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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Clinton's "Contract With America" - Little Rock Part 3

This post is a continuation of the story of the stops my daughter Katrina and I made 
during our recent trip down to Texas and back to tour 5 Presidential Museums.

After hours of research and preparation I am ready to share the story of the visit to our 5th Presidential museum on our trip: Bill Clinton's Presidential Library in Little Rock.  This one was a re-visit for Katrina but has been at the top of my list for years and I'm glad I finally made my way there.  The 1992 election was the first one that I voted in.  Pushing Katrina in a stroller and with Cory strapped to my chest I cast my ballot for Clinton-Gore down at the water utility building in downtown Kenosha.  I guess I wasn't moved by George W. Bush or Dukakis in 1988, you know how it can be when you're barely old enough to vote and you think what happens in the world doesn't affect you.

The museum was modeled after The Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, and all the blue boxes in cabinets hold records from the White House Office.  The museum contains more exhibits than one would think including an interactive exhibit on how decisions were made at the White House and of course a recreation of the Clinton Oval Ofice.  We didn't even get close to looking at them all, we just didn't have enough time so I guess I have a reason to go back.  I'm pretty sure these museums occasionally change up their exhibits so who knows what will be on display when Wayne and I get back there someday?

Hillary got her due for all her work both before and after her husband's presidency, including her work as a lawyer investigating President Nixon and her appointment by President Carter to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.  As First Lady she traveled to 78 countries promoting women's and human rights around the world.  She brought her message to presidents and kings, the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations and even to rural villages and war zones. Together with Secretary of State Madeline Albright they established the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative.   There is much to be said about her extensive career in public service, but now is unfortunately not the time.

Here's the short list of some of President Clinton's actions that I was happy to re-familiarize myself with during our visit.  As with the other presidents' data I've listed I stuck mostly to domestic issues.  See how much of it still sounds like familiar ground we've been covering and re-covering in the years since...

  • The Federal Budget was balanced for the first time in nearly 2 decades, going from a $290 billion deficit to a $236 billion SURPLUS by the time he left office.  If the budget hasn't been balanced since who is to blame?
  • Within the Balanced Budget Act was investment in the education of our citizens, including tax credits for college and investments in Head Start and Pell Grants.
  • Increased the minimum wage by 90 cents.
  • The Retirement Protection Act required corporations with underfunded pension plans to increase their contributions.
  • Ended the marketing of cigarettes to minors and made the tobacco industry spend millions on anti-smoking campaigns.
  • Vetoed the Republican budget plan that contained massive cuts in funding to Medicare, Medicaid, Education and the environment.  Extended the Medicare trust fund ensuring it wouldn't run out of funding in 1999 but would continue until at least 2025.
  • Earmarked $300 million in grants to help communities tackle homelessness with job training, home construction and other services.

  • The Brady Bill was signed into law after 7 years, requiring background checks before gun purchases.  Guns were kept from 160,000 prohibited individuals in the first year.
  • Got gunmakers to approve putting child safety locks on guns and passed the Assault Weapons Ban as part of his 1994 crime bill.
  • Required welfare recipients to go to work within two years or risk losing benefits.  Welfare rolls were reduced by 60%, the lowest level in 32 years.
  • During the Clinton years the Internet exploded onto the scene and his Administration launched a campaign to connect every school and library to the Internet.  Internet access to students at public schools went from 3% to 98%.
On the left: Clinton's DNC of 1984 speech mentioning President Truman.
Top right: Bill was 1 of 2 Arkansas delegates at Boy's Nation
Bottom left: Bill introduces himself to President John F. Kennedy at Boy's Nation

For the heck of it I'll toss in a few things that expanded beyond our borders a bit.
  • Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
  • Expanded trade with Canada and Mexico when NAFTA passed Congress with bipartisan support, with increased U.S. exports supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
  • Brought America into the Kyoto Protocol - an international treaty aimed at reducing emissions to combat global warming.

And speaking of global warming, let us not forget the Administration's environmental efforts, nor that Vice President Al Gore was the point man for many environmental causes during the Administration.  Here is some of the work they got done together to make our planet a better place as well as our country.
  • Signed the Food Quality Protection Act, setting limits on pesticide use on food.
  • Strengthened the Safe Drinking Water Act, requiring America's 55,000 water utilities to provide regular reports to their customers on the quality of their drinking water.  The EPA worked feverishly in January 2001 with environmental groups and farm worker unions to produce new regulations for the first time in 60 years, to require substantially lower quantities of arsenic, a naturally occurring substance, in drinking water. The new rule reduced the standard from 59 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.
  • Launched the Climate Change Technology Initiative to spur the development of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming while saving money and creating jobs.
  • Approved the strongest air quality standards in history to control pollution from smog and soot.
  • The President defended Yellowstone National Park from potential toxic runoff from a proposed gold mine near the Park's boundary, and acquired land near the Park to expanded critical habitat for bison.
  • The Administration has also strongly opposed efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the President vetoed legislation that would have opened the Refuge to new exploration.
  • Created 11 national monuments - including Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah; Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona; Agua Fria in Arizona; Sequoia in California; and the California Coastal monument- and expanded two others.
  • Secured a billion dollars to restore Everglades National Park.
  • Also launched the Lands Legacy Initiative, establishing funds to protect other green spaces.

Presidential gifts have been on display at each museum 

There was a gorgeous piece by Dale Chihuly on exhibit, and apparently in 2014-2015 there was a full exhibition inside and outside of the museum of his work.  Just the reminder I need to find out where I can find exhibits of his work this year.  I'm always so inspired when I stumble upon his work, but my favorite experience was when I went to an exhibit of his in OshKosh in 2013. Unfortunately photography was not allowed, but I can still see some of his pieces if I close my eyes!

Katrina's always been a huge Clinton fan, here are a "few" of his accomplishments I know she wholeheartedly supports.
  • His cabinet, White House staff and judicial nominees were the most diverse in history with qualified individuals that embodied his belief that diversity makes us a stronger nation.
  • Signed health insurance reform that required insurance companies to sell to individuals who had lost their group insurance and to protect individuals from denial due to pre-existing conditions.
  • Authorized stricter enforcement of exiting child support laws.
  • Signed the Violence Against Women Act which provided for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also quadrupled funding for women's shelters and established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
  • Signed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act.  Not up on the latest data of Human Trafficking in this country?  Go to this link.
  • Boosted funding for HIV programs and overturned a policy that denied security clearance to gay persons.
  • The Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Act helped low income, uninsured and underinsured women secure preventative healthcare
  • Signed Megan's Law which makes registered sex offenders information public knowledge.
  • The first thing Clinton signed was the Family and Medical Leave Act, allowing workers to take up to 12 weeks upaid leave to care for a newborn or sick family member.  Contrast that with Trump's attempt to roll back Obamacare.  We'll see where that goes, hopefully not too far astray since it was passed into law by Congress and cannot go away with the stroke of his pen.
  • Created Americorps in which almost 1 million Americans have participated, and placing thousands of young adults into service positions where they learns valuable skills and earn money for education.
Madame President Katrina??

And here's the list of things that didn't get accomplished while he was in office.
  • Universal Health Care.  (Insert heavy sigh....)  However he did enact HIPAA which not only protects patient privacy but protects against discrimination due to mental illness and allows people to keep their health insurance when they change jobs.  He also enacted the State Children's Health Insurance Program which provided insurance to millions of eligible children.
  • Between 1993 and 2001 the Senate failed to confirm 114 judicial nominees, nearly as many as during the previous 7 administrations combined.
  • After 8 years of investigation (costing the taxpayers $70 million, by the way) NO evidence of wrongdoing was found when the Clintons were investigated over the Whitewater real estate issue.
  • President Clinton was also acquitted of all impeachment charges that were brought against him as well.

Wearing my Clinton-Gore t-shirt that I bought in the Gift Shop!

Also making an appearance at the museum was an exhibit about the Beatles.  I enjoy the Beatles but I want to listen to their music, not go to an exhibit about them so it only got a cursory glance.  I did learn though that they considered Buddy Holly a main influence on their music. 

Katrina and I got so caught up watching Darrell Hammond's impression of Bill Clinton on video that we almost overstayed our welcome at the museum.  Luckily the internet had a link so I could finish getting my giggles in.

But this one was even funnier, maybe President Clinton missed his calling and he should have been on Saturday Night Live.  Don't give up on it, the laughs keep coming and it gets funnier as it goes on.

If you want to see video of four decades of his Democratic National Convention speeches over the years try this link. If you haven't had enough of White House Correspondents Dinner videos, check out the one from 2011 where President Obama made jokes after they released his long form birth certificate.  Trump was in the audience - it looked like he wasn't laughing though.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post to add to your presidential museum travels. I was a Clinton-Gore supporter/voter myself and still like them, despite what time has wrought. As for Dale Chihuly -- his work is pure and simply AWESOME!