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Bill Clinton’s Advice to President Obama on Jobs: Start With Clean Energy

Daily Ticker

President Obama has struggled to improve the economy. More than halfway through his first-term, unemployment remains stubbornly high, income equality is growing and the fallout from housing crash remains toxic.

The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task spoke to President Bill Clinton Monday from the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York City about why the economy is stuck in "stall speed" nearly two years after the Great Recession officially ended. (See: EXCLUSIVE: President Bill Clinton: Yes, The American Dream Is Under Assault)

To a large degree Obama is a victim of circumstance, the former President says. "The average financial crisis takes five years to get over," Clinton notes. Plus, the official government revisions have shown that when President Obama entered office, the economy was about twice as bad as everyone thought.

That's not say there are no cures for America's ailing economy.

"I think we have to flush the debt, that is accelerate our resolution to the housing and mortgage problems," President Clinton says. "And then do what he (Obama) suggested - the payroll tax cuts, the other incentives for people to hire and the investments in infrastructure."

Asked what specific advice he has for Obama, Clinton suggests the President focus on creating jobs in two ways:

1. Create more public-private business partnerships. Clinton points to several so-called "prosperity clusters" throughout the country where government incentives and private investment have created growing industries. "San Diego is the center of biotechnology in America, Pittsburgh is trying to become America's nano-technology center [and] there are a hundred computer simulation companies flourishing in Orlando," he notes. "They are all dominated by [public-private] cooperation."

2. Clean energy. President Clinton recommends retrofitting aging buildings and infrastructure with clean energy alternatives that will allow the country to become more energy efficient and also create jobs. The key to doing that he says, is to couch the clean energy conversion as an economic issue -- not an environmental one.

"The great success of the anti-climate change crowd has been to say, 'there's no way to get rich, stay rich and get richer without putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,'" Clinton says. "The way to change that is simple: figure out a way to turn these ideas into profitable businesses and ask the right questions. 'How can we make a dollar out of this? How can we prove this is good business? How can we put people to work?'"

To that point, President Clinton claims clean energy alternatives such as wind and solar "would create 6 to 8 times as many jobs" as conventional carbon-based energy.

Stay tuned for additional coverage from the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting and click here for information about the Decade of Difference conference, honoring 10 years of Clinton's foundation work.