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United States under Clinton Part II

Rising times and reform struggles

The recession was slowing as Clinton took office, and towards the end of the 1990s the US economy was growing rapidly. The upswing is often linked to the rise of modern information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet, and to the natural and political conditions that enabled American companies to master globalization and free trade.

The upturn in the second half of the decade led to rising living standards for most groups, falling poverty rates and, not least, a significant improvement in public budgets. For the first time since the 1970s, the federal state budget in the period 1998-2001 surpassed, and President Clinton spent substantial sums to repay foreign debt.

The upturn slowed sharply in 2000–2001, including stock market declines and bankruptcies as the so-called “dotcom bubble” burst. Globalization also faced criticism, including from places that lost their livelihoods when companies relocated jobs to other countries, and where jobs that replaced the lost had lower wages than those who disappeared. The federal statutory minimum wage was revised up in 1995, but as a real wage, it was still lower than in the 1970s.

Clinton had opted for a city-centered program, which included, among other things, cuts that cut budget deficits, and a greater tightening of social assistance conditions in a 1996 reform. the years that followed, but among Democrats on the left, also as an unreasonable burden on the poor.

The reform was a compromise with the Republican Party, which had won a majority in Congress by a ballot in 1994, when Newt Gingrich became speaker in the House of Representatives. Clinton had seriously confronted him and his party in 1995-1996, when a lack of agreement on budget disbursements twice led to the closure of public offices.

In trade policy, Clinton got Congress to approve the Free Trade Agreement NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, begun by President Bush, with effect from 1994.

Clinton also marked himself with fan cases from the left. Early on, he invested heavily in one of the biggest – public health care responsibilities of all. The reform attempt met with well-organized opposition, and in 1994 the proposal was put away when it became clear that Congress would say no. In 1994, Clinton passed a background check on gun buyers and a ban on some semi-automatic weapons, but exceptions and loopholes diminished the importance of the decisions.

Minor violent crime

Violence and gun crime in the United States, a country located in North America listed on commit4fitness, dropped abruptly in the 1990s after a continuous increase since the 1960s. New York City was notorious for its crime, with over 2,200 killings in 1990. Ten years later, that figure had dropped by 70 percent to around 670. The decline in crime continued, even through the economic downturn following the 2008 financial crisis. New York down in around 330.

The research has not found any explanation for the whole decline. The strong increase in the proportion of people sentenced to prison, and the declining proportion of young people in the population, are not considered to have had as strong an effect as initially expected. Instead, several police officers and systematic, data-driven police work are highlighted, along with, among other things, a decline in crack turnover. The ban on lead gasoline is believed to have reduced the number of injuries to children in the form of increased aggression, and the legalization of abortion in 1973 is thought to have resulted in fewer children being born in care situations that statistically made them more vulnerable to a life of crime.

Cultural conflicts

In the early 1990s, many American intellectuals worried about a decline in common moral values, the crumbling of national identity, declining educational quality, and excessive cultivation of material goods.

Rapidly rising immigration from Latin America since the 1970s posed a threat to those who feared challenging the legacy of Anglo-European culture, and some linked the rise in crime during the same decades to immigration and urban decay. A multicultural society appeared to these as difficult to reconcile with the desire for a unified national identity.

Such overarching concerns had their political counterpart in a set of battle topics with roots in the 1960s and 1970s. The revolts against authorities of various kinds – in the family, between the sexes, in the universities, towards the authorities or minorities in relation to the majority – were all part of comprehensive changes that met resistance. On the right, Christian and economic conservatives had been organizing since the late 1970s, and in the 1990s, they became strongly prominent in party politics and increasingly in their own radio and television programs.

The abortion case and women’s rights continued to be central to public debate, and the legal position of gays gained increased attention. The breakthroughs for gays were limited, with President Clinton’s mediation of their right to do military service as a signifier. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” – if they held tight to their orientation, they would no longer be asked about it either.

The Clinton person remained at the center of many people’s perception of the sixty-eight generation as a representative of moral slippage. The political battles over his alleged property cheats (“Whitewater”), friend services and the Lewinsky case became among the foremost symbols of the miserable political climate that accompanied the so-called “culture wars” of the 1990s.

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