Why Did Republicans Cheer for Bill Clinton in 1996?

Our quote of the day is from former Speaker Newt Gingrich: “President Clinton and the Republican Congress created a bipartisan work oriented reform of welfare in 1996. Obama is single handedly destroying our work.”
The GOP Congress passed welfare reform but Clinton deserves credit for signing the measure in August of 1996, despite significant liberal opposition. Clinton’s approval rating at the beginning of the year was similar to Obama’s (46%), and the Gallup Poll had him losing to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) by 10% in late 1995.
Clinton’s approval rating jumped six points after his January 23, 1996 State of the Union address, and he received one of the largest ratings boosts in history. He did it by abandoning liberal policies of 1993/1994, such as Hillarycare.
Clinton received numerous standing ovations from the GOP during his address that year when he spoke of welfare reform and said “The era of big government is over.” He then went on to talk of a government that “lives within its means,” and asserting that “deficit spending must come to an end.”
Later in the speech he boasted that the “federal government today is the smallest it has been in 30 years.” Obama has never received a similar response from the GOP.
Doug Schoen who was Clinton’s 1996 pollster says “He had his own health-care and spending baggage, but he shed it by adopting an agenda that included a balanced budget, frank acknowledgment of the limits of government and welfare reform. Clinton would almost certainly have lost the 1996 election had he not taken that approach. Democrats would have suffered major losses in the 1998 midterm election had they not followed him.”

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Is It Wrong For Republicans To Compromise?

In 1995 Republicans claimed control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Many conservatives were urging the GOP to push its own agenda and not to compromise with Democrats. That same attitude has returned as GOP control of the 112th Congress becomes a more realistic prospect. A recent National Journal poll indicates 70% of Republicans are against legislative compromises, and I can understand their frustration. George H.W. Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge in exchange for a promise to reduce government spending. Democrats immediately broke their promise. Continue reading