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Bill Clinton: Republicans can’t explain how tax cuts help

Source: CNBC Meets

As Republicans stubbornly refuse to raise taxes and the sequester grips Washington, former President Bill Clinton said Republicans need to openly state how their proposals, specifically tax cuts, would realistically work for the benefit of the American economy.

In an interview for CNBC Meets, the 42nd president said the crucial issue in politics is always how. "Whatever you decide to do and however much money you have or don't, how do you propose to do it?" the president told CNBC's Tania Bryer. "Suppose you're a Republican. You think the only important thing to do is to cut taxes. Well, not all tax cuts are equal and there's a lot of evidence about what works and what doesn't."

He said Republicans need to propose how exactly their belief in continuing tax cuts will aid the American recovery. Ever since the Republicans took control of the House in January 2011 following their significant victories in the Midterms, Washington has frequently been in deadlock during successive budget talks.

This year, the Obama administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have, once again, reached a budget stalemate that has led to the so-called sequester, a series of major spending cuts which imposes savings of $85 billion in 2013 alone.

With many Democrats wanting the Republicans to finally let go of the tax cuts introduced under George W Bush in 2001 and extended by President Obama at the end of 2010, Clinton argued that tax cuts do not affect people equally - a hallmark of his administration.

(Read More: Bill Clinton: We Could Have Saved 300,000 Lives in Rwanda)

House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan's latest budget proposals called for a lowering of income taxes.

The comments are in line with Clinton's interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo in June last year when he said Obama should extend the Bush tax cuts temporarily and wait to negotiate a proper solution after the November election. That time is now.

When asked what his greatest accomplishment as president was, Clinton responded: "We produced a prosperity that was broadly shared,something that hadn't happened before or since. A hundred times as many people moved out of poverty in my eight years as president as in the previous twelve years, including president Reagan's eight years." Clinton stressed that incomes rose among the poorest as well as the richest in more or less the same percentages during his administration, whereas during the Reagan and Bush years, the richest Americans have benefited the most.

Clinton continued that his administration proved government could have a positive role in American society, a notion that has been increasingly attacked by Republicans since the onset of the financial crisis.

The full interview with President Bill Clinton can be seen on CNBC Meets tonight.

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  • Tania Bryer is a guest presenter and executive producer of CNBC Meets. In this series, she profiles some of the world’s most successful business people to find out what makes them tick. Bryer previously worked for BBC and Sky Television.