The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that while discussing the economy in a speech in San Diego Sunday (2-15-09), former President Bill Clinton said the first infusion of the federal government’s bank bailout money last year “saved us from a total meltdown.”
“I, for one, am grateful,” he said. “I’m not into total meltdowns.”
Clinton spoke for about an hour at the annual convention of the International Franchise Association (IFA), a nonprofit trade group representing franchisers and suppliers, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
“The president has a good economic team. I know. Most of them worked for me,” Clinton joked. “ . . . This is the same crowd that gave you balanced budgets and surpluses.”
Clinton said many information-technology jobs were created during his presidency, but he said the telecommunications industry couldn’t sustain the unprecedented growth that it enjoyed.
He said the economy has since contracted because too much money went into housing and there wasn’t a new source of jobs. He said an obvious choice would have been to make America more energy-independent.
“There’s an unlimited number of jobs there,” Clinton said.
He said the biggest problem now is “asset deflation” caused by declining home prices that are affecting the value of everything else. “We have to do something to put a floor under assets.”
Clinton called the decision to let the financial firm Lehman Brothers fold a “terrible mistake” because it diminished optimism.
He supports Obama’s economic stimulus plan but said it’s a “bridge over troubled water.” It will be essential to get banks lending again, Clinton said.