/ lesser evil / idealized /
Having lived in the US under most of the Clinton years, I'm continuously surprised by the rosy picture painted regarding his administration's economic policies - especially from the left. Bill Clinton himself is aggressively pushing a rather idealized version of his administration's record regarding the poor (among other things). Thankfully Paul Street does a good job of reminding the memory-challenged among the left what that was about:
"...What emerges from a careful reading of these and numerous other texts and sources is a Clinton administration that defied mainstream public support for socially democratic policies by conducting the public business in regressive accord with the interrelated neoliberal and racially disparate imperatives of empire and inequality..."
Going back to my seemingly ancient bookmarks on the subject, I find that, yes, at the time, this wasn't really an issue - since then of course Hurricane Dubya has made even Ronald Reagan's seem like a benevolent and sensible presidency. Yet Mark Weisbrot was challenging almost five years ago the received wisdom of a triumphant economic policy, noting among other things that:
The economic policies for which the President can honestly claim responsibility-- e.g., NAFTA, the creation and expansion of the World Trade Organization-- served primarily to prevent the majority of Americans from sharing in the gains from economic growth. And then there was welfare reform, which threw millions of poor single mothers at the mercy of one of the lowest-wage labor markets in the industrialized world.
In short, Clinton's policies continued the upward redistribution of income and wealth, and punishment for the poor, that were the hallmarks of the Reagan era. It was not until 1999 that the median real wage reached its pre-1990 level, and it remains anchored today at about where it was 27 years ago.
...going on to highlight the Clinton administration's deep involvement in aiding and abetting the Mafia Economy that oversaw the Russian collapse.
Similar issues were highlighted at the time by the International Socialist Review, and many others among which I'll just point to a Chomsky article from 1994.