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Back to Work

Cover of Back to Work

Back to Work

Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
"I wrote this book because I love my country and I'm concerned about our future," writes Bill Clinton. "As I often said when I first ran for President in 1992, America at its core is an idea--the idea...
"I wrote this book because I love my country and I'm concerned about our future," writes Bill Clinton. "As I often said when I first ran for President in 1992, America at its core is an idea--the idea...
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  • "I wrote this book because I love my country and I'm concerned about our future," writes Bill Clinton. "As I often said when I first ran for President in 1992, America at its core is an idea--the idea that no matter who you are or where you're from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dreams and leave your kids a country where they can chase theirs."

    In Back to Work, Clinton details how we can get out of the current economic crisis and lay a foundation for long-term prosperity. He offers specific recommendations on how we can put people back to work and create new businesses, increase bank lending and corporate investment, double our exports, and restore our manufacturing base. He supports President Obama's emphasis on green technology, saying that change in the way we produce and consume energy is the strategy most likely to spark a fast-growing economy and enhance our national security.

    Clinton also says that we need both a strong economy and a smart government working together to restore prosperity and progress. He demonstrates that whenever we've given in to the temptation to blame government for our problems, we've lost our commitment to shared prosperity, balanced growth, financial responsibility, and investment in the future. That has led our nation into trouble because there are some things we have to do together. For example, he says, "Our ability to compete in the twenty-first century is dependent on our willingness to invest in infrastructure: we need faster broadband, a state-of-the-art national electrical grid, modernized water and sewer systems, and the best airports, trains, roads, and bridges.

    "There is no evidence that we can succeed in the twenty-first century with an antigovernment strategy," writes Clinton, "with a philosophy grounded in 'You're on your own' rather than 'We're all in this together.'" Clinton believes that conflict between government and the private sector has proved to be remarkably good politics, but it has produced bad policies, giving us a weak economy with few jobs, growing income inequality and poverty, and a decline in our competitive position. In the real world, cooperation works much better than conflict, and "we need victories in the real world."


    From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine This short book reminds us that the former president is still a master of packaging a political message that is cogent, expansive, and forceful. He's essentially taken the responsibility for publicizing President Obama's agenda in a way that is understandable and ready-made for public consumption. Clinton is a great communicator and seemingly always will be. He is also the narrator of this book, and on that account he is good but not great. His once clear, commanding voice is a bit scratchy around the edges, and there are times when he stretches his sentences out for too long, losing his breath and concentration in the process. Even a good Bill Clinton is better than many trained narrators, though, and the book is worthwhile for its ideas as well as his performance. R.I.G. (c) AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine
  • Daniel Gross, The Washington Post

    "A reality-based strategy for economic renewal packed with ideas on how to fix America's job machine . . . Offers some well-timed optimism . . . Contains sensible ideas . . . Articulate, engaging."

  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "A lucid one-man rebuttal of the Tea Party's anti-government agenda and a practical set of proposals . . . for restoring economic growth. A succinct common-sense argument for why America needs a strong national government, why both spending cuts and increased tax revenues are necessary for addressing the debt problem (which is going to get worse given the demographics of an aging baby-boomer population and the high costs of interest payments), and why that debt problem 'can't be solved unless the economy starts growing again.'"
  • James Pressley, Bloomberg News "This book presents page after page of intelligent suggestions on how the U.S. can cut its crippling debt, create new jobs, and get 'back into the future business' . . . I found much to agree with."
  • Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
    "A personal, plain-spoken economic picture of where we are, a mile-high view of the three decades that got us here, and how to revive our economy in classic 'American Dream growth' style. . . . If this list whiplashes from the nitty-gritty to the mile-high view and back again, it demonstrates that Clinton is a politician who can operate at both levels without breaking a sweat. . . . A book with the chutzpah that the Democrats have been missing."
  • Susan Page, USA Today
    "Four stars . . . There's an upbeat, front-foot tone to Back to Work that is welcome at a time of despair. Love him or hate him, [Clinton] hasn't lost his touch . . . It's refreshing to hear from him." --Martin Vander Weyer, The Telegraph (U.K.)

    "Convincing . . . A rallying cry to America . . . Informed, high-minded, intelligent and persuasive... Clinton is probably the best natural politician of his generation. His skill at framing an argument is without peer and that he generally does so without demagoguery is to his lasting credit. In this case, the fact that he has simple common sense on his side doesn't hurt either. These pages should be required reading for any Democrat running for office next year." --Erik Tarloff, The Observer (U.K.)

    "Bill Clinton has an idea. A few dozen ideas, in fact, about ways large and small to get unemployed Americans back to work--from granting property tax breaks for investments that create jobs to painting every flat tar roof in U.S. cities white for the energy savings."
  • The Economist
    "A book full of ideas about how to revive the economy and get America's unemployed millions back to work . . . The book has two main strengths. First, while arguing, rightly, that in the short run the American economy urgently needs a boost from government spending, it spells out in simple terms why Uncle Sam also needs a credible strategy for sorting out the country's long-term fiscal problems . . . Second, Mr. Clinton is at his famously wonkish best in scouring America and the world to find practical ideas for getting people back to work."
  • Publishers' Weekly
    "Feisty . . . a cogent, well-informed attack on the GOP's 'antigovernment ideology.' A smart, forthright, appealingly folksy defense of activist government."
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