This is a bit surprising, as Mr. Clinton is a Democrat who was widely loathed by Republicans like Mr. Romney when he was in office. Moreover, Mr. Romney seldom mentions the last president of his own party, George W. Bush, often referring to him merely as Barack Obama’s “predecessor.”
From a nonpartisan point of view, this is not surprising. Mr. Clinton consistently governed as a fiscal conservative and Mr. Bush as a liberal. However, Mr. Clinton was not a conservative by today’s standards, but rather by those of an earlier generation.
That is to say, he actually cared about the budget deficit and was willing to raise taxes to reduce it – as Ronald Reagan did 11 times, and George H.W. Bush courageously did even though he knew it would probably cost him re-election.
Today’s conservatives oppose tax increases so strenuously that many were willing to default on the nation’s debt last summer rather than raise taxes by a single penny.
They overwhelmingly believe in a nonsensical theory called “starve the beast,” which asserts that tax cuts automatically reduce spending and tax increases never reduce the deficit because they invariably lead to spending increases.
The Clinton and Bush 43 administrations are almost perfect tests of starve-the-beast theory; the former raised taxes in 1993, while the latter signed into law seven different major tax cuts, according to a Treasury study. If there were any truth whatsoever to starving the beast, we should have seen a rise in spending during the Clinton years and a fall in spending during the Bush years. In fact, we had exactly the opposite results.