Presidency of Bill Clinton

Presidency of Bill Clinton
Presidency of Bill Clinton
42nd President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.
Preceded by George H. W. Bush
Succeeded by George W. Bush
Personal details
Born August 19, 1946 (1946-08-19) (age 65)
Hope, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Hillary Clinton
Children Chelsea
Alma mater Georgetown University
University College, Oxford
Yale Law School
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Baptist

The United States Presidency of Bill Clinton, also known as the Clinton Administration, was the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. Clinton was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second full term. Clinton was also the first president since FDR and the last until current President Barack Obama to have not served in the military in any capacity; of his predecessors, all served in some capacity during World War II, apart from Harry Truman, who served in World War I, and Jimmy Carter, who served six years in the Navy upon graduating from the Naval Academy.

The administration faced political opposition in 1994 when Republicans took control of both houses of Congress but Clinton was reelected in 1996, after a failed attempt at health care reform. The administration had a mixed record on taxes but produced the first federal budget surpluses since 1969, for fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001,[1] leading to a decrease in the public debt (though the gross federal debt continued to increase).[2][3][4] Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he signed into law in 1994. His presidency saw the passage of welfare reform in Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children and reduced much needed welfare programs.[5] This received support from both political parties. He also signed the reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act which was designed to prevent financial institutions from getting too big to fail.[6] He also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act which legalized over-the-counter derivatives.[7] Clinton saw the escalation of the War on Drugs prompting a swell in the prison population from 1.4 to 2 million.[8]

Socially, the administration began with efforts by Clinton to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, which culminated in a compromise known as "Don't ask, don't tell", theoretically allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military if they did not disclose their sexual orientation (the policy was repealed in 2010). However Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, considered by many to be a blow to the LGBT rights movement.[9] A couple of measures were introduced to improve the effectiveness of the social safety net, including an increase in the number of child care places, a significant expansion of the EITC program, and the introduction of new programs such as SCHIP, and a child tax credit.[10]

The administration took office less than two years after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the administration's foreign policy addressed conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Haiti through militarism and economic exploitation. The Clinton presidency also saw the passage and signing of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 which was a bipartisan measure expressing support for regime change in Iraq. On three separate occasions, in 1996, 1998, and 2000, the administration unsuccessfully attempted to capture or assassinate Osama Bin Laden, who was eventually killed by U.S. special forces in 2011.

Clinton considered himself a "New Democrat" and was a founding member of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group of Democrats, who promoted moderate policies. Clinton left office with the highest end of office approval rating of any president since World War II, but he was the first US president to be impeached since Andrew Johnson, and only the second in US history, as a result of the Lewinsky scandal, though like Johnson, he was acquitted by the Senate.


First Term (1993–1997)

1993 saw the start of America's first Democratic Presidency in a dozen years.[11]

In his first address to the nation on February 15, 1993, Clinton announced his intention to raise taxes to cap the budget deficit.[12] On February 17, 1993, in a nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress, Clinton unveiled his economic plan. The plan focused on deficit reduction rather than a middle class tax cut, which had been high on his campaign agenda.[13] (Clinton was pressured by his advisers, including Robert Rubin formerly of Goldman Sachs, to raise taxes on the theory that a smaller federal budget deficit would reduce bond interest rates.[14])

The transition period and the first few weeks of the administration in the White House were full of difficulties and drama.[15] In particular, finding someone for the high-profile United States Attorney General position proved problematic. Clinton had vowed to assemble an administration that "looked like America", and it was widely assumed that one of the major cabinet posts would go to a woman;[16] Clinton soon decided the Attorney General position would be that, something women's political action groups were also requesting.[17] Many administration officials reported later that Clinton initially considered nominating the First Lady Hillary Clinton, a prominent attorney, professor, activist, and executive, for Attorney General; however anti-nepotism laws put in place in 1967 after president John F. Kennedy successfully appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy attorney general prohibited this.[18][19]) Clinton chose little-known corporate lawyer Zoë Baird for the slot, but in what became known as the Nannygate matter, in January 1993 it was revealed that she had hired two illegal immigrants, a Peruvian couple to work in her home. Baird's case provoked common resentment among a large group of people, who flooded the United States Congress and radio programs demanding to know how Clinton could name as the nation's senior law officer a woman who had ignored the law.[20] Baird, seeing the problems the issue was causing for Clinton, withdrew her nomination and Clinton next chose Kimba Wood, who was quickly forced to withdraw due to somewhat similar problems. This led to over a thousand presidential appointment positions being subjected to heightened scrutiny for household help hiring practices, and a consequent significant slowdown in getting new administration positions filled.[21] Janet Reno was nominated for Attorney General a few weeks later, and was confirmed on March 11, 1993.[22]

Clinton's attempt to fulfill his campaign promise of allowing openly gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces was the subject of criticism.[23] His handling of the issue garnered criticism from both the left (for being too tentative in promoting gay rights) and the right (for being too insensitive to military life). After much debate, the Congress—which has sole power under the U.S. Constitution to regulate the armed forces—implemented the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, stating that homosexual men and women may serve in the military as long as their sexuality is kept secret. By 1999, Clinton said what he would "like to do is focus on making the policy we announced back in 1993 work the way it's intended to, because it's out of whack now, and I don't think any serious person could say it's not."[24] Some gay rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and accused him of making his campaign promise simply to get votes and contributions.[25][26] These advocates felt Clinton should have integrated the military by executive order, noting that President Harry S. Truman ended segregation of the armed forces in that manner. However on January 27, a small delegation had visited the White House and told Clinton that if he tried to force a change by executive order, Congress would pass a bill, with a veto-proof majority, writing the existing policy into law.[27] Clinton's defenders argued that this would make it potentially harder to integrate the military in the future. Critics, however, said that the issue was one that should be experimented on in society as a whole, not in the military. The military's goal was not to be a "social Petri dish," but to defend the nation.[28]

Nannygate, gays in the military, the dropping of a promised middle-class tax cut, and a couple of other issues all thus contributed to a difficult introduction of the Clinton presidency.[22][29] Clinton experienced the highest disapproval ratings at the start of any presidency since such polling began.[30][31] His "presidential honeymoon" period was thus extremely brief.[29]

Clinton and Vice President Gore talk while walking through the Colonnade at the White House.

Shortly after taking office, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave because of pregnancy or serious medical condition. A few weeks later, Clinton had to deal with the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing.

President Bill Clinton installing computer cables with Vice President Al Gore on NetDay at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, CA. March 9, 1996.

The Clinton-Gore administration launched the first official White House website on October 21, 1994.[32][33] It would be followed by three more versions, resulting in the final edition launched in 2000.[34][35] The White House website was part of a general movement by this administration towards web based communication: "Clinton and Gore were responsible for pressing almost all federal agencies, the U.S. court system and the U.S. military onto the Internet, thus opening up America's government to more of America's citizens than ever before. On July 17, 1996. President Clinton issued Executive Order 13011 – Federal Information Technology, ordering the heads of all federal agencies to fully utilize information technology to make the information of the agency easily accessible to the public."[36] On March 9, 1996, Clinton and Gore participated in NetDay'96, spending the day at Ygnacio Valley High School, as part of the drive to connect California public schools to the Internet. In a speech given at YVH, Clinton stated that he was excited to see that his challenge the previous September to "Californians to connect at least 20% of your schools to the Information Superhighway by the end of this school year" was met. Clinton also described this event as part of a time of "absolutely astonishing transformation; a moment of great possibility. All of you know that the information and technology explosion will offer to you and to the young people of the future more opportunities and challenges than any generation of Americans has ever seen."[37]

Clinton promoted another controversial issue during this period: one regarding free trade. In 1993, Clinton supported the North American Free Trade Agreement for ratification by the U.S. Senate. Despite being negotiated by his Republican predecessor, Clinton (along with most of his Democratic Leadership Committee allies) strongly supported free trade measures. Opposition came from both anti-trade Republicans, protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. Ultimately, the treaty was ratified.

The Clinton family arrives at the White House in 1993.

Clinton signed the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases.[38]

One of the prominent items on Clinton's legislative agenda, however, was a health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce headed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, aimed at achieving universal coverage via a national healthcare plan. Though initially well-received in political circles, it was ultimately doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry. Despite his party holding a majority in the House and Senate, the effort to create a national healthcare system ultimately died under heavy public pressure. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's administration.

Two months later, after two years of Democratic party control under Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for the Democrats. This was the first time the democratic party had lost control of both houses of Congress in 40 years.

One of Clinton's major policy initiatives in his first term was on the American economy. Clinton's economic plan included a major expansion of the existing Earned Income Tax Credit, aimed at working class families just above the poverty line, which helped ensure that it made sense for them to work rather than seek welfare. John F Harris, argues that "this would be prove to be one of the most important and tangible progressive achievements of the Clinton years".[39]

A major problem with the economy at the time was the issue of the massive deficit and the problem of government spending. In order to address these issues, in August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers, while cutting taxes on 15 million low-income families and making tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses.[40] Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years and the deficit be reduced.[41] This was to be achieved through the implementation of spending restraints.

Second Term (1997–2001)

Clinton visiting the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1998.

In the 1996 presidential election a few months later, Clinton was re-elected, receiving 49.2% of the popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7% of the popular vote) and Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4% of the popular vote), becoming the first Democrat to win reelection to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt. The Republicans lost a few seats in the House and gained a few in the Senate, but overall retained control of the Congress.

In 1997, Clinton finally had a chance to sign a major health care bill into law. The State Children's Health Insurance Program, passed through the efforts of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (who wrote and chaired the task force on the unsuccessful universal plan in the first two years of the Clinton Administration), Senator Ted Kennedy, and Senator Orrin Hatch, expanded coverage to approximately six-million children. Also, through the First Lady's work, childhood immunizations reached over 90% and funding for research on Gulf War Syndrome, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and asthma was increased.

Throughout 1998 there was a controversy over Clinton's relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton initially denied the affair while testifying in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. The opposing lawyers asked the president about it during his deposition. He stated "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her." Four days later he also said, "There is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship, or any other kind of improper relationship."[42]

Clinton then appeared on national television on January 26 and stated: "Listen to me, I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." However, after it was revealed that investigators had obtained a semen-stained dress as well as testimony from Lewinsky, Clinton changed tactics and admitted that an improper relationship with Lewinsky had taken place: "Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible." Faced with overwhelming evidence, he apologized to the nation, agreed to pay a $25,000 court fine, settled his sexual harassment lawsuit with Paula Jones for $850,000 and was temporarily disbarred, for a period of five years, from practicing law in Arkansas and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was not tried for perjury in a court. However, he did admit to "testifying falsely" in a carefully worded statement as part of a deal to avoid indictment for perjury.

In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Clinton. The next year, the Senate voted to acquit Clinton, and he remained in office.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted by Clinton on October 21, 1998, served as the first significant amendment to the Copyright Act since 1976. The DMCA provided a framework for sound recording copyright owners and recording artists to seek public performance royalties under statute, which proved to be a landmark achievement for the recording industry.[43]

Clinton and Tony Blair, 1999

After initial successes following the election of Yitzhak Rabin in Israel and the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Middle East peace process deteriorated over time, breaking down completely with the start of the Second Intifada, and the election of Ariel Sharon. In the closing year of his Administration, Clinton again attempted to address the Arab-Israeli conflict. Clinton brought newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at the 2000 Camp David Summit. These negotiations proved unsuccessful, however.

The Elián González affair took prominent stage during early 2000. When his family fled from communist Cuba, the boy survived a boat wreck but his mother died, setting off an international legal fight for where the boy should stay. Eventually the administration, via Janet Reno, had González returned to Cuba.

Clinton issued 141 pardons and 36 commutations on his last day in office on January 20, 2001.[44][45] Most of the controversy surrounded Marc Rich and allegations that Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, accepted payments in return for influencing the president's decision-making regarding the pardons.[46] Some of Clinton's pardons remain a point of controversy.[47] While the administration saw the expansion of the federal death penalty, which Clinton supported, and the end of his tenure he became the first president since John F. Kennedy (who had commuted the military death sentence of seaman Jimmie Henderson[48]) to issue a presidential commutation of a death sentence when he commuted the sentence of David Ronald Chandler to life imprisonment without parole,[49] and ordered a review of a possibly racial disparity in the application of the federal death penalty.

Before George W. Bush took office on January 20, 2001, White House staff caused $15,000 worth of damage to the White House, ripping phone cords from the walls, defacing bathrooms, leaving obscene voicemail messages, and removing the "W" keys from the keyboards.[50]

Clinton remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as President, ending his presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.[51] In addition to his political skills, Clinton also benefited from a boom of the US economy. Under Clinton, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969 in the 1998 federal budget; the budgets for 1999, 2000, and 2001 also had surpluses.[1] As a result of this, the public debt decreased, though the gross federal debt continued to increase.[2][3][4]

Legislation and programs

Major legislation signed

Major legislation vetoed


The economy

Studies done by Kate Bronfenbrenner at Cornell University showed the adverse effect of plants threatening to move to Mexico because of NAFTA.[53]

Clinton's presidency included a great period of economic growth in America's history. David Greenberg, a professor of history and media studies at Rutgers University, opined that:

The Clinton years were unquestionably a time of progress, especially on the economy [...] Clinton's 1992 slogan, 'Putting people first,' and his stress on 'the economy, stupid,' pitched an optimistic if still gritty populism at a middle class that had suffered under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. [...] By the end of the Clinton presidency, the numbers were uniformly impressive. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, the economy could boast the longest economic expansion in history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged.[54]

In proposing a plan to cut the deficit, Clinton submitted a budget that would cut the deficit by $500 billion over five years by reducing $255 billion of spending and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of Americans.[55] It also imposed a new energy tax on all Americans and subjected about a quarter of those receiving Social Security payments to higher taxes on their benefits.[56]

Republican Congressional leaders launched an aggressive opposition against the bill, claiming that the tax increase would only make matters worse. Republicans were united in this opposition, as it were, and every Republican in both houses of Congress voted against the proposal. In fact, it took Vice President Gore's tie-breaking vote in the Senate to pass the bill.[57] After extensive lobbying by the Clinton Administration, the House narrowly voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 218 to 216.[58] The budget package expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as relief to low-income families. It reduced the amount they paid in federal income and Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA), providing $21 billion in relief for 15 million low-income families. Improved economic conditions and policies served to encourage investors in the bond market, leading to a decline in long-term interest rates. Clinton's final four budgets were balanced budgets with surpluses, beginning with the 1998 budget, which was the first balanced budget since 1969.[1][59] The surplus money was used to pay down the public debt by $452 billion, though the gross federal debt continued to increase.[2] The economy continued to grow, and in February 2000 it broke the record for the longest uninterrupted economic expansion in U.S. history, which began during George H. W. Bush's presidency.[60][61][62]

After Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, Clinton vehemently fought their proposed tax cuts, believing that they favored the wealthy and would weaken economic growth. In August 1997, however, Clinton and Congressional Republicans were finally able to reach a compromise on a bill that reduced capital gain and estate taxes and gave taxpayers a credit of $500 per child and tax credits for college tuition and expenses. The bill also called for a new individual retirement account (IRA) called the Roth IRA to allow people to invest taxed income for retirement without having to pay taxes upon withdrawal. Additionally, the law raised the national minimum for cigarette taxes. The next year, Congress approved Clinton's proposal to make college more affordable by expanding federal student financial aid through Pell Grants, and lowering interest rates on student loans.

Clinton also battled Congress nearly every session on the federal budget, in an attempt to secure spending on education, government entitlements, the environment, and AmeriCorps–the national service program that was passed by the Democratic Congress in the early days of the Clinton administration. The two sides, however, could not find a compromise and the budget battle came to a stalemate in 1995 over proposed cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment. After Clinton vetoed numerous Republican spending bills, Republicans in Congress twice refused to pass temporary spending authorizations, forcing the federal government to partially shut down because agencies had no budget on which to operate.[63]

In April 1996, Clinton and Congress finally agreed on a budget that provided money for government agencies until the end of the fiscal year in October. The budget included some of the spending cuts that the Republicans supported (decreasing the cost of cultural, labor, and housing programs) but also preserved many programs that Clinton wanted, including educational and environmental ones.

President Clinton's Latino Appointees in 1998

The Clinton presidency claims responsibility for the following:

  • Average economic growth of 4.0% per year, compared to average growth of 2.8% during the previous years. The economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in history.[64]
  • Creation of more than 22.5 million jobs—the most jobs ever created under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous 12 years. Of the total new jobs, 20.7 million, or 92%, were in the private sector.[65]
  • Economic gains spurred an increase in family incomes for all Americans. Since 1993, real median family income increased by $6,338, from $42,612 in 1993 to $48,950 in 1999 (in 1999 dollars).[66]
  • Overall unemployment dropped to the lowest level in more than 30 years, down from 6.9% in 1993 to just 4.0% in January 2001. The unemployment rate was below 5% for 40 consecutive months. Unemployment for African Americans fell from 14.2% in 1992 to 7.3% in 2000, the lowest rate on record. Unemployment for Hispanics fell from 11.8% in October 1992 to 5.0% in 2000, also the lowest rate on record.[65]
  • Inflation dropped to its lowest rate since the Kennedy Administration, averaging 2.5%, and fell from 4.7% during the previous administration.[67]
  • The homeownership rate reached 67.7% near the end of the Clinton administration, the highest rate on record. In contrast, the homeownership rate fell from 65.6% in the first quarter of 1981 to 63.7% in the first quarter of 1993.[68]
  • The poverty rate also declined from 15.1% in 1993 to 11.8% in 1999, the largest six-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years. This left 7 million fewer people in poverty than there were in 1993.[69]
  • The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $237 billion—the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.[68]
  • Clinton worked with the Republican-led Congress to enact welfare reform. As a result, welfare rolls dropped dramatically and were the lowest since 1969. Between January 1993 and September 1999, the number of welfare recipients dropped by 7.5 million (a 53% decline) to 6.6 million. In comparison, between 1981–1992, the number of welfare recipients increased by 2.5 million (a 22% increase) to 13.6 million people.[70]


Clinton made it one of his goals as president to pass trade legislation that lowered the barriers to trade with other nations. He broke with many of his supporters, including labor unions, and those in his own party to support free-trade legislation.[71] Opponents argued that lowering tariffs and relaxing rules on imports would cost American jobs because people would buy cheaper products from other countries. Clinton countered that free trade would help America because it would allow the U.S. to boost its exports and grow the economy. Clinton also believed that free trade could help move foreign nations to economic and political reform.

The three-nation NAFTA was signed by President George H. W. Bush during December 1992, pending its ratification by the legislatures of the three countries. Clinton did not alter the original agreement, but complemented it with the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, making NAFTA the first "green" trade treaty and the first trade treaty concerned with each country's labor laws, albeit with very weak sanctions.[72] NAFTA provided for gradually reduced tariffs and the creation of a free-trading bloc of North American countries–the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Opponents of NAFTA, led by Ross Perot, claimed it would force American companies to move their workforces to Mexico, where they could produce goods with cheaper labor and ship them back to the United States at lower prices. Clinton, however, argued that NAFTA would increase U.S. exports and create new jobs. Clinton while signing the NAFTA bill stated: "…NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement.”[73] He convinced many Democrats to join most Republicans in supporting trade agreement and in 1993 the Congress passed the treaty.[74]

Clinton also held meetings with leaders of Pacific Rim nations to discuss lowering trade barriers. In November 1993 he hosted a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Seattle, Washington, which was attended by the leaders of 12 Pacific Rim nations. In 1994, Clinton arranged an agreement in Indonesia with Pacific Rim nations to gradually remove trade barriers and open their markets.

Officials in the Clinton administration also participated in the final round of trade negotiations sponsored by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), an international trade organization. The negotiations had been ongoing since 1986. In a rare move, Clinton convened Congress to ratify the trade agreement in the winter of 1994, during which the treaty was approved. As part of the GATT agreement, a new international trade body, the World Trade Organization (WTO), replaced GATT in 1995. The new WTO had stronger authority to enforce trade agreements and covered a wider range of trade than did GATT.

Clinton faced his first defeat on trade legislation during his second term. In November 1997, the Republican-controlled Congress delayed voting on a bill to restore a presidential trade authority that had expired in 1994. The bill would have given the president the authority to negotiate trade agreements which the Congress was not authorized to modify–known as "fast-track negotiating" because it streamlines the treaty process. Clinton was unable to generate sufficient support for the legislation, even among the Democratic Party.

Clinton faced yet another trade setback in December 1999, when the WTO met in Seattle for a new round of trade negotiations. Clinton hoped that new agreements on issues such as agriculture and intellectual property could be proposed at the meeting, but the talks fell through. Anti-WTO protesters in the streets of Seattle disrupted the meetings[75] and the international delegates attending the meetings were unable to compromise mainly because delegates from smaller, poorer countries resisted Clinton's efforts to discuss labor and environmental standards.[76]

That same year, Clinton signed a landmark trade agreement with the People's Republic of China. The agreement–the result of more than a decade of negotiations–would lower many trade barriers between the two countries, making it easier to export U.S. products such as automobiles, banking services, and motion pictures. However, the agreement could only take effect if China was accepted into the WTO and was granted permanent "normal trade relations" status by the U.S. Congress. Under the pact, the United States would support China's membership in the WTO. Many Democrats as well as Republicans were reluctant to grant permanent status to China because they were concerned about human rights in the country and the impact of Chinese imports on U.S. industries and jobs. Congress, however, voted in 2000 to grant permanent normal trade relations with China. Several economic studies have since been released that indicate the increase in trade resulting lowered American prices and increased the U.S. GDP by 0.7% throughout the following decade.[77]

The Clinton administration negotiated a total of about 300 trade agreements with other countries.[78] Clinton's last treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers, stated that the lowered tariffs that resulted from Clinton's trade policies, which reduced prices to consumers and kept inflation low, were technically "the largest tax cut in the history of the world."[79]

Foreign policy


President Clinton's Cabinet, 1993. The President is seated front right, with Vice President Al Gore seated front left.
The Clinton Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Bill Clinton 1993–2001
Vice President Al Gore 1993–2001
Secretary of State Warren Christopher 1993–1997
Madeleine Albright 1997–2001
Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen 1993–1994
Robert Rubin 1995–1999
Lawrence Summers 1999–2001
Secretary of Defense Les Aspin 1993–1994
William Perry 1994–1997
William Cohen 1997–2001
Attorney General Janet Reno 1993–2001
Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt 1993–2001
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy 1993–1994
Daniel Glickman 1995–2001
Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown 1993–1996
Mickey Kantor 1996–1997
William Daley 1997–2000
Norman Mineta 2000–2001
Secretary of Labor Robert Reich 1993–1997
Alexis Herman 1997–2001
Secretary of Health and
Human Services
Donna Shalala 1993–2001
Secretary of Education Richard Riley 1993–2001
Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development
Henry Cisneros 1993–1997
Andrew Cuomo 1997–2001
Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña 1993–1997
Rodney Slater 1997–2001
Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary 1993–1997
Federico Peña 1997–1998
Bill Richardson 1998–2001
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown 1993–1997
Togo West 1998–2000
Hershel W. Gober, act. 2000–2001
Chief of Staff Mack McLarty 1993–1994
Leon Panetta 1994–1997
Erskine Bowles 1997–1998
John Podesta 1998–2001
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Carol Browner 1993–2001
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Leon Panetta 1993–1994
Alice Rivlin 1994–1996
Franklin Raines 1996–1998
Jacob Lew 1998–2001
Director of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy
Lee Brown 1993–1995
Barry McCaffrey 1996–2001
United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor 1993–1997
Charlene Barshefsky 1997–2001

Supreme Court appointments

Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg – 1993, making Clinton the second president to appoint a female justice after Ronald Reagan, who appointed Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981. (Clinton was, however, the first Democratic president to appoint a female justice.)
  • Stephen Breyer – 1994

Courts of Appeals appointments

District Court appointments

(An incomplete list)

White House – Senior Staff

Senior Staff of the Executive Office of the President in the Clinton-Gore administration.

  • Assistants to the President
  • Assistant to the President for Administration
    • Jodie Torkelson
    • David Watkins
    • Virginia Apuzzo
  • Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Director
    • Carol Rasco[84]
    • Bruce Reed
  • Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs
    • Charles Brain[87]
    • Patrick Griffin[88]
    • John Hilley
    • Howard Paster
    • Craig T. Smith
  • Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Personnel
    • Robert Nash
  • Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling
    • Stephanie Streett – scheduling office director
  • Assistant to the President and Science and Technology Advisor
  • Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting
    • J. Terry Edmonds
    • Michael Waldman
  • Chief of Staff to the Vice President
  • Chief of Staff to the First Lady

White House – other staff

  • Deputy Assistants to the President
  • Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
  • Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • National Economic Council
    • Jonathan Orszag
    • Peter Orszag
  • Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
  • Other Staff
    • Patricia Enright-Health Care Deputy Spokesperson[91]

See also



  1. ^ a b c "Revenues, Outlays, Deficits, Surpluses, and Debt Held by the Public, 1968 to 2007, in Billions of Dollars". Congressional Budget Office. September 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Bill Clinton says his administration paid down the debt". September 23, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual 1950 – 1999". TreasuryDirect. Updated August 18, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual 2000 – 2010". TreasuryDirect. Updated October 1, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ /
  11. ^ 1993 Year in Review: Clinton Administration. UPI. 1993.
  12. ^ The New York Times, February 16, 1993, p. 1
  13. ^ "Chronology". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  14. ^ Woodward, Maestro, p. 116.
  15. ^ Harris, The Survivor, p. 14.
  16. ^ Stephanopoulos, All Too Human, pp. 118, 122.
  17. ^ Johnston, David (January 13, 1993). "Parts of Attorney General-Designate's Record Disturb Some Clinton Backers". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ Smith, Sally Bedell (December 11, 2007). "Two Presidents in the White House? Bill Clinton's mere presence in the West Wing would be intimidating.". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 14, 2009.  (Opinion)
  19. ^ Pear, Robert (March 11, 1993). "Judge Puts Limits on Secret Sessions for Health". The New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2009. 
  20. ^ Harris, The Survivor, p. 15.
  21. ^ Kelly, Michael (February 12, 1993). "Household Hiring Is Trickier With New Broom in Capital". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ a b Harris, The Survivor, p. 16.
  23. ^ Harris, The Survivor, p. 18.
  24. ^ President seeks better implementation of 'don't ask, don't tell'CNN, December 11, 1999
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