became a serious proportion of today’s Trump supporters.

Bill Clinton Versus Organised Labour - Tribune

Ben Harris-Roxas @ben_hr