The Fix : The Clintons say they left the White House in debt. Wait, what?

The Fix

The Clintons say they left the White House in debt. Wait, what?
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By Philip Bump June 9, 2014

This post has been updated.

On Monday morning, ABC teased an interview between all-but-announced presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the network’s Diane Sawyer set to air later in the evening.

One particular exchange jumped out at us. Clinton says that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, left the White House in debt, and needed the speaking fees they both earned in order to pay those debts.

SAWYER: You’ve made five million making speeches? The president’s made more than a hundred million dollars?

CLINTON: Well, you have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy. Bill has worked really hard and it’s been amazing to me. He’s worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts. You know, you had to make double the money because of, obviously, taxes, and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.

We also did not remember that, specifically. Clinton’s opponents didn’t seem inclined toward much sympathy, quickly lampooning it on Twitter. A specific target: Clinton’s reference to the need to buy “houses,” a comment reminiscent of John McCain’s awkward failure in 2008 to remember how many homes he owned.

And here are the houses, courtesy of the conservative group America Rising.

Certainly, the Clintons accrued an enormous amount in legal fees toward the end of the 1990s, but is Clinton’s tacit suggestion that the family was scraping by accurate?

Well, not exactly. Clinton left the White House to head to the Capitol as New York’s junior senator in 2000, meaning that she had to file annual disclosures of how much she and her husband earned, owned, and owed. We took a look at those filings, via Open Secrets. And this is what the Clinton’s wealth looked like for the first four years after they left office in early 2001.

We considered three things: what the Clintons reported as income on their taxes, what they reported as assets in Hillary Clinton’s mandated disclosures, and what was listed as being owed. The disclosures only give broad boundaries for the value of the assets owned, so the true value of their assets lies somewhere within the dark-red bar.

So, yes, it is technically true the Clintons left office in debt. But, a year later, the couple’s assets had soared. And, as was reported at the time, the Clintons’ debt was entirely gone by the end of 2004 — well before Hillary Clinton left the Senate and well before she left her position as secretary of state. Nor was that income entirely from speaking fees; Clinton’s memoir Living History earned the couple a great deal of income, including $2.8 million reported in her 2001 financial disclosure.

What’s more, there are perks that come with being a former president. According to an April report from the Congressional Research Service, Bill Clinton has received nearly $16 million in pensions and benefits from the federal government since leaving office. That includes $944,000 in fiscal year 2014 for office space, staff, and a pension.

If you were wondering, it was also not as though Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 bid for the presidency thrust the couple back into debt. For her 2009 disclosure, filed because of her appointment to lead the Department of State, the Clintons’ assets were worth somewhere between $10 million and $50 million.

They did, however, have up to $65,000 in credit card debt. Clinton made $200,000-plus for individual speeches in 2013, after she left the State Department. So that credit card debt probably didn’t stick around long.

Just remember the 100’s of thousands of dollars worth of furnishings, china, flatware, etc. that the Clintons stole when they left the White House:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=121856&…

Assuming what Mrs Clinton says about their debt upon leaving the White House is true, what type of debt was it? It wasn’t for mortgage payments or other debts that normal Americans incur to live. They incurred that debt to pay for his legal fees in defending himself from charges related to his dalliances. I’m surprised she would use that as an excuse for her and her husband’s speaking fees and claiming to understand the finances of the common American.

Hillary stated she hasn’t driven a car in over 20 years….and it’s not because she was taking the bus. So after her unsuccessful campaign for president when she left that long string of unpaid campaign bills, they actually had the money to pay but just didn’t?

So let me get this right, As President, Clinton made $200,000 a year and had a $50,000 tax-free annual expense account, never needed to pay for food, childcare, transportation, mortgage/rent, normal home upkeep for 8 years and they were broke after that, now she wants us to put her in charge of a trillion dollar budget! God help us all.

Let’s not forget Whitewater….don’t think your average American could pull off that illegal deal. Well, that’s why they had so many legal bills….

Dodging bullets as she fought for the money to pay for their next meal. He “broke” and mine are worlds apart. Bill’s $16 million in pension and benefits since leaving office implies an income that makes saying they were dead broke, laughable. Well, nobody in Washington has the foggiest idea of how the peasantry live.

Sounds like either the Lapdog media might be taking HIllary down thinking she’s too old and unappealing for a 2016 win, and instead they might be building up a more-energetic and less-left-appearing female candidate like Liz Warren; or maybe, by being tough on her now rather than later, the Lapdog media thinks the voters will forgive by the time November rolls around, thinking “poor HillBilly has been grilled enough on this.” Never underestimate the stupidity of the Low Information Voter and the slyness of the Lapdog Media. Benghazi HillBilly is over the hill. Her time has come and gone. Hopefully she will be the 2016 candidate and lose, once and for all, one last time. She has all the baggage to do so.

What? Populist anti-Wall St. crusader Elizabeth Warren “less-left-appearing” than hawkish big-bux Hillary? Don’t think so, Mr. No Information Voter…

All the loot that the Clinton’s have accumulated ( over $100) in that tax differed foundation from all the IOUs that have collected for all the foreign and domestic contacts,favors etc. That privileged life had it’s own success and living high on the hog . There is nothing anything remarkable about her 4 years as the SOS, except raking up miles traveling in luxury, get fat and ugly ungracefully. The piano legs and pant suits are back and now they think that the Presidency is an entitlement. Th bottom line is the basic greed creed flaw in their characters, Which is well documented from the start with his two terms and AR Governor. Madam pant suits is no angle her self either.

Left the White House $10 million in debt. So the Clintons made that much, paid off their debts, then kept on making money. You would think conservatives would be proud of a couple pulling themselves out of debt through hard word and ingenuity. But no, Republicans criticize the Clintons for not stopping making money once they were out of debt. Huh?

They always had all kinds of deals going. Like FOB paying for their home and living expenses when they left the WH, the leasing of a home on the property to the Secret Service (there to protect them) for $10000/mo, she received millions for a book advance when she was leaving the WH and Bill had a salary from his foundation. These 2 hucksters never felt an economic pinch.

Broke when they left the White House? Is that why she and Bill stole the furniture, but got caught and had to return the items they snagged?

HC is her own worst enemy. Repeating these disproved lies only helps her.

In 1992, the Clinton’s paid $70,228 in taxes on an adjusted gross income of $290,697, of which $34,523 was the President’s salary as Governor of Arkansas and $203,172 was income from Mrs. Clinton’s partnership in the Rose Law Firm. The remaining income was from interest, dividends, and partnership income, capital gains and Mrs. Clinton’s director’s fees and honoraria. The Clinton’s claimed $39,190 in itemized deductions, which included $19,452 in contributions to charities. A list of charitable contributions over $500 is attached. They showed capital gains of $16,336, principally from the sale of Mrs. Clinton’s interest in her Rose Building Limited Partnership, which owns the Rose Law Firm’s building ($13,199)- The Clintons sent a check far $4,085 with their tax return

1999 – Though they didn’t leave the WH as millionaires, they had an adjusted gross income in this year of $416,039, which was double his 1992 income.

They’re Democrats so no one expects them to manage money responsibly., That said, let’s not forget Hillary’s Buffett-esque skills at predicting the cattle market. She did after all, make $99,000 trading cattle futures contracts in ten months. Don’t you wish you could turn an initial investment of $1000 into a hundred-bagger in just 10 months? Why, she even figured out a way to beat her margin calls. Oh by the way, is anyone surprised that she was working with someone who had considerable interest in working with the State of Arkansas at the time her husband was Governor? I’m sure that didn’t have anything to do with her success though.

Another trope that doesn’t follow the facts. Deficits go up in Republican presidencies (Reagan, GWB) and down during Democratic ones (Clinton, Obama). Get a clue.

Another trope that doesn’t follow the facts. Deficits go up in Republican presidencies (Reagan, GWB) and down during Democratic ones (Clinton, Obama). Get a clue.

Deficits really started down under Clinton after the FY 1996 budget which was the first one the Republican congress authored (they took office in Jan 1995). Spending exploded in FY 2008, the first budget written by a Democrat congress. The President has very little input into the budget process because he lacks a line item veto (which the R’s tried to give to Clinton but the SCOTUS struck down). As for Reagan, he never had a Republican congress. Neither did Bush 41. It is YOU that needs to get a clue!

I don’t get the “Wait, What?” part of the headline. The Clintons had massive legal bills. The chart clearly shows that in 2000 when Bill Clinton left office they were about $10 million in debt. What is so surprising and hard to comprehend about that? Ever hire a good lawyer? They don’t make minimum wage.

As for how much they have now, aren’t the right wing types supposed to admire people who go on the free market and sell a product for whatever the market will bear?

Much ado about nothing.

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