Former President Bill Clinton blasted the “non-fact-based political debate” surrounding the Republican primary race and Tea Party economic policies which advocate for limited government services and low taxation.
Clinton, who met with a small group of bloggers on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York City today, responded to a question from ThinkProgress about Texas Gov., and GOP presidential frontrunner, Rick Perry’s position that Social Security is unconstitutional, and about the Tea Party’s anti-social spending sentiment more generally. Clinton blamed the “continuing dominance of non-fact based political debate,” saying:
You can stand up and say anything and nobody rings a bell if the facts are wrong. There’s no bell ringing. It’s crazy, we’re living in a time when it’s more important than ever to know things. And not just to know facts but to put them in a coherent. sensible pattern. And we live in a time, if you just want to talk about the economy, where the model that works for economic growth and prosperity is cooperation. But the model that works in politics is conflict.
Clinton went on to challenge the emerging GOP consensus that government size and spending require dramatic cuts, observing that the most prosperous parts of the U.S. “look nothing like the anti-government ideal of the Tea Party crowd”:
You know, there’s not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is succesful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a succesful country that looks like that.
While blasting the Tea Party’s economic policies, Clinton also acknowledged that the media plays an increasingly dangerous role in fanning the flames of partisan rancor.