The mythical Hillary Clinton whose chief concern is economic growth
Hillary Clinton sounds like Paul Ryan on the economy. She says she’s for “strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth.” She would abandon the slow-growth economics of President Obama and return us to those wonderful days in the 1990s when husband Bill was in charge. This is a different Hillary Clinton from the one we’ve seen in debates with Bernie Sanders, her socialist rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s the centrist-at-heart Clinton whom conservatives and Republicans eager for an acceptable alternative to Donald Trump can vote for.
Only there’s a problem: This Hillary Clinton is entirely mythical. She doesn’t exist. As the Democratic party has lurched to the left, she has lurched with it. While talking up growth, she has proposed no incentives to produce it. She relies on government spending to stir growth, Obama’s woeful policy. On tax cuts, she’s for boosting the top rate on individual income to 45 percent, the highest in three decades. Under her complicated plan, the tax rate on capital gains would jump from 23.8 percent to 39.6 percent, then to 47.4 percent with surtaxes. The Tax Foundation concluded her tax hikes would cut annual growth by 1 percent and shrink incomes by at least 0.9 percent. That’s a recipe for less job creation, more wage stagnation, fewer business startups, and a despondent country.
An element of the Hillary myth is that she’s on the same wavelength as her husband. She’s not. He cut the capital gains rate from 28 percent to 20 percent, sparking the economic boom of his second term. He fought hard to enact the North American Free Trade Agreement. She attacks NAFTA and opposes the new Pacific trade treaty she once championed as the “gold standard” of free trade. Bill Clinton pushed through welfare reform that dramatically reduced poverty and welfare dependency. She would expand welfare with a new subsidy for child care and much more. And rather than defend his 1994 crime bill, she apologizes for it.
Another part of the myth is that she hasn’t changed her views significantly to keep up with Sanders and Democratic progressives. “A lesser candidate would have veered to the left,” the Economist wrote admiringly in April. She “has largely stood her ground.” This is just plain wrong. On the minimum wage, she’s flipped twice, first to $12 an hour, then saying she’d sign a bill setting the wage at $15. She answered Sanders’s call for free public college with a scheme for debt-free college. She shifted his way on raising Social Security benefits and promises to make “the rich” pay for it. She’s taken steps toward a single-payer, government health system, which Sanders favors. To counter his desire to ban fracking, Clinton says she’ll create a maze of regulatory roadblocks to make fracking nearly impossible. Either way, the cost of energy will soar, hurting the lower middle class and poor disproportionately.
Her willingness to placate the left has whetted its appetite for Supreme Court nominations to sweep away conservative rulings and expand liberal ones. As president, she could instantly create a lockstep, five-vote liberal majority with her replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. And no doubt she would. There’s already talk of the Hillary Court’s elimination of restrictions on abortion, reversing the Citizens United decision liberalizing campaign finance, ending the death penalty, forcing nonmembers to pay union dues, reviving an expansive reading of the commerce clause to justify government interference in the economy, and reinterpreting the Second Amendment to outlaw an individual’s right to bear arms. None of this is farfetched with Clinton.
This article continues at [Weekly Standard] The Hillary Myth