In 1992, America was under economic distress and uncertainty as a country. America had experienced high unemployment, big deficits, high interest rates, low productivity gains and falling real wages for average Americans. After twelve years of national drift and economic decline, President Clinton charted a path to growth with the “New Directions” economic plan designed to create jobs, boost incomes, move our economy from consumption to investment, and reduce our deficit. His three-part economic strategy focused on three objectives: fiscal discipline, investing in education, health care, science and technology, and opening foreign markets. This strategy has helped foster the conditions for what is now the longest expansion in US history.
Fiscal discipline set out to rid our economy of its deficit and get interest rates back down and investment up. In 1992, America experienced the highest dollar level in history–$290 billion deficit. In 1999, we had a budget surplus of $124 billionthe largest dollar surplus on record and the largest as a share of our economy since 1951. The National Debt should be eliminated by Y2015 if we stay on track with this economic plan. Continuing the strategy has in turn lowered interest rates that help ordinary Americans. It cut the price of the average home mortgage, the price of the average car payment and the average college loan repayment.
American Technology has moved in a new direction, which has fostered economic growth. Information Technology has helped transform the economy. Information Technology has made a crucial contribution to the new economy, helping fuel record growth, higher wages, and changes in the way business is done throughout the economy. Information Technology accounts for only 8% of the total jobs but has been responsible for nearly one-third of US economic growth. Wages in the Information Technology industry are 77% higher than the private sector average wage. Declining Information technology prices have lowered the overall inflation rate by nearly one percentage point. Information Technology now accounts for nearly half of business investments. Adjusted for inflation, American companies invested three times more in Information Technology in 1999 than in 1992.
The Clinton-Gore Administration has opened foreign markets for high tech goods, cracked down on foreign piracy and liberalized export controls on computers and telecommunications equipment. At the same time negotiating over 270 trade agreements, including those involving high technology issues. By eliminating hundreds of programs, the investment in education and training has doubled. As a result of these actions America is now experiencing a virtuous cycle of progress and prosperity that few could imagine.
Inflation remains virtually non-existent, with the underlying core rate of inflation at 1.9 % in 1999the lowest rate since 1965. For 1999, the GDP price index grew only 1.4%. In the last two years, GDP inflation was lower than at any time since 1963.
What has come from the accomplishments of Clinton’s economic policies are more economic growth, comprehensive health and welfare reform, a new national system, new opportunities for achievement, empowerment and progress for middle class Americans. This is the season for renewal, thus, a new direction for all of us.