Former President Bill Clinton said it burns him up when people compare President Barack Obama unfavorably to him, he's okay with paying more in taxes as part of the one percent, and thinks recently elected conservative congress people "must be stunned" at how quickly their approval ratings have dropped.
Clinton delivered the Fares Lecture at Tufts University Sunday evening. Thousands lined up outside the Gantcher Center on the Tufts Campus for the high security event.
Introducted by Tufts President Anthony Monaco, Clinton spoke to the crowd in the 6,000 capacity Gantcher Center on a variety of issues.
Here are some excerpts from what Clinton had to say:
On the top one percent of earners paying more taxes:
"I think we should have to pay more...," Clinton said. "Those of us in our income group have been the biggest beneficiaries of the otherwise badly skewed economy of this last decade and we've been the biggests beneficiaries of the tax cut."
"However, in order to really do something about this we have to create jobs," he said.
On people comparing Barack Obama to him:
"It burns me up when people compare President Obama unfavorably with me because they are comparing my last two years in office with his third year," Clinton said.
Clinton said the better comparison would be to his presidency in 1993, when a republican congress shut down government twice, but eventually agreed to work with him.
On recently elected republican congress people:
"Look at how low congress is in polls now, but America just voted for this House of Representatives," Clinton said. "These guys must be stunned that they’re low in the polls, because they said in their campaigns that they were going to do what they’re trying to do."
Clinton said the drop is because "the American people know in their gut that cooperation works in real life even if conflict works in politics and news coverage."
On cutting foreign aid and immigration policy:
“We have to reform our systems in the United States and we shouldn’t do it by withdrawing from the world by cutting foreign aid and empowering this crazy immigration practice, we should have more H-1B immigration permits,” Clinton said.
On the divide of political ideology in the United States:
“We’re not nearly as racist or anti-women's rights or homophobic as we used to be," Clinton said. "Our problem is, we just don’t want to be around anybody who wants to disagree with us."
On the belief that government is "always the problem":
“That is nonsense," Clinton said. "There is not a single successful country on earth..that does not have both a strong economy and a good government working together.”
On the non-governmental movement:
“I think in the 21st century there will always be a gap between what the private sector can produce and the government can provide and I believe it is very important for the non-governmental movement to gather strength.”
On the Arab Spring:
“I think a lot of what has happened in the Arab world has demonstrated the extraordinary power of social media and the internet in general gives to individual if they can make common cause with like-minded people.”
The annual Fares Lecture is put on by the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies. Named after Issam M. Fares, it aims to "create an academic environment that promotes a greater understanding of the rich heritage of the Eastern Mediterranean," according to a Tufts University press release.