Hillary Clinton is a neoconservative


President Clinton's social and health policy failed to meet the initially high expectations as well as the goals it had set for itself in central individual points.

I. Between a new liberal beginning and a conservative turn

President Clinton claims a broad spectrum of economic and socio-political successes for his administration, which together indicate a breakthrough of the trends of the erosion of the living standards of the lower and middle income groups that have been observed since the 1980s. Above all, the government points to continued economic growth, low unemployment, growing incomes, falling social welfare dependency and reduced poverty. This impressive track record suggests that we succeeded not only in stopping the problematic social developments of the 1980s and 1990s, but in initiating a trend reversal.

In contrast to economic and fiscal policy, however, most commentators on the social policy of the Clinton administration approach the Clinton administration with skeptical distance at best. On the conservative side, it is believed that Clinton's rhetoric of the end of the era of "big government" means nothing more than the cloak of the continued expansion of state interventionism in a number of small steps. Observers from the left spectrum, on the other hand, diagnose a continuation of the (neo) conservative policy of undermining the welfare state as a result of the Clinton era. Even if an easing of the social situation is admitted as a result of the surprisingly strong economic situation, "social cutbacks despite economic growth" seem to determine the policy. This assessment initially reflects the disillusionment with the failure of the Clinton health reform in 1993/94, the announcement and hopeful start of which had promised a new boost in the expansion of the "unfinished welfare state USA". The social welfare reform of 1995/96, which followed only a little later, under the auspices of the "republican revolution", the congressional election victory of the Republican Party in 1994, further strengthened the impression of a conservative turnaround under democratic aegis.

In order to be able to classify the different assessments, it is first helpful to reconstruct Clinton's socio-political program. Although tactical twists and turns are hard to miss, the reform initiatives can be traced back to a relatively consistent baseline. Clinton's claim to offer an alternative to traditional left and right ideologies - in the USA reform-liberal and neoconservative political ideas - as the "New Democrat" has itself contributed to the difficulties of classifying it in the current left-right scheme. Furthermore, in order to understand the developments, it is essential to take into account not only the economic but also the political contexts. These include, on the one hand, factors that are important in the short and medium term, such as the (distribution) of power between the parties ("divided government"), the institutional competition between the President and Congress ("checks and balances"), and the fiscal restrictions caused by the record debt of the 1980s Years and the disaffection with parties and politics that was widespread at least until the mid-1990s. On the other hand, the long-term stable structures and development tendencies of the US welfare and intervention state are important as a benchmark as well as a framework for Clinton's policy.