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The Presidency of Bill Clinton

Overview

  • Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. He was elected in 1992 and reelected in 1996, becoming the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve two terms in office.
  • Clinton’s ambitious domestic policy agenda centered on economic growth and reduction of the federal budget deficit.
  • Clinton’s second term was marred by scandal, as he was impeached for lying to Congress and the American people about an extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
  • Despite the scandal, Clinton left the White House with the highest approval rating of any US president in the post-World War II era.

Bill Clinton’s rise to power

In 1992 Bill Clinton won a three-way race against incumbent President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, and independent third-party candidate Ross Perot. Clinton was the first US president from the Baby Boomer generation. He is married to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who served in the US Senate and as Secretary of State during the Obama administration.

Clinton’s first term (1993-1997)

Bill Clinton had an ambitious domestic agenda centered on economic growth. He immediately set to work reducing the federal budget deficit. The Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 raised taxes for the wealthiest 1.2 percent, while cutting taxes for small businesses and lower-income wage earners. The legislation included a requirement to balance the federal budget, and set the stage for economic growth that created a federal budget surplus.

Implementing a national health care plan with universal coverage was a top priority for Clinton, but opposition from Republicans, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry prevented healthcare reform.

On January 1, 1994, President Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated barriers to trade and investment between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The overall economic impact of the agreement has been mostly beneficial. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all three countries grew as a direct result of NAFTA, while trade and investment flourished and some industries that were expected to decline thrived instead.

Clinton’s second term (1997-2001)

Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996, but his second term was marred by scandal. Clinton became the second president in US history to be impeached, after he was discovered to have lied to Congress and the American people about his involvement in an extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Though the House of Representatives charged Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice, the Senate vote, which was largely along party lines, did not attain the two-thirds majority required by the US Constitution to remove him from office.

In the United States, impeachment is a way for the legislative branch, Congress, to hold members of the executive branch accountable. The act of impeachment is the formal bringing of charges for crimes committed while in office. The House of Representatives votes for impeachment. It is followed by a trial, carried out in the Senate. If a two-thirds majority of the Senate votes to convict the impeached official, the official is automatically removed from office.

To date, only two US presidents—Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—have been impeached by the House of Representatives. Both were acquitted by the Senate. No US president has been convicted by the Senate and removed from office.

Despite the scandal, Clinton left the White House with the highest approval rating of any US president in the post-World War II era.


Source: The Presidency of Bill Clinton
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