Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

3.7 66
by Bill Clinton

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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…  See more details below


"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."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bill Clinton may be a busier man these days than he was during his time in office. In this compelling ode to all things American, Clinton offers his take on what’s gone wrong in the United States over the past 30 years—everything from the lack of jobs to the mortgage crisis—and how to fix these ills. As the former president so elegantly puts it, “I want American Dream growth.” Clinton’s narrative tone is that of a seasoned orator, and his inherent ability to command an audience is undiminished. His voice bears a certain weight and wisdom that can only develop after a full life spent on the campaign trail and in the White House. Clinton’s America is one that is not as doomed as some would make it out to be, and, as he points out early on, we’re all in this together. A Knopf hardcover. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
The former president and bestselling author comes out swinging on the economic front. He does so, it seems, a touch reluctantly. Clinton (Giving, 2007, etc.) writes that he had conceived this book but then shelved it several times "because politics is no longer the center of my working life"--and, he continues, "I don't just want to add another stone to the Democratic side of the partisan scale." An apolitical, nonpartisan Clinton? Fat chance, and here, with considerable appetite, he tears into the antigovernment opposition, the ones who assert, with Ronald Reagan, that government is part of the problem, if not the problem. Nonsense, Clinton argues: Government has many roles, not least an economic one in assuring that the political and social conditions are fitting to a robust economy. Besides, he writes, despite what that opposition is saying, the recent banking meltdown happened because the banks were overleveraged. The government helped avert a full-scale depression, and the stimulus helped "put a floor under the collapse and begin the recovery." The opposition--he keeps returning to it--may appear to be antigovernment, but it's really antitax and antiregulation, two things that simply don't make sense in the current economic climate. In good political form, Clinton begins with generalities about what a good country this could be and what's wrong with it--all those antigovernment talking heads, for one thing, who "already have the answers, and the fact that the evidence doesn't support them is irrelevant." Happily, though, he moves on to pointed specifics, some honed in policy-wonkish detail--on, for example, relaxing mortgage debt, developing a renewable energy regime and getting small businesses into the exporting game ("This is what Germany does"). Vintage Clinton, with provocative if generally evenhanded solutions to the economic crisis and political stalemate plaguing the country.
Michiko Kakutani
Bill Clinton's new book…is really several books in one slender volume. It's a lucid one-man rebuttal of the Tea Party's anti-government agenda. A series of shrewd talking points for Democrats trying to hold on to the White House and battling for control of Congress in the midst of a sour economy and growing voter discontent. A self-serving reminder of the prosperity the country enjoyed during Mr. Clinton's tenure in the White House…And a practical set of proposals—some borrowed and some new, some innovative and some highly sketchy—for restoring economic growth and creating jobs…Mr. Clinton serves up a succinct common-sense argument for why America needs a strong national government…
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
“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.” —Daniel Gross, The Washington Post
“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.’” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“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.” —James Pressley, Bloomberg News
“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.” —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
"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.” —Susan Page, USA Today
“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." —The Economist
“Feisty . . . a cogent, well-informed attack on the GOP’s ‘antigovernment ideology.’ A smart, forthright, appealingly folksy defense of activist government.” —Publishers’ Weekly

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
of course this was a great read. thanks, bill!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bill Clinton gives me hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Understand the reality of it! Former President Clinton has nothing to gain or lose by writing these books or speaking to the public. His only agenda is to inform the public to the truth and how much goes on unappreciated, good and bad. His speeches make so much sense that I needed to buy this book to get a better feel for the most important office held in the USA. We need to stop the blame game and the ugly critisism and judgement. Clinton shows carefully why we are in the state we are in and the President is only trying to fix it the best he can and anyone else in office will be trying just as hard, as did all of the other presidents. The world is in a condition that took many generations to create and it is going to take a lot more time to get back to a good place. The presidents¿ hands are tied more often than we know and situations are fraught with danger no matter which decision is made. The presidential position is not one to be envied or mistreated. There should be the utmost respect for the highest office held, not ridicule. READ THIS and do yourself a favor!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clearly if you don't like Bill Clintin, you won't want to read about what he has to say. I don' t think the negative reviewers would even buy the book with an open mind. The book has good ideas and workable solutions. It is well written and easy to understand. A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual President Clinton is on the mark. He was an excellent president and continues to understand the US politics. Mr. Clinton writes likes he speak, clear and informative. As I read the book I kept on saying over and over again, yes, yes, yes to his thoughts and ideas. The man still has it and will always have it. all of America should be reading this book. Especially the Tea Party who don't have a clue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I miss Bill.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A quick read. More for strategic direction than precise policy design
L.A.Carlson-writer More than 1 year ago
Regardless of what you may think of Clinton personally his insights on industry, politics, the economy and finance are hopeful, intelligent and worth a chance in today's struggling world. He, of coarse, does what you may expect-extolls the successes of his terms and what his wife has done. He explains through tables and charts where we were and what lead us to the great downturn of 2008. He offers plausible ways to get the U.S. back to where it needs to be but it will take work. He has demonstrated through his own foundation that he is committed to something more than himself and continues to be an ambassador of hope and optimism.
Crombered More than 1 year ago
Very good read. We need another Clinton in the white house.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's definitely brings up some good ideas- specifically cost-effective on increasing energy efficiency- but unfortunately he does not acknowledge some obvious counterarguments several points he makes. Much of the first half of the book is Mr. Clinton patting himself on the back and he regularly oversimplifies conservative alternative to his point of view. With that said, he is an intelligent man and offers some strong ideas on what the role of the government should be in relation to the economy.
caitlin-88 More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book for those who want to fully understand what led to our serious economic downturn in 2007. Of course, this book is quite partisan--it is written by one of the foremost members of the Democratic party--however, this book gives credit where credit is due, even to members of the GOP. Clinton has some interesting ideas for our future, albeit many, many ideas, and I think they are all worth consideration. It's a fairly quick, easy read, and well worth the couple of days it will take to get through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many great ideas. Too bad none of it will happen due to republican congress
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a practical solution to our nation's unemployment problem.
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