President Barack Obama brought former President Bill Clinton into his Saturday routine for a round of golf and talk about the economy.
The current and former presidents teed off for the first time yesterday and played 18 holes in just under four hours at Andrews Air Force Base. They were joined by White House chief of staff William Daley, who served as commerce secretary under Clinton, and Doug Band, a top adviser to Clinton.
White House officials declined to say when the invitation was extended, though Obama spoke earlier in the week at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, a gathering of current and former world leaders led by the former president.
A joint statement released yesterday by White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna said the two “enjoyed” hitting the links.
“Periodically, over the last two and a half years, they’ve gotten together to discuss the unique honor and extraordinary opportunity to lead this country,” Earnest and McKenna said. “They were pleased to have the chance to visit once again today.”
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative earlier in the week, Obama thanked Clinton for supporting his $447 billion jobs plan, saying “he knows a good jobs plan when he sees it.”
Obama also said Clinton’s two terms in office saw growth in jobs and wealth that was spread across all economic groups. Now, he said, the U.S. is facing a ‘once-in-a-generation crisis.’’
“We can create jobs now and invest in our future, and still tackle our long-term debt problems,” Obama said. “Don’t tell Bill Clinton it can’t be done. He did it. When he was president, he did not cut our way out of prosperity; he grew our way to prosperity.”
During Clinton’s two terms in office, the U.S. economy added 22 million jobs and the budget balance swung to a surplus of $236 billion in 2000, his last full year in office, from a deficit of $290 billion in 1992 during the final year of the George H.W. Bush presidency.
With the U.S. jobless rate now at 9.1 percent, Obama has proposed a jobs plan that is a mix of tax cuts and spending that would include tens of billions of dollars to rebuild roads, bridges and schools, an extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed and aid for states and local governments to avert layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters.
It also would reduce payroll taxes on workers, cut them in half for most businesses and offer incentives for employers to hire. Republican leaders including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio have criticized the spending proposals, saying the administration’s 2009 stimulus failed to live up to expectations.
Lobbying for Support
Saturday evening, Obama continued his campaign to put pressure on Congress to enact his proposal during an address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. in Washington.
“Pass this jobs bill and every small business owner in America, including 100,000 black-owned businesses will get a tax cut,” Obama said in remarks last night to the group’s Phoenix Awards Dinner. “You say you’re the party of tax cuts, pass this jobs bill and every worker in America, including nearly 20 million African American workers, will get a tax cut.”
Members of the group have criticized the president’s record on jobs, saying he hasn’t paid enough attention to the plight of black Americans, whose unemployment rate stands at 16.7 percent. Obama, who is up for re-election next year, urged them to unify behind his plan.
‘March With Me’
“I expect all of you to march with me and press on,” Obama told the group. “Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes, shake it off, stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on, we’ve got work to do.”
The president used the dinner to divulge some details from his earlier golf excursion.
Obama said he and the former president discussed allowing current tax rates for top earners to expire so they would return to where they were under Clinton.
“I played golf with Bill Clinton today, I was asking him, how did that go?” Obama said. “Well it turns out we had a lot of jobs. The well-to-do, they did even better. So did the middle class. We lifted millions out of poverty.”
Obama also has proposed that Americans earning more than $1 million a year pay at least the same rate as middle-class households, calling it the “Buffett Rule,” named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at email@example.com