Monday, July 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Economic Bet

While Jeb Bush and the GOP clown car of presidential candidates seek to blame the misfortunes of average Americans on their laziness, Hillary Clinton is poised to make a strong case that the system is broken and that a new direction needs to be set if the American Dream is to once again be more attainable for more Americans.  It should be a message that resonates with voters who are not so stupid as to being duped into supporting the GOP through GOP appeals to religious extremism, racism and xenophobia.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Hillary's bet on this other economic message.  Here are highlights:
[T]he coming week could mark the beginning of a genuinely substantive debate between Republicans and Democrats over how to define the nation’s economic problems and relieve its economic anxieties.

Clinton is making a major bid on Monday to shape the conversation with an economic speech in New York that will be followed over the next two months with rollouts of specific proposals in nearly a dozen policy areas. Her campaign knows that she still has work to do on her personal image. But like her husband two decades ago, she is betting that when the majority of voters tune in to the election next year, they will be focused primarily on their household balance sheets.

The turn toward economics was accelerated, inadvertently, by Jeb Bush when he told the Union Leader in New Hampshire that spurring the economy means, among other things, that “people need to work longer hours.”

[H]is comment will nonetheless allow Clinton to highlight the contrast between her economic aspirations and the approach taken by Bush and the other Republicans. Bush and his GOP rivals preach tax cuts for the wealthy as a way to spark growth; . . . .

Clinton will tout, as a campaign official put it, “faster, fairer, more sustainable growth,” courtesy of increased purchasing power among middle- and lower-income Americans. Working longer hours for wages that continue to stagnate is not a particularly attractive solution for most Americans, especially in households where both members of a couple are already working full time. 

Clinton will cast the Republicans as advancing policies rooted in the past — “the same old proposals that every Republican presidential candidate has been offering since Reagan . . . Her package includes new benefits for individuals (family leave, child care, more affordable access to college) and new incentives to encourage companies to think long term, not short term, while also improving rewards to their workers.

Clinton’s ideas reflect a wide center-left consensus on behalf of bottom-up or, as many progressives call it, “middle-out” economics. They also underscore how the nomination challenge she faces from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) differs from the problem created for Republicans by Trump. 

Hillaryeconomics is a wager that voters across racial and ethnic lines, very much including members of the white working class, want a raise and better benefits. And it’s a sharp challenge to Republicans. To be competitive in 2016, the GOP needs to make a plausible counteroffer. It’s the bidding war an economy mired in inequality and stalled mobility needs — and it’s one Clinton thinks she can win.

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