Study Guide

1996 State of the Union Address Timeline

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November 1992

Bill Clinton wins presidential election

The Comeback Kid bounces back from early difficulty in the primaries and upsets incumbent George H.W. Bush. Some political commentators speculate that third party candidate Ross Perot drew votes away from Bush to swing the election. (Source)

January 1993

President Clinton sworn into office

George H.W. Bush leaves a whoopee cushion on the chair of the Kennedy desk.

November 1993

Brady Bill signed into law

The gun control act, heavily opposed by Republicans, is a sign that Clinton is governing from the "left," meaning the liberal side of politics. The same year he also signs orders overturning restrictions on abortion.

May 1994

Paula Jones files civil lawsuit against President Clinton

Jones accuses Clinton of sexual harassment in the first of several scandals that would dog his career. His character becomes a hotly debated issue for voters and the American public (and it still is today).

November 1994

Republicans win big in midterm election

The "Grand Old Party" (GOP) takes over the majority in both houses of Congress, showing a conservative backlash against the Democratic president. In other words, the honeymoon stage is over for Clinton.

April 1995

Oklahoma City Bombing

A national tragedy. Bombs set off by terrorists at a federal building in Oklahoma City kill 168 people.

November 1995

Bosnia talks result in peace agreement

The Dayton Peace Agreement, spearheaded by the Clinton administration, puts an end to a bloody war that included ethnic cleansing. The Bosnian War later became the subject of a movie starring Owen Wilson, in a rare dramatic turn.

January 23rd, 1996

State of the Union Address

Bill Clinton signals his move to the center ahead of the presidential election with the not-so-subtle message that "big government" is dead. Democrats do a spit-take.

April 1996

Budget deal after government shutdowns

When President Clinton and Congress couldn't agree on a federal budget, the government temporarily quits doing its job, sending shockwaves through the economy. Not exactly a good look.

August 1996

Clinton signs welfare reform bill

The new law imposes a lifetime limit on welfare benefits of five years. Many Democrats object, considering it a move to a more conservative welfare system. Keep getting those swing votes, Bill.

November 1996

Clinton wins reelection to second term

The incumbent defeats Bob Dole, the Republican nominee, by a sound margin. Four more years of the Big Dog.

August 1997

Tax reforms signed into law

Clinton signs multiple tax cuts and establishes tax credits for college tuition, making student loans more accessible. In other words, if you paid your way through college and are now paying your way through debt, you can thank (or resent) Bill Clinton's policies.

October 1998

Budget surplus achieved

After negotiating with Republicans in Congress to balance the federal budget in the preceding years of his presidency, Clinton announces the first budget surplus since 1969. In other words, the government makes more money than it spends. Woo-hoo!

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