Before a standing-room-only crowd, former President Bill Clinton thanked the restaurant industry for its efforts to make healthier food available to children and made the argument that in solving big problems like childhood obesity “cooperation works better than conflict in the 21st Century.”
“The world we live in has a lot of challenges that don’t have simple, ideological solution or that … reward cooperation. All the newspaper headlines around the world focus on conflict…. They push people into philosophical arguments that don’t fit the challenges we face. What works in the modern world is creative cooperation.”
During the wide-ranging address Clinton first focused on the success of several of his William Jefferson Clinton Foundation initiatives that relied on cooperation, including achieving reduced costs for medications delivered to third world countries—through cooperation among pharmaceutical companies—and the cooperative agreement the foundation worked out between soda companies to reduce the amount of calories in drinks available at schools.
“Four years later, we’ve achieved an 88 percent reduction in total calories in our drinks [available at schools]. No tax, no regulation, no nothing, just a simple agreement by people who found a way to pursue a legitimate business strategy and help our kids be healthier.”
Childhood obesity is a major focus for Clinton, and where his foundation’s domestic efforts are focused. He voiced his appreciation for the NRA’s Kidzsmart initiative and other efforts to make more healthful options available to kids.
The address was no ideological barnburner, but the former Democratic President did take the opportunity to make an argument for the Affordable Care Act.
“People keep talking about how horrible the new law is. The most horrible thing would be staying with what we have,” he said. He asked the audience how many of them had raised prices after the recession began—nobody—and then pointed out that health insurance rates rose by 35% during that time.
And the individual mandate isn’t as unprecedented as some may think, he said. Who first proposed an individual healthcare mandate in the United States, Clinton asked? John Adams, in 1797, when it passed Congress.
The former President also touched on these points:
*In addressing the national debt, the country should not follow Europe’s example, where austerity measures have led to stagnant growth. He also softly argued against currently imposing the so-called Buffett Rule, which would levy higher taxes on the rich, because of its potential to slow-down economic growth. Instead debt-reduction measures of all stripes should be tied to certain growth metrics being met.
*“We need to lead the world in the way we make and consume energy.”
If he was asked to give the new President a recommendation in November, Clinton said he would argue for a comprehensive plan to fix the mortgage problems that still plague the economy.
One of his proudest accomplishments from his time as President was to “reduce trickle-down economics” and to focus on “future economics,” Clinton said.