What Would Bill’s Role Be In Hillary Clinton’s Administration? We Might Know Now

Amidst growing speculation about who Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would choose to be her running mate, Clinton has finally revealed the role husband Bill would play in her cabinet. The Hill reports that at a campaign stop in Kentucky on Sunday, Hillary told supporters the former president would be “in charge of revitalizing the economy.”

“He knows what he’s doing,” Hillary added, which is a valid enough statement if you look at the numbers regarding jobs and growth under Bill’s presidency. The former Secretary of State’s decision isn’t exactly surprising if you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to what she usually focuses on when proudly discussing his presidential legacy: how his administration substantially raised wages and created jobs (around 22 million, actually).

Clinton first confirmed that her husband would be emerging from retirement to work in her administration earlier this month, telling supporters, “I’ve told my husband he’s got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this, because you know, he’s got more ideas a minute than anybody I know.”

The economy is a premier concern among the electorate, and U.S. economic growth has been stagnating these days. A former president with a strong record of economic success getting on board under a Hillary presidency is a good selling point for the candidate.

But in the same vein, there’s quite a few reasons progressive activists have frequently attacked Bill’s economic legacy, and it’s that for all its merits, the economy under Bill was actually detrimental to a decent amount of Americans. Namely America’s poor affected by his welfare reform policies, and those who lost their jobs to overseas labor through free trade agreements supported and signed off on by Bill.

The Welfare Reform Act doubled the number of people living on less than $2 a day, according to the Washington Post, mandating work requirements that tended to trap the poor, who were disproportionately single mothers and people of color, in minimum wage and non-union jobs. For her own part, Hillary supported her husband’s welfare reform policies in 1996, when she advocated for it by referring to struggling single mothers as “deadbeats,” “sitting around the house doing nothing.” When asked about her 20-year-old comments by The Nation earlier this year, Clinton declined to comment.

hillary bill clinton
CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While President, Bill Clinton claimed that NAFTA would “create 200,000 jobs” in its first two years, and a million jobs in five years, but more than 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost between 1997 and 2014, mostly due to “growing trade deficits with countries that have negotiated trade and investment deals with the United States,” the Huffington Post, citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports.

Further, a trade agreement allowing China to join the World Trade Organization supported by Bill increased the U.S. trade deficit with china to $240 billion between 2001 and 2013, eliminating around 3.2 million U.S. jobs.

Hillary herself leans left, and is certainly the progressive candidate to support as oppose to, say, Donald Trump. But some of her own economic stances, current and historic, remain concerning to some progressives, from her former position on the board of Walmart while it dealt crushing blows to unions and her opposition to increasing the minimum wage for Haitian factory workers to $5 a day as Secretary of State, to her current portrayals of universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, and free public college, all policies which would disproportionately benefit poor people of color, as unrealistic.