Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, became the youngest president since Kennedy upon his election in 1993. His re-election made him the first Democrat since FDR to serve a full second term, and he left office with the highest approval rating of any president in the second half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, a series of sex scandals overshadowed his accomplishments, and his 1998 impeachment by the House was only the second time in American history that a president had been impeached (the first being Andrew Johnson in 1868). Both presidents were acquitted by the Senate.
Clinton inherited a large deficit from his predecessor and, although he eventually accrued a budget surplus, he was criticized for raising taxes and borrowing from Social Security. In 1994, campaigning against Clinton’s fiscal policies, Republicans took control of both houses of Congress. During contentious budget negotiations they pushed for a balanced budget amendment which, in 1995 and, again, on March 4, 1997, came within one vote of passing. At the start of Clinton’s second term, he and Congress passed the bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of 1997, enacted on August 5 and intended to balance the federal budget by 2002. That legislation was meant to reduce federal spending by $160 billion over the next four years while taking into account increased spending on welfare and children’s healthcare. Most of the cuts came from reduced payments to Medicare providers.
Moynihan began his political career as President Nixon’s counselor on urban affairs, despite his Democratic affiliations. A former assistant secretary of labor under Kennedy and Johnson and director of the Harvard–MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies, he was chosen, in part, because of his academic background in social policy. His subsequent diplomatic career included ambassadorships to India and the United Nations. In 1977, he was elected to the Senate, representing New York from 1977 to 2001. A hallmark of his long and impressive senatorial career was his ongoing interest, as a trained sociologist, in American poverty and the problem of welfare dependency. In the early days of the president’s first term, Clinton had already started work on key campaign promises including health care reform, which fell under Moynihan’s jurisdiction as newly-elected chairman of the Finance Committee. Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law with Moynihan’s approval and they also tackled the thorny issue of welfare reform, a matter of special interest to Moynihan, which he felt was more important than health care reform. Clinton bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the senator in 2000. Although Moynihan and the Clinton White House did not always see eye-to-eye, upon leaving his seat in the Senate in 2001, Moynihan endorsed former First Lady Hillary Clinton who was elected to fill it. Never folded and in mint condition.