Hillary Isn’t Bill, Economically Speaking

Even more than usual, coverage of this year’s election has been light on issues and heavy on nonsense. It would be great if there were more articles like this one by Mike Konczal for VOX: “The ‘New Liberal Economics’ Is the Key to Understanding Hillary Clinton’s Policies”.

He begins: 

The Great Recession and its aftermath shattered the policy consensus on economics. What would come next? It’s taken a while, but we’re witnessing the emergence of an important new vision.

He dubs this new vision the “new liberal economics” and says it’s based on these three principles:

— Inequality is not a regrettable but inevitable byproduct of an efficient economy, nor a temporary, self-correcting trend. It’s driven by policy choices, and new choices can make a difference.

— The economy will not simply bounce back from any weaknesses, as was assumed under Alan Greenspan’s Great Moderation. Rather, there are deep structural problems that include a global savings glut and unwillingness by US companies to make investments.

— “Nudging” the private market is not always the best way to deliver core goods and economic security. Deploying government services directly can be more effective.

After discussing these three principles in detail, Konczal argues that Hillary Clinton has formulated an “agenda in light of the Great Recession and the policy revolution [that] energetically incorporates these ideas”. He specifically mentions her proposals to:

  • Regulate financial activities “more broadly”;
  • Increase taxes on top earners;
  • Strengthen antitrust enforcement;
  • Put limits on drug prices;
  • Appoint members of the Federal Reserve board who will treat full employment as one of its primary goals;
  • Reduce corporate America’s fixation on quarterly earnings instead of long-term investment;
  • Initiate a long-needed $275 billion infrastructure plan;
  • Expand Social Security for poorer retires while resisting any cuts to the program;
  • Make all public colleges free for most American families;
  • Add a Medicare-like public option to the health care exchanges;
  • Support paid family and medical leave for all new parents.

Clinton’s many proposals remind me of the book her husband and Al Gore published back in 1992. It was called Putting People First and covered in detail many of the policies Clinton and Gore pursued in office. That was an exciting time to be a Democrat, because we finally had a Democratic President after 12 years of Reagan and the first Bush. We also had a Democratic Congress that worked with the new administration, an important benefit Clinton and Kaine probably won’t have.

But it’s still exciting to think about what a Clinton/Kaine administration might accomplish. Hillary Clinton is a very bright person who understands that America is different than it was in 1992. There’s more inequality, too many people in jail and welfare reform needs reforming. That’s why her agenda is more progressive than her husband’s was. The Republicans will resist, but President Hillary Clinton will do whatever she can to bring us and drag them into the 21st century.

The Clinton campaign’s many, many Issues pages begin here.