Bill Clinton's "Back to Work" offers plenty of ideas, a few criticisms

Bill Clinton's new book "Back to Work" criticizes Obama for not raising the debt ceiling earlier and complains that his ideas on a midterm election message were disregarded.

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    In his new book "Back to Work," former president Bill Clinton criticizes the Obama administration for its failure to forge a cohesive message during the last midterm elections.
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Former president Bill Clinton offers ideas on how to fix the US economy as well as criticisms about where he thinks the Democratic Party has gone wrong in his new book “Back to Work,” scheduled for release tomorrow.

Clinton says he wrote the book after being horrified at the mood of the country during his appearances for a 2010 campaign tour and writes in his book that the country is “in a mess now.”

“The purpose of this book is to say you're always better off doing something," the former president told USA Today. "When people are in trouble, action is better than inaction.”

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One of the chief criticisms Clinton levels against the Barack Obama administration in the new book is what he calls their lack of an effective message during midterm elections.

“The Democrats did not counter the national Republican message with one of their own," Clinton says in “Back to Work.” “There was no national advertising campaign to explain and defend what they had done and to compare their agenda for the next two years with the GOP proposals.”

Clinton says he and vice president Joe Biden compiled a list of talking points that they decided would be best used by Democratic volunteers who were knocking on doors and making phone calls during the 2010 election. 

“Vice President Biden… and I tried to get the Democratic National Committee to send out a centralized set of talking points to its large e-mail list so Democratic foot soldiers would at least have some good ammunition for their phone and door-to-door campaigns,” he writes. “We couldn't persuade the decision-makers to do so." 

Clinton expressed frustration on the failure of Democratic leaders to adopt the points in his interview with USA Today.

“They said that House Democrats would just have to be on their own because they had too many differences on health care and climate change,” he said. “Harry Reid was fine about it. It was all about the differences in the House.”

President Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod told The New York Times in response to Clinton’s comments that the White House “appreciate[s] his insights and his advocacy.” 

Clinton also says in the book that Obama should have taken the chance to raise the debt ceiling when the Democrats were in control of both houses of Congress. He writes in "Back to Work" that the subsequent fight over the limit made the United States look “weak and confused."

He seems to imply that he believes Obama has been too harsh with Wall Street and that the president should be trying to win over the executives in order to fix the economy.

“Many of them supported me when I raised their taxes in 1993, because I didn't attack them for their success,” the former president writes.

Clinton also writes about the Republican-supported ideas of privatizing Medicare and tax cuts.

“The anti-government movement's most cherished conviction is that we can't raise taxes on the 'job creators,' " he says in “Back to Work.” "We tried it their way for twenty of the last thirty years, and their strategy of using blanket tax cuts for high-income individuals didn't work."

The former president, who discusses his administration's job creation and reduction of the federal debt in the book, also includes many ideas on how to fix the country’s economy, writing about initiatives such as increasing the maximum taxable limit for earnings from Social Security and offering breaks on property taxes in the case of investments which are creating jobs.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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