Feeling the Bern, Hillary Turns to Bill
But her economic prescriptions don’t jive with what her economy czar did as president.
Poor Hillary is feeling the Bern. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
It was supposed to be a coronation, not a dogfight. Her primary battle with socialist curmudgeon Bernie Sanders was supposed to be political Kabuki theater, with her dispatching the hapless but loveable (insofar as one can be loveable while embracing an ideology responsible for the deaths of a hundred million people in the last century) Sanders in a display of feminist power, the glass ceiling of patriarchal oppression shattered once and for all. Finally, a Uterus-Enabled American at the pinnacle of power!
Her path to the Democrat nomination was rocky from the start, having won Iowa by a hair’s breadth (0.3%), and then getting blown out in New Hampshire by Sanders. She and Sanders have since traded blows, with Hillary leading the contests 27-20. With the Democrat super-delegates firmly in her corner the process was rigged for her from the beginning, but her inability to put Sanders away makes for poor optics, as they say, leading up to the general election.
That might explain why she is starting to get gimmicky in an effort to shut down Sanders and lock up the nomination.
Her latest gambit came this past Sunday. Speaking before a group of voters in Kentucky, Hillary promised that she would put her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “in charge of revitalizing the economy, because, you know, he knows how to do it.” Party like it’s 1999?
This is an astonishing statement on a number of fronts. First, Hillary is declaring that she, as the first female president, is going to outsource the single most concerning issue for Americans today to a man, the clear implication being that she is just not up to it. This is a stark reversal from Hillary’s angry, indignant response when asked, as secretary of state, about Bill’s opinion on a foreign policy matter, snarling “My husband is not secretary of state, I am!”
Now that she is struggling to close the deal with Democrats, maybe she is a bit less hesitant to bring in her husband to pinch hit for her. After all, as The New York Times recently noted, “Mr. Clinton’s more emotive style appears to resonate with blue collar workers in ways that Mrs. Clinton’s has not.” Of course, it helps if, before you ask for their votes, you don’t go into blue-collar states like West Virginia and tell them you are “going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
The second damning aspect of Hillary promising to make Bill the nation’s economy czar is that if the need exists to “revitalize” the economy, then by definition it has been stagnant and underperforming. And who has been in charge for the last eight years? None other than her former boss, Democrat Barack Obama.
It must be tough to be a Democrat these days when contemplating the state of the economy. Are you Team Hillary, which says we need to elect her to continue the Obama policies that got us here (which seems to contradict the proclaimed need to revitalize the economy), or are you Team Bernie, which says that the economy is sluggish and that only the One Percent are benefitting?
The Obama economy has been marked by massive government spending increases, the stimulus, bailouts, enormous growth of the regulatory state, record numbers of Americans on food stamps, high unemployment and under-employment, and the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Obama has doubled the national debt, crippled the health care industry, and, as more and more jobs go overseas to escape the punishing business environment created by Democrats, he’s insisted the beatings will continue until morale improves. Barring a sudden reversal of fortune, Obama is poised to become the first U.S. president in history to leave office without achieving a single quarter of 3% or better GDP growth.
Is that what Hillary is promising more of?
During a Democrat debate in February, Hillary lamented, “I know a lot of Americans are angry about the economy, and for good cause. Americans haven’t had a raise in 15 years. There aren’t enough good-paying jobs, especially for young people. And yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top.”
That is quite a damning indictment of the Obama years, and more than a bit ironic. If she brings in her husband to kick-start the economy, he will have to follow a much different model than Obama has, reverting back to the tax-cutting, deregulating model that was so successful in the 1980s and 90s. Back then Bill, having inherited a booming economy thanks to Ronald Reagan’s policies and victory in the Cold War, was able to slash government spending by gutting the military. He also raised taxes.
After being forced to deal with Newt Gingrich following the Republican Revolution of 1994, Bill switched tracks and reluctantly went along with the GOP’s pro-growth model of slashing capital gains tax rates, reforming welfare (adding work requirements and lifetime benefits caps), and introducing free trade measures. As a result the economy boomed and we saw federal spending as a share of GDP drop from 21% to 17.6%, with millions of jobs created, and four years of a balanced federal budget.
This puts Hillary in a bit of a pickle. The Democrat base has moved far to the left since her husband was president, and the measures that would revitalize the economy are now anathema to the Democrat Party base and Hillary’s own rhetoric. She has called for steep increases in the capital gains tax, massive increases in government spending, reams of new federal regulations, gutting GOP efforts to reintroduce work requirements for welfare, and opposition to free trade deals.
In short, the opposite of what her husband did.
Now, the key thing to remember here is that in America, our presidents are not placed in charge of the economy, nor do they “create jobs” (other than government jobs, which can only come at the expense of private sector jobs). The best they can do is create a tax and regulatory environment that incentivizes investment, which in turn creates jobs as a byproduct. Socialist paradises like Bernie envisions let their presidents run their economies, which always ends disastrously, as Venezuela has discovered.
One final thought: The New York Times article notes that Hillary wants to bring in Bill to “focus on places that have experienced substantial job losses and economic dislocation, like coal country and some inner cities.”
What do coal country and inner-cities, devastated by job losses and economic stagnation, have in common? They have been run by liberal Democrats for decades, who have implemented their high tax, heavy regulation, Big Government, pro-union, anti-free market economic models, bringing misery to their constituents.
Maybe it’s time to go back to what works.
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