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By the time the “4 Days to Save the world” reality show went live on VH1 on April 19, 1996, the “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” philosophy of economic stimulus had long roots in the nation’s political discourse. On the morning of April 15, President Bill Clinton delivered his first State of the Union address.
His speech was intended to promote what Clinton called the “Inherited Wealth Program,” which was to be the administration’s $200 billion “shock therapy” economic stimulus package. Clinton began by noting that $3 trillion had been added to the nation’s gross domestic product since the 1980s, and the economy had added 3.6 million new jobs during that time. When asked why things were worse than ever during the previous two economic recessions, he said, “It’s because we didn’t do anything to stimulate.”
As a result, the unemployment rate was at its lowest level since 1969 and the economy was growing and creating jobs. “We did not spend enough — did not spend wisely and did not invest in America,” Clinton said. “With a $2.3 trillion stimulus package, we will have the opportunity to put back into people’s pockets all the money we spend on defense and to make vital investment in our people and our communities.”
Clinton continued to explain the nature of the country’s economic problem, noting that the economy had been “dismantled” and had been “stalled” since the 1970s. “We’re not just in a sluggish period or in a recession, we’re in the first phase of a serious recovery,” he said. “For 15 years, this economy has been stalled, stagnant, even as people were finding new jobs, and our businesses were expanding and were hiring. But we, the people of America — not government — were not doing enough to spark and stimulate this economy.”
“We are going to change