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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
United,
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
Becoming,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Back to Work
Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

by Pres. Bill Clinton



(Click for Amazon book review)

Click here for 27 full quotes from Bill Clinton in the book Back to Work, by Bill Clinton.
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

This book was Bill Clinton's preparation for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential run and subsequent presidency. It lays out a set of policies, and an underlying philosophy, for how to build on President Obama's and President Clinton's legacy, and to extend those legacies in Hillary's term. The timing was that the book was published in 2011, after Hillary's decision to leave Obama's cabinet in 2012, and well before the 2016 campaign planning had begun. The book wasn't written with Hillary's input (or so it claims), but it outlines a solid plan for Bill's part in Hillary's campaign, and would have outlined a plan for Bill's role in Hillary's administration.

The title "Back to Work" refers to policies after 9/11 and after the Great Recession to get the economy to fully recover. The book did not anticipate the rise of Donald Trump -- it is written to counter the Republican Party's "normal" Great Recession response, mostly with Clintonian policies like economic stimulus and fiscal responsibility. Clinton notes that, had his 1990s policies been followed under George W. Bush's presidency, the Great Recession would have started off with much less debt, and the entire U.S. national debt would have been paid off by 2020 (for the first time since the 1800s). That argument would have been effective in a 2016 campaign against, say, Jeb Bush, who most pundits would have guessed as a frontrunner for 2016, at the time of this book.

The book is also written with a possible Tea Party candidate in mind -- just not one as anti-establishment as Trump. Clinton points out that the Tea Party early on supported paying off the national debt. Clinton addresses the "anti-government" attitude in chapter 5, but in a Tea Party context, which at the time seemed nihilistic and extremist, but in the Trump era, seems benign and moderate in retrospect. Some highlights of that chapter and others:

  • Chapter 5: Clinton explores "anti-government governance" vs. "investments" in social programs and infrastructure. Clinton's Cabinet invented the concept of labeling as "investments" all stimulus spending. Clinton cites an example from Singapore, where the government "invested" $3 billion to initiate a biotech center there (which Republicans might call "picking winners and losers").

  • Chapter 4: Clinton contrasts the larger differences in philosophy, with the Reagan-Bush-Bush team favoring "You're on your own" to the Clinton-Obama-Clinton team favoring ""We're all in this together."

  • 2010 Election: Clinton analyses the Democratic loss of majority control of Congress in the 2010 election, which sounds very dated now, but it's the same analysis as for the 2018 Republican loss of majority control of Congress, and all the same themes as for Hillary in 2016. Bill Clinton's approach is as a "senior statesman" -- a detached observer who has seen it all -- even though in reality he was not entirely detached.

  • Chapter 4: Clinton discusses the need for Social Security Trust Fund reforms to pay for the coming baby boom retirement cycle, and notes that Americans accepted higher tax rates in the 1990s because they were satisfied with overall economic growth and with federal investments.

  • Chapter 6: In the "senior stateman" role, Clinton classifies types of recessions: those cause by low points in the business cycle take only a couple of years to recover from. But those cause by financial crises, such as the Great Recession begun in 2008, typically require 5 to 10 years for full recuperation.
We excerpted this book before the 2016 election, but postponed reviewing it so we could add in the context of that election. Had Jeb Bush or a more "typical" candidate won the Republican nomination, the presidential race would have been all about the ideas outlined in this book. But instead, it was about Trump's connections to the Russians and Hillary's connections to email. This book serves as an excellent reminder of "what would have been"!

-- Jesse Gordon, OnTheIssues editor-in-chief, July 2019

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Too little government oversight caused 2010 recession.
    S&P credit downgrade caused by dysfunctional politics.
    Balanced approach to recovery: jobs, investment, and debt.
    Get $4 trillion in banks back into economy.
Corporations
    More incentives for small business and technology transfers.
Education
    Pay off college loans with percentage of 20 years' income.
Energy & Oil
    Green energy: tax incentives for solar & wind.
    Wind, solar, and retrofits create more jobs than coal.
    Clean power from landfills, natural gas, hybrids, and CAF.
    Pick 1 or 2 states; make them completely energy independent.
Free Trade
    Export more services; get to emerging opportunities.
    Be the innovator of the new multipolar world.
Government Reform
    American Dream requires effective gov't AND private sector.
    Anti-government attitude resulted in massive national debt.
    Gov't has role in security, social services, & oversight.
    Successful nations have strong economy and strong gov't.
Homeland Security
    Foster renewable-energy projects in the military.
Jobs
    American Jobs Act: prevent layoffs of teachers & cops.
    Gov't pays reduced wages instead of layoffs.
Principles & Values
    America is an idea: play by the rules and pursue your dreams.
    Liberal and Conservations can learn from each other.
Tax Reform
    Restrain spending AND raise taxes to reduce debt.
Technology
    Invest in infrastructure including social infrastructure.
    Speed up process for approving infrastructure projects.
    More high-speed trains, at higher speeds.
Welfare & Poverty
    Social & economic mobility depend on equalizing opportunity.
    Expand Home Affordable Refinance Programs to millions.


The above quotations are from Back to Work
Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

by Pres. Bill Clinton
.


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Page last edited: Dec 15, 2018