Former President Bill Clinton backed off a claim he made in his new book, Back To Work, to an audience at the New York Historical Society Tuesday.
In his book, which was also released Tuesday, Clinton suggests that President Barack Obama should have added an increase in the debt limit to legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts, which were set to expire at the end of 2010, to deprive Republicans of leverage as the GOP won control of the House of Representatives in November.
However, Clinton, according to Politico, received an email from National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, who said the administration tried that, but Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened to filibuster the whole package. Clinton did not think that was possible under Senate rules.
"I was wrong -- see that didn't hurt too bad," Clinton, who was interviewed by his daughter Chelsea, said.
Clinton's critique of the Obama administration is not new. Many liberal commentators criticized Obama for not including the raising of the debt ceiling in the Bush tax cuts deal, since the House was controlled by Democrats and the Democrats had a larger majority in the Senate.
National Journal White House correspondent Marc Ambinder asked Obama how the Bush tax cuts deal would affect Republicans' leverage in future negotiations over raising the debt ceiling in December 2010. "Nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen," responded Obama.
Obama signed legislation increasing the debt ceiling in August, but it calls on a super committee in Congress to come up with spending cuts or else automatic triggers for spending cuts are enacted if that committee fails to agree.
Clinton, according to the New York Times, said of Obama at his 65th birthday party over the summer when the discussion turned to the debt crisis, "I'm really trying to help him, but he seems to have lost his narrative."
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