WASHINGTON, September 4, 2016 — The New York Times gave its advice on “getting America back in gear” this week. Their views reflect the Democrats’ view that “getting back in gear” is doing more of what the Obama Administration has done for the last eight years, repeating the mantra that only Republican Party obstructionism has held this country’s progress back.
The Times observe that Hillary Clinton will almost surely win the presidential election in November: “In nearly every election since 1952, the candidate who led on Labor Day weekend won.” They give Clinton an 86 percent chance of winning.
The Times argues that if Clinton wins by a large margin, the Senate will probably go Democratic by virtue of the coattail effect. Republicans should be able to hold their majority in the House of Representatives, mostly because of gerrymandered congressional districts. The Times suggests that gerrymandering is a Republican game, not noticing that the blue states are as gerrymandered as the red. A continuing Republican House majority could thwart Clinton’s plans to implement her policies.
But, says the Times, there may still be a way to get America back in progressive gear.
What exactly does that mean? Clinton’s policies include raising the minimum wage, greatly increasing taxpayer-funded government infrascructure spending, saving the nearly collapsed Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and paying for extended family leave as well as tuition for college students and universal pre-kindergarten coverage.
To pay for this Clinton would raise the federal income tax rate by 10 percent on the wealthy, forcing wealthy Americans to pay their “fair share.”
Getting these policies through a Republican Congress would require Clinton to appeal to moderate Republicans, who, the Times says, really want to vote for Clinton’s policies but are afraid of “being primaried” by candidates to their right: Moderates are afraid that if they vote for a moderate policy, the Republican right will mount primary challenges to knock them out of office.
The NYT is wrong.
Clinton is not assured of victory in November. During more normal elections, when two seasoned politicians are running, the Labor Day trend may very well hold. But as even the Times has observed, Election 2016 is far from a normal election. Clinton’s lead is shrinking, mostly because her trustworthiness numbers decline with every new bit of previously unreleased information about her conduct as Secretary of State released to the public.
If she wins, Clinton will probably still confront a Republican House, but not just because of gerrymandering. The majority may vote against Trump, but they do not support Clinton’s policies or trust Clinton. Moderate Republicans who fear a primary backlash if they support her policies trust her no more than the voters do.
The Times is wrong on what getting America back in gear actually means. To most Americans, “back in gear” means prosperity and jobs. President Obama is the only president in 50 years to serve two terms in office without a single year of at least 3 percent growth. Obama’s average is just above 2 percent, and his best year is 2.6 percent.
Both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton saw growth rates above 4 percent in many of their years in office; Reagan enjoyed one year with economic growth above 7 percent.
America needs growth to add long-term, high-paying jobs in the private sector, higher wages, reduced welfare rolls, increased tax revenue (primarily from those who were previously unemployed), reduced government spending on social safety net programs, and greater opportunity for all.
These things would all have a positive impact on nagging social problems. A growing economy improves domestic and international security. Americans are tired of feeling unsafe. A strong national defense policy and support and enforcement of American laws are keenly important to 2016 voters.
Clinton’s economic policies are yet another attempt to cure perceived social injustices rather than stimulate growth. America will never get back in gear until its economy and its people are once again united and strong, and opportunities resulting from a high-growth economy are available to all well-prepared Americans.
The New York Times’ notion of bringing America back by promoting failed Obama Administration policies that have led to eight years of economic stagnation is simply delusional.
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