While it’s admirable that Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is finally ready to start talking about her specific plans for her administration, her economic platform appears to be comprised of the same liberal claptrap that has stagnated the economy for the last six years. Anyone who feared that Clinton would be Obama 2.0 has all the evidence they need to confirm their worst suspicions.
“I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy,” Clinton said Monday in New York City. “Wages need to rise to keep up with costs. Paychecks need to grow. Families who work hard and do their part deserve to get ahead and stay ahead.”
It’s the kind of populist platform that inspires the ignorant, but it’s the same redistributive policies that have prevented this country from experiencing a true recovery. She is hammering non sequitur ideas like company profit-sharing and breaking gender barriers, but these are just decorative touches meant to make her speeches sizzle. When you get down to the meat and potatoes of her plan, you see a meal that is hauntingly familiar.
Among her proposals: more federal infrastructure spending, higher minimum wages, child care subsidies, higher taxes on foreign earnings, subsidies for green energy, and rules meant to encourage the formation of labor unions. You can read this as higher taxes, more energy regulations, and a continuation of the massive spending that has put America in a world of debt. Democrats who hoped that Clinton’s economic agenda would be closer to her husband’s than Obama’s cannot be pleased.
What’s funny, though, is that her own liberal base is also disgruntled. It’s obvious that her agenda has been pushed to the left by the rising star of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but she hasn’t done enough to inspire his supporters to switch their allegiances. Her plans are liberal enough to hurt the economy but not liberal enough to attract the socialists. She’s not going to go after the big banks, she’s not proposing free college, and she made no mention of boosting Social Security benefits. That leaves her open to attack from both the left and the right.
Unfortunately, those attacks can only do damage if the American people are willing to listen to them. Voters are certainly influenced by the economy, but there is a great deal of ignorance out there about what works and what doesn’t. How else could Obama have possibly won in 2012? How could these Democrats keep getting elected in cities that are falling to pieces? Americans have a long history of voting against their own best interests, meaning we can’t assume that “bad ideas” will keep Clinton from winning the White House.
On the other hand, it’s clear that Clinton does not enjoy the same cult of personality that gave Obama his popularity. She will have to rely more heavily on actual policy because she doesn’t have the charisma to carry her campaign on charm alone. If Republicans can convince voters that she would lead us straight into the heart of another recession, we may be able to avoid the next chapter in the Clinton dynasty after all.