Former President Bill Clinton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview aired today that he doesn’t believe there is a problem in a growing number of Americans relying on various government subsidies or benefits.
“Do I think there are some Americans who are trapped in a cycle of dependency? Yes, I think that is a problem,” Clinton said. “That’s why I supported welfare reform, to change it from an entitlement system to a work-based system, to an empowerment system.”
He said that U.S. entitlement spending is “not out of line with other advanced countries.”
“And the 47 percent, those that are adults, they do pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay Medicare taxes. They pay state and local taxes,” he added. “…A lot of those people who don’t pay ordinary income tax would love to be back paying ordinary income tax. They’d love to have a full-time job instead of a part-time job or any job at all or be able to get a pay raise.”
When asked is the comments caught on secret video are a “game-changer” for Mitt Romney, Clinton said “it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant.”
“I do think a lot of the Tea Party believe that. They think it’s the government versus the private sector,” he said. “The problem with their paradigm, as I’ve said many times, is that if you look at every successful economy, if you measure the economy by per capita income, declining inequality, increasing social mobility, your chance of getting a pay raise year-end and year-out and doing better than your parents, there is no evidence that anywhere that’s going on, and it is going on, that they have a weak government and even lower taxes than we do.”
“Of the 33 countries in the biggest economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, richer countries, we rank 31st in the percentage of our income we devote to taxes. So their theory doesn’t work,” he added.
Clinton also gave a clever hat tip to his own performance in Charlotte.
“I think the president has the advantage now. We did have a very good convention. He got a good boost out of it,” the former president said. “I think people kind of get that we were so damaged that we couldn’t be back to full health in four years.”