Former president Bill Clinton on Wednesday urged Democrats to defend the Affordable Care Act while also acknowledging it can be improved, in remarks that also were a platform to defend his own economic record from the 1990s.
Speaking at the Peterson Fiscal Summit in Washington, Clinton said he realizes that some Democrats may have to campaign against the health-care law, or at least keep a distance from it. “There may be some places where the well may be so poisoned that they have to do it,” he said.
But by and large, he said, nobody-even Albert Einstein-could have perfectly managed the rollout. The law is popular even in places where it might not be, like his home state of Arkansas, Clinton said.
The Affordable Care Act is providing great benefits for society, the former president said, even if it requires a “long-term repair process” that Democrats and Republicans can work together on.
Clinton also defended his economic record, which has come under increasing criticism for the growth of inequality under his watch and deregulatory acts.
“In the eight years I served, each quintile of the American economy increased in tandem more than at any time since the mid '70s,” Clinton said. “You can say that inequality still increased … but I don’t think there is much you can do about that unless you want to start jailing people.”
Clinton warned that inequality today represents a significant threat. “It is a severe constraint on growth for the country and it is evidence of a loss of social mobility,” he said.