Clinton leaves smaller, more activist government, panel says

President Clinton may have squandered some policy opportunities during his eight years as President, but he leaves a legacy of smaller, yet more activist government, according to panelists at a Brookings Institution forum Tuesday. One of the Clinton administration's biggest successes was cutting nearly 700,000 federal jobs out of the military and the civil service from 1992 to 1999, said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brookings. The "era of big government" may not have ended during the Clinton years, but the size of government was greatly reduced, Sawhill said. Sawhill was joined by Brookings colleagues Richard Haass, vice president and director of foreign policy studies; Robert Litan, vice president and director of economic studies; and Thomas Mann, a senior fellow. In addition to reducing the size of government, Clinton will be remembered for inspiring those who work for the government, said David Maraniss, an associate editor at The Washington Post. Clinton's best legacy is likely to be those people who were inspired by him and who will continue to serve in government for some time to come, Maraniss said. "He's a great emotive speaker who knew how to connect with the people." Other landmarks discussed during the forum, "Assessing Bill Clinton's Legacy: How Will History Remember Him," ran the gamut from the ill-fated drive for health care reform and the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the economic boom and the transformation of the Democratic Party. Mann suggested that Bill Clinton was the most gifted politician since Franklin D. Roosevelt, but said "he leaves office with a widespread sense of squandered opportunity." According to Mann, Clinton took traditionally Republican issues such as paying down the debt and made them a staple of progressive policy, creating the fiscal environment for a more active government. "His presidency was faithful to the values and goals he set out in his 1992 platform," Mann said. "He was competitive, emphatic, optimistic, energetic and remarkably hardy, being able to get up and continue with the job when a lot of us would have given up."
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.