Noting that he was the only president in modern history to balance the federal budget for several consecutive years, former president Bill Clinton told attendees at Pershing's Insite conference that if America adopted a severe austerity program today it could be very counterproductive and could trigger another recession.
"I hate deficits but you can't get blood out of a turnip," Clinton told attendees. To back up his statement, he cited the experience of the United Kingdom and much of the rest of Europe, where governments have cut spending only to see their countries slip back into recession.
"Austerity kills growth as the U.K. has found out," he remarked. Moreover, the recent slowdown in the U.S. could be partly attributable
to Congress's refusal to approve new spending proposals.
Voicing his disappointment that after he left office in 2001 the U.S. cut taxes while starting two wars, Clinton said the U.S. still remained quite strong from an economic standpoint. He suggested that the formation of an infrastructure bank could perform a badly needed service, as the nation's world ranking in terms of physical facilities has slipped dramatically in recent decades. Clinton noted that in Chicago business leaders from both political parties have joined together to create their own infrastructure bank.