Interview with President Bill Clinton

I was Clinton’s Running Mate…For Half an Hour!

In the world of investing, timing is everything. In October, 1996, on a San Diego beach, my timing was excellent — an opportunity to jog and speak with President Clinton.

I had gone out on the beach for a jog. Before I knew it, the President of the United States and his entourage came jogging in front of me.

“Hi! How are you?” Clinton asked with a smile. “I could be better,” I responded, a phrase that speaks volumes about the last four years under Clinton.

Before the opportunity could slip away, I seized the moment. While others watched in amazement, I ran up, shook his hand and asked, “Mind if I join you?” The Secret Service agents were closing in fast, but the president waved his hand. “Fine with me. Let him go.”

For the next half an hour, I had the president’s ear. Boy did I let him have it!

We discussed his 1993 tax hike, which I pointed out had a negative effect on business and charities. While wealthy people can afford to pay higher taxes, sending more money to Uncle Sam means there’s less money to be spent on business, on hiring or for charities.

He seemed to understand, but said he had to do something about the deficit, which ballooned under Reagan supply-side tax-cuts of the 1980s.

“Do you believe in supply-side economics?” I asked. He replied “Yes, tax cuts can increase revenues, as they did under Kennedy. But we must not go overboard.”

We also discussed a reduction or elimination of the capital gains tax. Surprisingly, Clinton said he favored a reduction in capital gains, but only if a “small” alternative minimum tax was included to ensure fairness. Basically, a capital gains tax cut in name only.

Next we discussed problems of Medicare, including the Medical Savings Accounts idea popularized by 1996 and 2000 GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, which Clinton said he also supported.

As we finally said good-bye (the Secret Service agents had been pointing at their watches for the last several minutes) I asked Clinton to sign a dollar bill I had in my pocket. “I think it’s illegal, but I’ll do it anyway,” he said.

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